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Rising Stars: Meet Hannah Meng

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah Meng.

Hi Hannah, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I was born and raised in China, my father used to be a photographer when I was growing up, and my family provided me with a very open environment for learning art.

Before moving to Baltimore in 2015 where I enrolled at Maryland Institute College of Art, I previously studied fine art in my birth city of Jinan, followed by short illustration courses at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. One of my tutors suggested I try my hand at graphic design during my time there. That was my first-time hearing about graphic design. With this openness and lack of expectation in mind, I delved into this new medium.

After graduation, I moved to New York to join a design studio called Isometric. From there, I worked as the design director and led a team of 5 designers to collaborate with leading cultural institutions, universities, tech companies, and nonprofits. We express the missions of these organizations through visual identities, exhibitions, websites, and signage programs, and our projects often address complex social issues, amplifying activism on gender equity, climate change, racial justice, LGBT identity, and immigrant rights. I have been honored with the opportunity to design and direct projects for various clients, including the Museum of the City of New York, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Princeton University, and the MIT computer school.

After three years, I left isometric and started working for my own practice as an established designer. I collaborated with the Brand New School to art directing campaigns for tech companies such as amazon. And now, I work as the lead designer at Asana to execute the campaigns and product launches.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I don’t have a specific answer for it. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to study graphic design and end up as an established designer in a field that I am passionate about. But I have to say that the years of study and working have been a bit of a rollercoaster. I found the communication aspect of graphic design challenging in the very beginning. As an introverted artist, I never tried to present my thoughts in front of people before. I chose to face the fear of this new challenge and surprisingly found myself becoming fearless in the process. I have been trying out new things, such as teaching and lecturing, even if it felt uncomfortable in the first place.

I also like to challenge myself by participating in design competitions. I think it’s a great chance to see world-class design work and be recognized by the best industry leaders. My work has been recognized by a handful of awards such as Type Directors Club (TDC), The Society of Typographic Arts 100, Typography Society of Experiential Graphic Design, GDUSA American Graphic Design Awards, A’ Design Award, International Design Awards (IDA), etc. Recently, I was given the honor of being invited to serve on the jury at MICA. I will evaluate and provide feedback on student portfolios based on my experience and knowledge of the industry in this capacity. In doing so, I will be able to help the students advance their careers and broaden the design perspective of the next generation. When I attend events like this one, I get a sense of accomplishment from knowing that I contribute to the design community and the industry. Thinking back to when I was having trouble communicating my work in college, at this point, I can say I grow rapidly by always challenging myself and feeling accomplished by those milestones.

Besides my full-time job, I like to experiment with new media and collaborate with other artists on multidisciplinary projects. Participating in exhibitions is a great way to push my limits to try new things. My work will be exhibited at the international art fair in Venice this month. I am very excited to show my work to a broader global audience.

Learning and experiencing new things are always the most exciting moment for me. That is why I feel like I’ll never lose my passion for graphic design since the subject ties into so many other disciplines, including technology, art, education, and business. So many various aspects of the industry are continuously changing.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a multidisciplinary designer and art director. My focus lies in brand identity, digital design, motion graphics, illustration, and exhibition design.

I have worked as the design director at design studios and agencies. I have been honored with the opportunity to design and direct projects for various clients, including the Museum of the City of New York, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Princeton University, MIT computer school, Asana, and Amazon.

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
My initial interest in graphic design is the design of books and publications, so I love to take inspiration from them. My favorite publication includes MOLD magazine, I-D magazine, and apartamento. Besides that, I also love to try new tools and am interested in productivity topics. I use Notion to manage my freelance project and my personal life. I would recommend it to those who might start working or even studying at college.

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