Creative Spotlight: Expanding Experiences with Angela Chua
We talked to Serious Creative Director, Angie Chua, about her design journey as she reflects on curiosity, purpose, and everything in between.
Words by Sara Rivera
Angela Chua first realized she was creative as a little kid, then she learned about Serious Studio as a freshman in college. Fast forward to now, and she’s the design studio’s newest Creative Director. When we asked if she believes that some people are born to be designers, she says, “I don’t really believe in that… I feel like exposure, experience, and passion are big factors in becoming a designer.” To Angie, this is a commitment, and it comes with growing pains.
More than half a decade in Serious, she’s worked on some of our best—GCash, Healthway, BLK, Take Root, and Nala, to name a few.
For our 10th year anniversary, we talked with Angie about her design journey as she reflects on curiosity, purpose, and everything in between—including those unnamed Photoshop layers.
When did you first start to realize you were creative?
Angie: My parents enrolled me to plenty of classes back when I was a kid, and art was the one that kept me hooked. The time that I realized I was creative was when teachers would praise me for how I designed my projects, and I realized then that some people don’t make the same effort as I do with visual projects.
Do you believe that some people are born to be designers? Would you consider yourself to be one of those people?
Angie: Since I’ve been exposed early on and I found a love for design, it became a commitment to keep myself interested and curious in developing creative thinking. This also involves honing my skills and discovering new avenues for creativity.
Actually I feel like my career as a designer started back when I was constantly rejected as an illustrator for our school newspaper. This led me to try applying for the design staff instead, which involved layouts as opposed to illustrating. I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would, leading me to widen my range of skills in design.
Tell us about your time in Serious, how it began and what makes you stay.
I discovered Serious back when I was a freshman in college where Lester and Deane gave a talk for an org. They introduced me to the world of branding where there are so much possibilities a designer can do creatively. I had my junior year internship with Serious, and this was when I really found the love in being able to develop my design thinking, dealing with a variety of businesses or industries. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to work full time with Serious. I personally find working on different kinds of projects makes things more interesting and allows me to learn more as opposed to repetitive daily tasks. Another reason that makes me stay is the people in the studio. It’s nice to be around like-minded and fun people who share common interests. It’s a humbling environment in a way that we all learn from each other and acknowledge each person’s strengths.
What has been your favorite project so far?
My favorite project would probably be the 2018 Serious Christmas gift. I generally enjoy working on packaging projects. That was the first project where I had complete creative freedom and I got to choose a printing technique that the studio was willing to explore and spend for.
Let us in on a secret or tips and tricks on how you navigate “complicated” clients.
Angie: Dealing with difficult clients is definitely inevitable, and each one we’ve worked with is a learning opportunity for us. The most important step we’ve learned to avoid any misunderstanding is to set clear expectations from the get-go. These include the scope of work, the rounds of revisions, the timelines—and these all have to be on paper. Another tip is to make sure to client-proof presentations especially for corporate clients. It’s super important to make sure to show every component is well thought out and backed with a solid rationale. Empathizing with the clients is important when building the decks especially if they aren’t as familiar with some design terms.
Any Serious Studio memories you want to share with us?
Angie: One of my favorite memories in the studio is my first company trip abroad to Bali. That was where I was introduced to a lot of well-designed restaurants, shops, and even their temples. The trip taught me a new way of looking for inspiration for our line of work and learning to adapt with our own projects. My favorite spot was Motel Mexicola which had the best tacos I’ve ever tasted, and we went twice to experience how a space can be designed to feel so different during the day and at night.
Tell us one lesson that your years of design experience has taught you that you think more emerging designers should know about.
Angie: Being curious is something that I feel a designer should actively exercise in their lives. It involves the open-mindedness to learn about everything under the sun and be able to stimulate our ways of thinking. Expanding our experiences allows us to boost our creativity in problem-solving and develop new possibilities to be better.
I like that. “Expanding your experiences to boost creativity.” Can you give us an example on how you apply this to your own life?
Angie: I have the tendency to jump from one hobby to another. I like exploring different creative avenues such as painting, pottery, calligraphy, photography, and animating. Other than art, I learned to bake lots of bread back when the pandemic started, and I got to be creative with the kinds of bread to make. This constant curiosity allows me to keep myself inspired and busy.
During the pandemic where almost everyone was uneasy and filled with uncertainty, my best friend and I started a small side project called Addle House. It became an outlet for us to seek solace in creative ways of being. We wanted to share that with others and explore ways to recalibrate and reclaim ourselves.
What is your design philosophy?
Angie: My perspective on design is aligned with the studio’s mantra which is Make Sense and Look Good. For me, design is all about pushing boundaries and problem-solving. I design with intention and with the user and purpose in mind.
Okay, the question we’ve all been dying to ask—do you label your layers? If so, how?
Angie: I usually don’t when it’s a project that doesn’t need to be turned over to the client. I once had a photoshop file that had over 900 layers. Ain’t nobody got time to label that. For files that do have to be organized, I group the layers that are in the same sections, arrange these based on what people see first, and label according to what the layer contains.