Can Yang

Can Yang is a freelance graphic designer based in London born in the year 1994. She graduated from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2018 in BFA Graphic Design and recently graduated from Royal College of Art in 2021 in MA Design and Visual Communications. She is a multidisciplinary artist working with different mediums and graphics. In her interview with Lucy Bourton, a senior editor at It’s Nice That, Yang says she intended to study fine arts since she liked to paint her mood and feelings. But she wanted to learn something outside of her comfort zone. She first moved from China in 2013 to attend Rhode Island School of Design’s Pre-College program, where she became interested in sculpture. Yang loved the experience where she then applied for an undergraduate admission the following year in Graphic Design. She recalls it being a huge difference as she did not have any digital skills coming in and was used to painting and using her hands. 

During her years at RISD, she used her culture, Chinese philosophical concepts, and traditional images to help and inspire her in her own works. Yang says, “I feel like my Chinese-ness is a double-edged sword” and says the best part of studying at RISD was learning to balance artistic sensibilities between her Chinese art background and western art. As a result, all her works incorporate a mix of Eastern and Western motifs. Her professors, Jamwa Goggin and Lucinda Hitchock, helped shape her university experience. At first, Yang was shy to express her work and speak in front of people since she was not sure how to explain her concepts relating to Chinese culture clearly for people to understand. But with her two professors, they were open-minded and helped support her. Her professor, Lucinda Hitchock, says, “Can has a very personal and unconventional design style. She is fearless in the way she considers form, language and materiality, and blends languages and cultures seamlessly in her work”. 

Yang also has completed many internships and exhibitions globally after graduating from RISD. Before attending Royal College of Art in London, she worked on a variety of projects as an art director from brand identity to commercial products and worked as a visual designer designing social media promotion. During her studies at Royal College of Art, she expanded her interest in the study of imagery wanting to seek the understanding of the mesmerized usage of oversaturated and the context of images in our lives and in the media. She has held exhibitions globally in the United States, China, and Europe. Exhibitions include 2017 Odds and Ends Book Fair at Yale, 2018 ‘XXI’ Poster Project at Twentynine Gallery in New York, 2018, 2019 UNFOLD Book Fair held in Shanghai, 2021 TerminalRCA2021 Satellite Event and the 2021 Penrose Helix event in graphics and publication design in London.

All of Yang’s work has similar characteristics in that it all uses bright colors, interesting and unique typography, some sort of connection to her culture, as well as powerful visuals. In addition, she has done a wide range of works in different forms such as packaging, poster, rebranding and brand identity both done either physically or digitally. Her works are often inspired by small dailly phenomena and activities. She wants to make projects that are from daily inspiration that could tell stories and be understanding to the viewer. 


Discussion — One Response

  • Anna Holmes 04/15/2022 on 11:50 PM

    I feel inspired by Can Yang. The first thing about her that caught my attention was that she lacked digital art skills when she entered her first Graphic Design Undergraduate classes. I was exactly the same way. Although she was primarily a non-digital painter, Can Yang developed her digital skills along with an impressive, fresh style that impressed her superiors. Combining her two design backgrounds into her new style provided an opportunity for her to stand out as a designer. To me, this makes sense because, in the music world, when an artist combines elements from two or more different genres, they create an entirely new genre. The thing is, Can Yang’s design “genre” is specifically hers to evolve and explore. Though she may inspire others, at the birth of her unique style, she is the one to guide it and set boundaries (if she chooses). I feel inspired to harness a similar approach in developing my style as a digital designer (as I mentioned, I’m pretty new to digital stuff). I should combine what I’m used to as well as what I find interesting in design to produce a unique, distinguishing style for myself.

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