Hi Judith, tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi! I'm Judith Park. I love everything Star Wars (yes, even the prequels) and Marvel Cinematic Universe. I'm always down to watch a movie and/or grab boba. I'm particularly passionate about screenwriting. You might catch me writing at a cafe @Koreatown!
Can you tell us what you do as Art Director at WEBTOON for those who are unfamiliar?
For context, I'm the Art Director of WEBTOON's Lifecycle Management Design. We work closely with (surprise, surprise) Lifecycle Management and primarily design in-app components to help increase WEBTOON's user engagement and readership. In other words, we tackle the question: How do we spice up our user's experience? Ever seen those in-app events and pop-ups on WEBTOON? Yup, that's us. My days consist of designing, reviewing the team's work, and meeting with other departments. We'll also A/B test designs to learn more about our users and design trends. The learning never stops!
How did you decide to pursue Art Direction?
Oh, boy. When I graduated from the University of California, Irvine, I had high hopes of securing a job in the film industry. Unfortunately, this was not the case. In chronological order, I worked as a script reader, videographer and editor, a translator and an accountant. I hate numbers, so I enrolled in a certificate program (Digital Communication and Arts) at UCLA Extension. Once I graduated, I applied to WEBTOON for an internship and got the job right away. You could say I was at the right place and the right time. HOWEVER, I'll say this: Naver WEBTOON has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in South Korea, so it's to nobody's surprise that I grew up consuming a lot of manga, manhwa, anime, and WEBTOON series (Cheese in the Trap, anyone?). It's an odd circle of life; Naver WEBTOON was part of my childhood, and in a way, I'm part of my user's childhood by being in US WEBTOON. I usually phrase that a lot better, but you get the idea. tldr: I used to be an accountant and decided to pursue design instead.
What programs & tools do you use everyday for work?
I currently use Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator at work.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
First impressions are everything! Always be ready and know your company! I know that sounds basic but you'd be surprised by how many people go in blind to their interviews. Besides that, bring passion! And for designers, a very good portfolio! If you think you lack experience and education, then compensate with great design samples! Already graduated and don't have any clients? Then make up your clients. Ask your friends if they need any design, or want to collaborate on a project. Pick a brand that you think needs rebranding. A client is a client no matter how fictional they are. I need to see your design thinking and hard skills! Practice maketh good design.
What are some must-have resources (books, tools, podcasts, etc.) you would recommend for your industry?
Oof. I wish I had a solid answer for this. As cliché as it sounds, I draw inspiration from everything and anything. When stuck, I like to research how multiple countries tackle one movie poster. Look up Japan's Amelie! It's so different from the others! Your peers are also a great resource. I feel like I'm always learning new stuff from my co-workers and friends!
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
Most satisfying & difficult thing about your job?
It's always satisfying to see our work go live on WEBTOON. Even more satisfying if the engagement is good. Jokes aside, I enjoy reading our users' reactions. They're very eager to share their recommendations, and I especially love it when they're happy to see their favorite series get promoted in an event or social post.Design is difficult. I often tell my designers to "aim for 120%, not 100%" because, honestly, anyone can achieve 100% if they meet the minimum requirement. But the extra 20% gets you noticed, shows people that you have the creative drive to think outside the box. The only challenge is that meeting this 120% is extremely difficult, especially if you're a good designer. I could make the greatest in-app event design of all time, but it means nothing if I'm stuck with that design for the next event. Complacency can result in repetition, which can lead to user fatigue. So the difficulty, as always, is to get ahead of yourself and think what your previous version couldn't think of.
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Don't be afraid! If you have an idea and the drive, then go for it! Fear has stopped me from pursuing many projects. I was afraid of failure, of what people would think of me. However, now that I'm older, I've come to realize that people don't care as much as I thought they would. If you fail, you fail and move on. And if anyone embarrasses or discourages you from a passion, then perhaps you should spend less time with them and meet those who share the same interest as you. I used to feel sad in December. It was the time of the year when I would look back and wonder why I didn't do what I wish I could. A whole lot of "coulda, woulda, shoulda." To this, my mother once said, "Then work harder so you don't regret the same decisions next year." I've had multiple failed projects since then, but I've also achieved quite a few milestones as well. And while I wish I had this daring confidence as a youth, I don't regret having started on it later. I'm going strong this year and hope to keep this momentum going forward :)
Best advice you've received/heard?
"You don't get hired or promoted for what they didn't see. You get hired and promoted for what they do see."