I was born in Taiwan. I went to LA when I was young and then back to Taiwan and remember feeling it was the first time I got exposed to systems and restrictions because the culture is very different. I had a piano teacher that would hit me a lot, so what I found wherever I go is that teachers are really important. When children believe in themselves, it’s giving them the freedom to believe that they can create.

Then, I went to South Africa. Before I went there, my friends told me I was going to get chased by lions and I was so scared. But, I think Africa really influenced me in my artwork because there’s such a big difference between those in poverty and wealthy people, but the people suffering through poverty are the most creative people I’ve ever seen. They don't let poverty get in their way of creativity.

They’re so good with their crafts- the way they hand-make their sculptures and baskets and the way they use colors. It definitely influenced my way of thinking what beauty is. It made me realize that you don’t need money to learn those skills.  These people think they can because they need to survive, so they all can. That means anyone can be creative; they just have to believe in themselves.

I have always been exploring design. My parents wanted me to change paths, but I told them I’m going to prove them wrong and that this is what I want to do in my life. What really keeps me going is that I never want to lose. I always want to win. It’s the gratifying feeling after if I win. But if I don’t win, it’s okay, too. It’s just a drive that I have. It makes me explore my potential.

I think my life has been free and then restricted, free and then restricted. I think it was good because it gave me discipline in design, but also the creativity that I have. People need discipline to know that they need to push things through. 

I remember there was one project in college where everyone gave me shitty comments. You get critiqued every week. In the beginning, it was really difficult because you spend so much time and you do so much research to create the best one. But, I’ve seen in Africa how people strive to be creative and when I think about that, I think the critique is nothing at all. It doesn’t affect me because I know and believe that I’ve tried my best with my ability.

If they're constructively criticizing to make my thing better, it doesn't affect me, because I know that it will make my thing better. But when they're just criticizing to make themselves feel better, then it doesn't affect me either. So it doesn't affect me overall at all as a person. I think my nature as Joy in design has been quite lucky because I never stop trying. I always absorb what I need in criticism and still have joy. This has kept me going up until now.

Every project that you face is a challenge because it’s something new. Every project, I learn more about myself. I get to see my own potential not just in terms of my work skills, but my passions. I get to explore what I’m most interested in. Everything requires design: any object you see, advertising, any fonts on TV, any system. Someone’s put thought into it. I designed a motorcycle and it’s pretty much a combination of at least 120 products. There are so many mechanical parts that you have to build and combine and every screw and angle is important. Design is a long process. I remember I was so stressed out and it was forcing me to learn; and in the end, the satisfaction of it being produced is really cool.

I remember interviewing someone for my company who asked me why I have stayed and I said that this was a platform for my dreams to come true. Another reason I want to do design is I want to help people. It makes me happy when they’re using a product that makes them happier internally, mentally, or makes their lives more convenient. When clients ask us to design something, it’s for different types of people; they’re of different age, different ethnicity, different markets, so I feel like I’m connected to the world all the time. I’m always learning about and getting to talk to different groups of people. That’s what makes this job unendingly fun.

I’ve always wanted to heal people through design, but I don’t know how yet. I’m still exploring that aspect. If you take everything that required a design process away, we’re all the same. But, people are identified by what they own or wear or they identify others by what they own. So, I want to use design to help others express themselves and their identity. The drive is to help: that’s where I get the creativity.

Elim LoiComment