I am lucky to have been part of a studio that is culturally diverse, humble, and supportive. This summer experience marked my first internship at a graphic design studio in the United States. I had just finished two semesters at the Maryland Institute College of Art, with focuses in illustration and publication design.
I was stunned to see how the studio created beautiful, aesthetic solutions to tackle major global issues. I had the most interesting conversations with my teammates Andy, Waqas, Nicole, and Jihye. Regularly, we’d discuss how to use visual forms as social tools. At other times, we’d share our life experiences and family traditions. These conversations led to design solutions and ideas for many of our projects.
At Isometric, I participated in client meetings and presentations, helped create architectural models, drew illustrations for buttons and shampoo bottles, participated in exploration for visual identity projects, typeset a fellowship program’s newsletter, and assisted in photo shoots and interviews. Every day was a fun day at the studio! Our clients ranged from an elite Ivy League school—Princeton University—to start-ups like Function of Beauty. Each project presented a different challenge and required a different solution. In addition to these, I was glad to have been given a leading role on a project that dealt with human trafficking in southeast Asia; I illustrated a comprehensive set icons so that NGO personnel could quickly communicate with one another on victims’ whereabouts and conditions.
After two and a half months, I began to see that design extends beyond the computer screen. Sometimes the creative effort is just a small part of the whole process. There are many other things that contribute to the making of design: navigating the relationships within an institution, the available budget, the level of urgency, the client’s understanding and design fluency, the location, the language used, and much more. Graphic design—different from art—arises from social demands. As such, it must be functional. As designers, we must play roles, placing ourselves in the audience’s and client’s shoes. We need to understand the user experience and think of practical solutions when solving problems. We must define areas of focus to elicit projects that align with our personal vision and interests. I believe this is just one of many different ways to utilize our skills and passion.
The working environment at Isometric was completely different from a school setting. Yet, I’ve enjoyed the differences and adjusted myself accordingly. In real life, productivity is no longer measured by how many deliverables you can do. Rather, it’s about taking a step forward in the industry through creating progressive design. Are we addressing the client’s needs? Are we acknowledging the global issues that are happening? Are we providing others the medium to start a critical conversation? It’s a different set of questions than what I was used to at school.
I left the studio feeling excited about what design could evolve to be. In addition to a full understanding of NYC’s subway system and how to use spray glue, I also learned to love research and developed flexibility in creating visual form.
Thank you, Isometric, for having me around!