"Take the jobs that interest you, not the jobs that pay more."
Sometimes in design, it all comes down to the user experience. You want users to feel some sort of positive emotion as they peruse your website or experience your art.
Michael Wong is well-versed in this.
Wong -- who's done work for ClassPass, Shutterstock, and Anne Klein while simultaneously working as a visual designer at LearnVest -- sat down with us to share why following the money isn't always the best idea and why he still doesn't feel like he's found his first big project.
DR: You work as both a graphic and website designer. What inspired you to pursue design?
MW: It all started with my love of photography. Back in 2009, I wanted to learn how to edit my photos, so I took a class in Photoshop. About a month later I got a job in A|X Armani Exchange as a web production assistant, where one of my many duties was to crop and lightly retouch product images. After realizing how fun that was I decided to go all-in on a design career.
DR: Sounds like the universe steered you in the right direction!
MW: Yes! After that, I wanted a career that would steer me clear of having to use Excel spreadsheets.
DR: Don't we all. Are there any brands or designers that speak to you professionally?
MW: The Anderson Design Group does killer poster work, especially their National Parks series.
DR: We're huge fans of their retro style designs! Tell us a little more about your personal design process. Are there any tools you swear by?
MW: I'll always have a soft spot for Photoshop because it was the first tool I learned and therefore the basis of my technical knowledge, but now I'm really digging Sketch. I can comp up web pages and prototypes in no time!
DR: Are there any major differences you've noticed between designing graphics and websites?
MW: If you are designing for the web you need to remember that the internet is a lonely place. Think about how your design will make your users feel welcomed.
DR: Such a great tip! So tell us about your first big project. What did you wish you knew before you started, and what did you learn coming out the other side of it?
MW: I'm still searching for my first big project.
DR: Well, we'd LOVE to hear about it when you find it. In the meantime, we would love to know more about you. Which blogs, websites, or apps to you check every day?
MW: As far as design is concerned, I enjoy Design Shack for its freelance advice and Medium for UX articles. When I need inspiration for particular things I'm designing I break out my CommArts magazine too.
DR: You have the day off. What can we find you doing?
MW: Taking photos. Or sleeping.
DR: What advice do you have for designers that are new in their career but looking to grow?
MW: Fight for your work! There are too many people you'll work with that have bad ideas. But there are also people (and not necessarily other designers) who have great ideas. Identify which ones are which and follow the right people. Also, don't raise your voice. It's doesn't make your arguments any more convincing.
DR: Is there a quote that motivates you in your work?
MW: “I asked him if he would come up with a few options, and he said, ‘No, I will solve your problem for you and you will pay me. You don’t have to use the solution. If you want options, go talk to other people.'” - Steve Jobs on working with Paul Rand.
DR: Alright, one last question -- any final thoughts, comments, or words of wisdom you’d like to share with someone in the industry?
MW: Don't chase the money. If you wanted to get rich you should've gotten into investment banking or corporate law. Take jobs that interest you, not jobs that pay more. Of course, if you find a job that's interesting and pays well, go after it!
Want more interviews like this?