Original Interview: January 2017

Melissa Yeo

TDK Awards ’16 winner, Melissa Yeo, chats with us about how glandular fever led her to design, representing Monash University for the 2015 International Society of Typographic Designers submission, and hanging out with her dog and avoiding being an adult (we feel you!)

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?
Ever since I was little I have always loved to make things. If I ever saw something I liked at a shop and tragically couldn’t convince my parents to buy it for me and had already used up my yearly source of income (aka Birthday money), I would always try and make my own version of it. I would say around 60% of the time this didn’t really turn out too well, but you form a kind of attachment to anything that you make… until around six months later when that fondness turns to disbelief that you could ever make something so ugly.
I never noticed that I was interested in design until High School. I was actually probably the opposite of interested because the only thing I ever did/wanted to do was play sports. I didn’t really pay any of the creative subjects much attention until I was hit with a huge dose of glandular fever that stopped me in my tracks. It was a huge adjustment to suddenly not be playing sport but it turned my attention to Vis Com and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It wasn’t until I actually noticed that I couldn’t help myself from judging books in the library by their cover designs (despite what every adult told me) that I realised design was something I wanted to pursue.

Who are your top five design crushes right now?
My design crushes are constantly on rotation, so this was a little tough but here goes –

1. Les Graphiquants—No matter what these guys create, I love. They have some of the strongest graphics in the game.
2. Snask—This studio has been all over my Pinterest feed lately, and for good reason. Their use of colour is absolutely spot on and all of their work has a sense of fun about it which just makes me love them even more.
3. Design by Toko—Their recent signage for ABA Architects is one of my favourite projects from 2016. But the great work doesn’t end there, basically everything in their portfolio is so damn nice.
4. Christopher Doyle & Co—They put a hamburger on a seagull’s head, and not only was the seagull wearing glasses, but it’s also on a skateboard and it just works. I think that alone immediately earns themselves a place on this list. But don’t go judging a design studio by its seagulls, everything coming out of this studio is really, really good looking.
5. Sagmeister & Walsh—I mean, could it really be a list of designers without these guys? Probably one of, if not the most well known design studios in the world, but what really puts these guys on the next level for me is the thinking behind their designs, I’m a sucker for a clever concept.

Mel Yeo - The Design Kids

Mel Yeo - The Design Kids

What have been your highlights since you started out?
I was lucky enough to be one of the students selected to represent Monash University for the 2015 International Society of Typographic Designers submissions. My project was awarded membership into the ISTD which was really exciting. Since then, as corny as it sounds, I’ve just really loved to see the quality of my work improve. It’s really cool to see that all the hard work can pay off so I’m excited to see where I can push my work to go in the future because I know I still have a ways to go. Being named as a TDK award winner has probably been the biggest highlight and I still think that someone must have made some form of typo (but at the same time my name isn’t the easiest to spell, so if it was, that’s an impressive mistake). But in all honesty, receiving such generous feedback from someone who I really respect in the industry was truly an honour and I am the epitome of chuffed, the only downside is that my Mum is going to be bragging to strangers for at least the next 5–7 years.

What advice would you give students starting out?
1. You’re probably never going to be the best, and it really doesn’t matter.
2. No one is going to care about your work as much as you do, so work your butt off.
3. Constraints will help, not hinder your creativity.
4. Sometimes the best thing you can do for that project that is due soon is to take a step away from it.
5. Constructive criticism will always make your work better.

Mel Yeo - The Design Kids

Mel Yeo - The Design Kids

Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?
I have a feeling 2017 will be a big one for me and I’m excited for the challenge! This year I’ll be finishing off my degree and crossing my fingers to find a studio that will have/put up with me as an intern! I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to learn anything new and gain experience. Then after that who knows! Hopefully fit in some travel at some stage and maybe become a real adult and look for a real job (that part I’m slightly less excited about… the real adult bit, not the real job bit, a real job would be amazing). I also really want to learn more about web so that will be a big part of my spare time and then any left over time will most likely be dedicated to my dog… so not a huge change from 2016 really!

2016 for you in a sentence.
Trump being president is just a prank right?

Instagram: @mel.yeo
Website: melyeo.com

Mel Yeo - The Design Kids

Mel Yeo - The Design Kids