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Life & Work with Yichi “Mark” Ding

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yichi “Mark” Ding.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I guess I’ve always been artistic? I used to get into a lot of trouble filling my elementary school textbooks full with doodles. It got to the point where all my books became unreadable, which was a big issue considering my mom worked for the school district.

Despite that early beginning, I never really considered doing anything art and design related until towards the end of high school. When I was applying for college I knew two things; I wanted to go abroad, and I wanted to do something design-related. So I went from there. It’s interesting looking back because my portfolio at the time was very fine art-oriented, which is completely different from what I do now. It wasn’t until my time at Art Center that I realized I wanted to be a concept and vis-dev artist.  Now, I’ve graduated and am currently working as a freelance concept designer for an ad agency. I’m pretty happy with where I landed!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I want to say it has been challenging from time to time but comparatively I’m quite lucky. My parents were very supportive of me and we’ve always had good communication regarding my career. Thanks to that and many helpful instructors, I have had a pretty amazing journey. If anything, I think most of my struggles come from within. I’m a very technical and methodical person, so I feel the need to constantly think about what I’m doing and why I do it. This often leads to over-analyzing work, but it has helped push me to see the bigger picture and continue to develop my skills.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Sure-I’m a concept and visdev artist and illustrator. I think what sets me apart from most people is my passion to figure out different workflows and styles to match anything I want to do. If there’s one thing I’m specialized in, it would be problem-solving. I love talking with other people to try to figure out multiple solutions for a design, or try out various art styles. This flexibility lends itself really well to what I do right now, because advertising is quite fast-paced and a  client change can completely redo a project. We typically don’t have the time to slowly come to the perfect solution, so thinking on my feet has become very valuable.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Definitely anything food-related! Whenever I wasn’t drawing I was learning how to cook. Growing up in Zhejiang, China, good food was not just an option, it was a necessity. Restaurants would come and go in a day if they weren’t measuring up. My mom is a great cook, and I learned a lot from her, but honestly, some things I still can’t make as good as she does. She taught me how to hand pull noodles, and she was always so fast at stretching out the dough perfectly. So many of our dishes require fresh produce, so we’d often go hiking in the nearby mountains to harvest wild vegetables. It could take a day or two to make a dish, but it was always well worth it. I think that passion and dedication to craft is something that spills into all parts of my life.

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