Starling Studio
Wedding Photographer in Columbus, Ohio


Yao Cheng Design: Columbus Wedding Vendor Spotlight


Yao Cheng Design


My heart behind doing these vendor spotlights is to educate and introduce Columbus brides to some of the very best vendors in the wedding industry in hopes that they can connect and utilize these amazing services for their big day! I am beyond thankful Yao Cheng so kindly allowed me into her light filled art studio on Gay Street in downtown Columbus to photograph some of the magic she creates. It was such a dream watching her work— pulling inspiration from floral arrangements in a book she delicately picked up a paint brush (or two) and seemingly effortlessly created a stunning paintings before my eyes.

It truly was such an honor to watch her paint— I have loved her work for such a long time and was a little awe struck when we first met. Her studio as you can see is such a peaceful and cheerful space full of a whole lot of pretty! Yao has such a calming presents and truly left me feeling very inspired.

She has partnered with well known brands from West Elm and Minted to Tervis and Staples just to list a few, but her wedding invitations stole the show during our time together!

Go ahead and grab a cup of coffee then sit back and enjoy getting to know all about Yao of Yao Cheng Design and let her awe-inspiring watercolor florals let you reminisce of spring during these blustery fall days!


Can you take a moment to introduce yourself?

My name is Yao, and I'm the watercolor artist & founder behind Yao Cheng Design since 2012. I have always loved painting florals and blooms and capturing nature in general. So painting watercolor flowers came early on and very easily for me. Pretty soon after establishing my business, I started designing wedding stationery since it was the perfect combination of my painted blooms and designing stationery. A number of brides were coming to me with this idea, so I pushed myself to learn about this industry and figured it out as I went.

The beginning few years were focused on custom, because I was able to control the quality of printing and source the papers that I liked. At the same time, around 2014, I was also submitting some designs to Minted as another option to offer my brides who were on a lower budget. I think it's generally a good business strategy to try a few different avenues and be open about new possibilities. As it turned out, I was able to reach a much broader audience of bridges through my wedding suites on Minted than on my own, though I still really love the specialty pieces (such as trifold programs and hand-addressed envelopes) that I created through my custom work. Minted has really grown over the years, and I've been adding more and more wedding suites on there. Today, I am focused on only offering my wedding stationery there as my way to focusing more of my own studio time on pursing more commercial and licensing work.


I have been such a huge fan of your work for years and would love to hear how it all began!

Well, I've known since I was a young kid that I would have my own business one day, so I suppose you can say it began there. But more specifically, I realized midway through my designing time at Abercrombie & Fitch (I was there almost 3 years right out of college) that this was the time in my life to take that jump and start the business that I always dreamed about. I had started painting watercolor as a way to explore new mediums during my time at A&F, so once I fell in love with watercolor (it was pretty immediate), that was the last piece of the puzzle for me and everything sort of just clicked. Thinking back, I've been painting watercolor for about 8 years now. 

My passion has always been with art and painting. Since I was really small, I've introduced to art and working creatively with my hands. I was lucky enough to have taken some sort of art class through middle and high school. I am also extremely lucky in knowing very early on what my career would be. So once I got to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design), I already had a focused direction of honing my artistic skills for a career in art. However, my training at RISD was more focused in fine art and textiles, and I had not figured out how to translate it into my watercolor style that I'm more known for today. 


Where do you find your inspiration for your artwork? 

It's a mix of different places- in my everyday observation of nature (such as right now, it's spring and I love just seeing all of the colors that's now blooming in trees and tulips), and using Pinterest as a visual reference guide. I also find inspiration in the rhythm of music. In the end, my work is a combination of visuals and sounds from different places. 


How would you describe your style in business/relationships with your clients? 

I'm a very hands on artist & designer, so I like to have work very closely with my clients. This usually means rounds of both sketches and revisions to show them visually the work and progress that I'm making. With licensing collaborations, this also involves me physically seeing samples of the final products and sending comments on colorations and so forth.


What has surprised you the most about your business? 

Both in how challenging it is to balance the business side + the creative side, and how amazing it feels when I accomplish something that I've been dreaming about or feel very passionate about. Running your own business can be a very intense experience- the highs are indescribably great but the lows can feel very anxious and stressful. In the end, I wouldn't trade this job for any other, it's so worth it all!


How would you describe yourself in 3 words? 

Passionate, joyful, a perfectionist.


What do you love most about running your own business? 

The gratification of seeing how it can bring a smile or a little bit of joy to someone else's day. Seeing that my work can communicate such an emotion through something purely visual is sort of magical.


Tell me more! What have I missed?

My outlook on design and art has always been that my art is never meant to just be fine art or be displayed in a gallery. I think the most interesting art comes from serving as functional art- meaning that it is beautiful and stand on its own as art, but it also has a function to it so that people can actually use it. I love that I am able to share my art with others on a broader scale and with a purpose (such as wedding stationery for someone's special day!).

Tessa Berg