Interview with Lawrens Tan

Winner of Advertising, Graphic, Fashion and Social Design Awards

Award Winning Designer Lawrens Tan shares insights


Interview with Lawrens Tan at Saturday 20th of October 2018:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
LT : I graduated with a Diploma in Visual Communications in Temasek Polytechnic, School of Design, 2001. I've always been in love with generating ideas associated with advertising and design.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
LT : We are a boutique setup forming back in 2011. We are an idea centric company who believes great work always starts with an idea. They give the soul to any design work. We are glad to have worked with various clienteles.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
LT : I chose to be one.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
LT : I do mostly print related works. From advertising to branding. I would love to focus on creating logos and coming out with brand names for startups. Brand names are very important and it should say what you do in the name itself. Many people just like to come out with fancy names but with no relevance and I seek to change that.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
LT : Never fear of being rejected. Think of why it got rejected and work on it again. Never keep staying on an idea. If it doesn't work, go for another. Never let ego stand in your way. Listen to what the client needs, and not what you need.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
LT : A good designer designs fantastic visuals. A great designer creates ROI for its clients through their design.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
LT : For me, its more of the core idea and message behind the design. There had to be a key subject or focus in the visual itself. Too many people are trying to squeeze too many subjects and matters in, and it dilutes the entire focus. Good design speaks to the audiences visually, thus it has to communicate instantly, drawing curiosity and the need to have an impulse buy. If you can hit the communication, curiosity and the urge to buy, you are already a winner.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
LT : A good design speaks of business and its returns. Good design should be invested as you are what you choose, so is your identity. A professional designer designs a piece with in-depth research, studies it's competition, and comes out with strategies that produces results.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
LT : A book of "Branding Secrets to Scaling Your Business".

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
LT : Well, it may sound ambitious, but I want to be a Design + Business Coach. And how you can implement these in companies to scale up their businesses locally and globally. How branding can take them to another level and create a memorable business brand.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
LT : Listen, research, implement. The hidden secret is how we can make design work like a business. So it's isn't just aesthetics alone, but more of business thinking.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
LT : David Droga, the ad man. Karim Rashid, the furniture designer.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
LT : The Office Flipchart was one of my best creations. And its solves the problems of office mates who have difficulty updating their statuses when they are not at work. This product promotes accountability and makes office lives more fun and humorous.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
LT : Keep yourself updated through design annuals, study the concept behind and analyse. Take note of their execution and if it was you, how would you have done it? For me, it's important to be on top and stay on top. I always make it a point to enter awards every year. This is to keep us constant in the world of design and staying relevant.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?
LT : Design is like when a plain canvas meets the paintbrush and its colour palettes. Design is how you not only create a fancy masterpiece, its more of how you successfully create the value behind the painting.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
LT : There's a lot to name. But my parents who worked so hard to bring me through college, my wife who stood by me all the years and encouraging me. My siblings. Of course my business coaches like JT Foxx, Jason Evers. Books from Richard Branson has really opened up my mind. My mentors like Robin and Kenneth, who selflessly created time whenever I have questions or doubt in the business side of things. My biggest supporters are my wife Doris, my ten year old daughter Clarice, who is a big fan of my work.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
LT : Ambition, pride and passion. It's always a joy to see clients saying thank you on reaching their goals and targets through design and that is really one of my greatest satisfaction.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
LT : How to constantly do something different. You can't use an identical strategy to plug and play for any industry. It just doesn't work. One of the biggest obstacles before I was tarted my business was the restrictions given by the seniors. Most seniors only think that their ideas are the best while juniors should just shut up and stand aside. I still remember vividly when I politely asked a senior designer what if she added this element? Instead of listening, she retaliated "You don't tell a senior what to do!" The other main obstacle was branding. You have to prove your worth and brand to potential clients. And winning awards was one of the key components to being great.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?
LT : Think like showcasing your work in Instagram. It has to be clean, minimal and visual led. Most importantly it has to tell a story and build personality.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
LT : A Branding book would sound really exciting and I hope to keep producing great information to new designers and designers who want to build their own company. What to look out for and how to easily scale up the business.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
LT : To be a branding coach and strategist.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
LT : How design meets profit. It's not just about looking good, it's all about how you can profit from a good campaign.

DL: How does design help create a better society?
LT : Good design educates and creates a call to action.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
LT : I am currently working on a brand identity design for a business coach in Melbourne. And its one of the most challenging tasks. How to present it in a logo and how to create trust just by looking at the visual.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
LT : Logo design projects. It's really hard to put everything in a logo and see what it represents. Your logo only have seconds of attention to speak.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
LT : From a week to at most a month. I don't really like to drag as the momentum slows and suddenly the entire project becomes boring due to the massive changes.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?
LT : Research, competition, thinking, analyse, execute.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?
LT : We don't just make brands, we create cultures.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
LT : I believe design sets the trends. Design could always be the one setting it, not vice versa. We should set the trend, if not, then what are designers for?

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
LT : Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
LT : They are like food recipes. Colours are the spice, materials are the ingredients, and ambient is the plating.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?
LT : I've seen your work, can I hire you to design my logo please?

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
LT : Sharks! Why didn't I think of that!

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
LT : Awards and recognition are a great showcase and it gives you the establishments. To be famous isn't an easy task. But in my opinion, awards and recognition should be based more about staying relevant to your industry.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
LT : Well I hope the client doesn't see this. The funniest feedback we got from the client was: "I like the idea, but I don't like the concept."

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
LT : The email that clients sent when the campaign is over. Winning awards is one of the best ways for motivation. For my case, another way for me is going on business retreats with a global pool of entrepreneurs, sharing our ideas and how it can work in a broader perspective.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
LT : Not really. But I did like how I could visualise scenarios based on words alone.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
LT : Design might happen without any clicks or points, it will be constructed just from brainwaves.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
LT : Follow us on branding in Instagram @thebrandinggiants or follow us on our designer and lifestyle products on Instagram @teesaurusproject