Tribes opens this Friday at Emergency Lab (Hong Kong)

This Friday at 7:30 is the big opening for Tribes, and exhibit with Aya Kakeda, Jonathan Jay Lee and myself. We each will be showing a series of pieces along with various products ranging from greeting cards to custom furniture based on the art. Christopher Lau is the owner/curator for Emergency Lab who was generous enough to produce the show.

There will be a DJ opening night so it should be a fun time for all. Please come and check out the show if you’re in Hong Kong.





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Exhibit: Tribes at Emergency Lab, Hong Kong July 24 – Aug 18

Aya Kakeda, Jonathan Jay Lee and I will have an exhibit at Emergency Lab in Hong Kong from July 24th to September 18th, 2015. The theme is “Tribes” and each of us will feature work as well as various products for sale ranging from cards to furniture based on the art. The three of us make for an interesting mix of artists so I’m looking forward to seeing how it pulls together for a show. Opening night will have a DJ and rooftop party. Apparently openings in Hong Kong are more of a happening so it should be a good time for all. More details to come and if you’re in Hong Kong, please come and say hi on opening night or check out the show.

Tribes: An exhibition with James Yang, Aya Kakeyda, and Jonathan Jay Lee. Friday July 24th – September 18th, 2015, Emergency Lab, 3/F +4/F. 506-508 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.





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7 selected for 3×3 Illustration Annual No. 12 (part1)

Great news from 3×3 Magazine’s Pro Show this year. 7 of my entries were merit award winners and will be published in 3×3 Illustration Annual No. 12. It is an embarrassment of good news and I am thankful for the many creatively rewarding assignments last year. Since I would like to give the winning entries their proper due, they will be posted over the next couple posts.

Much thanks to Charles Hively and the judges for the exciting news.

Let’s start with the winning entries for editorial:

1) Editorial series for Scientific American Magazine about the structure of language. Patti Nemoto, AD.

scientific american: the structure of language

scientific american: bilingual empathy


2) Editoral, single: Illustration for PlanSponsor Magazine about taking care of the small details. SooJin Buzelli, AD


3) Editorial, single. Illustration for the New York Times about steadying a marriage after a layoff. Fred Norgaard AD

your money for the new york times: repairing a marriage during a recession

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Boundless Brooklyn

Boundless Brooklyn asked Chris Buzelli and SooJin Buzelli to curate an exhibit featuring 50 illustrators painting 50 water tower models. The opening is April 3rd at Kikkerland Shop on 493 6th Avenue in New York City from 6pm to 9pm.

It has been a while since breaking out the paints but it was nice to create analog art again. My tower is based on an illustration about singularity commissioned by Nautilus Magazine about the merging of Robotic and Human intelligence. The pattern in the original illustration seemed perfect for a 3 dimensional object and a nice way to dive into the deep end of the painting pool. I had forgotten the emotional connection one can have while painting. The process can be very meditative. It was a bittersweet when the tower was complete.

Please pop by the exhibit, I’m sure it you will be blown away by all the participating illustrators.

For fun, the work in progress appears after the tower:

 RIMG0111RIMG0112RIMG0113IMG_8612IMG_8614IMG_8631 IMG_8641IMG_8628IMG_8647IMG_8645 IMG_8731

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2 for Society of Illustrators 57

Received a pleasant call last evening from the Society of Illustrators. Turns out 2 pieces made it into the Advertising and Institutional Show. Having judged this year in the Editorial category, I saw how difficult it was for a piece to be accepted. This is my third time judging and the quality of entries was easily the highest I have seen. Much thanks to the  Advertising and Institutional judges and the Society for the great news.

Program illustration for Teatro Alla Scalla’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Agency: TITA (Milan), Art Director: Dario Pianesi, Coordinator: Hélène Le Cannu.



Illustration for feature about building cities in the future for Sphere Magazine, a shareholder publication for Hutchison Whampoa. Agency: HK Media (Hong Kong), Publisher: Greg Crandall, Creative Director: Pierre Pang.


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I believe


My wife is a Hong Konger so I’ve had the chance to visit Hong Kong enough to feel a connection to the city. As you can imagine, the news has been very heartbreaking regarding the protests. Christopher Mok is opening a new gallery in Hong Kong and asked for a piece for an exhibit dedicated to the protests. Naturally I said said yes.

In my book, creating protest imagery is a tricky balance. Many ideas can be too simplistic but you need an immediate image to catch the eye. Demonizing an opponent makes for great visuals, but often seems like a creatively lazy way to communicate. Offering solutions like “peace” lose meaning because it is easy to call for peace but often impossible to achieve peace.

The solution I chose was trying to find a space where an emotional connection could happen. The main emotion a lot of my Hong Kong friends feel at the moment is heartbreak. My approach was hope in the face of impossible odds. As long as there is hope, there is a chance for the landscape to change. The Terracotta army of China was the inspiration for the metaphor of almost impossible obstacles Hong Kong faces. The yellow umbrella has become a symbol for this hope.

Much thanks to Chris for inspiring me to create a piece for a city that is near and dear to the heart.

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ICON8 Portland


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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One for the good guys

It’s always a pleasure to work for a client you believe in. The Southern Poverty Law Center has been a regular for years and are always a pleasure. They have interesting subjects and are open to a variety of ideas.  The Southern Poverty Law Center recently made a series of gift postcards for their Teaching Tolerance program and I was more than happy to have work included in the series.  Much thanks to art director Valerie Downes.


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Page 156, CA Illustration Annual 55

I remember the first time my work appeared in CA’s Illustration Annual in 1988. This was the professional equivalent of Christmas arriving early. It was a thrill to see my work together with the best of the best. I had been an illustrator for five years and when it was published, my career took off. For this I’ll always be grateful to CA.

Many years later it is still exciting to see work in the Annual. Much thanks to Alex Skoirchet and Morningstar Advisor for the great series done about risk and ‘Black Swans”.

Here’s the Morningstar Advisor piece accepted into this years Annual. Alex Skoirchet, AD:


And here’s the first piece ever accepted in CA in 1988 for Common Cause Magazine, Jeffery Dever, AD. It was very exciting to have Anita Kunz on the same page.



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100 Minicards for Moo + Interview with Rockpaperink

Editor Emily Potts called with a fun project to create a custom set of 100 mini cards with rounded corners for myself as part of a campaign by to have creatives from many disciplines showcase the possibilities of their mini cards. It is amazing how easy it is to customize cards these days and it was fun collecting, reediting  and cropping images from past work to create a cohesive collection.

Here’s an interview with Emily on Rockpaperink about the cards.

Client:  Editor: Emily Potts





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Sneak Peak for

Emily Potts called with a fun project from They wanted me to create 100 unique images for a 100 set of mini business cards with rounded corners to showcase their ability to customize. An article and interview about the cards and process will appear soon but Emily was kind enough to let me show a preview.  It was fun and I did feel a tinge of sadness when the project was complete.

Much thanks to Emily and

preview 100 card for


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Communication Arts Illustration Annual 2014

Very welcome and surprising news came from CA that one of my pieces has been accepted for the 2014 Illustration Annual. I used to read CA in high school and it was a big inspiration for a student finding his way. This is probably the toughest annual to be accepted so it’s always exciting to hear good news. Here’s a great post by Upper Case Magazine’s Janine Vangool about her experience judging the show.

The illustration “Who’s afraid of black swans?” was for an article about risk for Morningstar Advisor Magazine. Alex Skoirchet is one of my favorite directors and we have a nice collaborative process. Since I’m a bit of a financial geek, I really wanted to draw a black swan since it is a term for financial disruption. Risk is about fear so the image of being afraid of monsters at night seemed perfect.

Morningstar: Looking for black swan


Here were other options for risk. The literal monster could have worked but obviously I’m thrilled Alex picked the swan.


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A pirate’s life for me

Planet Yang is off this week but will be back soon. We’re keeping an eye out for pirates so you will be safe.


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Welcome to an impolite gentleman

Like many young artists, my first introduction to art was comics and I dreamt about being a cartoonist before discovering illustration in high school. Things have come full circle after a couple of Parsons students insisted I create a comic based on the humor of my twitter feed. One student said I play all the gentleman games but am not always a gentleman. This is how the Impolite Gentleman was born. If you would like to follow his journey (and many false starts while I learn) please follow him on Tumblr or Facebook.

The game plan is one strip will be produced every week.

Here’s the first to give you a feel and enjoy.


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20 Questions (Unabridged) with 3×3 Magazine

3×3 has a warm place in my heart and it was an honor to be asked by publisher Charles Hively to be included in the final print edition of 3×3 Magazine featuring work from Aad Goudappel, Harry Campbell, David Suter, Beppe Giacobbe, Jim Tsinganos, John Kraus, Anthony Tremmaglia, John Reinfurt, Paul Garland, and the back page by Leo Espinosa.

Here is the unabridged version for the 20 questions spotlight section.

Thanks again to 3×3 Magazine.



Twenty Questions

1) Favorite color? Probably orange since I wear it all the time

2) What do you listen to while working? WEFUNK radio and KEXP radio. If only my name was Professor Groove.

3) Person who had the most influence on you? Illustrator/Painter Salvador Bru. Salvador was this amazing older illustrator from Barcelona who could have been the template for The Most Interesting Man in the World. He took me under his wing my first year as an illustrator and we painted together. He had this effortless and fearless approach to painting without concern for mistakes. He taught me how to make the process fun.

4) Favorite medium and surface?  Wacom Intuos 4 Tablet with Mac Pro and 23inch Cinema Display monitor. Adobe Photoshop. Probably going to have to get a 27” inch iMac any day now.

5) Who is your favorite artist? Jim Flora

6) How do you start your day? Read news and favorite aggregate sites for an hour. Like to know what’s going on in the world before working.

7) Favorite art director or designer?  Most of my regular art directors are great because they are smart. Tim Kerr at Golf World has an unfair advantage because he takes me golfing.

8) If you weren’t an artist/illustrator what would you be doing? Maybe something with a macro approach related to investing. Having said that, I’m in a trade at the moment that makes me grateful illustrator is my real job.

9) Last book read?  “I Want My Hat Back”  Jon Klassen. What a flawless children’s book. I’m insanely jealous.

10) Favorite movie of all time? “ Blade Runner” by Ridley Scott. Got my first job at a design studio in the 80’s because the AD loved “Blade Runner” too.

11) What do you collect? Not really a collector person but there’s a few robot and vinyl toys spread around the workspace. They didn’t get there by themselves.

12) What do you do with your free time? Tennis, poker, golf, and movies. One friend says I play all the gentleman sports.

13) What do you do when you’re stuck on an assignment? Play tennis, golf, poker, or go to the movies.

14) Favorite vacation spot? Japan. One winter, Mrs Yang and I were at the base of Fuji Mountain in an outdoor hot bath with snow falling. It was magical.

15) Who makes you laugh? Vin Diesel in any “Fast and Furious” movie. Also Ricky Gervais.

16) Name your favorite guilty pleasure. Black and White milkshake.

17) What is your most treasured possession? My dad’s runner up medal from the US Nationals badminton tournament 1978.

18) Name something that you think is overrated. “The English Patient” (movie). What an unbearable piece of crap.

19) What time of day are you most productive? Morning. Some of my best illustrations have also happened on Sunday evenings.

20) Words to live by? To succeed you have to love what you do. Otherwise, you won’t endure the BS you encounter to get where you need.



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Linea Curve (Spain)

A pleasant surprise came in the mail this weekend. Linea Curve, which is a visual magazine from Spain, had a nice feature with my work. It was also great to see my friend, Yuko Shimizu in the same issue. Much thanks to editor Francisco Carrasco for writing the feature and the kind words.

yang1 yang2 yang3 yang4

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10 lessons learned for Cultura Visual (Spain)

It’s funny how things come in bunches. A few years ago 3 publications in China asked for interviews and this year the requests have come from Spain. The first was from Linea Curve Magazine for a feature which will be soon published and the second was a banner design and article for Mi Petit Madrid. Cultura Visual recently asked for 10 things learned as an creative professional that no one told me.  There were many more lessons than 10 but if you would like to check it out, please click here.

work and play


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2 for 3×3

Good news from 3×3 late last week. Two of my pieces received awards for merit from the 3×3 ProShow. The annual will be out later this winter. Much thanks to Charles Hively and the judges for making my day.

Top: Lamps for Lamp in the Box. Designer Director, Al Quattrochi. Tornado Design, design firm.  

2013 lamps


Bottom: Acceptance of Transgender people article for Mother Jones. Tim Luddy, AD

Mother Jones: transgender acceptance

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Communication Arts Illustration 2013

Great news from Communication Arts magazine. An illustration for Mother Jones magazine about the acceptance of transgender people was chosen for the 2013 Illustration annual. Tim Priddy, AD

Mother Jones: transgender acceptance

I was not the only Yang accepted into the competition. My wife, Abby Chan, is a choreographer and performer who commissioned illustrator Melinda Beck for her production, Kidult Ophelia, which will open in Hong Kong February 28. Melinda’s poster was also accepted into the competition. Much thanks to CA Magazine.

Melinda Beck, Ophelia



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Society of Illustrators 55

More good news from the Society of Illustrators as the “Get Out the Vote” poster for the AIGA was accepted into the advertising category for SOI 55 annual show. Much thanks to the Society and art director Joanne Zamore for the excellent job.

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