by Elizabeth Lavis | 28 Nov 2021
Site Ma’s path to the design world is interesting, to say the least. She initially wanted to be a journalist. “I went to Journalism school at the University of Missouri,” she said. “In my third year of college, I attended the Society of News Design Conference in DC, and it changed my life.”
Ma was overwhelmed and thrilled by the award-winning design work and immediately knew that she belonged in that world. She quickly changed direction, and the rest is history.
Ma is an interdisciplinary designer and illustrator working at Paperwhite-Studio in New York, where she specializes in crafting incredible designs for the food and hospitality industries. Ma’s home city of Guangzhou, China, has world-renowned food, and she feels comfortable and inspired operating in that sector. Ma’s expertise and her deliberate approach to design help her clients feel comfortable leaving their brand image in her capable hands.
“Making a great presentation and helping the client see how your design will be adopted in real life is super helpful to convince them to trusts your judgment,” she said. “For example, I don’t just design a logo. I show how the logo will be used on different platforms. Showing a bigger picture of the brand always helps to convince the client.”
Ma deals with criticism by trying to deduce what’s behind it. “I always try to find the reason behind harsh criticism so that I can find solutions for it,” she said. “The end goal is to do the best work and satisfy the expectation of the client, so actively finding the reasons for the criticism is the key to make it better.”
Ma also benefits from a sunny outlook on life, having been influenced by her parents to always look on the bright side. “Both of my parents are optimistic and open-minded. They believe in the power of positive thinking and always support and encourage me to do things that I am passionate about.” In addition to her parents, Ma is influenced by the professors at Maryland Institute College of Art and the work of Jennifer Cole Phillips, Jason Gottlieb, and Ellen Lupton.
Ma’s positive outlook helps her harness catastrophic thinking to deal with artist’s block and pressure. She imagines the worst-case scenario before starting a project, then just jumps right in. “If I can face the fear of the worst, I won’t feel too much pressure. I always believe the best way to work under pressure is to start creating first and then edit it later. Just keep doing the thing and don’t break your flow.”
Ma’s tools of the trade are Adobe software, Procreate, and of course, coffee. In her downtime, she loves dancing and running. “I’ve run two half marathons in the last three years,” she said. “I found that running slowly outdoors for 20 to 30 minutes in the morning has a huge impact on my creativity and productivity during the day,” she said. If her Instagram feed is any indication, her techniques are working.