In our Industry Interviews, we ask one of our Shillington Teachers to interview a creative they admire—this can be a friend or someone new from across the creative spectrum. This month, Shillington New York Teacher Jordanne Hunter chats to Angel Han—the pair work together at Saks Fifth Avenue as Graphic Designer and Senior Design Manager respectively.
Jordanne is a graphic designer originally from the island of Jamaica, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in media and communication. After moving to New York and building a career in the public relations field, she boldly transitioned into the design industry. She is a Shillington graduate, has freelanced for agency clients including Citi Bank and the National Basketball Association and has been contracted by Parfums Christian Dior. Today, she works as a designer on the creative team at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Angel is a Korean-American designer who works as Senior Design Manager at Saks, leading a team of designers including Jordanne. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, Angel has held a variety of design positions across New York City before the chance to build her own design teams at Saks arose. She’s inspired by the city she lives and the world around her, and draws further inspiration from the art, music and culture she was exposed to growing up.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your current role?
My name is Angel Han and I am a Senior Design Manager at Saks. I currently lead a multidisciplinary team that consists of designers, copywriters, art directors, producers and project managers. We work on seasonal campaigns across jewelry and accessories, promotions, the loyalty program, partnership activations, site support and all diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
What inspired you to pursue graphic design?
Growing up, I spent countless hours looking through magazines and collecting beautifully designed books. This was probably the start of my obsession with typography. The expressive quality of different typefaces and how a single font can transform perception and interpretation is what interested me the most. By nature, I have always enjoyed organizing information in the most efficient and aesthetically pleasing way. Being able to do this for a living is a dream come true.
As an Asian-American design manager, how has your culture influenced your design journey and your approach to managing your team?
Growing up Korean-American, I had exposure to twice the amount of art, music, and culture. This allowed me to appreciate a variety of experiences and numerous ways of thinking. As a manager, I valued this the most.
Being able to work alongside a diverse group of designers with different cultural backgrounds is so important.
Can you tell us about some of your proudest moments and pitfalls as you have navigated your career?
One of the proudest moments of my career was when I hired and built my first design team. To be a part of a designer’s growth and to watch them succeed is such an amazing experience and a huge reward. The most difficult time in my career was learning how to manage someone. Nobody holds your hand and teaches you how to do the job. It was a huge learning curve where I needed to take the initiative and learn how to be a good manager.
What are some of your favorite things to do or experience to fuel inspiration and creativity?
I am lucky to live in one of the greatest cities where there is always something going on.
I love seeing new exhibits at museums, exploring shops around the city, taking breaks at beautiful cafes, and being able to enjoy diverse dining experiences.
These everyday life moments and my surroundings are where I draw my inspiration.
What advice would you give to recent graduates about imposter syndrome, and how have you personally coped with it?
Just know that we have all been there and started exactly where you are. Your career as a creative is a journey that never ends.
Work hard, humble yourself, always be open to any learning opportunities.
It is ok to be wrong and make mistakes. I find that is the best way to learn and grow. With more experience, the more confidence you will gain.
Are there misconceptions about graphic designers or graphic design in general that you’d like to address?
Good design takes time, thought and consideration.
Please respect the work that we do and the process it takes to get it done right.
Finally, give us five words that describe you and your creative style
Systematic, structured, intentional, minimal and detailed.
Big thanks to Jordanne for chatting to Angel! Make sure to follow Angel on Instagram to keep up to date with what she’s doing. If Jordanne and Angel’s conversation has left you feeling inspired, take a look at Shillington’s graphic design course—you could become a graphic designer in as little as three months.
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