Chengxi Tian

September 5, 2019

Chengxi Tian is a multidisciplinary designer and creative based between Shanghai and Los Angeles. Constantly in flux between China and the United States, her work harmonizes aesthetics and philosophies from opposite sides of the world. Her background in oil paining has informed the way she approaches a digital canvas, exploring art direction, graphic design and motion graphics. Her design is expressive and intuitive, a visual diary of her emotions, experiences and identity. Previous clients include Beats by Dre, Adidas, 88rising and DOE Shanghai.

How did your interest in art and design begin?

My interest in art started at a very young age.  I started with traditional art practice when I was 4.  It was a lot of oil painting and still life drawings.

My interest in design developed after I interned for a couple photographers in college, and because of photo editing I was able to learn Photoshop.  Soon after, I started teaching myself other Adobe softwares.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?

A recent project I did earlier this year was a 30 day challenge.  I really wanted to learn more about my own design and conceptual process and develop more as an artist.  Currently, I’m working on a print magazine with my friend Marie.  It’s called CODE52. It aims to create a space and give voice to independent artists around the globe.  With 2 artists from 5 cities, the magazine will showcase a selection of 10 artists’ work as well as offering an impression on their personal roots and process.

What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other designers are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing?

One of the bigger challenges I see amongst designers these days is definitely originality. Because the internet and social media is so accessible and saturated with visuals, it’s easy to be influenced by other designers.

People tend to forget/ become lazy with finding other channels and mediums for inspiration.

How has living in Shanghai affected your design practice?

Moving back to Shanghai has allowed me to get closer to my Chinese roots and learn to be more in tune with my emotions.  I’ve always been really close with my grandfather who practices calligraphy religiously and his work as well as his discipline have definitely impacted my practice.


What products or companies are you interested in right now?

Rivian- It’s the world’s first electric pickup truck.  I think the features, functionality, and overall design is really sick.  I wonder how Tesla feels about it.

Can you describe your design process?

My design process is extremely process based haha.  I’ve never really planned a piece out from the start to end.

It’s mostly based on my emotions and how I’m feeling that day or week.  It always begins with a keyword or a problem I’ve been thinking about in my head.

I find a way to bring whatever I’m thinking during that time to life.  It’s a very meditative process for me.

What are you really excited about right now?

I’m really excited about eating Chinese food all week.  I’ve been traveling for the past month, and have been deprived of the local food here.

Favorite places to shop?

I love going to vintage and local shops when I travel.

Shopping in Tokyo is my absolute favorite.

Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work?

I think “that looks cool” is actually not the reaction I always look forward to.

It’s what most people say, but I know I want to hear more feedback than that.  The best reaction is when the work can start a conversation.