Shawn Goh Chin Siang, the founder of Shawn Goh Graphic Design Lab. is a talented designer in Malaysia. Under his wise and innovative leadership, the company had won a number of prestigious international prizes in graphic design. Hence, he is motivated to strive harder to impress the world with his products.
Shawn Goh Chin Siang ("SGCS") interviewed on Friday, 30 March.
SGCS : I have been in this industry as a designer for about 4 years and am currently focusing on branding and packaging design. I worked for a design agency for two years, before I made the decision to run my own graphic design company.
SGCS : Growing up as a kid, I was very much influenced by my family members who work in the arts industry. I started to draw at a very young age and I never got tired of it. Such deep interest in arts led me to choosing graphic design as my major at college. After entering into the arts college, I started doing some projects as a freelancer. The sense of satisfaction that I felt when seeing the result of my work was so intense that I finally decided to pursue my career as a graphic designer.
SGCS : For me, the core idea behind a design is vital- it is all about creating values so I often integrate cultural and sentimental elements into my design. I am also a big fan of hand drawring so I usually start designing by sketching. I prefer to present my ideas via illustration, which happens to be my biggest strength because I believe illustration makes a design more sophisticated and timeless.
SGCS : I feel content whenever I design. For me the whole designing process is enjoyable, especially when my thoughts and ideas are fully reflected in the design. It is like immersing my mind and body in the design itself. The most exciting part is definitely when seeing your final result in the market- I could not forget how I felt when I first saw my design in the public. Being a designer fulfils me as a person and gives me great sense of happiness. Of course sometimes the stress hits me along the way but I believe being a designer is my calling and I appreciate every moment that makes me grow as a person and a designer.
SGCS : Other than my design skills, I would say my creativity and interpersonal skill shaped me into who I am today. I am a problem solver so I tend to think out of the box and look into new alternatives when something does not work out. I find communication with people is of utmost importance because it is a process of idea exchange to achieve mutual understanding. My clients influence me the most on this, because through them I have learned how to communicate better and how to express myself better so design journey is all about self-discovery I guess?
SGCS : I used to work for a design company before starting my own design business. For the past two years, I focused on expanding my network and publicity by gaining international recognition through several design competition. Right now I am focusing on branding and packaging design but in the future, I would like to expand my company scale and involve in product design. Although design industry back in my home country Malaysia is still developing and the resources or technology for product design might be limited, I am positive about it and looking forward to the future development.
SGCS : Having a mere interest in arts and being a designer are two different things. Stepping into the design industry, I have often found myself in all kinds of difficult situation, sometimes it is not even related to design itself. When facing such difficulties, always remember to persevere and take baby steps to overcome the obstacles. Do love your job, do things that make you happy and most importantly, be grateful in whataver you have, and do your best no matter how big or small the task is.
SGCS : Being a designer, I too learn along the way and one thing that I have realized is to keep our identity as a designer. Sometimes being a designer is not easy as what we have in mind is different from what our clients want. Instead of blindly accommodating to our clients’ need, it is more important to communicate and maintain a balanced relationship with the clients. One should always have pride in him/herself as a designer. While it is important to stay open and accept other’s opinion, it is as equally important to stay true to ourselves and keep our identity.
SGCS : My day definitely starts with good breakfast! (laugh) As a habit, I will go for any sources that would allow me to connect to the latest news on design field- SNS, design magazine, design competition channels, youtube et cetera- the so called “morning brain storming”. Whenever I come across some good ideas/design, or whenever I came up with good, creative ideas, I will immediately draw or jot them down on my personal sketch book which serves as my “idea bank”. In the afternoon, I will occasionally visit a cafe to have a cup of coffee or watch a movie to refresh my focus. Life itself is arts, ideas come from everywhere so the most important thing is to stay positive, stay open and let the ideas flow through you! Also, stay happy while working!
SGCS : As a designer, it is important to keep up with the latest trend design as arts is evolving, so should we. I often check out various online channels to catch up with the latest design news and trends, and I love attending design exhibitions while taking part in design competitions to gain first hand experiences. Also, I enjoy interacting with my fellow designer friends and colleagues to get inspiration too. While it is important to keep up with the latest design trends, it is also important to integrate personal style into it when making a new design. Following the latest trends blindly lacks creativity and identity so I always remind myself to not to lose my personal style when developing a series or collection.
SGCS : I tend to look at three elements -the purpose, objective and function- of a design when evaluating a product. How different designers develop his or her design in order to accommodate to the need of the product is something very interesting to find out. A good design is able to exhibit all three elements while maintaining the designer’s style, and this is also what I have been striving for all through my career pursuit as a designer.
SGCS : For me, planning a design is essential. The reason I plan everything ahead is to improve efficiency and avoid time wasting. Before I start making a design, I would plan out every single detail, set a time frame for each stage, and come out with a rough outline so that I know what to expect throughout the whole designing process as well as the final result that I want to achieve. Along the process I do improvise or try to improve the design if a better idea occurs to me, but the main design frame that I have outlined beforehand will still be an important guideline to me. As everything is carefully planned, the final result will often be as good as ready after all executions have been carried out.
SGCS : One of my best works that has won me a design award is the Mika Raya festive gift set. I have designed a modern gift box with illustration displaying the Malay cultural elements which also serves as an education material to enhance understanding on the Malay culture in Malaysia. As most of the festive gift set design in the market are identical, it was quite challenging to bring something new to an old existing market. Fortunately, the new packaging was well received by the consumers and it has strengthened my belief on future design direction. One of my current projects is to design the packaging for a new potato chips product brand, which I am very excited about because I am a snack lover! Food packaging has always been my favourite, so I look forward to seeing the final result of this project very much. Wish me luck!
SGCS : Jonathan Ive, the Chief Designer of Apple is definitely the most iconic designer of all times. His “think different” approach has enabled him and his team to accomplish things that nobody else can do. His achievements have inspired me to always think out of the box everytime I make a new design, therefore he is definitely the designer that I admire the most.
SGCS : Where I came from, Malaysia, is a multicultural country which has influenced my view and personality in so many ways. Growing up in a society where people of different ethnicities live together in harmony, I have learned how to embrace and celebrate those differences with an open heart since a very young age. I believe this kind of environment shaped me into who I am today as a designer, and it is why I appreciate cultural and sentimental elements so much. A place without designers is dead. I believe this world needs more designers to develop and improve the quality of life. Ever since I became a designer, I become more attentive to the environment and pay more attention to tiny little details. I hope that my design can, in a way, improve someone’s life and make this world a better place because I consider myself lucky to have found a job that I love so much.
SGCS : I often prefer to work alone and I do not see myself as a person who is easy to work with because I have very high expectation on myself and my work. I am a man of my word and I expect the others to do the same. If I were to hire or work with someone else in the future, I would go for someone who is responsible too. Being a designer means to create and provide new ideas on a frequent basis, so self-improvement is vital. Keep the promise, being responsible, improving one’s self, these are my business philosophy as a designer.
SGCS : I have taken part in some local charity events as an event designer before. I believe one is obliged to give back to the community so I am glad to do my part as a designer. If given a chance in the future, I would definitely love to involve myself in more events that support young designers.
SGCS : Participating to design awards and competitions as a designer help expanding one’s connection, widen one’s perspective regarding design and reinforce one’s identity and direction as a designer. Through such events, we get to see different things and learn more skills from each other too. Design competition is a great platform to test one’s idea and concept in front of experienced jury members. It is the best and fastest way to make someone grow as a designer, especially at a prestigious design competition like A Design Award. Participating in A Design Award has influenced my life in so many way and it has pushed me out of my comfort zone, makes me do things that I have never done before. I am very honoured to be chosen as the designer of the day. I wish to extend my gratitude to jury members for giving me this wonderful chance. I promise to keep striving for excellence and will contribute to this world by making more good designs in the future.Shawn Goh Chin Siang Profile
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