I was instinctively drawn to logos and brands even as a child. Long before I fully knew what these symbols meant, I traced the Nike swoosh and Hilfiger stripes and sewed them on my shirts. Perhaps I did this because my family couldn’t afford such luxuries. After all, my father had come to Canada as a refugee with just five dollars in his pocket.
As I entered my teens, this fascination shifted to designing a personal logo of sorts — my graffiti tag. I spent my high school years refining and simplifying my tag, exploring new media, spaces, environments and objects. Living in the moment and expressing myself spontaneously gave me immense satisfaction. Through urban art, my creativity found an outlet. This led to building a portfolio to get into design school. That’s where I instantly fell in love with typography, and learned about the design process, technique and production.
While still in design school, I knew there was so much more to learn. So I continued on to university, where I absorbed design thinking methodology and conceptual design. I explored the notion of strong concepts that integrate functionality and sustainability. Today, I find myself examining the built world in terms of design. I cast a critical eye on spaces and objects, always with a view to simplifying people’s lives.
As I reflect on my journey, I realize my lifelong fascination with logos, design and typography goes back further than my childhood — it reaches back to my family roots. My grandfather was a Chinese artisan who carved woodcuts with people’s signature, or “chops.” Customers used these elegant stamps to make their mark on various surfaces.
Carrying on a legacy
In my own way, I have carried on my grandfather’s legacy. From graffiti tagging to studying graphic design to brand identity, I create visuals that distil the essence of an individual or business.
I view branding as a disciplined process. One that focuses on the journey, not just the end result. Indeed process is the key factor in successful branding.
At the same time, I am a long-range thinker who synthesizes and organizes, and then carries out strategic plans. Clients and colleagues say I am insightful. I grasp things quickly and come up with simple and creative solutions by remaining open and attentive to new ideas. And that’s where I find my greatest excitement and passion.
While understanding is necessary, it’s only a prelude. The real challenge is reducing ideas to their essence. So they communicate directly, clearly and with power.