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Featured on Aug 11, 2011

Vanessa Han

"It's the sugar..."


With a family pushing for med school and a terrible experience in college Biology, I decided dissecting fetal pigs that reeked of formaldehyde was not the way to go. That's when I discovered Design. Now I live in a world of highly contrastedand saturated images and sleek typography.

Who or what has most influenced your work? What blogs or feeds do you check regularly for inspiration? This might sound either really corny or ridiculous, or both, but usually I google random things. For example, I was working on a color insert for a structural design textbook and I had no idea where to begin; I simply typed "magazine spread" into google and a million hits came up. I look through the small thumbnails taking note of the color choices, how many columns where used, why certain words or elements were emphasized more than others. This might not be doing the designers of the world justice or giving them fair credit, but Google's search engine has really helped me find what I "like" and "dislike" in design. Am I allowed to say that as a designer... "like"... I've always been told that was forbidden!

I do check this one blog quite regularly, but it's not anything like stumbleupon or f-f-f-found. It's called Apartment Therapy. It's probably one of the best places to find design. People post up things that they would place in their homes but this doesn't just include furniture. It has beautifully designed pillows, crazy art and graphic posters, and the beautifully schemed walls (ugh, I'm such a sucker for good color schemes, in reality and on paper!).

How did you make the switch from biology to design? Did you go for more schooling in design or are you self-taught

It was probably one of the hardest choices I've ever made. I've always been told there would never be any money in art, which scared me because I need to be able to feed myself at the very least, but after hearing about design and learning about typography, I just couldn't stay away. Biology was very cold, very critical and very tedious. Biology was strict memorization, an assembly line of food chains and processes; it was just awful. Design was more free flowing and very gratifying when a project was complete. 

I attended CUNY Queens College in Flushing and got a Bachelors of Science in Graphic Design. My design classes were probably some of the best and worst experiences. When there was an blunt professor basing everything on technical strategies to make your work better, it was the best! But with every yin, there's always, always, always a yang. I had the professors that refused to acknowledge work if it was NOT to their personal tastes. I hope to one day be "Blunt Professor".

What is your favorite color and typeface?

I can't decide between PANTONE 7465, 7566 and 7667. They're so vibrant and still very soft. Sometimes it's such a challenge not using the green-cyan blend on every project I work on.

Choosing just one type face is much too difficult! How about one san serif and one serif? That sounds fair. I absolutely love Avenir! Especially the light weights. I feel it's a multipurpose font and very clean and pretty. I'm all about the clean design. As for serif, I love Archer. I didn't discover until I worked on Chris Dorosz and JR Watson's Designing with Color (the title text is Archer Medium). It's been my favorite serif ever since.

If you were only able to take three things before being stuck on a desert island, what would they be and why?

I'd bring my iPod! They have outlets there right? Only kidding. In all seriousness, I'd bring my iPod Touch just to play a few rounds of Fruit Ninja or Plants vs. Zombies. I'd also bring a dish of Krab Rangoon, imitation crab with cream cheese, deep-fried in dough. It's delicious and I can't be stranded without filling a craving of some sort. Lastly, I would bring either bring Fathers and Sons, written by Ivan Turgenev, or Memoirs of a Geisha, written by Arthur Golden. Either or would be great; they're both my favorites, I can read them over and over.

Web Designer, User Experience Designer, Illustrator, Designer