Yang Jung-eun, an alumna of Ewha Visual Communication Design of College of Art & Design, has been pioneering her own way as a visual designer, representative of her studio, adjunct professor, and many other occupations.
Yang is especially renowned for one of her works, a frontier of the K-Almond syndrome, HBAF Nuts Package Series, which consist of different types of nuts in various flavors, also known as the must-buy souvenir among the tourists visiting South Korea.
Interested in drawing since elementary school, Yang naturally opted to major in related fields. Yang mentioned that she never stopped working ever since she was a university student, even if the requested work was merely designing a leaflet.
With regard to her HBAF Nuts Package Series design, Yang stated that she was already employed by another company when she received the request from HBAF. One of her clients who was acquainted with the CEO of HBAF asked her to submit the portfolio to HBAF as they urgently needed design options for their first product, Honey Butter Almond. They were especially looking for a distinct package design which could attract customers’ eyes.
According to Yang, as the laws regarding the food products are strict, the food companies cannot exaggerate their products or the ingredients included. So, most of the packages are just photos of the food itself.
Since the almonds with different flavors looked similar and not much appetizing, HBAF wanted to solve this issue by embellishing their packages by putting illustrations on them.
“HBAF was in dire financial status at first, and I was given only a week to prepare the draft proposal,” Yang said. “Although there was a lot of pressure, all I could do was doing what I was good at.”
Yang added further touch by drawing the characters holding the ingredients to explain the flavors. However, as decorating the package with the characters could look juvenile, Yang also had to consider this aspect when designing so that the product could be seen as suitable for the customers of any age.
Despite all the adversities, HBAF’s products have been successfully sold, which allowed HBAF to release new products made of peanuts, chickpeas, pretzels in a series. The company’s continued prosperity led to Yang winning the iF Product Design Award in 2016.
Yang has also been running a visualization studio, Something Word Studio, since her late 20s. While she was working for her company and preparing to get a new job, Yang was also personally receiving commissions from other companies. As the scale of the works got larger, she began to seriously consider opening her own studio.
“If I have failed to run the studio,” Yang said. “The younger I am, the faster I could have overcome the frustration and restart.”
Furthermore, as so-called standard procedure to become a designer was disappearing, Yang was not afraid to launch her studio, even at a younger age than other designers.
Yang confessed that she had struggled to sort out work-life-balance for quite some time. As a founder and the only employee of her business, she had always put the clients’ schedules at her utmost priority, which often led her to stay up all night, subsequently affecting her health.
What Yang managed to solve this issue was setting the opening hours of her studio and working flexibly depending on her workload.
Recently participating in Korea Art Show 2022 thanks to the invitation from one of the event organizers, Yang stressed that constantly displaying her artworks to the public eye is important, as personal connections are one of the most crucial components in the art industry.
For those who wish to work in the field of design, Yang advised to develop one’s irreplaceable competitiveness, as more and more designers are making their way out in the industry. She also suggested leaving marks by conducting whatever artworks one wishes to do, especially those irrelevant to the schoolwork, as they could contribute to one’s career someday.
“Everything you do will help you someday, somehow,” Yang said. “After getting into society, time will not allow you to only seek for your interest. Keep focusing on yourself and figure out what your heart desires.”