University design student collaborates with global creative group

A bright blue avatar created by a University of Waikato design student is on show across New Zealand as part of the University’s A Trimester 2023 campaign.

09 Aug 2022

Bachelor of Design (BDes) student, Yingyu Chen, 21, collaborated with the global independent creative group, Special Group, after her bespoke design was selected to promote Computer Science at the University.

In a move to break the stereotypes around Computer Science, the final campaign image featured two female students and was photographed outside with the headline: “For the people who want to create the world they see”.


Yingyu sitting next to a computer with his design on the screen.

Yingyu Chen enjoyed the opportunity to work with the University's design agency


University design students were given the opportunity to put forward avatar examples and after five student portfolios were reviewed, Yingyu’s ‘Cyber Lady’ stood out amongst the rest.

Using a drawing tablet on the computer, and in the space of 30-minutes, Yingyu created a two-dimensional blue female avatar. Data cubes represent the idea that Cyber Lady is still loading, and polygon lines and skeleton hands reference evolution and modelling.

But that wasn’t the end of the road for Cyber Lady, Yingyu says her avatar “came to life” after she received feedback from Special Group.

The avatar was further transformed into an even more dynamic three-dimensional figure, adding texture and depth, and the elements of the skeleton and data cubes were further developed in the base, arms and hair.

“I only had to go back to Special Group once with changes, and it was pretty exciting when I saw it come to life!” Yingyu says.

Two girils sitting on grass with laptops inbetween a hologram.

Yingyu Chen's avatar is one of the stars of the University's latest marketing campaign

“I wanted to create a character that spoke to young people with interest in design, so I decided to keep the avatar’s face hidden by her hair to create a sense of mystery and allow the viewer to interpret it how they wish.”

The design is now live in advertising and marketing material across a mix of digital, print and outside-of-the-home channels.

The University’s Director of Marketing Michaela Goldsmith says Yingyu went over and above to create a bespoke avatar based on the creative sketch put forward by Special Group.

“The result is incredible and we couldn’t imagine a more perfect avatar for the setting, nor could we be more proud to feature Yingyu’s work,” Michaela says.

“The collective inclusion of student talent and student artwork from right here on the University of Waikato Bachelor of Design makes this image all the more special.”

Yingyu has been drawing, sketching and creating for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until her final year at Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Hamilton, did she find her passion for design.

“Art was the beginning of my artistic journey, it inspired me to do design. Design filled the empty space which I feel was lacking.

“I’ve had a computer since I was 10 and I used devices that allowed you to paint and sketch. I would spend every weekend and holiday, hours a day, creating different things.”

Yingyu, an international student from China, is in her final year studying for a Bachelor of Design, with a double major in Communication Design and Interface Design.

She thanks her design lecturer Carolina Short and tutor Rowan Simmon for an easy transition into tertiary study.

“They were very helpful throughout my entire bachelor’s. Even though I was told I had talents in this area, I felt I had so much room to improve. Carolina and Rowan taught me a lot and I was able to extend my knowledge.”

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