Author: James Evans
Some designers win awards and participate in exhibitions at a young age, earning recognition from the industry. However, it is rare for a student to work in a famous design studio during their university years. In this design interview, we welcome a guest who can be counted on one hand.
Hannah Meng is an independent creative director and brand designer based in New York. She graduated from the Graphic Design program at the Maryland Institute College of Art and has worked with various organizations such as MIT, AIA New York, Museum of the City of New York, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, Center for Reproductive Rights, and Princeton University. She received awards from organizations such as Type Directors Club, Society of Experiential Graphic Design, Society of Typographic Arts, and A Design Awards.
In this interview, Hannah shares her experiences and growth path as an established designer. She also gives advice to aspiring designers, shares her current design thinking and expression, and talks about her interests outside of design.
The Biggest Insights for Being a Great Designer
Hannah’s most memorable learning experience was when a mentor told her, “When you enter society, you won’t suddenly become a star designer. The first thing you’ll have to do is take on boring work and always start designing from scratch.”
Hannah acknowledges the truth in this statement now. She says, “In the beginning, you’ll have to work on small font typesetting that no one wants to read. You can either treat it as dull work and complete it monotonously, or you can incorporate your aesthetics into its content and do it with great enthusiasm. The future of those two types of people will be greatly different. So, even if it’s a school project, if you don’t pay attention to the details, then give up on becoming a designer.”
During her university years, Hannah put effort into even the smallest font typesetting work. As predicted by her mentor, when her studio partner entrusted her with design tasks, they praised her for the beautiful combination of small font captions (which don’t need to be prominent but must be included) in the poster she created. Although she’s been a designer in the industry for many years now, she has yet to experience that level of joy again. Since then, when she designs something, she pays attention to every
Advice to Aspiring Young Designers
Hannah has grown from an excellent student to an independent creative director, and she has also shared her advice and experience with younger designers.
“After entering the workforce, many of us realize that we should have taken more courses in college. Courses such as art history or photography, which have excellent teachers and are important parts of art education, should have been taken more seriously. Even if you want to learn now, there is no one to teach you, and self-learning through buying books takes both time and money.”
Hannah’s advice is not to rush things in society since you can eventually learn about them. As a student, take advantage of the privilege of being a student and learn as much as possible.
Expanding the Vision
Hannah has participated in and been selected for many international design competitions, such as “NewYork TDC,” “Graphic Design USA,” “Society of Experiential Graphic Design,” “Society of Typographic Arts,” and “A Design Awards.” These competitions have been reported on by various media outlets. Hannah has also discussed the noticeable changes she has observed before and after becoming famous.
Even before becoming an established designer, Hannah actively participated in design competitions and was fortunate enough to have her work selected and receive awards. This boosted her confidence in her design journey. Participating in competitions also allowed her to meet outstanding foreign designers and communicate with designers from overseas. Additionally, she gained valuable experience conducting workshops, and speaking at the events. Through talking with designers from different countries, she feels that her vision is gradually expanding.
The Definition of “Good Graphic Design”
Hannah always bases her judgment of design on whether it evokes an emotional response.
She always keeps this sentence in mind when she designs, “If it doesn’t touch your heart, it cannot communicate.” She believes that empathy is key to good design, even if it’s also important to design logically. Good graphic design can resonate with people from different cultures, even if they don’t understand its meaning.
Interests Outside of Design
In her free time, Hannah enjoys studying pottery and Ikebana floral art. She has learned about the beauty and balance of tradition through the basic flower arrangement methods. Since her usual designs are two-dimensional, the three-dimensional composition is inspiring to her, and that kind of beauty can also shine in graphic design.