We get the chance to catch-up with fresh Curtin University grad and budding typographer, Matthew Wong. Matthew was feature on our Top 15 Design to Watch for 2015! Matthew, who lives in wonderful Perth, tells us about his career highlights so far, how he spends his days and what rock god inspired him to become a designer.
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?
I first fell in love with design in high school when my friend Geoff introduced me to Linkin Park (re: angsty teen years). I’d always been creative growing up, but seeing the guy (Mike Shinoda) in Linkin Park making music, designing album covers, creating art shows and being generally creative as a career— it was like, “Wow. That life looks super cool and that’s for sure what I want to do”. It wasn’t long before I was taking graphic design classes and learning electric guitar.
What has been your highlights since you started out?
One of the biggest highlights for me last year was participating in the Double Bump show at No Vacancy Gallery. It was my very first group show, so I was pretty psyched that I got to show my stuff next to amazing talent like Chris Nixon and Gemma O’Brien.
Another highlight was getting employed by a design studio at the end of last year. It kinda came out of nowhere, as the result of accidental networking. Up until November last year I’d basically been freelancing out of my bedroom 5 days a week, and despite being allowed to sing super loud and not really have to get dressed, I was going a bit stir crazy. Getting this part time job at a studio has allowed me to get out of the house a few days a week, and work alongside some super talented creative people. I’m now realising how important it is to be able to talk over designs and ideas with other creatives!
Oh and also— getting picked for TDK’s 15 to watch was crazy. It was a lovely way to round out my first year of being a graduate, and knowing that people were seeing and engaging with my work.
What advice would you give students starting out?
Work hard. Work plentifully. Fill your portfolio with the kind of work you want to be hired to do, and even if you don’t get hired immediately out of uni (not many of us do), you should always be making stuff not because you have to, but because you want to. The secret to getting that awesome job isn’t really a secret: if you work hard, allow yourself to learn and grow as a designer, and have a body of work ready when a studio or client comes calling, then you’re pretty much set.
I highly recommend starting a side project or some kind of consistent personal work. It allows you to design without the restraint and pressure of a client or deadline— you can try new techniques and fail miserably without consequence! I’ve also found side projects to be a great way to unwind at the end of the day.
Where do you gather inspiration, on and off the web?
I gather inspiration from all over the place. From obsessively following awesome studios and designers on the web (current favs: Fuzzco), to consuming Adventure Time and pizza, it’s hard to pinpoint one source of inspiration. If I find a designer I like, I’ll social media-stalk them and see who they talk to or work with, and then network my way around that creative circle.
I also get super inspired reading about designers and what it what like for them when they were starting out (my absolute favourite place for interviews is The Great Discontent). It’s quite relieving and anxiety-reducing knowing that they also had to work their ass off to get the job/life they wanted. Interviews with designers are frequently full of great design/life lessons too, and after finishing an interview I’m always inspired and excited to go make some cool stuff!
Tell us about where you are today and what you love about your job!
I work part time at a design/web studio called Monk Media, and part time freelance from home (mostly doing a bunch of work for Tiffany Keal Creative Studio). And why I love my job is simple: it’s my favourite thing to do! I love making stuff, and being able to make stuff with cool people and then get paid for it?! It’s pretty great.
What does a typical working day include for you right now?
A typical day always starts with coffee and trawling through Instagram! I don’t really have a typical working day structure, but once all my professional work is done for the day, I like to wind down with some personal design projects in the evening.