Interview with Seokjun An from United States

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Seokjun An

Seokjun An is a graphic design student at the esteemed School of Visual Arts in NYC where his unending love for design drives him in search of creative inspiration.

Interview with the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards Winner -
Seokjun An

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your creative background.
Hi, I'm Seokjun An, but you can call me Jun. I come from South Korea and I'm currently studying graphic design at the School of Visual Arts in the bustling center of New York City. My unwavering passion for design and creativity constantly drives me to seek fresh knowledge and artistic inspiration.
2What made you become/why did you choose to become a creative?
My relentless drive to excel and progress in my field led me to the prestigious MUSE Creative Awards. It instantly captivated my attention, representing a remarkable opportunity to showcase my talents and achievements on a worldwide scale.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.
I am an international student pursuing my degree in graphic design at the renowned School of Visual Arts (SVA) and am currently gearing up for my senior year. My aspirations lie in becoming a trendy and passionate designer in the field, with a particular focus on product design.
4What does “creativity” mean to you?
I firmly believe that "creativity" serves as a bridge between individuals, enabling them to manifest their imaginative thoughts to the world. In reality, everyone possesses the capacity for creative thinking. Nevertheless, not everyone takes the initiative to share their ideas, often held back by the uncertainty of whether their concepts will be well-received.
5To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?

I hold the belief that creative ideas are born from a fusion of inspiration and conceptualization. Based on my personal experience, I have found that crafting innovative ideas and designs becomes significantly more attainable when I establish a strong connection with my initial concept and subsequently translate it into visual form.

This transformative process often necessitates thorough research into the subject matter I wish to design and the gathering of diverse sources of inspiration.

6Tell us about your creative and/or design process.

My creative process typically commences with free writing. In the case of the Souve project, I began by exploring various travel-related issues people face. It soon became apparent that one common challenge was locating authentic souvenirs while on a trip. This realization prompted me to conduct interviews with potential users by asking questions and delving into their preferences, habits, and frustrations regarding souvenir shopping during their travels.

Armed with the insights gleaned from this user research, I meticulously curated the essential data and formulated innovative solutions that could be integrated as functional features within the app.

7What's your favorite part of the creative process and why?
Throughout the course of this project, I found the user research phase to be particularly enjoyable. While the app design aspect was undeniably intriguing, there was a unique satisfaction in systematically addressing and resolving the issues people encountered. It was immensely gratifying to experience a sense of accomplishment each time I tackled a problem step by step. Additionally, I relished the opportunity to engage with a diverse range of thoughts and preferences from various individuals.
8Describe your creative style and its main characteristics.

I consider my creative style to be experimental and unconventional. I tend to make a conscious effort not to follow what people have already done in high percentage, which means that while some may not resonate with my style, others find it truly captivating.

My design philosophy often revolves around embracing minimalism and achieving a harmonious hierarchy and layout. Consequently, I enjoy the process of drawing attention to a focal point, creating a visual balance that ensures the primary element stands out without cluttering the overall design.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your creativity process?
It’s a definite yes! I'm from South Korea and many great traditionally sophisticated patterns and color palettes exist in traditional Korean houses and statues. Occasionally, I tend to get inspired by those things.
10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
Thank you so much! I am immensely grateful for this honor! Being recognized with this international award among such a talented group of designers has been an incredibly enriching experience for me. I will take it as if I should be more passionate and enthusiastic in my career and become a great designer!
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

Souve is an innovative application tailored for travelers seeking authentic souvenirs. The inspiration for this idea arose from a prevalent concern among travelers—discovering that the souvenirs they've purchased were not locally crafted but imported or poor quality. This often leads to post-purchase regrets. Souve addresses this issue by guiding users to genuine souvenir shops based on their current location and providing detailed information about the products, including whether they are handcrafted or locally produced.

One of Souve's standout features is its ability to help users create a memorable visual collage of their trip using the souvenirs they've collected. This feature is especially valuable for those who collect country-specific items such as magnets or cups. The app aims to enhance travelers' experiences by ensuring they take home meaningful, authentic mementos.

The development of Souve was a passion project for me, and I'm enthusiastic about sharing it with a broader audience. My motivation to participate in this award stems from my genuine enjoyment of working on this project and my desire to showcase its value to others.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
My most significant challenge in this project revolved around site mapping and wireframing. Given the app's multifunctionality, my primary objective was to ensure a user-friendly and intuitive interface, minimizing complexity. To achieve this, I focused on streamlining user interactions by reducing the number of steps required to accomplish key actions. This necessitated ongoing design revisions aimed at maintaining simplicity and ease of use.
13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
Involvement in design awards, particularly achieving success, has ignited a deeper passion within me for design and creative thinking. It has served as a powerful motivator, inspiring me to aspire to participate in and excel in future global design competitions.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

What captivates me about the design industry is its unique ability to stir emotions and convey powerful messages through impactful imagery and concise phrases, transcending the need for lengthy explanations. Design possesses the remarkable capacity to empower and motivate individuals like nothing else.

Furthermore, I'm drawn to the fact that design is an indispensable element in virtually every aspect of life. It plays a pivotal role in capturing people's attention and leaving a lasting impression.

Lastly, the allure of typography holds a special place in my heart. Typography, in my view, possesses the ability to convey deeper meaning beyond the surface, even with just a single word. The art of typography creates a profound impact that extends far beyond the words themselves.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?

Currently, I reside in the bustling metropolis of New York City, a place teeming with a rich tapestry of design influences. This vibrant city serves as a constant wellspring of inspiration for me. Given its diverse population and multicultural atmosphere, New York fosters an environment where individuals can readily immerse themselves in various cultures.

I believe this unique cultural diversity encourages people to express their thoughts and emotions freely, transcending the constraints often encountered in other regions.

16Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
As AI continues to advance at a rapid pace, I foresee the creative industry blurring the boundaries between human and AI-generated works, leading to an increasingly ambiguous distinction in the future.
17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Creative Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
I advise aspiring designers to thoroughly study the winning entries to gain a deep understanding of what makes them award-worthy. This practice will significantly enhance your creative insight. Additionally, consider using your favorite projects as reference points for inspiration. Lastly, when refining your work, prioritize making it cohesive and easily understandable.
18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?
I recommend aspiring designers explore international award websites and agency portfolios. Personally, I find inspiration in the work showcased on renowned agency websites and award platforms. Additionally, it is important to not overlook the value of perusing design-related Instagram posts, which can offer a fresh perspective and ignite your creativity.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
I believe I'm an open and honest person with those around me, and I can't think of any deep secrets I've kept hidden from others. While this trait has occasionally led to unfavorable outcomes, I value authenticity over being insincere or maintaining an air of mystery.
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My cousin is a talented designer who has been a lifelong source of inspiration for me. Thanks to her influence, I developed a keen interest in the world of art and design from a young age.
21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
I want to express my heartfelt gratitude once again for this incredible experience. Despite being a student, winning this award marks a significant milestone in the early stages of my career. It is a profound honor for me to be recognized as an award recipient in this prestigious international competition.

Winning Entry

Souve | 2023

Souve | MUSE Creative Awards
Many travelers face challenges when searching for authentic souvenirs while traveling, often resulting in regrettable purchases ...
(Read more at MUSE Creative Awards)

Seokjun An

Seokjun An is a graphic design student at the esteemed School of Visual Arts in NYC where his unending love for design drives him in search of creative inspiration.

Read more about this interview with Wen-Chia Chang from the United States, the Gold Winner of the 2023 MUSE Creative Awards.