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Interview with Pan Yong

Home > Designer Interviews > Pan Yong

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Pan Yong (PY) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Pan Yong by clicking here.

Interview with Pan Yong at Wednesday 11th of November 2020
Alex Pan Yong
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
PY: I started learning drawing at 16 years old. At a very young age, I was always curious about colors. I still remember how I felt when I saw those color pencils laid down on the shelf. Those color pencils sold in the art store somehow calmed me down. Sometimes I even wonder why everything has “bright” and “dark”. Yeah, a young boy was attracted by the “light” and “shadow” in the world. I guess that is why I still keep the passion for “art” when others dropped it. “Design” to me is a driving force, a leading force. When others do not have a clue, I already had. That is “design” to me. It makes me proud. So, do I want to be a designer? Yes!

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
PY: The Artalex is just a simple name, consists of “Art” and “Alex”. Quite straightforward, Alex learns art, that is Artalex. A few years ago, I started thinking that I should come up with a name. Maybe I could use it for my future? Maybe I will set up my own studio? But at least, I need a name.

FS: What is "design" for you?
PY: “Design” comes into the picture at the moment when others do not have an idea “what to do” but I know “what to do”. “Design” is an accomplishment that makes others think “Wow, I’ve never seen this before. How could it be like that! Why couldn’t I think of that?”

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
PY: I like challenging things. Those things that bring people fresh experiences. Like I said, those works that can make people think “Wow, how could it be like that!”

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
PY: iPhone4. Yes, iPhone4. I’m not talking about the whole iPhone series. I’m not talking about the iPhone 2G (1st generation), although it re-defined the phone. The iPhone4 moved the antenna from inside to outside, which nobody dares to try. Apple made a breakthrough. Even iPhone4 did have the antenna problem in the end, but it paved the way for iPhone4s (and future models) to refine it. Eventually, the outside antenna becomes a success.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
PY: I couldn’t remember the first design I did for a company. But I do remember one project I did for my friend’s company. It is a set of icons for a food order POS system on the iPad. At that time I was trying to implement the sense of Zen. People went into the restaurant having dinner, might be trying to release their stress after work. So the sense of Zen can calm customers down. The idea behind is to let people have a peaceful dinner. It’s very simple.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
PY: I haven’t figured out which one is my favorite technology. So far for my watch face, I’m using watchmaker app and android studio.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
PY: When I’m half-drunk. Yes, sometimes creativity needs “sober”. What I mean by “sober” here is that we all live in a distractive world. We somehow don’t know what we want clearly enough. That’s when “sober” comes into the picture. Drink a little bit, get yourself half-drunk, forget about “something“ in real life, then you have a clear mind to think about what you truly want. It’s ok to have a drink.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
PY: User experience. It not only helps my product keep existing users coming back, but also makes my design attract more potential users.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
PY: A little bit of curiosity. I’m curious about what my current design will become? I’m curious about how people will react to my solution.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
PY: I feel fulfilled and am proud of myself.

FS: What makes a design successful?
PY: When the user gets astonished. When the user feels like to come back and expects more from the designer.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
PY: The users’ response to the design. To me, I don’t think there is “good” or “bad” design. There is “excellent” or “ordinary” design. If a design failed to impress the users, it is an ordinary design.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
PY: A designer should be responsible for pushing the society forward and for making a refined environment. Not only think about how to satisfy customers, but also should consider whether the design can take our society to the next level. We design for the future.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
PY: The “design” nowadays is more and more focused on the “relationship” between design and user rather than being focused on the design itself. The future of design, I guess, is the focus on how much a design can contribute to society refinement and on making our environment a better place for future generations.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
PY: I haven’t held my own exhibition. The last exhibition I participated was in my art college, final year exhibition, in 2007. I hope I can have my own one in the next one or two years.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
PY: I like artworks from Craig Mullins (www.goodbrush.com) very much. His paintings make the viewer feel the light. When you look at his artwork, you can really feel the volume of the light, regardless of the brush strokes are fine or rough. So I learned a very important concept from him, that is, every piece of art has its relationship to the surroundings. Art never exists separately by its own. So in the case of design, whatever you do, your design should have the spirit to make contact with surroundings.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
PY: I would say: “Try to be ultimate simplicity with clear functionality.” With such style, my design not only can reduce a large amount of user’s learning time but also make the user feel the beauty of my design much faster. So, the approach? I imagine myself as an end user, and ask myself: “What is the most important function I need here? What’s the simplest way to achieve it?”

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
PY: I was born in Shanghai, China, and lived there for 24 years. Now I live in Singapore for more than 14 years already. The living experience in both two countries actually helps me a lot in my design. Shanghai has its own particular culture called “海派文化(an exotic boutique and Shanghai-only type)”. Singapore is a multi-cultural country and has its unique culture called “Nonya”. When both two cultures combine, it gives me a wide range of inspirations. Sometimes it makes me feel that technology seems to be the limitation.

FS: How do you work with companies?
PY: I currently work as a UX consultant and front end developer.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
PY: I think “Willing and dare to think out of the box” is the spirit of a good designer. But I have to admit that sometimes companies wish designers to “quickly finish the job in traditional ways”. Although the deadline is there, if the company encourages designers to push the limit, it will be great.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
PY: Gather client’s requirement. Finding a suitable technology. Brainstorm the idea. Learning existing data. Draft the prototype. Use it internally for some time. Find out what to improve. Refine and build the product.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
PY: Balcony, coffee machine, bookshelf, iMac, iPad and Apple Pencil.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
PY: I spent most of the day at the office, behind the Mac. In spare time, I read surf internet and think about my freelance projects. Sometimes go out with friends, drink with friends.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
PY: Spend more time to explore the world, feel the world, read the world. Use your eyes and heart more rather than hands. Live your life. You don’t need to learn to be a designer first and then to live your life. Learn to live your life first, and then you will know when to be a “designer”.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
PY: Being a designer makes me excited (I’m curious about new things). However, it also has a negative side. Sometimes clients don’t share the same view as yours. Sometimes people don’t appreciate your work. You might feel upset. But how you face and deal with it is important. It can turn “negative” into “positive”. Don’t give up.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
PY: First, ask yourself “what can be improved” in your design. Second, be truthful to your client and to yourself.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
PY: Able to convince your inner self.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
PY: iPad and Apple Pencil. iMac with Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator. Coding IDE such as webstorm, Android studio, etc. Goes library and museum. Sometimes go to the pub and get a bit of drink to keep my mind rolling.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
PY: I usually don’t particularly sit at the desk and “officially” start designing. Inspiration comes by chance. Sitting at a fixed location doesn’t always guarantee a nice idea. Some cool ideas might come during cooking time. Use time wisely. Work smart.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
PY: How about 2 - 3 days? Actually, there is no particular answer. There are many aspects involved, such as the client’s requirement, the client’s changing of mind, resource of hardware and software, efforts of research, number of meetings, etc.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
PY: Can you design a logo, it doesn’t have to be complicated, just simple one will do, ok?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
PY: I guess it should be “try to be patient”. Like I said, the most important skill for a designer is being able to convince your inner self. As a designer, you need to be patient to convince the client. You need to be patient to convince your manager. You need to be patient to convince your inner self.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
PY: Some are strangers who came across my portfolio website, asking for design favors. Some are job agents asking whether I still open to new opportunities. Some are friends’ friends asking whether can design a logo, a poster for them. Sometimes I, myself. I do some projects for my own use.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
PY: Anything I designed for myself. I have 100% freedom.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
PY: I would like to be well-known for my watch face designs.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
PY: Almost by myself. Sometimes, I help other teams providing ideas.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
PY: At the current moment, I start thinking of refining the first prototype of my other watch face. This watch face has become version 2 and version 3. But people keep asking for the first version which actually is just a prototype. I guess it’s time to make it version 1.

FS: How can people contact you?
PY: By email at alexpanyong@gmail.com. By my website www.artalex.me. By social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @artalexme. People can get my contact number from there. I will be glad to see people contact me. I appreciate it.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
PY: Thank you A’Design Award & Competition for giving me the opportunity to let more people know me. Thank you!


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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