What got you interested in illustration and design?
I had always been interested in creative work and I spent the earlier years of my life exploring just how I could flesh that out. I invested considerable time in theater, music, and film production, all the while quietly playing around with a bootlegged version of Photoshop. I never really expected any of it to take. Most of the time, it was an outlet for me to create fake film posters or create a visual narrative of my own little stories. Largely due to the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
At one point, a local magazine reached out to me for an internship. An internship I was highly unqualified for. Long story short, it ended up being one of the most defining career moves for me.
How did you develop your style and how would you describe it?
如何定义我的风格，我其实是希望灵活一点的。也就是说，我倾向于在Illustrator的网格中进行探索。如果要用简短的话来回答你提到的风格，那就是五个简单的词：“掺杂了很多失败（with a lot of failure）”。不仅仅是指商业上的失败，更指我个人的。我做了很多尝试。
I should hope that there's some flexibility in what I would define as my own style. That said, I do tend towards exploration within the confines of the Illustrator's grid system. The short answer for just how I found what you might refer to as my style in properly summed up in 5 simple words: "with a lot of failure". And that's not limited to commercial failure; it's far more personal. I experimented a lot.
When you start a new project, what is your typical design process?
For me, I like to know where my clients come from, not only where they're going, so I'll spend some time looking into where they've been up until now. That could be old campaigns previous web pages, any older visual systems they've built or been a part of. It's helpful in navigating what they want, and what they wish to steer clear of. I'll want to start throwing down pixels pretty early in the process, as it helps me get excited about what I'm building. In a lot of ways, I've learned to trust my gut on some things.
What inspires you outside of work?
Really what it comes down to is one thing: Story. I'm in awe of how powerful the concept of story is. How much it can affect us in ways that logical arguments can't. Experiences can shape our thinking unlike anything else. Story is a canvas by which we share these experiences in a, hopefully, meaningful and effective way. But they needn't be fiction. Our very lives are part of those stories. In fact, it's conversations that happen outside of work-related conversations that inspire me the most. Sharing a beer with some great minds is the easiest way to get my slow one moving.
Do you find you work better in a team or alone?
It's funny; I would have totally answered this question so differently a year ago. It's incredibly easy to be an army of one. There's less convincing, more actionable "doing", and a lot less politicking. But just "doing" something doesn't mean it's more fruitful. Since working with a team, I've come to love how it affects the entire process from conception to completion. It's messy, at times, but it's also so worth it.
What is your favorite aspect about the design industry?
I love that we're working in a public-facing environment, and we've shaped such a large community around it with a seemingly limitless supply of tutelage and diversity. I can't tell you how many incredible people I've met through the industry that are just as eager to learn as they are to share their knowledge and resources.
What lessons have you learned in your career?
In reality, there have been so many that I could fill a few hardcover books, but I'll spare you the probably stale details. What I can share are a few things that I've come to remind myself every so often.
1.You are not your body of work. Your legacy should be more than just a bunch of pixels.
2.Value your time with those you love, not just those that love your work.
3.Stop working occasionally and actually turn off the computer. You can thank me later.
What types of challenges have you faced as a designer?
One time, I had to actually print something from a printer. The page was all washed out, the colors looked wrong, the scale was a mess, and I had to avoid a paper jam. But for real challenges, I'd say the entire process. I didn't come from a creative family, and I'm the first one in mine to do design as a career. It was a completely unknown realm to me: I never went to school for it. But you learn. And you meet amazing people who are willing to come beside you and show you what it looks like to co-labor in this world of pixels and pantones.
Any final messages to those just starting out?
You'll always be told to work hard, and that's no lie. But also, remember to stop from time to time to remind yourself that work isn't all there is. Remember that your success shouldn't define you any more than it should break you. The work you make has the potential to do good things, but you, yourself, have the potential to do great things—and it might have nothing to do with the pixels you put on a screen.
Use your time with intention and purpose. When you fall, when you start to wonder if you're a hack and this is all just a misguided attempt at making something out of yourself, remember that every one of us knows the burn of disappointment. Refuse to be defined by it. Instead, choose to be refined by it. And if you do, one day, meet with success and recognition, remind yourself that you're not at the end of the road yet.