We had the good fortune of connecting with Sunny Tianqing Li and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sunny Tianqing, how do you think about risk?
I am forsure a risk-taker. I see challenges as a big part of my life drive to keep me always passionate and excited.
Moving across the Pacific Ocean to the States has been the biggest risk for me. I had no idea if it was the right decision by the time. The only thing I knew was that I got fascinated by the creatives and designs here and I wanted to be the maker of that stuff. So I came, and here I am. Moving onward with my career, as a freelance designer, there were always times that I have to face risks and challenges. I could never foresee the outcome if it’s negative or positive. But to me, attempting is already a positive thing because a learning outcome is secured by making a move.
I describe myself as fearful fearless, meaning the unknown makes me have a butterfly in my stomach, but I never am afraid about trying stuff to reach the destination.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When I first started my academic practice as a graphic designer, I was super excited about books and publications. I loved the physical touch of the material, the weight, and the smell. — Now I still do, I have a huge interest in collecting prints, from books to flyers. After being introduced to a broader range of tools, techniques, and more importantly, ideas—I turned into a multidisciplinary designer. I get really excited when there’s a chance for me to jump through mediums to translate and transform graphic languages.
I see much potential for exploration, both visually and conceptually. I do have my interest in a particular area of study, but I’d like to approach the design from different aspects and logic. Also, being exposed to a massive amount of content online makes it easy for one to fall in love with a style and stick to it. So whenever I had a new project, I always tried to not work in my comfort zone. I wanted to design things base on concept and thinking.
It had not been easy for me. I never approached anything I carve for so easily and I very much appreciate the risks and failures I had to face to. I was having a great time of being fearless trying stuff though sometimes it could be really awkward. Learning new things became the most exciting moment, no matter if it’s from failure or success. There will always be “moments” as sparks in my life.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The first destination that jumps into my mind is all the art bookstores in LA. Hennessey + Ingalls next to SCI-Arc, ARTBOOK @ Hauser & Wirth, Arcana, Chevalier’s Books, Skylight Books in Loz Feliz… This cultural and artsy journey keeps going by visiting all the museums. The Getty is on top among others in my opinion, I love the spacious art gallery with a little hint of nature.
Another great thing about LA is its coffee. Jones Coffee in Pasadena is still the best in my mind, not only by the taste but also by the homey staff and cozy environment. Speaking about eating, there are just numerous choices. I really enjoy the atmosphere at Home Restaurant (which is within walking distance from Skylight Books!) Some of my other to-go brunch places include Little Pine, Cos & Pi, Square One Dining, and Millie’s Cafe. Asian food is another spotlight of this city. I would just drive around San Gabriel or Alhambra, stop by The Bay Cafe, Monja Taiker, or Savoy Kitchen—there’s nothing luxurious but just tasty and comforting.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Every single creative, designer, a client that I ever came across deserves a shoutout! I would have a list with hundreds of names. I got inspired frequently but randomly. These are not only professional inspirations but also life flashes. I’m growing, shaping my cognition of the world, and crafting my creative thoughts and style. So I’m truly thankful to whoever chipped in my life. I do want to give a huge thank you to all my instructors and mentors back to ArtCenter College of Design. They were with me at (0,0,0) on the coordinate system, and with their guidance and help, I am now able to chase the infinite in the creative field.
Image name: 5-Exhibition Design_Haus&Heimat at HMCT Photography credit: Johnathan Huang http://jhuangstudio.com/