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2020 IDI Graduate Design Awards: Meet Masa Yan

Masa Yan was shortlisted for the IDI Graduate Awards
5 min

Griffith College’s Faculty of Design were delighted to see three of our recent graduates shortlisted for the 2020 IDI Graduate Design awards, with two announced winners in their category. Given the huge impact COVID-19 had on learners, which was felt especially harshly by our Design students, we are particularly proud of our finalists.

To celebrate their efforts, over the coming weeks we will be running a series of interview pieces with our finalists to find out a little more about them, what makes them tick and what they’ve been up to since graduating.

This week, we speak to Masa Yan, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Design Communications in 2020 and was announced as the winner in the IDI’s Graduate Award in the Design Communications category.

Great to speak to you, Masa! Tell our readers a little bit about yourself…

I’m Lijie Yan, but I normally go by Masa. I’m an illustrator based in Dublin. To me, drawing is a way of expressing myself, to record day-to-day life and to let my imagination go beyond the ordinary.

What made you want to study Design Communications?

As the entire world goes digital, there is no industry that is not using Design Communications. Designers have become an indispensable part of every industry, and thus the opportunities are endless.

What’s your favourite thing about the field?

My favourite things to do are graphic illustration and motion graphic design!

How did it feel to win the Graduate IDI Award in the Visual Communications category?

I was really honoured to win an IDI Award in the Visual Communications category. It had been a really tough year with the pandemic, but this gave me the motivation I needed to keep going.

Tell us a bit more about your winning IDI project, ‘All Girls Equal’. What made you want to do your project in this particular area?

I chose the topic of female education, and India lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to gender equality in this area. Government and non-government legislation have gone some way to rectifying this but there is still a long way to go to achieve proper gender equality.

My intention was to highlight the gender disparity in India’s education system and to encourage girls and women to pursue their dreams through higher education. 

I used illustration to convey four key benefits of education and to raise awareness of gender inequality when it comes to the education of young women.

What have you been up to since you graduated?

I've been working as a freelance illustrator since graduating and have worked on some really exciting projects. This includes poster design for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and for Children’s Books Ireland. I’ve also redesigned packaging and menus and created posters for the Dublin-based Pizza Mór restaurants. I’ve created illustrations for the South African stationery brand Colour Me Kids and most recently, I finished a design project for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year.

What’s the most significant thing you took from Griffith College – either in terms of skills or personally?

Griffith taught me vital practical skills that I needed to be able to produce high-quality design work. These covered a range of areas like illustration, typography, motion graphics, and interaction design. Having these specialised skills are really important to me and having advanced technical skills in all of these areas has been key to my success working for myself.

What are your plans for the future?

Once everything settles down with the pandemic, I hope to obtain work as a graphic designer at a tech-related company. I plan to always keep my freelance work going alongside this and in the meantime, I’m happy to let that keep me ticking over.

Anything else you would like to share?

To anyone looking for inspiration or just starting out in design, my advice is to just draw - anything and everything you see! I draw what surrounds me, even if it’s just doodling. Often I get inspired by Pinterest boards of artists I admire but if you just draw, you’ll eventually find something worth developing further.

Want to keep up with Masa's progress? You can find her at the links below!

Interested in Design?

Learn more about Design Communications at Griffith College, and get in touch with our Admission team!