"Congrats! The client said the promotion went well, thanks to your design," a colleague said to me one afternoon.
I feel both proud and relieved every time I receive feedback like this. It means that I created something that satisfied myself and the client, which is not as simple a feat as I initially imagined.
I am a public art graduate, so creating something with a commercial intent was not something I considered when I was studying. Design was a purely artistic endeavour for me in whatever I did back then, which included painting, making engravings, and designing marketing collaterals.
All these changed when I joined Jebsen, first as an intern, and then as a full-time employee. Working here has expanded how I see design – it is me as a creative trying to strike a balance between producing eye-catching work that also serves the business goals of my clients. This is especially important now that I handle all the design requirements of Jebsen Fine Wines in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
This evolved design mindset has required me to do a bit of calibration on the way I work. I work closely with my colleagues in sales, who have encouraged me to be as flexible as much as possible to ensure that my work is in line with client expectations. While this doesn’t come naturally to many creatives, seeing how my design helps clients meet business objectives has given me new insight into my role. I am also learning to improve the way I communicate my ideas to both my colleagues and clients, and persuade them about some of my design choices.
My work can get quite technical, such as when the client has very specific printing requirements. Because of this, I have learned to be more precise with my work, and also developed skills in using specialised software equipment that we need to use at times.
I am practically a self-taught and learning-by-asking designer as far as using industry tools goes. Learning how to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator was painfully slow at the beginning, but I now use them regularly.
It is exciting to know that I can maintain my artistic integrity while doing commercial work. This reminds me of my favourite director, Wong Kar-wai. Many of his movies have done well in the box office, they are critically acclaimed, and at the same time, he has managed to maintain a style that is all his own.
Film is just one way I keep myself inspired and, consequently, creative. I always bring a compact camera along with me wherever I go and take snaps of things that catch my eye. I also watch a lot of movies (more Wong Kar-wai, naturally!) and go to a lot of exhibits. I find that opening my eyes to other people’s work helps me expand my creative repository and become more resourceful when I do client work.
I have only been working at Jebsen for about ten months, so I do not have anything to say yet about huge personal successes. But I am truly thankful to Jebsen for helping me become a better artist and team player. For now, I will focus on improving my craft and becoming a professional designer who consistently delivers high-quality work to my clients.