Yo Santosa
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
The biggest issue was making the transition from school to a real job. In school, I can spend hours, days, weeks on a project and really take my time to make it perfect. At work, time = money. I had to learn to work smart, fast, and be willing to let go on nit picking my work. In school, I also designed for myself, I was the designer and the client. After graduating, I worked for a big company, and my work never got picked in pitches. I thought the world just didn’t understand good design! It was once I realized that I am not designing for myself that I started winning pitches. I realized that people have to love it. It’s not about typography or colors, it’s about what the piece is communicating; the tone and personality of the brand.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
It was Summer day in 2013, 2pm. I was excited about interviewing a fresh graduate who emailed us her work. 2:30, I emailed her asking if she is still coming in. No response until the next day, when she said she forgot and rescheduled. We rescheduled and she showed up for the interview 30 mins late. She could not present her own work well, the portfolio was not organized, and she knew nothing about our company. I guess no matter how good the work is online, work ethic is important. I can only imagine having a project due and she not being able to meet the deadline.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
I wish I knew how good presentation skills can make a difference between getting the job or losing it. Being able to walk clients through a story about the brand makes clients fall in love with the concepts. Another thing I wish I knew earlier is to surround myself with smart and inspiring people. And not just in the design field, in any field. The more diverse the group, the better. As designers we are always learning from other industries and walks of life. And that makes our understanding in communication and culture richer.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
Coming out of school, I worked in the motion graphics industry, we worked around the clock. Over time I learned the best time for me to come up with ideas is when I am rested and inspired. And that means I need time away from work. I make it a point to leave at 7pm and not work the weekends. Walking away and coming back with a fresh eye I am able to instinctively see what is right or wrong about the piece I’m working on. I learn to trust my instincts, as so much of branding and design are gut feelings, intuition. We need to capture someone’s attention in a matter of seconds. And I believe my role is like a matchmaker. To make people fall in love with brands.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
Dieter Rams — As Little Design as Possible. Function & simplicity at its best. Here’s Dieter Ram’s 10 principles for good design. Kenya Hara (Art Director of Muji) — Designing Design. Imaginative and perceptive. It will make you question everything you see. Walter Isaacson — Steve Jobs. Inspiring, riveting, for anyone who is and wants to be a creative entrepreneur. Gave me goose bumps and made me cry.
Yo answered the questions on October 15, 2014.
The answers were published on October 20, 2014.