It may only be a few weeks into 2013 but Bruce Yan has already had a busy year! Participating in Gizmos and Gadgets Art Show at the Bottleneck Art Gallery, and the Get a Room Gallery Show, his movie fan art is a force to be reckoned with. In addition, he is an art director who is capable of designing logos, motion graphics, sneakers and is able to design for responsive websites, mobile and interactive. Read below for the full Q&A…
You must be a big fan of films as you’ve recreated quite a few. If you had to attempt 3 Asian film poster recreations, which would you choose?
Bruce: Yes, I love films. I even try to get out to the Sundance Film Festival to check out the indy flicks. There’s so many good films it’s hard to pick three, especially classic ones! So I guess I’ll cheat and pick 3 modern films: Old Boy, Ip Man, and The Raid.
As an art director myself I know how hard it can be to manage projects. How do you approach a project for fortune 100 companies versus your own independent work?
Bruce: I think it’s important when working on a project for fortune 100 company to find a way to collaborate. When the client is part of the process it’s easier for them to help fight for your ideas and push things through all the political bs. When working on my own independent projects the hardest part is picking something to work on. I usually have a billion ideas and it’s not always easy to prioritize.
Mobile App Design is a strong niche in and of itself. What processes of thought do you get into to create mobile designs that differ from normal visual design?
Bruce: When working on mobile design I focus a lot of energy on concepting and user interaction. It’s important to unify the entire experience from how it looks to how it’s used. It’s all about creating a branded experience and not just making something look good.
Many people view visual design & communications portfolios as the strong body of their work with less of an emphasis on education. Was it always a clear choice to persue a bachelors degree in Fine Art instead of just stopping at your A.A. and entering the workforce early to build a stronger portfolio faster? What is your take on this?
Bruce: Honestly, I had no clue what I wanted to do after getting my A.A. I didn’t even have a single piece of work to put in a portfolio and I had zero understanding of what visual communication was. It wasn’t until I went to the University of Washington that I was introduced to design by a friend. I think getting my BFA was a step I needed to take, because it gave me the foundation I needed to become a good designer. The design program I was in was very competitive, so I had to develop a very good work ethic to keep a competitive edge. It also taught me how important it was to have a strong concept before starting design. Visual design is only as important as the idea it supports.
I also noticed you used tools such as a wood burning pen to make custom shoes. How cool is that? Could you tell us how that project came about?
Bruce: I’m a huge sneakerhead and customizing sneakers was becoming a nice expressive art form in the scene. At the time all the customizers were using acrylic paint, but I wanted to try something different. I took inspiration from Nike’s innovation with laser engraving patterns and designs onto shoes, but since I didn’t own a laser engraver I had to improvise. I customized sneakers using a wood burning pen and sandpaper to create my designs, textures and patterns. Unlike paint, every mistake is permanent so I really had to plan out each design very carefully. Overall I was really pleased with the final product and it was fun to work on something outside of the digital realm.
Many designers struggle with typography and logotypes. You seem to be very well versed in that aspect as well! Any tips for any designers on how they can improve in that area?
Bruce: I’d say get familiar with typography and letterforms. It’s important to understand how typefaces are designed and created. Always think in positive and negative space, if the logo doesn’t work in black and white then it’s probably not a good logo. Study some of the greats like Paul Rand.
Tell us a bit about your piece at the Gizmos and Gadgets show. How often do you participate in exhibitions?
Bruce: When it comes to exhibitions I always create art that I would hang on my walls. I decided to go with an Astro Boy print because it’s something I grew up watching and I thought it would be an awesome subject for this theme. It wouldn’t be a gizmo or a gadget if you couldn’t see the guts that made it work, so my concept for this print was to create a layer showing Astro Boy’s anatomy. His anatomy is revealed through a glow in the dark ink layer. It was a really fun show to participate in and I’m looking forward to have people see the screen print in person. The art show gallery scene is quite new to me, but it’s a very exciting new territory to explore. This year I’m probably participating in at least 1-2 shows each month.
What are your favorite Anime films or series?
Bruce: Akira, Astro Boy, Star Blazers, Robotech, Dragonball Z, and everything Ghibli Studios. There’s just too many to list.
It is cool you’re affiliated with Frog and AIGA. For people that don’t know agency work is a lot different than corporate work. Do you gravitate more towards work that you can be apart of the whole conceptualization process of a project?
Bruce: Yeah definitely. Being part of the project at its inception is the best part. For me coming up with the idea is just as fun as designing it, if not more so. There’s nothing more fulfilling than being part of something from concept to launch. I like being involved at all levels.
Lastly, what’s ahead for you in 2013? Any special plans you could tell us about?
Bruce: This year I’ll be participating in many gallery exhibitions for Bottleneck Gallery, Gallery 1988, Hero Complex Gallery and Ltd Art Gallery to name a few. I’m hoping to continue to try new things and experiment with different ways of being creative.
Want to stay up to date on all of Bruce’s various projects? Follow his cookie crumb trail below: