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Rising Stars: Meet Qi Zhu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Qi Zhu.

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?
My experience with design started with programming. Looking back, I have a long love for computers and technologies. When I was a little boy, one of my favorite things to do was reading through every user manual, I could find at home, learning how things operate. That enthusiasm consistently grew over time. Later, at the age of 12, I joined a group with two other friends, who were also quite interested in learning programming languages by themselves. With the new skills, we naturally started to discuss and ideate what kind of software to make. In hindsight, that was probably my first attempt at design. Thinking about features, setting up layout, drawing buttons, and making logos for our amateur software. I began to gravitate toward the shapes and forms that I was able to create rather than the abstract lines of codes. What hooked me was the process of crystallizing ideas. The satisfaction of creating tangible visuals and sharing them with others drives me to keep exploring design.

Right after high school in Shanghai, China, I attended ArtCenter College of Design, where the true breadth of graphic design opened to me. I always thought that I wanted to learn graphic design. But it turned out that I didn’t know what graphic design was. I tried a lot of aspects. Print, packaging, UI/UX… Yet what sticks until today is my experience with programming.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I guess no ArtCenter alumnus would think that the school is easy. Learning design skills is challenging. Learning about yourself is even more complicated. The college is a place for developing not only professionalism but also personality. Growing up in Asia, I always had lectures about learning from certain role models. I remember admiring the works from the school gallery in my first few terms and thinking of making those designs one day. I wasn’t sure what to focus on in the beginning, so I put my focus on everything. A significant portion of my time in college was devoted to trying and exploring the different fields of graphic design. But it changed. From recognizing my characteristics to trying to alter myself for the “better” and eventually embrace who I am. I learned how I work and how to cope for it to work better. I discovered what kind of designer I’d like to be and what work I’m willing to devote hundreds of hours to. It’s satisfying that things have come to clarity.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m a graphic and motion designer in the tech industry specializing in brand identity and 3D motion design. I explore how technology could be a binding glue for design and information. I am keen on utilizing different tools to create compelling experiences. Now, my designs could form into a logo, a typeface, a piece of motion, lines of codes, or all combined.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
I returned to China right before the outbreak in 2020. The pandemic was huge turbulence to my plans. I was forced to attend classes online with a 15-hour time difference. That was quite challenging both mentally and physically. When the mind and the body go out of sync, it’s not the perfect state you’d like to be creative. What I learned from the experience was how important some regularities in life are to take good care of yourself.

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Image Credits
Designer: Qi Zhu

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