27 Sep Interview with Huei-Tai Chen
When it comes to exploring Brooklyn, where the infamous bridge can be seen peeking through brownstone avenues, there’s no better way to gain momentum and artistic inspiration then swerving through the city on the deck of a short cruiser. In a community brimming with hipsters and foodie photo-ops worthy of Instagram, there is no lack of wow factor here. Appropriate, since graphic and communication designer Huei-Tai Chen prefers to encompass a wow factor approach to life and does this through gained insight from his surroundings. “No matter on a skateboard or by foot, I love hanging around the neighborhoods of New York,” Chen says, and this is how he stays up with the latest trends. The designer considers himself a keen storyteller, and what better way to craft a narrative than to lose oneself in the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple– where people watching, billboards shouting fads through 2020, and a symposium of culture are enough to captivate any listening audience.
So who is Huei-Tai Chen? “I am a designer who cares about storytelling,” he says. To Chen, it is through the spoken word that success is achieved, and he emphasizes the importance of communicating with clients and teammates. It’s a good thing the designer is in tune with the art of communication, as interacting with clients is what he loves most about his job. With a Master’s in communication design and an undergrad in marketing and advertising, Chen employed his early years as a copywriter. “This experience taught me the importance of storytelling in my design process,” he claims. Storytelling and language go hand in hand, and Chen stresses how crucial communication is in the way he responds to critics, as well as the steps involved in his creative endeavors.
“Understanding my clients is the very first step of my design process and the most important one. Before the first meeting, I will spend a great amount of time researching my clients to build a base of out communication,” the artist says. To do this, Chen approaches design with the mindset that a problem solver solves all; in other words, when equipped with the best suitable tools and the ability to communicate, one can generate ideal idiosyncratic designs. The brander claims the best way to achieve all levels of fairness is to, “never work with any prejudice or stereotypes among clients. All the projects deserve great research, understanding and serious solutions to any problem,” says Chen. After the communication process, each concept requires a great deal of visualization with the curation of mood boards as an important part of the process.
In response to harsh criticism, it’s all about, you guessed it, communication. “I don’t think the clients mean to be harsh on any specific designer,” continues Chen. “They just care about their projects so much but have a hard time communicating; therefore, they act as mean commentators on a designer’s’ work,” he says. To avoid conflict Chen reminds himself not to take their comments personally. He sees dialogue as modes of constructive criticism from which to grow and improve. “For me, this is so important because clients have to be with the designs much longer than designers– they don’t have to “love” the designs, but they definitely have to understand and value the outcome,” Chen adds. Wow.
Coming back to wow– What qualifies that factor in design? “For me, the ‘wow moment’ is one of the best rewards for a designer. We, the designers, should be the partner to both our client and teammates,” says Chen. “While finding a balance to every project is tough, I will keep trying until my audiences catch that wow moment in one of my designs,” he adds. Essentially, it’s that feeling of awe when a client sees their product brought to life in a way they may have imagined but never conceived– and it’s an honor for Chen to give that to them. The best part for Chen though is “enjoying every moment I can be part of the lovely projects,” he says. And when asked what else he enjoys most, it’s reading. “Reading, always reading….” Chen states when asked about his current fascination.
This hobby feeds well into his work, as the designer pegs himself an “omnivore” of written works ranging from prose, poetry, social expose and the “super long Feedly” reading lists that shed light on current events. Chen allows diverse forms of creative inspiration to seep into his work, as his fascination stems anywhere from Japanese women magazines to the male sex-toy brand Tenga. “They design all toys and campaigns with a super techy style. With their art direction, I don’t even feel embarrassed when looking at the ads from them– I think it is a masterpiece of branding,” admits Chen.
It takes a passionate soul to distinguish such modes of artistry, and when it comes to Chen’s passions outside of work, he acknowledges a low-key approach to life. “I like cooking and keeping my house nice. I am pretty much a home-style person who spends a great amount of time at home, therefore, I like to keep my living environment as cozy as I can,” he says. If there was one thing Chen would tell his fan base, it would be to “never settle down with one pattern or solution, you can or SHOULD figure out a better one for the next project… always set a higher standard for yourself.” In regards to his own personal philosophy, his goal remains the same: “keep generating nice works and improving my own design skills, and… pay my bills with responsibility!” laughs Chen.
To find out more about the designer visit: