Graphic & Media Design
Recently I was introduced to a podcast by a young designer named Rich Tu, who serves as a Vice President of Digital Design for MTV, VH1, CMT, and Logo and a member of AIGA NY’s Board of Directors.
His podcast, named First Generation Burden is a platform he uses to have conversations with immigrants and children of immigrants within the creative industry.
Started partly in response to Donald Trump’s election in 2016, Rich wanted to combat the fear and toxic
rhetoric surrounding immigrants and “the other” and so decided to provide a way of giving a voice to immigrants within the field he had established himself in – the creative. Since then, he has spoken to over 32 different designers and creatives who have lived through and understand first-hand the innate challenges that come with moving your life to another country. Through these conversations, listeners are able to grasp insight into the unique perspectives of these creative individuals. I personally have found value in hearing the different ways each of these individuals have carved a career for themselves with their interests. Being at a stage in my life where I’m seeking my place as a “creative”, I’ve been inspired and challenged by the podcast in different ways. Sophia Chang is a NYC designer/illustrator who tells about how she pursued learning many different skills ranging from illustration, to typography during her time in education so she could be a design “beast”. Essentially having multiple opportunities for revenue. This conversation in particular stuck with me being someone who so far has felt like I’ve had to struggle with having multiple creative interests.
For a while I’ve felt stuck not knowing whether I should spend my time in education honing and
sharpening one particular craft, or whether I should be working on diversifying my skill drawer. When asking about how to approach solving this, the seemingly conflicting answers; things like “the quicker you specialise and find a niche, the more chance you have of becoming successful” to “these days people want a designer that can do a little bit of everything” have done little to give me a sense of direction. All the while, the mounting pressure of time moving on, and the fear of stagnation hovers over me. ‘multidisciplinary’ or ‘specialist’? ‘One trick pony’ or ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’?
That is, until hearing Sophia Chang’s story. She speaks with a nonchalance and assurance about her
formative years as a design student trying to learn as much as she could. As a result, she is now a versatile designer who has worked with a myriad of high-profile clients. Her strong sense of self is maybe the other reason I was captivated by her interview. Especially since so far this year, I’ve struggled with a general loss of confidence. I feel like I’m yet to develop that sense of identity as a creative and the self-assured way that Chang has built her career is something I look up to immensely. Hearing her personal story was the confirmation for me to strive to continue seeking and forging my practice. I may not necessarily know what defines me as a creative yet, but I know what I want to.
Over the summer I was heavily involved in designing for a new student community in my church. Essentially a 360º branding project, with outputs ranging from flyers, business cards, and contact forms to social media, apparel, and banners. Projects like these are incredibly fun for me, and I have recognised this pull towards branding in the projects I work on, but like Sophia Chang I want to diversify and have a versatile approach to every design problem I face. As of now I am waiting for a studio in Germany to get back to me about an internship after having been interviewed. I am also still looking for other placements in London and internationally. Although my year ahead may be uncertain, I am assured by the longsuffering lesson I am slowly but surely learning; trust your instinct, believe in your taste. It's your strength & individuality as a creative individual.