Let's be honest -- who doesn’t imagine working with the biggest names in the industry? Google, Apple, Nike and the Getty Museum (just to name a few). Graphic designer and recipient of the Cannes Gold Lion Stanley Chen has done it all and more, and he’s here to teach u the tricks of the trade.

From his most significant learning experience to his top three tips for growing your graphic design career, the LA-based art director shares everything you need to know to reach your goals.

“More than ever, designers need to bring deeper meaning to everything we do and stand out with purpose.”

Spotlight: You have already had such an incredible design career. What inspired you to pursue graphic design and art direction?

Stanley Chen: My dad was an oil painter turned exhibition designer, my mom was a photographer turned documentary film director. Growing up in an artistic family helped to define my path. It wasn’t hard at all for me to realize that I want to be a creative of some sort.

So it was in your DNA from the beginning.

Sort of. Even though I didn’t become a painter (like I wanted to when I was growing up), I am still flexing similar muscles, in the sense that I create meaning through visuals that communicate ideas. It’s the one thing that I love doing, and manage to do pretty well. I just can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

You're fortunate to be so passionate about your work. Do you have any go-to tools that help you bring your ideas to life?

My favorite tools are probably pen and paper. No matter how advanced technology gets, it will never replace them. The process of thinking with your hands solidifies ideas. Designers don't draw and then think — they draw and think at the same time. I think that’s one of the best ways to formulate new ideas, think with your hands and make something as you reflect.

You can't beat old-school creativity! So tell us — what are some of your favorite personal projects?

I am very proud of the TBWA Worldwide rebrand I worked on. It changed the way I think about branding. As designers, we often want full control over all the output. We pick a specific typeface and kern it a certain way, or pick our favorite color combination, or we design a strict identity guideline for others to follow. And these are all great, but they might not be applicable in all cases.e