Design tips with Eriq Chang
Our Customers May 14, 2014 Kristie Holden
Eriq Chang works with brands, large and small, creating memorable experiences from the ground up. Eriq’s broad client list includes such names as Facebook, Disney, Warner Bros., and a handful of boutique, equally sharp-looking companies. Through his experience in the design industry, Eriq has crafted an effective workflow from creative conception to final execution. We asked Eriq about his process, workflow, and helpful industry tips.
The Creative Process
Eriq: I like to start the creative process by surrounding myself with what inspires me. I collect many different kinds of things and take an obscene amount of notes. Gargantuan I tell you! I look for things that remind me of the direction I’m taking with the current project or I’ll look to specific artists I admire to get things ticking. Then I put everything in front of me (on my desktop – virtual and physical) and let the universe do its thing while I brew my coffee.
Sometimes I sketch out ideas in my leather ‘Indiana Jones’ notebook or in Evernote. On any given day there are so many things that inspire me. The people around me have a huge influence on me as well – it’s important to surround yourself with positivity.
Areas for Inspiration
Eriq: I can get lost in these sites for days…
I like to spend time in bookstores flipping through books, magazines, and graphic novels. I could spend the rest of my life in a bookstore. I’m probably sitting in one right now.
A lot of my inspiration comes from other artists. As a young designer, I was inspired by my friend Mark Crumpacker (Currently Creative Director of Chipotle), Brandon Dorman (an unbelievably talented children’s book illustrator), Kazu Kabuishi (Comic and storytelling powerhouse), and other artists like my friend Andy Hoyos – a fantasy gaming artist I worked very hard to emulate when I was just 12.
Balancing Personal and Client Work
Eriq: I was given a great piece of advice early on – always have something totally, completely yours to work on – something you’re incredibly passionate about – on top of your client work. It’s so easy to get too attached.
When I’m working on a client project I’m always looking at it from the eye of the client/consumer. I try not to make it too personal. I try everyday to keep piecing things together in my head with my own projects. I wish I could clone myself.
Eriq: My environment is so important to me. A good environment helps me to focus. I love going into my little ‘workstation nook’, surrounded by things I love – games, books, print ads, alien toys, mummified creatures… so many things to be inspired (and distracted) by! I could not work without some kind of droning ambient music in the background. Or great dance music. Hearing something constant helps my brain to focus… somewhat similar to meditation.
Eriq: To manage all my projects and ensure they’re completed on time, I use Daylite. I use pipelines to track where I am with each project and I categorize my tasks and projects with keywords and categories based on states (Task, In Queue, Urgent, Completed). I love Smart Lists. I pin the most urgent ones to my Favourites bar at the top of the app.
Daylite is like having a personal assistant. Daylite, where’s my coffee?!
Dealing with Difficult Clients
Eriq: I am very good at dealing with difficult clients. You have to read people and realize that the client is not always right–contrary to what you’re told in design courses and articles time and time again. Give 100% of yourself and do a little more. Give what you’d like to receive as a client and speak up if something doesn’t feel right. I expect my clients to put in the work too – it’s a collaboration. Timid designers are so easily taken advantage of. Love what you do and make it great.
The Big Picture
Eriq: What matters most at the end of the day is the work. I love what I do. If it wasn’t entertaining for me, I wouldn’t be doing it. I mean big-picture – it’s not Disneyland everyday. You often spend a lot more time on things than you expect. You might go in a completely different direction. You might be distracted by your loud, furry friends. Your client might be drowning in hair extensions at New York Fashion Week when you need her most. You might stub your toe. If it’s not one thing, it’s another! So you have to love it.
I observe. I explore. I take care of myself and I try pushing myself when I don’t feel like pushing. Oh, and I clean my house a lot. I love cleaning. Don’t ask… Daylite makes me feel like cleaning. Quite honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without it. My studio would be a mess.