A' Design Award Competition
2016 - 2017 Winner Interviews
Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Ada Wong (AW) for A'Design Awards.
Interview with Ada Wong at Tuesday 2nd of May 2017
FS：Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
AW：Yes, I have dreamed to be a designer since the childhood. To me, design is a native mission, and I studied in the artistic middle school and university. Now, I am an independent designer for Internet-related projects.
FS：Can you tell us more about your company?
AW：Sure. I established Shanghai Xihe Visual Design Studio in 2014 that mainly focuses on Internet design, game design and brand image design. Internet design includes websites, APP and software systems; game design includes game concept design, scenes, characters and interface design. Corporate Identity includes LOGO design and VI design.
FS：What is "design" for you?
AW：When God gives a person talent, he wants to manifest the glory of his creation. I will not let him down, so design, to me, is to reveal the real me inside.
FS：What kinds of works do you like designing most?
AW：I prefer modest, simple and aesthetic works where viewers are able to see through the ideas of the designer.
FS：What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
AW：For example, I like the ancient arts in Chinese Song Dynasty best. The masterpieces in the 9th century (960-1279 A.D.), including painting, porcelain and literature, especially painting, were the greatest works in terms of art and design.
FS：What was the first thing you designed for a company?
AW：My first design for the company was concept design of one game, and the game design is also a part of my job.
FS：What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
AW：I like the representation forms of digital art better, and with CG technology, many novel ideas may come true and the design philosophy can be presented quickly. Paper and pen are also good tools. You can paint as you wish with no limitations, to present your creation at will.
FS：When do you feel the most creative?
AW：The night. Unlike the jobs in the daytime, many wonderful ideas were conceived during the nighttime when I am alone.
FS：Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
AW：I focus on the delicacy and aesthetics of design. The conception of “art” varies from person to person. But to me, “art” means simplicity by chopping off the complicated decorations, to keep the most important part. “Don’t pile” is a rule in my designs, and many of effect stack is often weak performance of the design capacity.
FS：What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
AW：I am very rational, so I will not fill my design with very strong emotions. Mostly, I do designing with a calm attitude.
FS：What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
AW：There will be a brief instant of feeling “relieved finally” and I would have some feelings of success. But it won’t last long. The situation will pass by soon.
FS：What makes a design successful?
AW：Successful design should not be simply attributed to the designer, especially for commercial design, and it requires close cooperation and marketing efforts among various departments. Designer may be an indispensable part but not all of it.
FS：When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
AW：If design is to be considered itself, I would like to measure from the perspective of design aesthetics. However, when the application of design in industrial products or commercial markets is involved, I think more of the actual response in market. Now, judgment should not be based on design itself, but more consideration should be given to the use, costs, market operation, environmental protection and possibility of recycling. It is a good design, when a certain balance is achieved among such factors.
FS：From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
AW：I believe that a designer should be “leader” other than “follower”. It is the responsibility of designers to lead social aesthetic pursuits for real life. To do this, a designer must engage himself in the industry and tell people what good qualities are. He should neither follow all the time and abandon his standing before immediate interests, nor flatter by some pointless works.
FS：How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
AW：Design will take more social responsibilities in the future, because it can get over the barriers of words and culture, so that people can understand each other simply through design. Design links everyone. People can feel its unspoken beauty, which makes it a common understanding uniting the entire human society.
FS：When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
AW：My last exhibition was at my university. If possible, I am always ready to join new design exhibitions.
FS：Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
AW：To be a designer, it is very important to collect works of other designers and to learn from them, however, the final works of a designer are the reflection of his personal experiences and, therefore, unique. Inspiration comes from personal experiences.
FS：How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
AW：My design style is generally concise and elegant. It is not what I deliberately intended but a reflection of my personality. I don’t like intricate things but would like to stay alone. I don’t appreciate noisy and complicated things, so my works tend to be somewhat aloof and will not be visually intense or bold.
FS：Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
AW：I am from China. China is a country with a long history and has very distinctive art presentation and styles in different dynasties. I like the arts in Song Dynasty best, especially those in the South Song Dynasty (1127-1279 A.D.). The culture has very profound influence on my philosophies of design, however, as a result of restrictions in commercial design, I cannot demonstrate such influence in the work.
In China, designers work very passively and have to cover up their ideas on many occasions and complete the design as intended by the customer. The biggest challenge is to convince the customer of a plan that is more professional. Because of immature commercial design market, customers do not have much trust on designers and are unwilling to know them better. Besides, they do not think much of the values and roles of professional designs.
FS：How do you work with companies?
AW：My job is to provide the customer’s company with professional design services. Cooperation starts with consultation, and then signature of contracts including the master contract and ancillary contract. Then, the customer pays the initial design cost. We have complete confirmation procedures during the design process till the completion of the project and its delivery. Then, all documents are archived and delivered and bills of design fee are posted ... all of these are subject to a complete work system.
FS：What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
AW：I suggest that companies should open their project resources to the design market, other than simply giving the access to resources to some particular persons. By doing this, both sides will have more choices and positive interaction and competition will be established. When selecting designers, in addition to costs, companies should also consider the experiences and background of the candidate designer, as well as real feedback from the market when the project is launched. A good design inevitably costs more, which should be a common sense among all companies.
FS：Can you talk a little about your design process?
AW：Sure. Firstly, I would try to understand exactly what the customer needs. This is very important. Secondly, I will do design planning for the project and draft a work plan and discuss with the customer on its implementation. The detailed designing process will start after agreements have been reached. In this process, I need to get feedback from customers from time to time and realign my design continuously before the final completion of the project.
FS：What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
AW：My favorite? Maybe the next one!
FS：Can you describe a day in your life?
AW：Like an ordinary office worker. Breakfast, subway, e-mail checking at the office, project design, debriefing, negotiation with customer and discussion on implementation plans...
FS：Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
AW：You must love this job, or otherwise, you can hardly hold on to it and make something. Passion and perseverance are of the greatest importance.
FS：From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
AW：The best thing of being a designer is that you can do what you like. When a design is completed, you can feel the pride. For the bad side, because the design market is not yet mature, designers’ initiatives and intents are very limited, and this adds to the difficulty in designing. You may feel some sense of failure in the actual job.
FS：What is your "golden rule" in design?
AW：Less is more.
FS：What skills are most important for a designer?
AW：I believe what really matters to a designer is not his skill, but his understanding of personality and insight to commerce.
FS：Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
AW：I do most of my job on PHOTOSHOP and occasionally some other tools as assistance.
FS：Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
AW：I keep myself most active about 4 hours a day, when I can focus all my energy. I do my top priorities in this “prime time”, such as conception. For another 4 hours, I stay relaxed and do something that is usually flexible, such as replying e-mails to customers. After work, I get myself totally free from the job stuff.
FS：How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
AW：Since design is interdisciplinary, the time cost varies from project to project, but I will do my best to have most (not all of them) projects done in 4 weeks.
FS：What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
AW：I would repeat what I heard in meetings with my customer, and then ask “Do I understand it exactly?” or “Can you understand me?”
FS：What was your most important job experience?
AW：I have been working on this for a long time and every project mattered to me.
FS：Who are some of your clients?
AW：Most of my customers are small and medium-sized IT companies or starters or game developers.
FS：What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
AW：I always hope to join the early conceptual design for videos, especially film art design, and I am looking forward to such opportunities.
FS：What are your future plans? What is next for you?
AW：My future plan is to build my own customer channel and create personal design brand. I think, in future commercial design, the brand of a designer is a key concern for customers. I am not going to attract them by preferential prices, but to enhance competitiveness by increasing the personal influence.
FS：Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
AW：I am an independent designer and working for my own career.
FS：Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
AW：There is no particular project in progress for the time being. If I have, I am happy to share.
FS：How can people contact you?
AW：Welcome to our company website: www.xh-studios.com
Or you can write me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, which is the way I prefer.
FS：Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
AW：No, you have asked them all.