Tell us why you're the best applicant in under 50 words
If it were possible for “experimenting/learning under veteran experts” to be a full-time paid job, I would gladly do that forever. I have the hunger and I’m ready to do fulfilling, real work that excites me - but to be candid, I really, really, need help getting there.
Give us your bio in under 500 words
A curious, self-driven internet child, who is a little scrappy but very thoughtful. Likes to ask armor-piercing questions. Addicted to researching the how and the why behind ideas of any form. Regularly talks about the weirdest things that I’ve never considered before in my life. That’s probably how my friends would describe me to someone who has never met me before.
I’m many things. Primarily, I am a multidisciplinary graphic designer who’s spent five years exploring everything design from web to print to events and even motion graphics. I’m also a writer, a twitter comedian for an increasingly forgotten sport, an award-winning illustrator, a wannabe fashion editor, a self-declared East Asian foreign affairs expert, a mediocre makeup artist, a fledgling cook, a part-time poet, and a retired pianist.
You might wonder what all of these topics of interest have to do with each other, because I kind of sound like (if we’re being nice) a Renaissance man or (if we’re being mean) a jack of all trades master of none type. If I’m truthful, the only explanation I have is that my love for learning has taken me all over the place.
Hi, I’m Katherine. Nice to meet you.
1. What's the most courageous thing you've ever done?
Being upfront with myself that I like girls, and that also I probably have ADHD in the midst of my inbox getting bombarded by homophobic trolls from 2chan.
To extend off of that, being vulnerable - with yourself, and especially with others when it comes to asking for help. There's no way you're going to ever get what you want if you're not true with yourself or with others, and it took me a lot of growing pains to realize that. The process of showing the ugly, raw part of myself is terrifying, though, and scares me shitless. Even more-so when I'm doing it in the middle of an internship application.
However, I believe it's worth it. I don't think I would be able to get to where I want to get to without baring my soul.
2. How are creativity and innovation related?
Creativity leads to innovation, no? Or maybe it's the other way around. It's kind of like a chicken or the egg, which came first question, since they go hand in hand. I would say that to innovate successfully, you need creativity. To be successfully creative, you need to be able to innovate.
3. Why do companies need clarity and creativity?
Companies aren't creating work in a vacuum. They're creating content that conceivably, people actually want to interact with (or at least hopefully, that's the main goal).
To make interesting and thoughtful work that genuinely resonates with an audience, you need both. You need to have that initial willingness to experiment (what I would call creativity) in order to push the boundaries and do work that is interesting. But you also need a clear direction to channel that creativity, so that the work is appropriate and effective - the part of the equation that is "thoughtfulness." Creativity without direction results in eye candy with no depth. Direction without creativity results in stagnation.
4. You have 30 minutes of free time. What do you do with it?
Go take a 30-minute walk & look around the neighborhood. I always feel super let down when I see that a team's way of ideating is to stay glued to the computers, scrolling through Pinterest or other similar websites to try and spark inspiration. Like, I'm supposed to be learning from you and you're learning from PINTEREST? And what happens if you get too "inspired?" Is that work then actually yours or are you just a thief? I used to be too scared to ask these questions, but this is a part of that whole "being more vulnerable" life change that I'm currently undergoing.
The best ideas come to me when I'm away from the keyboard, fully engaging with the tangible world around me. That's often while I'm in transit. It might be a bicycle I see out the window, that has me suddenly thinking of a modular book that rotates outwards like the spokes of the bike wheel. Or the colors of some old-school candy packaging from the bodega suddenly turn into the beginnings of a campaign to help Chinatown restaurants.
Yeah, for those 30 minutes I would get off of the screen and just go places. It's very hard for me to be creative when I'm not experiencing new things.
5. What is one risky and bold goal in life you have? Or, if you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what would it be?
Not to be too radical or naive (although this probably is), but I would look into dismantling capitalism to alleviate the immense strain it's placed on the people of today. Most issues of inequality, looking at the broader picture, in my opinion could be attributed to the failures of the capitalist system.
Look at California - a driver dies while working for Uber, and the company does not have to face any consequences because the deceased is classified as a contractor rather than an employee. Jeff Bezos could pay a $100,000 bonus to all Amazon employees, and would possess the same amount of fortune as he did before COVID - meanwhile today, I just drove past the longest food drive line I've ever seen at the local church. The United States continues to bomb poor brown people in the Middle East. Cops are still killing black people for no reason. Men are still honor killing women. Just to list a few.
If I were to dream of a better world, it would be a world where those inequalities did not exist. So I would want to tackle the root cause of them all and dismantle it altogether.
6. Explain your creative process
When I'm in that "coming up with ideas" state of mind - like I mentioned above, I like to give myself the space to really think, away from the screen. Usually that's through walking, or going through a new, real-world experience (like exploring a new neighborhood or looking out the window or talking with someone new). To record those initial lightbulb moments, I start with the pen and paper. It could be through writing or drawing, but I like to commit everything that comes to mind onto paper first before anything else. My notebooks are always filled with thousands of these little sketches or notes to help me remember. It's especially handy when I suddenly get an idea while half-asleep or just woken up from a dream.
I also like doing maps. If there's a broad concept that needs to be tackled, I'll start by writing down everything I can think of that is related to that concept (for example - ocean could go to dolphin, biosphere, seaweed, coral reef, sand, etc.) Doing this often leads me to very surprising and unexpected, but exciting places. I'm always looking for unexpected, incredibly niche things to keep in the back of my mind in my free time too, because you never know how a connection will form later on down the line. This is why I do things like watch Japanese fish-filleting videos on Youtube or google weird artisanal ice cream flavors. It's just good to have that basis of knowledge handy? It just forms this weird hybrid bastard database inside my head that proves useful for experimenting and ideating. Not to mention learning about these niche topics is super fun.
That's how the conceptual begins for me. For the technical execution side of the process, I also prefer for the first step to be hands-on, really getting my hands dirty in cutting things up and crafting them out of physical material. Paper prototypes, post-it maps, scale models, etc where I can move modules and layouts around and make multiple variations to experiment off of are usually my go-to. I'll reach a certain point of presentable finesse (usually, that's where I think others can understand what I'm doing without me having to explain it to them), and then get feedback from anybody I can find that's willing to talk to me about it. After the critique's over, I take it apart and then reconstruct it again. Then, repeat and repeat and repeat until the deadline is up.
But even after, I might continue thinking about it could continue onwards, beyond what the assigned task was. I feel like a designer's job is never done. You're always thinking "well, next, I could..." Sometimes that develops into the next idea or campaign. It's really a fluid creative process for me.
7. What is the best advice that you have been given?
Break things down into chunks that you can easily understand and process. So often there's a task set in front of us that seems daunting and impossible to tackle, and you're blocked from starting because it's HARD to start daunting and impossible tasks. If someone tells you "hey, go out into the job field and become a designer," it sounds absolutely insane - because where do you even start?
But by sitting down and saying, "oh, well, actually, if we take it apart to address just this facet first," you can work through it bit by bit, until you've handled the whole thing. Take "become a designer." We break that down and say, "in terms of designer, there are many concentrations: brand, digital, product, marketing, etc." Next, we can say "let's focus on product design. What does a product designer do? What kind of companies do they work at?" And from there, you've built the path to solve the initial problem that had seemed so impossible at the beginning.
Also, another piece of best advice: to ask questions. Nonstop. If you don't ask you'll never know the answers. Then how do you learn?
8. What is your definition of creativity?
Experimentation. Constant experimentation, not being afraid to try out anything, anywhere, at any time, with people from all sorts of backgrounds. Being open.
9. What 10 songs are on your favorite playlist right now?
All the Things She Said (TATU)
Not Shy (ITZY)
Anna Wintour (Azealia Banks)
Say it (Yorushika)
Call Me When You’re Sober (Evanescence)
Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Lorde)
Comme Des Garçons (Rina Sawayama)
When I Grow Up (The Pussycat Dolls)
Girls in the Hood (Megan Thee Stallion)
Lovesick Girls (BLACKPINK)
10. How do you want people to remember you?
I think the number one takeaway I would want people to think after they've met me was "Wow, that girl was 100% true to herself." Sometimes, in my moments of weakness, I worry that I don't fit in or that I'm in the wrong industry, because I'll have trouble finding a place for myself here. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, I wonder. Or if I'm feeling particularly vicious, I'll think that maybe I'm not creating particularly outstanding or groundbreaking work. At the lowest point, I think about compromising to mold myself more into the kinds of applicants that I think companies or agencies would like me to be more like. It's always more... something. More edgy, more RISD or SVA (haha), or more corporate, or more clean. Or not enough. Not enough talent, not a good enough eye, not enough skills, not enough notches on my resume.
But I don't know, that's not me. I want a community of my own that accepts me fully as what I am, that takes a chance on my potential to grow and evolve as a designer. Because I know the kind of work that I want to do, and I want to get there so, so much. I just don't know how exactly to get there.
The number two takeaway would be that I was thoughtful and treated everything I did with empathy and care. I think being kind is so underrated in this world.
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