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Conversations with Susie Soojeong Koh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Susie Soojeong Koh.

Hi Susie Soojeong, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
At the age of eight, I was a girl who liked to doodle on paper. Like many other children, I always waited for art class the most and said, “I’m going to be a designer!” Just because it looked cool to create something even though I didn’t know what a designer was. Luckily, I was able to decide my career path around the age of ten, thanks to my parents have fully supported me in whatever I wanted to do. So, I could enter the Art and Design field by going to the best arts middle and high school in Korea. As a result, I grew up receiving professional art and design education from the age of ten.

Numerous great teachers helped me to be an artist with good basic techniques when I graduated from high school. But at that time, I realized that I had never thought about exactly what kind of design I wanted to do. Since then, I have studied various tracks of design and finally fell in love with the graphic design major. At that time, I strongly felt that I wanted to be a graphic designer who could change the world dynamic and colorful through visual languages and communicate with people by working in the actual design field. Many teachers who understood my design goals recommended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, so I moved to the States around the age of 21 to learn graphic design deeply and professionally.

Someone said that it would be an adventure for me to move to the U.S. and start anew, but now that I’ve graduated from my college as a graphic design major, I can confidently say that the choice I made then was the best decision in my life. At ArtCenter, I was able to learn about a variety of tracks, from brand identity to motion, UX/UI, and printing, and for me, who is eager to learn, all this process was a dreamlike time and a turning point in my life. It was an important period to become a more skilled designer and made my attitude to accept my life more dynamically. So, I am currently a graphic designer and working in various fields from motion to branding and production. As a result, I finally achieved my dream of becoming a designer, which I just said was a joke 20 years ago.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
To be honest, I think my road was very smooth overall. Of course, there were some trials and difficulties in between. Professionally, because I’m a visual creator, my thirst for new things and cool ideas was like the paranoia that I suffered almost every day. Also, I moved to LA as an adult, so adapting to new cultures was also a little challenging. But I think I’m a really lucky person. Whenever I faced difficulties, there were always fantastic mentors around me. My parents were the best guide for me to take the right path since I was young, and many teachers I met while entering the design field always pondered with me when my design didn’t go well or felt stuffy. Even now, I work for an agency as a graphic designer, and I’m getting help from many life teachers. Gratefully, numerous fantastic directors and designers of my team always listen to me and help me take a better approach. Everyone I met here in LA helped me adapt nicely, so I was excited and happy as if I was on a fun adventure rather than thinking that my path was intense. I was lucky enough to easily overcome all the difficulties, so I don’t think my path was just hard. Once again, I feel grateful to everyone through the interview.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a graphic designer focused on brand identity and motion graphics. My biggest strength is that I am an ambitious designer. I always feel joy rather than fear of challenging new things and overcoming my limits. I do not doubt that my work style is also deeply related to my strengths. What I enjoyed the most as a graphic designer was that Graphic design is a major that requires a very trendy and rapid change. Every day, a lot of information is poured out, trends change, and new technologies develop. I think designers have to study every day to keep up with that speed. In that respect, I think my strengths are the driving force behind my constant movement. My graphic work has a wide spectrum, from a brand identity that emphasizes typography to motion graphics and 3D work. What I learned most from the ArtCenter’s Coursework was the ability to handle large-scale projects across these various tracks. Showing one project through various media and representing the unification in harmony is the style of graphic design I pursue and constantly train. I want people to think of me as an everyday growing designer with infinite potential. Furthermore, the goal of my graphic design is to inspire people who see and communicate with my work. Being able to have a positive impact on society is why I love graphic design, and that is why I think being a graphic designer is fascinating.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
Regarding work, I often get inspired by a web platform called Muzil as the main screen of my browser. Musil is a site that looks like a typical search engine and allows you to search for various related design tasks by entering the specific keyword. As a result of the search, you can see a wide range of designs at a glance, so it is mainly useful when making mood boards. In addition, I think it is very helpful to install Pinterest and Behance apps on my smartphone and tablet and to make boards whenever I have time by pinning my favorite designs during breaks.

For Podcasts… Before Covid-19, for me, it took up to an hour to get to work in the morning because of traffic. So, from a certain point on, I listened to podcasts to use that time usefully. Podcasts that read books like short lines were my favorite. The episodes on the ‘Penguin Podcast’ are about 40 minutes long, so I listened to them one by one every day in order while commuting. And I also liked watching movies, so I enjoyed listening to the latest movie reviews through the ‘Mad About Movies’ podcast.

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