An Interview with Designer Jonathan Mak

You’re probably familiar with the student artist from Hong Kong named Jonathan Mak Long. Last October, shortly after the death of Steve Jobs, Mak dreamed up a little tribute—an Apple symbol subtly embedded with Jobs’s silhouette, seen below:

Jonathan Mak with the now iconic Steve Jobs tribute logo.

Recently, Mak interviewed with Evan Osnos at The New Yorker. It’s a great interview:

I am twenty years old, was born and raised in Hong Kong, and seldom travelled. (My current student-exchange program in Germany marks my second trip beyond Asia.) My mother is a teacher, and my father works as a translator. They do not have a background in visual creativity, but they are the main reason for my interest in language, which has been tremendously helpful to my growth as a designer.

Like almost everybody else, I loved doodling and making things when I was young, but I never quite left that phase. I continued to create, such as writing a class newspaper, trying my hand at songwriting, and even recording my own podcast. Graphic design began as simply part of my compulsion to create, but, as I got increasingly comfortable with the medium, my love for it grew, and it has not stopped since.

The bulk of the interview is focused on design in China:

Discussing Chinese design is tricky. On one hand, you have the cream of the crop—contemporary graphics effortlessly combined with just enough Chinese motifs to differentiate them from the West. But at the same time, we have countless adverts that are flamboyant, sickly sweet, and just hyperbolic all around, often with jarring color combinations and tragic abuse of effect filters. “That is so ‘mainland,’ ” a Hong Konger might snort in derision. I am sometimes guilty of this reaction, but I am trying to see the other side of this issue.

Click through the interview to see the design he made for Coca-Cola, China.

 

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