Humans of Interchange – Li Yang


Apologies for dropping the ball on Humans of Interchange. Exams came up and then I had a backlog of other posts to complete. I’m still very much looking for international students to interview so feel free to shoot me an e-mail at willbe[at] . This interview was quite special to me as Li Yang was one of the first people to personally approach me to share her story.

Why did you pick design as your degree?

I initially picked design because I love animation but I didn’t want to go into that industry. I wanted to do something more with art. I later discovered digital visualisation, which combines programming and art together. It’s all about presenting data in a clear and meaningful way. I’m doing an internship now that applies this, it’s a pretty small company but it’s all about technology. The hardest thing about working is communication because it’s hard to understand someone else’s business vision. You spend most of your time on that because it doesn’t matter how fabulous you are if your design doesn’t look like what they want it to.


My parents work in business so they don’t know anything about arts or design. In the beginning there was a lot of ‘What the hell just stop that, you can’t do that’ coming from them about the path I chose for myself. Gradually I persuaded them by talking about the value of design. I’m not sure if this trick applies to other parents but I was selling myself to them as a product and asking them to see the potential value in me.

I really look up to John Maeda, he’s a software engineer who’s passionate about the arts. One of his students, Ben Fry, became famous for creating new software that’s still popular now. They had similar ideas, using a small platform that typical artists would be using but running it with programming language to create still pattern motion graphics.

The biggest difference between China and Australia is that in China, grades mean everything. Getting a good mark makes you the king of the school while getting a low mark relegates you to the back of the class because nobody cares about you. In addition to this, my hometown takes the one child policy quite seriously. Having sons is definitely seen as more desirable, people treat them with greater importance. My father too, grew up in a town where the only mission for a female is to give birth to a boy so you don’t need to work. I do feel that I am not well liked simply because I am a girl. People continue to undermine me even though I’m the only one who’s finished high school and gotten accepted to study at a university in Australia.

My stinky fish is my past. When I first arrived here I was a mess. I didn’t know anyone and I lived in one of those illegal houses with 12 other people. I made mistakes in more ways than I would care to disclose here, let’s just say it was a very difficult part of my life. But my happy fish is me, now. I want to face what I did back then and I’m confident I’m able to. I’ve been looking for solutions, talking to people and e-mailing anyone that can help me. And thinking a lot, thinking is probably what helps the most.


I’m not completely technology dependent, being an artists holds me back from that. My e-calendar was completely wiped out by accident once, that’s when I got a physical planner. Having a planner let’s me schedule things, practice writing and draw pictures.

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