From product to marketing, design has always been a huge focus for oVice. Our team sees design as another approach to communication and makes sure that the visuals we create clearly communicate the values they stand by: teamwork, freedom, and creativity. Our graphic designer SooYoung is the mind behind blog banners, social media post images, presentations, and newsletter designs at oVice. She is extremely versatile and is equally skilled in creating whimsical designs and toned-down visuals with a corporate focus.
In today’s interview, we chatted with Soo to learn more about managing the workload of a startup, discover her design inspirations, and find out what motivates her to keep improving and pushing the limits of creativity.
Tell us about yourself and your role at oVice
I am a graphic designer who works in creating visual content for the blogs that go up and occasionally social media content! I also work on designing sales and marketing collateral – pitch decks, presentations, newsletters, and other types of content.
How did you start working as a graphic designer?
I went to school for industrial design and we had a mandatory class for graphic design. It was fun and I got to learn a lot from it. It also made me interested in graphic design. Also, while in school, I had to create our portfolios from scratch and it was a good exercise to pick up graphic design skills!
A while after my graduation, I heard about oVice looking for graphic designers so I applied, and here I am now!
What was your experience before joining oVice?
I worked as a design consultant for an art installation project which is still in the works. I got the opportunity to teach myself how to use “Zbrush” for 3D modeling! I did all the work from sketching and modeling to presentations for conferences. It was overall an amazing learning experience!
How did you join the project? What attracted you to oVice?
I learned about the project from an acquaintance who introduced me to someone in oVice. I heard about it during the pandemic and virtual platforms were getting bigger. I believe oVice stated in 2020, and I joined it in 2021. To me, the project was proof of human adaptability – It was interesting to see how we can create solutions that help overcome the challenges of the pandemic – such as not being able to go to work in person.
At the time, Korea started talking about the metaverse. Everyone I talked to said that it was bound to get bigger and bigger. oVice has become a representation of the metaverse in Korea and one of the most unique collaboration platforms since it’s so different from Teams or Zoom.
First impression of oVice
The ability to see teammates in the same space is one of oVice’s key charms. What, in your opinion, makes people rely so much on the visual component of the platform?
I think that having a visual appeal is really important because it lures people in and then they start reading about the product. For example, when you open an app in App Store, you look at the visuals first and then read the description.
There are few platforms like oVice so I think it creates curiosity so that people think “I wonder what this is”. Then they start wandering around and will want to learn more about the product
As a graphic designer, what was your first impression of virtual layouts and the interface? How has the platform changed since you joined it?
My first tour layout was the Korean tour layout and my impression of it was “It’s fun”. I didn’t expect this, because people see a virtual workspace as something serious and boring. When I saw oVice, I thought it was fun and that people can enjoy this. It feels more welcoming compared to other tools that make you feel like you don’t want to be there.
The platform has definitely evolved over time – for example, we have released an interface update a few months ago. I like the new chat feature because I think it pops more, and there are more interactive reactions now. The new UI is really clean so I really like it. It’s more professional as well.
Do you have a favorite oVice space layout? Explain why you chose it.
I was obsessed with the layout of the Korean tour space. I liked how they had Korean landmarks in the tour space. That gave excellent visual appeal and showed people what oVice can do. It was also fun because I visited these landmarks so I enjoyed “walking” around. It reminded me of the times I was there in person.
How do you see oVice being useful to design teams? What are your favorite features of the platform?
oVice is tremendously helpful in real-time work. Also, the platform gives me the sense of security – I know that, if I need to reach out to someone, I can find them in the space and see if they are in meetings and are just sitting at their desks.
I like having real-time brainstorming sessions with screen sharing. During our design scrum, having multiple screens shared at once is really helpful.
Your work at oVice
In your opinion, what are the key components of the oVice brand identity?
I think oVice appeals to users and customers through its straightforward, easy-to-use interface. I reflect those features in brand identity through colors, a clean minimalistic look and futuristic themes. Also, when I am designing banners, I try to avoid sharp edges – I think it makes people feel more relaxed.
What is your process behind figuring out which style you want to choose for branded assets?
When I read design tasks on Notion, I usually get a visual idea of what I want right away. Then I do research on the Internet to see if there’s anything similar I can further develop. Sometimes I look into what Korean graphic design team is working on so that I don’t stray too far from them. Also, if they add new elements, I can bring those as well.
Do you have creative blocks? How do you get over them?
Sometimes, you get burned out because you are producing so much, up to the point when you no longer know what to do. When it happens, I go to websites like Dribbble, Pinterest, or Behance to see what other people are putting out. Also, I can take a break mid-work – sometimes, I would think about the banner throughout the day and get inspiration from things around me.
Do you have design inspiration sources? What are they?
I use Dribble to find inspiration for illustrations and banner designs. I would find the elements I like and put them on Figma pages. Then I would look at what the Korean team is doing – I can reuse some assets or create something in a different color because I think it would look good.
One of my favorites is social media, especially Instagram. There are some accounts I follow (@thewilsonwings, @creativewebelements, @uiadrian, and others) – I would watch their videos and pick up helpful tricks. If I like any, I would save them and implement them into future designs.
What rules and standards do you use to keep the look and feel of designs consistent?
I follow the content themes we have: hybrid work, tech, futurism, and so on. I always make sure logo placements are consistent. For colors, I use the color chips we have created.
Of course, there are times when standard colors don’t match well – then I spice the visual up with different colors. Also, I have a practice of reusing elements – I can update them or tweak them so that I don’t have to start from scratch every time.
Also, I used to create a lot of templates to make them look consistent and then customize them to each banner.
What are your favorite design tools and why?
I like Illustrator a lot – it was my favorite Adobe tool. Coming to oVice, I started using Figma more because it is collaborative. I started to love Figma – there are a lot of limits to it but the plug-ins are amazing.
One of my favorite plug-ins is called Beautiful Shadows – you can pick a shade, click on the button, and it will create a shadow that matches your design.
I still use Illustrator but I can go by without it.
Do you have a favorite design you’ve ever created for oVice?
I think my favorite design is the one that never went into production. I created it for one of our blog posts.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies?
I like to read. I used to be obsessed with reading in high school but, after I went to college, my reading time decreased significantly. Whenever I can, I will try to read. I like young adult books.
I like playing games as well – it’s really calming. I feel like I keep coming back to Nancy Drew and Sims because I get nostalgic. I have Sims 4 and it’s really fun but I feel like nothing beats the first Sims. I always go back to the first one and play it for a couple of hours.
When we were deep into the pandemic last year, I saw people knitting and crocheting and I thought I want to learn it. I used to do knitting and cross-stitching when I was younger and I wanted to come back to it.
If you weren’t a designer, what kind of work would you be doing?
I first learned about art therapy when I took an art therapy class. I fell in love with it and was thinking about getting a master’s degree in art therapy and art psychology. I enjoyed the way it works and the ability to help people. One of my professors was a hospice art therapist who worked with terminally ill patients. A lot of her stories were sad but interesting.
I really wanted to work with kids. I would love to help kids who went through childhood adversities using art therapy. Growing up, people have a lot of hardships but they have no way to process it. I grew up in Cambodia and art therapy wasn’t a thing there. Sometimes I think about going back to school and coming to Cambodia to work as an art therapist at a school.
What pieces of advice would you give to beginner graphic designers who want to develop their creative style?
From my experience of going to art school and trying to figure myself out, I struggled with finding a creative identity. I came to believe you can’t find your “identity” until you try a lot of styles and see what works and doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to try something and fail if it doesn’t work. Don’t lose opportunities because you are afraid of what’s going to happen – sometimes things turn out better than you had expected.
Is art school necessary? A lot of people go by without having to go there and I found myself teaching myself through college, too. Sometimes I feel like art school isn’t necessary but it is helpful if you want to work in a corporate environment and apply for good jobs.
What skills (related and not related to your work) would you like to pick up in the future?
I want to learn 3D design in Blender. I worked in 3D of solid works (creating products) but I want to work on 3D characters and environments.
Not work-related skills? I want to go to the gym – I see a lot of people going, and I want to challenge myself and see if I can make health a lifelong commitment. I want to work on weight training and cardio.
What is your vision for your career in the nearest future?
I love my time at oVice and I want to explore different parts of design here. I once tried making layouts – it was hard because it was outside of my comfort zone but I liked it. I do want to learn Blender so that I can create a 3D environment. I got interested in UX/UI as well so I want to learn more about it.
This was the interview with Sooyoung Kwon, the graphic designer for oVice Global. If you want to learn more about other members of the global team, check out the conversations we have had so far.
If you want to chat with our design and other teams, come by our virtual office.