By Amy Shirley, New York, NY– Renowned Taiwanese graphic designer, Te-Sian Shih, is making waves on the international design scene with her unique blend of Eastern and Western design philosophies. Her journey, from Taiwan’s culturally rich landscape to New York’s competitive design arena, is a tale of resilience, innovation, and the quest for a deeper meaning through design.
In the bustling metropolis of New York, Shih’s designs stand out on the supermarket and department store shelves, telling a story of cultural fusion and a keen understanding of global aesthetics. Hailing from Taiwan, a melting pot of American, Chinese, Japanese, and indigenous Taiwanese cultures, Shih brings to her work a rich tapestry of design logic melded with a New York-centric design system. Her daring venture into the crossroads of Eastern and Western design aesthetics has not only won her international accolades but has also built bridges of understanding among diverse clientele.
Shih earned a master’s degree from famous art institute Pratt Institute with a focus in Packaging, Identities, and Systems Design, provided the springboard for her illustrious career in the heart of New York’s design community. Over the years, her remarkable design works have garnered prestigious awards such as the A Design Awards in 2022 and 2023, the IDA International Design Awards, the Muse Design Awards, the GD USA Branding and Package Design Awards, and the DNA Paris Design Awards. Her design exhibits have graced international venues including the Florence Biennale, the Genova Biennale, The Oculus World Trade Center, and the European Museum of Modern Art in Spain, among others.
As a testament to her industry recognition, Shih served as a judge for the Calanca Poster Biennale in Switzerland in 2023 and the World Journal’s Children’s Painting Competition in 2022 and 2023. Her inspirations draw from a vast array of experiences, including a love for Western films and history, which she explored extensively before making her mark in New York.
Following the pandemic’s upheaval, the societal landscape shifted, casting a pall over New York City, with many individuals grappling with a sense of despondency. Shih, responding to this communal malaise, crafted a unique font amalgamating Chinese and English elements as a medium of encouragement for the city’s denizens. The initiative resonated profoundly, offering a symbolic gesture of healing amidst the losses endured during the epidemic.
In the subsequent year, personal health exigencies necessitated Shih’s return to Taiwan for surgical intervention. Concurrently, the demise of a contemporary at the year’s onset propelled her into a contemplative reverie on life’s essence. Amidst her convalescence in Taiwan, Shih embarked on a spiritual and cultural sojourn through the historic byways and sacred edifices of Lukang township. She found herself profoundly affected by the Qing Dynasty-era relics and calligraphy, and the congenial demeanor of the local populace. Despite a seeming dearth of modern accoutrements, the community exuded an unfeigned warmth and zest for life, embodying a rich tapestry of Zen teachings and ancient wisdom.
This personal odyssey, framed by surgical recovery and the poignant loss of a cherished friend, catalyzed a period of introspection. While her professional endeavors flourished amidst a cosmopolitan cadre in New York, the transience of urban camaraderie laid bare the undercurrent of isolation endemic to the city’s rapid tempo. Compelled by these converging streams of personal and communal experiences, Shih conceptualized a poster, “Rat Race and In People’s Hour of Need,” encapsulating the existential tumult yet beckoning towards the serene tenets of Zen. Through this visual narrative, she aspired to provide a semblance of solace to New Yorkers, nudging them towards introspective refuge amidst the vicissitudes of pandemic-stricken lives.
The thematic crux of “Rat Race and In People’s Hour of Need” delves into the societal maelstrom where relentless commercial endeavors often eclipse the gentler virtues of mutual aid. The artistic interplay of fonts— a bold industrialized typeface juxtaposed against a softer, middle seal script— evokes a narrative of dichotomy, eventually segueing into a Zen-inspired synthesis. The chromatic minimalism, accented by strokes of red and blue, symbolizes the emotional spectrum, resonating with the contrasting facets of human interaction. This emblematic creation not only clinched the International Design Awards in 2023 but also found a prestigious platform at Governors’ Island’s art exposition, resonating with hearts seeking healing through art.
In the vein of Beethoven’s transcendental musical oeuvre, Shih posits that authentic design should resonate with a soulful timbre. Despite the adversities strewn along her path— the dislocation from familial ties and a cherished cultural milieu upon her New York sojourn— Shih found a common chord of human experience in the myriad conversations with the city’s residents. This revelation fortified her resolve that design, transcending mere commercial vistas, could be a potent conduit for global empathy, a narrative of shared human experience echoing through the visual medium to foster a more compassionate world.