Choy Weng Yang (蔡荣恩)
The modernist "Artist-Designer"
1936 – (b. Singapore)
Choy was studying painting in London's Hornsey College of Art when he first encountered graphic design. Traveling on the London Underground in the 1960s, he was impressed by posters commissioned to promote the subway and its iconic system map which has become the template for others around the world.
Spurred to learn more about graphic design Choy signed up for evening classes in the London College of Printing. At Hornsey, he also took up courses in fabric design and theatre lighting. Besides such formal education, Choy also learn about graphic design through browsing various magazines where he picked up the importance of typography as well as ideas of “simplification” and “systems”—the tenets of modernist graphic design.
Such ideas are visible in his early designs upon returning to Singapore in 1963. While lecturing at the Teachers’ Training College Arts & Crafts Department, Choy was also actively in organising art exhibitions which he often designed publicity materials and catalogues for.
In 1973, he received a six-month UNESCO Fellowship to travel to United States where he met various modernist design masters. He was attached to the MIT Centre for Advanced Visual Studies directed by Professor György Kepes and also spent an afternoon with Josef Albers.
When the National Museum Art Gallery was setup in the mid-1970s, Choy first joined as its head of exhibition and design before serving as its curator of art between 1978 to 1985. Throughout this period, he was involved in all aspects of exhibition making, from its curation to catalogue design.
- "Choy Weng Yang." Oral History Project, https://oralhistoryproject.sg/Choy-Weng-Yang. Accessed 10 January 2022.