new on planet yang

Training day for Sphere Magazine (Hong Kong)

Working for Hutchison Whampoa’s Sphere Magazine is a huge undertaking for an illustrator. You are asked to illustrate the cover plus a series of illustrations for 2 to 3 articles. Besides creating a series for an article about cities of the future, I was also asked to create  a series for an article titled, Training Day. Since the article was about training to prepare for any disaster, my inspiration was loosely based on monster movies from Japan. I always loved how everyone ran into action in uniforms and safety helmets when the alarms went off. Since the client had concepts for the illustrations, this was a way to make it work with my style.

Greg Crandall, publisher of Hong Kong Media, is a friend of many years and we were both excited to have a chance to work finally work on a project. It was almost like we were playing make believe at work.

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Clean money for Time Magazine

Andree Khalmorgan called with an assignment for Time Magazine about Wall Street’s infatuation with clean energy. Clean energy has become big enough to catch Wall Street’s eye and financing they can provide could be a huge boost for the growth of clean tech.

Andree and I go way back to Businessweek days so it’s always fun to reconnect and nice to work together again. I thought it might be fun to do a humorous  image of  solar panel and windmill characters with money raining down. Having lived though the go go tech years of the 90’s it’s easy to see the impact Wall St can have when they love a sector.

When I was a child watching movies, an animated ad with dancing drinks, popcorn and candy would sing along to the tune of “Let’s all go to the movies”. This must be the reason I love humanizing inanimate objects.

time green

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Cities in the sky

It has been a good year for working on assignments requiring multiple illustrations and when long time friend Greg Crandall called with a request to illustrate the entire issue of Hutchison Whampoa’s magazine, “Sphere” I quickly said yes. Greg is the owner of Hong Kong Media LTD and we have history  going back to the 80’s. We both worked with many of the same magazines born during the tech boom so it was only natural the assignment would be about designing cities for the future. Much to my delight, they requested a Jetson’s like approach to the art. Once again I was more than happy to comply.

It’s not often you get a request to indulge your childhood pleasures.

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Football stickers for ESPN

John Korpics at ESPN and I go back to Washington DC days working for Regardie’s Magazine in the late 80’s. Since then we have played many rounds of golf together and as a team have never won a match. It is an unblemished record we are still proud of today. He asked AD Chin Wan to call and request stickers for an ESPN fantasy football league which opened up this year. The timing was perfect because I was wanting to create a series of stickers. Football was also my favorite sport as a child and probably my best team sport. You wouldn’t think it but as a tiny Korean running back in Oklahoma, nothing made me happier than breaking off a run and pretending I was in the NFL .

Not only was it a perfect project, John had the perfect art direction. He asked me to go a little nuts.

Much thanks to John, Chin, and Neil Jamison for making it happen.

To download the app and stickers from either iTunes or Google Play visit here. My team is called the Super Crushers. (Inspired by The Crusher from Bugs Bunny)

Espn fantasy football The Super Crushers

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Ducks in a row

This is how you know SooJin Buzelli is an excellent art director for illustrators: Illustrators are excited about a magazine about financial planning. If someone were to ask me how she managed to pull it off the answer is simple: 1) She is a fan of illustration and knows good work 2) She has convinced both her editors and illustrators that good ideas will be used and 3) they pay a fair budget. It is no surprise illustrators put out their best effort when SooJin calls.

She called with a story about advisors who find many tiny accounts that are forgotten by their owners. They are usually the result of accounts moving to different firms which get lost in the shuffle. SooJin needed to communicate the concept of collecting and finding a way to responsibly manage these tiny accounts. By coincidence it was the last week of preparation for ICON8, and illustration conference in Portland and as a board member I was scrambling around with last minute details. Naturally, the metaphor of “herding cats” or “ducks in a row” came to mind. Soojin liked the frantic approach. Even nicer was turning in the assignment and seeing her next week in Portland.

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The structure of language

Coming from a family of scientists, it’s always exciting to when Scientific American calls and even better when the subject is about language. In my book, language as a subject matter is fertile ground for ideas. Patti Nemoto had a fascinating series of articles. The first article dealt with a study finding bilingual people have more empathy in their native vs second language while the second discussed the structure and rhythms of language. It was fascinating learning about how languages were developed and how humans innately have a common understanding about structure.

Much thanks to Patti and Scientific American for a fun and creatively satisfying project.

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Sci-am-tennis

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Playing with the big boys.

Got a nice call from Jia Baek, art director for the Wall St Journal for a cover piece about investing like a hedge fund. The idea is the tools are available for small investors like ourselves to unleash our inner George Soros. Since I always joke to friends about “The Yang Global Hedge Fund” this right up my alley. The direction which immediately came to mind was getting inside the head of the big boys analyzing complex data. Jia also sent a comp of the type and space which always helps with imagining the proper approach for the final art. The space screamed for a colorful approach against a white background.

In case you’re wondering how the Yang Global Hedge Fund invests, a financial manager handles it for me. I prefer leaving that stuff to the big boys.

Think like a hedge fund.

Here’s the layout for the top part of the page. The art almost drew itself after seeing the space.

wsj cover for hedge funds

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Star Wars with a handicap.

Golf World’s Art Director Tim Carr and I have worked on different golf publications together over the years. He is one of the few art directors to see my growth both as an artist and golfer. It’s nice to mix the passions of golf and illustration and work with an art director who appreciates both. His most recent assignment was an idea by a columnist for a team competition of older stars vs today stars. Golf is one of the few sports where it’s possible to see a competition between stars from different eras. I did a few fun competition metaphors but we both agreed the dueling metaphor was the most elegant idea.

Tim mentioned how much I’ve grown as a golfer the last time we played. Hope he won’t be too harsh when he sees how much it regressed this year due to lack of practice.

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Here’s the sketches. I felt the story would be perfect with a humorous quick to read idea catching competition between generations.

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You better bring it.

Art Director Dan Smith for the Wall St Journal is the first person to assign me a project by tweet.  After returning from an exhilarating week in Portland at a biennial illustration conference known as ICON8, I tweeted about feeling pressure to bring it after seeing so much great work. Dan saw it and tweeted asking if I was ready to bring it for a project. We continued tweeting “Bring It On” lines from the cheerleader movie  for laughs.

The assignment was for an article about a trend among CEO’s to pick successors from their alma mater. One proposed idea was CEO’s as Siamese Twins-like cheerleaders. Dan went for he idea. It wasn’t until later I realized the irony of doing a cheerleader metaphor after our “Bring It On” routine.

Much thanks to Dan for the assignment and great anecdote.

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Millennials rising

Everyone is thinking about millennials these days if the number of assignments I have are any indication. People want to reach them and figure out how they tick. Many of my friends are millennials who have been nothing but helpful in keeping me up to snuff in the ever changing world of design and illustration. Investment News had an article about advisors learning to connect with millennials since they are the next huge investing generation. I decided to represent them with hats since my millennial friends are always wearing cool hats that somehow look wrong on me. It’s always a pleasure working with AD David Stokes.

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ICON8 Portland

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This week I’m off to Portland as the illustration conference also known as ICON8 finally happens. As a board member and treasurer this day has come faster than expected so now it’s time to put on a show.

I may be a bit biased, but the lineup of speakers and events is strong and having many new speakers mixed with the great vibe in Portland should make a good time for all.

Saturday morning I will be hosting a discussion with two of my favorite illustrators, Victo Ngai, a young illustrator in New York who has been on an amazing tear for such a short career and Leo Espinosa who has been tearing it up for over 20 years. It will be great to hear how they break through the noise in a very competitive world.

If you are at the conference, please say hi. It will be nice to finally place faces with names.

 

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Genetech: The Trouble with Trials

Producer Nick Miller from Weber Shandwick called with an interesting problem to solve. Genetech has a few research articles on various subjects and was trying to find an illustrator who could catch various concepts regarding biotechnology in a fun yet informative manner. This was the first time to use an illustrator and requested the art be two color using colors from Genetech’s design bible. The colors had to be used as solids at 100 percent.  The art was to be used for presentations on the web and conferences.

Being limited in colors turned out to be a blessing in disguise and was a wonderful chance to interpret my approach in a more graphic manner. Inspiration came from retro instructional videos with animation which I loved as a child.

Genetech and Weber Shandwick loved the approach and the process flew once we figured out the best way to explain biotech concepts to my non biotech head.

If you would d like to see the animated version of this presentation please visit here.

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Numbers that say boo

American Teacher magazine called requesting a fun series of illustrations for a feature about math anxiety. Coming from a family of scientists and mathematicians, our house was surrounded with educational toys for math. My favorite was a scale which had numbers of various sizes which hooked on the scale to balance. For example if you hooked 2 and 4 on one side, you hooked 6 on the other to make the scale work. It was an ingenious way to learn addition.

My approach was simply to imagine the feeling of being overwhelmed with a flood of numbers. It certainly could feel that way for me as a child in school. Much thanks to Michelle Thurman for calling with this fun assignment.

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Seek and hide

Ronn Campisi has a soft spot in my heart since he was one of the first influential art directors to hire me. Doing a cover for Ronn was a huge boost on a national level and I have always been grateful.

It was a pleasant surprise to hear from him and do a fun little project for Harvard Law Bulletin about privacy. Students from Harvard figured out a way for researchers to use student data without compromising their identity. I took a pseudo info graphic approach showing collection of data, building algorithms to strip identity and identity safe data in a sequential set of three illustrations.

I am sure there will be many projects with a similar theme in the post Snowden era.

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Happy happy happy

One of the pleasant surprises this year has been the steady stream of assignments with multiple illustrations. I really enjoy the chance to develop and idea so it creates a mini story or look. SooJin Buzelli had an assignment which required a cover to be used as an opener plus a few inside pieces for an article about Financial advisors have learned making their clients happy will attract more clients. For the cover, the idea of flocking birds in a playful palette seemed to hit as right. As usually happens with SooJin, she also agreed it was the best approach.

In the art imitates life approach, I literally finished selecting a financial advisor before receiving this assignment. It was a relief to know my new advisor was doing all the things recommended in this feature.

This was the cover and opener for the feature.

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How the unknown can be explained.

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Diversifying explained.

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Keeping people on track for their financial goals.

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How to use social media to keep clients informed.

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