As part of our Getting to Know series interviewing some of the most interesting up-and-coming figures in the creative industries, today we spoke with Darius Dazhi Wang, a multidisciplinary designer living in NYC.
Currently working as a Motion Designer at COLLINS, Darius is a man keen on “pushing beyond aesthetics” with his work, which veers between the bold, the obtuse and the beautiful.
Tell us a bit about your role! Is there a “typical” day?
I work at COLLINS San Francisco as a Motion Designer, but I live in New York. And I’m lucky to be able to work remotely (and hybrid) and have a flexible work schedule.
I usually start my day around noon here, since my team is on the west coast. Most days I’m heads down on a project, designing and working on motion ideas and sketches.
I also have regular Zoom meetings with our Design Directors and Senior Designers to keep the projects rolling. Some stretches can get quite intense, some are relaxed. So I’d say there’s really no typical day here.
What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?
There were definitely many challenges, but I’d say a major one was stepping out of my comfort zone. We call it living in the “challenge zone” here.
Prior to joining COLLINS, I was working as a designer at another agency where I was given creative freedom and the space to develop my own aesthetics. I had the opportunity to design and animate beautiful graphics.
But despite loving what I was doing at that time, I really wanted to push beyond aesthetics and find a larger point of view, if not a philosophy, about my work. When COLLINS offered me this position, I just knew I had to take on the challenge and continue to grow as a designer.
So far I’ve been very impressed by the team and how everyone is so unique and contributes to our projects in different ways.
What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?
Growing up I was exposed to many cultures. I lived in China and Singapore before landing in New York. I think that’s made me adaptive and helped me better understand different perspectives. It also made me always crave new changes and adventures, which working at COLLINS satisfies. I’ve become amazed by the range of clients that we get to work with. Every project has its own unique challenges and opportunities.
I’ve come to learn that everyone loves change. But no one loves TO BE changed. That’s helped me see how we can help our clients evolve and change, too.
What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?
As a young designer who just graduated from college three years ago, I’d say my biggest win has been to be able to work with some of the most amazing and talented people in the industry from the start, including my great experience at RoAndCo.
I can’t think of a major loss at the moment, but maybe it could be the lack of freelance experience due to time constraints.
Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
It’s difficult to name a specific individual or agency that’s been inspiring to me. I’ve looked up to COLLINS since I was a student at SVA, and I’m always curious about how the company would approach each project and tell interesting stories about brands.
Working here has been so fulfilling, and I’m constantly inspired by the people that I’m working with. I’m also glad that more designers and agencies are using social media to promote their work.
Whenever I scroll through Instagram, I always find something new and exciting. Currently I’m obsessed with everything that Studio Dumbar is doing and how they are really pushing the boundaries of motion design.
If you could go back to your teenage years, would you have done things differently? Do you have any regrets?
I’d probably pay more attention to the history of art and design. When I was in college, I mostly focused on developing the technical side of things. Working with Brian Collins has made me realise that it’s equally important to know the history of our profession.
It can help us find inspiring cultural antecedents and creative references for every project. I prefer to keep my eye on the future, but now I realise I also want my work to be historically informed, as well.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
Probably running a small coffee shop in a beach town.
What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?
I’d love to see more collaborations among design studios, whether on client projects or fun collaborative projects. It’d be a great way to exchange ideas and resources, and I believe it could result in something totally unexpected.
So Studio Dumbar and COLLINS would be good. We just did a great collaborative typography project with TCYK in Melbourne for Design Week there. I’d like to see more of that.
What are your top tips for aspiring creative professionals?
Have fun with design and always experiment with new techniques. It might be daunting to acquire a new skill, but it helps you to focus on one small thing at a time. I had a lot of fun learning Cinema 4D when I was working on a personal project.
The results can be quite surprising when you are just having fun experimenting, unburdened by deadlines and external expectations.
What are your top tips for other creative leaders?
1. Be open to new ideas.
2. Always give credit to the people who contribute to a project.
3. Be encouraging.
As a young designer myself, I find it motivating when people acknowledge my work. I think a lot of young designers experience self-doubt. Sometimes, even so badly that it can be paralyzing. So any form of sincere encouragement can help boost someone’s confidence. A little goes a long way.
When you think about your team, what is the thing that matters to you the most?
I think diversity is very important. People from very different backgrounds will have unique, divergent perspectives. Everyone should be respected and given a chance to voice their opinions. I found it helpful when I was given a say in major decisions despite working as an intern.
Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
I’ve been a fan of AIGA Eye on Design for a while. They always post interesting articles and discover new talent. For motion graphics, I’d highly recommend Art of the Title and Motionographer. They are always posting thoughtful work.
And at the COLLINS office in New York, we have a truly insane library. But you have to work here to be able to use it. And, if you want to do that, call me. We’re always looking for misfits who like to read.