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Joy Li: Graphic designer by day, deep thinker and visual artist by night

Joy Li: Graphic designer by day, deep thinker and visual artist by night

Featured photo credit: Joy Li / Li General Store

The struggle to remember the names of distant overseas relatives and deal with condescending Aunties.

While unspoken of, the experience of growing up as a child from migrant parents remain relatable amongst those who have lived through it.

Sydney-based visual artist, Joy Li’s latest project, ‘An ABC’s Chinese New Year Survival Guide’ dives into the nuances of celebrating Chinese New Year as an Australian-born Asian whilst satirically pointing at stereotypes including awkward interactions with family members and disconnect to culture.

“The whole point of it is a little satirical in the sense that you’ll probably never say some of the stuff in the guide to your Auntie unless you want to get beat, but I guess there are Aunties that do fit that stereotype where all you want to say back is that type of stuff and it gives comic relief,” she explained.

“Half of it is also functional, which is an aspect of its design because I really want people to use this as a guide as well.”

Photo credit: Joy Li / Chinese New Year – Survival Guide

Li is a graphics designer during the day and a self-established visual artist during her spare time, creating work inspired by her own experiences as an Australian-born Chinese woman – evoking sentiment amongst those with similar diasporic backgrounds.

“Half the stuff I create is a lot from my own experiences and how I want to express myself and how I feel, but to another person, they might not necessarily understand what I feel or even if they do they’ll take their own version of that.”

“I guess how people often relate to my work is similar to that laughing and crying emoji, where you find it so hilarious but also so sad and relatable at the same time.”

Breaking the conventions of how artists are perceived, Li discovered her strengths as a visual communicator after high school and focused on it to the benefit of her parent’s support.

Being brought up with the influence of Chinese parents with high expectations, and I wouldn’t just say it’s Chinese but society in general, art and anything creative are seen as either difficult with low job prospects or as having low living standards.

“My parents always saw me as someone that was creative and they found that it would be the best route for me to go down, I guess they have faith for me only because I showed results,” she explained.

Photo credit: Joy Li / Li General Store

While Li’s artwork reflects on her own interactions with family, the cultural and generational gap between Li and her parents  means the intentions behind her art is lost in meaning.

“When I put out my artwork, my parents didn’t read into it because they weren’t the audience so they wouldn’t know what it means, but I guess over time I started explaining things and they started to grasp what it really means,” she said.

I mean they were born from a totally different era to us and born from a different time and place as well, and to them, it doesn’t compute to them, like what do you mean token Asian we’re all Asian or what do you mean Dear Joy, I love you.

Check out more of Joy Li’s work by checking out her website HERE.


Michael Lu

From lion dancing to slam poetry, occasional CulturalPulse contributor Michael Lu loves delving into all things art, culture and technology. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: editor@culturalpulse.com.au