VIEWS AND HUES

Award-win­ning graphic de­signer Liu Yang tours China with her pocket se­ries on con­nec­tions, Mei Jia re­ports.

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE BOOKS - Con­tact the writer at mei­jia@chi­nadaily.com.cn

In her book Man meets Woman, Liu Yang re­veals her un­der­stand­ing of gen­der per­spec­tives: A cou­ple sits silently on a bus. While the woman is won­der­ing why her boyfriend is so quiet — could he be mad at her or does he have plans to dump her — run­ning through her mind, the man is sim­ply feel­ing sorry that his fa­vorite sports team lost a match the pre­vi­ous night.

The book is part of a pocket-size se­ries by the Chi­ne­seGer­man graphic de­signer, who has won the Red Dot De­sign Award six times since 2002.

The in­ter­na­tional award is given by the De­sign Zen­trum Nor­drhein West­falen in Essen, Ger­many.

“Some­times, you need to think from the other side to com­mu­ni­cate bet­ter,” Liu told her au­di­ence in Bei­jing dur­ing a book tour ear­lier this month.

The tour also took her to Chongqing, Shang­hai and Hong Kong.

The se­ries in­cludes two other books — East meets West and To­day meets Yes­ter­day, with the for­mer pub­lished in 2007.

The books com­bine pic­tographs and short cap­tions, and have been pub­lished in dif­fer­ent lan­guages in many coun­tries.

Liu is in a spe­cial po­si­tion (in the world art scene) since her art is min­i­mal­is­tic and ex­udes sim­plic­ity, Flo­rian Kobler, man­ag­ing edi­tor of Taschen, Cologne-head­quar­tered publisher of the se­ries, ear­lier told China Daily.

The ap­par­ent sim­plic­ity of her pic­tographs that dis­play her deep and wide thought process drew Taschen to her work in the first place, Kobler says.

“She tries to open our eyes to de­vel­op­ments that af­fect us ev­ery day, but that we are of­ten un­aware of.”

Liu was born in Bei­jing in 1976 and grew up in old-style court­yard houses of the city.

Dur­ing an interview with the pa­per at her Ber­lin stu­dio in Oc­to­ber, Liu ap­peared el­e­gantly dressed and said that she played a lot of tricks in her school days.

But her tal­ent was ev­i­dent even back then. Once at an out­door sketch­ing class, when oth­ers drew spring­time flow­ers, she felt the view was more com­plex.

“I squinted. I saw blurry green and a spot of red, so I painted that and my teacher liked it,” she said.

At the age of 13, Liu moved toGer­many with her par­ents.

From Or­a­cleBon­esto E-Pub­li­ca­tions. Liu Yang, Around then, her pas­sion to be­come a de­signer was also ig­nited, partly in­flu­enced by her fash­ion-de­signer mother.

“I felt I could gain noth­ing from mid­dle schools so I de­cided to apply to uni­ver­si­ties,” she said, adding that she moved out of her par­ents’ home to live in­de­pen­dently at the age of 15.

She sus­tained her­self by paint­ing por­traits and work­ing at a car­wash while pre­par­ing for col­lege by spend­ing long hours in li­braries and at museums.

Liu was en­rolled at 17 by Ber­lin Uni­ver­sity of the Arts. By the third year there, she al­ready had found her first reg­u­lar client for de­sign.

After grad­u­a­tion, she trav­eled to Lon­don and New York be­fore open­ing her Ber­lin stu­dio in 2004.

It was some­time in 2003 when she was in New York do­ing cor­po­rate de­signs that she be­gan to work on a “vis­ual di­ary”.

“At the time, I had lived ex­actly 13 years in China and 13 in Ger­many,” she said.

She started to record her re­flec­tions on what she per­ceived to be some of the dif­fer­ences be­tween the East and theWest.

Ex­am­ples are: Some peo­ple in the West get sun­tanned while in the East, some peo­ple carry um­brel­las when they go out in the sun; andWestern gath­er­ings tend to be smaller in size than Eastern ones.

Fi­nally, when she pub­lished East meets West, the first book of the se­ries, in 2007, it be­came a huge hit on­line and off­line. And ac­cord­ing to CNN, it has been used for cross-cul­tural train­ing pro­grams in com­pa­nies.

Anna Cor­pron of the de­sign com­pany Sub-Stu­dio, who has worked with Liu in New York, has called Liu’s work “bold and icono­graphic”.

Liu, whose style of de­sign­ing is in­spired by an­cient Chi­nese aes­thet­ics, said: “The soft and flex­i­ble wa­ter­like Chi­nese world­view will in­di­cate ways to set­tle prob­lems of glob­al­iza­tion.”

Liu has been a pro­fes­sor of com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­sign at BTK Uni­ver­sity of Arts and De­sign in Ber­lin since 2010.

She also does poster de­signs and is in­volved in ex­hi­bi­tion de­signs for museums, and in book de­signs.

She has de­signed the cover for a book by Ger­man vis­ual artist Ger­hard Richter.

Her de­sign for From Or­a­cle Bones to E-Pub­li­ca­tions: Three Mil­len­nia of Pub­lish­ing in China, which­waspub­lishedby China’s For­eign Lan­guage Press, was listed among the coun­try’s best-de­signed books.

Liu, who has no plans to ex­pand her business yet, said she oc­ca­sion­ally goes away on long hol­i­days.

“I need to stop to pon­der what I re­ally want, and I need friends and time — to do noth­ing but just sit and chat,” she said.

Some­times, you need to think from the other side to com­mu­ni­cate bet­ter.” de­signer

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED BY TASCHEN TO CHINA DAILY

Ber­lin-based graphic de­signer Liu Yang is known for her min­i­mal­is­tic style.

Liu’s de­sign for

Two of Liu’s books from her pocket-size se­ries pub­lished by Taschen.

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