Artist Feature | Jiani Lu
women who wander | -ING profiles graphic designer and photographer Jiani Lu
by Ysabella Chambers
The life of an artist, particularly that of a freelancer, is one that is often categorised as being plagued with uncertainty; that of ideas, of next moves, of career paths and so forth. In a 2011 article in New York magazine, economists argued that while today’s emerging creative professionals face some of the worst economic conditions since World War II, they are, at least, optimistic. In an age where twenty-first-century creatives are more driven then ever to pursue their work, it is becoming increasingly clear that it takes, however, more than just optimism. It takes, asJiani exemplifies, intentionality, persistence and some good information. In the spirit of adventure and artistic evolvement, last October, Canadian-born and Dubai-based Creative Jiani Lu went to Iceland and documented her trip for her photographic series, Jiani Goes. ING’s Ysabella Chambers speaks to Jiani about the creative process, making it happen, and the cultural landscapes from Toronto to Dubai.
YC: How would you describe yourself as a creative?
JL: I have great love for print design and have always been captivated by the tactility of the medium. There’s so much possibility and creative freedom in how we can express things by our choice of paper, print finishings and formats. While print design will always be my focus, I don’t like limiting myself to an area of design. I find myself experimenting and learning a lot through self initiated projects.
While much of the design work I do now-a-days is grounded in a digital approach, I’m much more interested in seeing how I can fuse analog, hands-on processes with digital processes. Self initiated projects often give me more freedom and time to experiment in a hands-on manner (e.g. building prototypes, sourcing and working with papers and materials, etc), and I’m trying to see how I can bring more of these processes into my freelance work.
I feel design is an incredibly powerful, universal communication tool. I’d like to think that my role as a designer means to create work that serves a functional purpose first, and is aesthetically pleasing second. Whether that purpose is making information more accessible or creating a visual language for brands to communicate to their demographic, design has the ability to enhance our visual and tangible experiences.
YC: Your photography, particularly the personal project ‘Jiani Goes’ inspires a sense of adventure. In what ways is adventure important to your creative process?
JL: Seeing new landscapes and interacting in new cultures has opened up my mind. I find it has been incredibly helpful in my self growth as an individual and as a creative. Every adventure I go on has allowed me to bring back new colour palettes, new inspirations, new ways of looking at things. There’s always a compelling beauty and scale in nature that I wish I could capture in my photography and designs.
YC: From my experience, Canada, in particular Toronto, is a place that actively fosters and celebrates creativity, how do you find it compares to Dubai?
JL: Toronto is an incredibly vibrant city that is fuelled by all creative disciplines - from design to animation, illustration, music, photography, dance, and the list goes on. There’s a lot of great talent, admirable studios, creative platforms and events that inspire.
Having lived in Dubai for 2 years, I feel there’s still a lot of room for growth in the creative community. It is a relatively young city, and it will take time for it to get there with the other design capitals. But there’s certainly been a big push towards closing that gap with the number of new creative events, studios and galleries opening. Emerging platforms in small and large scales from -ING to the Design District are bringing creative individuals together and making design a significant element in Dubai’s culture.
YC: When observing emerging designers and photographers, what grabs your attention?
JL: Aside from being inspired by the final piece, I’m always interested in seeing how other creatives approach their work. Taking specific interest in their brainstorming process, their inspirations and mood boards, experimentations and research.
It’s often hard to see the behind-the-scenes of how a project is put together as most of what we browse and read is the final result. So I try to read interviews and case studies, attend conferences and talks that reveal more about the creative process. In the past year I’ve begun collaborating with other creatives and that has been a tremendously valuable learning experience in seeing how others practice design.
YC: Finally, can you give us an insight into your favourite cities to visit?
JL: I find myself drawn towards vast nature and the great outdoors. In 2014 I did a solo 9 day road trip across Iceland and it has been by far the most memorable experiences of my life. I was fascinated by the untainted nature and overwhelming scale and beauty of the landscapes. Iceland is full of contrasts, I would be hiking through bubbling geothermal sites in the morning, and find myself in a glacial lake by evening. There were moments I was convinced I was on another planet, it was simply surreal.
Ysabella chambers is an Australian writer and Fine Arts graduate currently residing in Brisbane