Today we speak to Sean Lam of Plate Interactive and Hanging Up The Moon.
Yanda: Tell us about yourself and what you do.
Sean: I’m a digital designer by profession and a music hobbyist.
How would you describe your work in one sentence?
Unassuming yet able to communicate on an emotional level.
How did it get started?
I took a course in electronic media design in TP. I knew I wanted to get into this field very early on.
Do you treat it as a job?
Of course, it is a job I’m just glad it’s also something I enjoy.
Are you having fun at it right now?
Honestly, not as much as before when I was bright eyed and wet behind the ears (the demise of Flash didn’t help either) BUT there’s still fun to be had every now and then.
What do you actually enjoy doing?
Spend time with my family and cats, making music.
How often you spend time doing them then?
Not often enough.
Have any daily routines you cannot do without?
Kopi-O. Need that caffeine fix in the morning.
When is your favourite day of the week and why?
Friday cos it’s the start of the weekend. Weekends are precious for family folks.
Are you seeking a work life balance?
How important do you think it is?
What about seeking happiness?
I suppose so… even though I think happiness is overrated.
What is your definition of happiness then?
It is what it is, an emotion. I think people who enjoy melancholia are also happy in their own way.
What are the things that keep you sane?
My family and writing songs.
What do you do when you get time off?
Spend time with my family and cats and do household chores like tending to my balcony garden.
What if you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
What about personal work? Do you think it’s important?
I do indulge in personal projects every now and then, and it may also not always be directly work-related (music in my case). I wouldn’t say it’s important, but it’s always a welcome break. After all, personal projects are the most fun to work on.
What do you think about the youth of nowadays?
There will always be a gap between generations. Even though I feel that the youth of today have a much shorter attention span due to the increasingly noisy and socially connected environment… as long as morals are in place, I try to keep an open mind as to how they live their lives because quite simply, it is their time now.
What about the education? Do you think your own academic education is important?
Education is important on many levels. While I do agree that for the better part, it helps shape who we become, the downside is that it can also make us conform to certain ideals. I’d place critical thinking above academic achievements any time.
How can it be better?
I don’t really know as I’m no education expert, but I think it would help if we do away with exams altogether and think of other ways to gauge a child’s development and progress.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A Chinese saying from my Dad that speaks of humility and goes something like ‘there’s always a mountain taller than the other’… it also reminds me to not get too caught up with things and be thankful for where I am.
How did you seek to find yourself when you were younger?
I never actively sought to find myself in my youth… I didn’t plan for anything and just drifted along happily for many years doing what I liked. I suppose I had it good
Can taste be taught or nurtured?
To a certain extent, yes. But you can only learn so much. Beyond that, natural gift and talent will have to see you through.
What about hunger?
This is entirely up to the individual’s level of determination.
What do you do to keep educating yourself?
When was the last time you felt challenged?
Right now, answering these questions (just kidding). But truthfully, everyday brings a challenge. Helping my daughter with her (P1) schoolwork can be just as challenging as thinking of ways to turn a mundane brief into something more interesting.
What makes you guilty?
When I have had too much drink…
What do you think about designers that are designing for designers?
It’s a free world and since design is pretty much commercial art, why not? I suppose there’s a target audience for everything, even if they are designers.
Are you guilty of spending too much time on internet or social media?
My wife accuses me of this from time to time. But less so these days ever since she got her smartphone.
How are the clients of now as compared to the past?
I didn’t meet many clients face to face in the past since that’s mainly the role of account servicing. Today, I’m happy to say that most of my clients are fabulous folks and they are all very supportive of Plate. Some have been with us from day one.
Do you think design should be for the niche or for everyone?
It depends on what we are dealing with really. I personally dislike exclusivity, there’s just too much snobbery in it… although there will always be branded, hi-end design aimed specifically at the super rich or style-conscious. I much admire design aimed at the common folk, like Ikea.
Any heroes? What do you admire about them?
Charley Harper (modernist illustrator) for his minimalist style of art. Charles and Ray Eames for their wonderful works/films and their eye for detail. Jim Henson for giving the world the muppets. And once upon a time in a galaxy far far away, George Lucas for his imagination (I really meant that ‘once upon a time’ part though.)
Do you try to compare to anyone then?
How do you set your benchmark?
I don’t work that way. I just go with inspiration.
Good design won’t be complete without good marketer. Agree?
Maybe so for good design… but great design speaks for itself.
Which place in the world inspires you the most and why?
Japan. It’s just the feeling that I get when I’m there.
What about in Singapore?
There are pockets of places here that I’m drawn to, mostly because of nostalgia. Considering how often our landscape keeps changing in the name of ‘development’, I can only hope that they will remain for as long as possible..
What are three things you are obsessed with at the moment?
Sad to say, I’m not obsessed with anything at the moment… maybe Game of Thrones?
Lastly, what websites do you surf or books you would like to share?
I just read ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ by Haruki Murakami. I have a fascination with sheep lately…
View more of Plate’s works at plateinteractive.com/.