10 Questions for a Designer

Tell us about yourself and what you do.
I am Jeremiah, I am a communicator that likes design.

What is the secret to your success?
By focusing on what I know I am good at, which is layouts, chinese typo, and not wanting to do everything I see others do.

What is the greatest hustle you have pulled off?
Doing a website for a school radio practicum. I am never a web person, so touching wordpress engines, html and coding was really a frightening experience for me. The previous web director told me that I was better off not changing anything; it was too much of an effort and too much buracratic fat to cut through. I shrugged at that.

How did you make it happen?
The website for Radio Fusion of NTU crashed (with all the data) the very night I took over the rights thereof. So I had to make it work. I was very lucky to have a great senior Ashraf help me reset the system (you know a genius when you see one). And so I began the process of rebuilding the website from scratch, import bits of information from Google’s cache, adding HTML5 slideshows, basically bring the website to the modern age. It was tough but tremendously satisfying.

What is a good trick you’ve learnt to get your way?
Most of us who are in design are here because we want to change things. Yet the clients or environment around us is at best cursory when it comes to talking about change. So we have to not just design something different. That won’t do. To get your way, market your idea, your design like a boss. Work for them like a collaborator, but propose your key idea like you are the damn boss. Have absolute confidence that your redesign will work, and it will be intrinsically better than everythin they’ve seen up till now.

In your opinion, what is the most important trait a designer should have?
The ability to manage expectations. Of yourself. Of your clients. Of your co-workers. We have heard of ‘under-promise, over-deliver’. But in essence, to provide at the level to which you promised is good enough, but never below. And in order to do that you have to make sure your client knows what you can do and more importantly, what you cannot do. There is no shame in being human about your shortcomings. I cannot draw artistically. I cannot take great photos. I can’t do web. I cannot do English typo. But I can do layouts. I can produce magazines. I can understand the situation. And I think I can help. If the client can’t get past that, you probably deserve a better client anyway.

What do you find most challenging about what you do?
The notion that I have to come up with something great every single time. But as I move along the design journey, I realise that not every work will turn into a masterpiece. Not every work will make it into my next featured portfolio item. And it doesn’t have to either. You can imagine how reassuring it was to hear my professor say, “no idea is truly original. the good copy. the best steal.” I am still constantly grappling with letting okay be good enough. There are some projects that I will put my 120%, but the rest? 80% is enough. You can’t just have 5 pet projects. One of them must actually steal your heart.

What is the most annoying question you’ve ever been asked?
“How’s the progress coming along?” Seriously. To such questions I normally give answers along the lines of “progress is good.” I still don’t understand what is the purpose of such questions. It’s like asking a pregnant woman, “how’s the baby coming along? I don’t know, I feel it’s really redundant.

Complete the sentence: when all else fails..
just get this over and done with loh. There’s always another project de what.

If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?
Magneto. Cos he can solve all computer problems.

Republished without permission, but full credits due to Chris Lee Creative Director, The Republic of Singapore, http://www.theasylum.com.sg

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About jiromaiya

Largely popular with a few exceptions, he doesn't love the whole world, and doesn't try to either. A typical Singaporean epicurean, he enjoy

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