Growing up, I’ve been privileged to travel around the world. I have lived in five very different cities over three continents. I’ve learned that when we expose ourselves to more people, we are better equipped to speak to a variety of audiences. I feel confident that traveling also makes us better at our crafts. It’s made me better at mine!
I lived in Seoul for 11 years. Did you know Seoul has the world’s fastest internet speeds? Everything in Seoul is fast. You can get chicken and beer delivered to your picnic table in the middle of a park, get government documents done in minutes, and have your online shopping items delivered to you on the same day. Living in Seoul helped me understand how important timeliness is for good design. We need to always be current and be aware of what is happening today. Design trends come and go—it’s critical not to be behind the times.
Ho Chi Minh City was similar to Seoul in that it’s also “fast,” but city-wise. When I first moved to Vietnam in 2000, most people travelled on bicycles and motorcycles, without helmets or traffic lights. Today, its infrastructure has developed unrecognizably (though the streets can still look hectic for first timers), there are more cars than bicycles, almost everyone wears helmets, and a brand-new Metro system is under construction for operation in 2020. Without that infrastructure, Ho Chi Minh City would be in chaos. Design is like that, too. Design can easily get out of control if it’s not grounded in solid structure.
I spent four years in London, and I loved the diverse culture. I remember feeling the least “foreign” in this cozy and artsy city, full of inspiration. This characteristic is important especially in advertising. Since advertising speaks to many, the design should be approachable and applicable to a variety of people. It’s crucial to develop a keen sense of empathy for everyone in your audience.
I spent the least time in Copenhagen, but felt the most creative there. There is a big culinary culture, and most people I met there were amazing chefs. My circle of friends were all creatives, filled with self-confidence. You have to be confident in what you can do and create, or else you are lost. Defend your work! My time in Copenhagen really helped me understand the importance of standing up for my work.
Chicago is my current home, and I learn something new every day. With globalization affecting more industries every day, I encourage you to go meet new people—you’ll be amazed by what they can teach you.