Originally from Hong Kong and Indonesia, New York-based producer and typographer Emily Jing Sum Chan is on a mission to change the world through design and social initiatives; all while studying at Parsons School of Design and working at &Walsh. Having previously published her typefaces Ascentis and Orna, we caught up with her to learn about her background, inspirations and more.
The Brand Identity: Hi Emily. How are you?
Emily Jing Sum Chan: Hi Elliott! I’m doing great, the air definitely feels better after the results of the election. Of course, there is always more to do, but taking everything one step at a time. How are you?
TBI: Doing great too, thanks! Can you tell us about your background, and how that led you to &Walsh?
EJSC: I am originally from Hong Kong and Indonesia. I immigrated to the United States for college, and I am just about to graduate in May 2021 from Parsons School of Design in NYC! &Walsh has always been under my ‘dream company to work with’ radar ever since I began my life and career in the design world. Around a year ago, I was fortunate enough to land a position working for Jessica’s Let’s Talk About Mental Health and Ladies, Wine & Design social initiatives and my journey with &Walsh grew from there!
TBI: Do you have a plan in mind for what you’ll do once you graduate?
EJSC: Currently, my plan is to continue my life here in New York, continue to grow my career in the Design industry, and keep living my life and see where things take me!
“I am so grateful that I eventually found my place.”
TBI: What challenges have you faced since arriving in New York?
EJSC: Even though I moved around many times from country to country as a kid and I’m very adaptable to change – I have never lived in the US for more than a year. So, adapting to the city, understanding the culture and the people, was something that took me a while to navigate myself and find my sense of ‘home’ in. That is absolutely not a bad thing though. New York has such a diverse set of people and cultures, I am so grateful that I eventually found my place and managed to grow myself in such a beautifully diverse city.
TBI: Can you tell us about your role at &Walsh?
EJSC: My responsibilities at &Walsh include internal (studio-based) and external (client-based) production work, social media and Jessica’s social initiatives. I am mostly a Production Intern, but I also spend time working with Jessica on her two social initiatives. I’d love to keep growing, keep learning and hopefully become a Producer at &Walsh!
TBI: Can you highlight something you’ve learnt there?
EJSC: Oh I have learnt so many things! I have had a few work experiences and internships prior to &Walsh, but (even though all experiences are valuable) nothing compares to the amount of things that I’ve learnt so far with &Walsh, and I know I will just keep learning no matter how far I go. To keep it in simpler terms, one of the most valuable things that I have had the privilege to learn is that good work comes from: ‘Inclusion, Diversity, Crazy High Standards & Work That’s Human’. That is &Walsh’s motto and that is how we all work. We are a small team, but a small team that works our a** off, and it shows from all of the client projects and social work that we produce. I will be forever grateful to Gosbinda, Jessica and Lauren who all saw something in me and decided to take me in with the &Walsh family. I wouldn’t have learnt all of the things that I have without the top-notch team.
Besides all-things work related, I have also learnt with &Walsh the importance of balancing my time with work, school and personal life events. I have had a lot of things going on and I am also getting married soon! So learning to take time for myself is equally as important to putting your all into your work hours. You can’t work to your fullest extent if you don’t take care of yourself.
“You can’t work to your fullest extent if you don’t take care of yourself.”
TBI: How did you get into type design?
EJSC: As you know, the design field has many smaller areas of studies (such as, UX/UI, AR, 3D, typography, editorials, branding, packaging, interior, and so much more). While studying, I was exposed to all of these fields. I really tried to immerse myself within all the fields to try and get a better understanding of where my interests, motivation and passion laid. That is when I found my love for typography. I took a type design class at Parsons with Lynne Yun, and my love for type design flourished!
TBI: Where do you look for type design inspiration?
EJSC: All around me! Obviously, I take inspiration from type and design history, but I also find inspiration in nature and in design that is available around me. My process is usually gathering and taking in everything that I have access to, beginning to envision how I’d like my typeface to be, start sketching and keep sketching until I am overall happy with what I have! Then, I’d move on to designing on Glyphs. My initial sketching process relies heavily on my instincts, and little on references (unless they are type history references).
“I definitely think that it’s important to immerse yourself in the fundamentals.”
TBI: Do you have any advice for other designers that would like to start making typefaces?
EJSC: I get a lot of messages from beginners asking for advice as they want to design their first typeface and I am glad that I can answer this question here for all to view! I definitely recommend taking a type design course, or if this is not an option, studying letterforms to the fullest extent. It may seem boring, but one of the main reasons why some type is successful and others just look amateur, is because good typefaces are designed by type designers who have trained their eye to see the little things that really make a huge difference in the overall success of the type.
Personally, I began my type design journey by literally tracing letterforms from different typefaces for hours and hours. This truly allowed me to train my eye for spacing, stroke widths, the placement of the anatomy, etc. In my opinion, this is one of the most valuable things I can say to someone who wants to start designing type when they have never done so before. A lot of people think it’s easy or want to just start, but I definitely think that it’s important to immerse yourself in the fundamentals so that you can really be an expert in design. Doing the work pays off instead of just rushing to get it done!