Spotlight on CNN Graphics Designer Sam Kim

Sam Kim, a graphics designer at CNN, told DesignRush during an interview that he’s always wanted to pursue a life in the arts. However, like many artistic people, he didn’t always have much knowledge about available careers in art and design and faced many insecurities about his chosen career pathway. During high school, he had a desire to create. However, like many designers, he wondered if it would be financially viable or if he’d eventually lose interest in his creative side. Luckily, his decision to take art classes in high school led him to major in graphic design, which has led him to his design role at CNN today.

‘I Am What I Am’

During the interview, Sam describes himself as being ‘deeply proud’ of a very personal project entitled ‘I Am What I Am’. With the editorial design project, Sam hopes to inspire designers, aspiring designers, and even non-designers to be proud of who they are and live their life accordingly. It features the work of legendary photographer, Nick Knight, along with a song from the Broadway musical ‘La Cage aux Folles’, with lyrics that say ‘I am what I am, I do what I do and I live how I live my life without questions’. Sam put the project together in such a way that it breaks typical editorial layout rules, with overlapping song lyrics and imagery that reflect flamboyance, a word that Sam can certainly relate to as a visual designer.

The Creative Process

During the interview, DesignRush was keen to learn about Sam’s personal creative process and what exactly inspired his ideas for the amazing work that he produces. On his work, Sam says that as soon as a project lands on his desk, he begins to research similar products created by other designers and learns the various steps and processes that they took to put the work together. Using his observational skills, Sam gathers ideas and uses them as inspirational material for his own creations. Describing this process, Sam says; ‘the work I learn from changes as I reinterpret it; it becomes my own’.

Finding Inspiration in Day-to-Day Life

Sam says that his greatest inspiration is humans; he describes going to the shopping mall or grocery store for the sole purpose of simply observing people,to find new ideas for his design work. Although he says that he’s not the biggest fan of crowded areas, he describes people-watching as ‘fascinating’. You can learn so many different things about people simply by watching them, he says, such as their fashion sense, race, gender, personality, etc. On why he does this, Sam says that it’s because graphic design is a form of visual communication; a good graphics designer should have a good understanding of people to be able to communicate well with them through their design work. As he comments, ‘if you don’t have an interest in other people, how can you design the work that communicates with them?’

Sam’s biggest tip to aspiring designers is: ‘Be kind and be courageous’.