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Who’s Jiani Lu?

I’m a graphic designer and photographer based in Toronto. I’m on a mission to check off a long list of travel ventures. All while pursuing my passions in print design, branding, package design and paper arts.

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How did you get started as a graphic designer? 

I studied graphic design for 4 years at York University and Sheridan College in their joint design program. During my time there, I gravitated towards developing infographics, package design and print design. I interned briefly at Underline Studio while in school, worked at a branding studio after completing school and am now working as a freelancer.

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What’s your studio space like?

I have a small room dedicated to work. It’s an organized clutter of visual reference books, magazines, paper samples, newsletters, collected brochures and flyers. While a lot of the work I do is digital, I still try to incorporate sketching, building prototypes and hands-on craftsmanship into my process. So you’d find bins of paper rolls, cutting boards and die cutters, printers and various craft tools are all kind of tucked away throughout the room.

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Can you describe your process for creating the artwork you did for our Fall 2015 menu?

After having seen photographs of the best sellers, I began sketching out ideas and brainstorming how I wanted to portray the desserts and compose them. I then developed a mood board that detailed in on colour schemes, photographic composition, and which desserts would be selected to be crafted into paper craft form. Next I analyzed how I could simplify the desserts and drinks into very preliminary geometric forms. And by breaking down each dessert in various components to  convert into individual die-cuts that would then be assembled together to create the whole thing. I then designed the dessert die-cuts to scale. Making sure the proportions of the waffle for instance, was proportionally bigger than a cake slice.

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There were a lot of iterations that involved printing the die-cuts on draft paper, cutting them out and seeing whether the size, shape and form was how I envisioned it to be. When all the die-cuts for every component were confirmed, I began making a list of what coloured papers I needed and identifying which die-cuts needed to be printed on what kind of coloured paper

  • 7 different coloured papers
  • 5 background papers
  • eg. Waffles we got embossed Kraft paper. Strawberries we got red paper with embossed polka dots to look like seeds.

All the die-cuts were printed out and involved 3 full days of cutting and assembly. Everything was cut by hand (I got my brother and his girlfriend to help). Arranging all the pieces together and photographing them took half a day. Further photo processing took another 2 days.

Take a look at more progress shots here.

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Do you have a favourite place to go to in Toronto?

Lately I’ve been trying to enjoy the lake as much as possible as our summers are so short. Harbourfront Centre’s open cinema by the waters has been really nice on Wednesday evenings. We show up with some tea and blankets and it’s a great vibe. Bike rides on the Toronto islands have been a great way to de-stress. I love packing a mini picnic, putting on a nice playlist and spending half a day there.

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What’s your favourite place that you’ve traveled to?

Amongst my travels, the places that really stood out for me were secluded and featured vast nature. A few years ago I did a solo 9 day road trip across Iceland and it has been by far the most memorable experiences of my life. I was fascinated by the untainted nature and overwhelming scale and beauty of the landscapes. Iceland is full of contrasts, I would be hiking through bubbling geothermal sites in the morning, and find myself in a glacial lake by evening. There were moments I was convinced I was on another planet, it was simply surreal.

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Can you tell us about something you’ve worked on recently that you’re excited about?

I’m currently working closely with my good friend and founder of -ING Creatives, Ramy Alawassy, and his team on developing the new campaign material for their upcoming creative festival in April 2017. -ING Creatives is an organization based in Dubai that coordinates design events.

Their past festival was their largest event to date with 30+ exhibiting artists flying in from around the world and a roaster of exceptional speakers including Timothy Goodman, Neville Page, andDavid Delgado giving talks and hosting workshops.

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We are now in the early stages of curating the content, speakers, exhibitors and artists for 2017. I’ve been overviewing the design and communication materials, website revamp and collaborating with their architect in seeing how we can transfer the -ING brand identity and campaign aesthetics into spatial experiences, interiors and way finding solutions.

-ING’s past creative festival’s campaign material can be seen here for 2015 and 2016.

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Is there anything you’re thinking of doing in the future?

My friend, Alaa Amra, and I have been in discussion about collaborating on a self-published magazine. We’re interested in the idea of having a place where we have complete creative control in exploring topics, themes and visual applications that we’d like to focus on.

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Here’s Jiani’s final artwork for our Fall 2015 Menu Cover:

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And the Bill Cards

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