Dubai: Originally from Singapore, South Korea and Australia, UAE-raised, and New York-based designer and art director Roslyn Fok is on a mission to create an inclusive environment through bringing her multi-cultural heritage into the design sphere. Having worked with large fashion houses including Chanel and Nike, we caught up with her to learn about her background, inspirations, and more.
Can you tell us about your background, and how that led you to becoming a designer?
I am half-Singaporean/half-Korean and I grew up in Australia and the UAE. Even after moving around so much, the one constant hobby I had was drawing and making art. I knew in high school that I wanted to go to art school but I didn’t really know what I wanted to specialize in. I started in Parsons the New School for Design in New York and went for their Design and Management program. My time at Parsons was really fascinating and I gravitated most to the freshman graphic design course. When my professor highly encouraged me to pursue it as a degree, I realized that’s what I really wanted to do. And that’s how I ended up at Pratt Institute as part of their Graphic Design Program in New York.
Can you tell us more about the work you do?
I’ve been designing primarily within the fashion industry for brands like Chanel, Proenza Schouler, and Converse. My latest project is the design of the bi-annual publication: Hommegirls. This is a passion project by Thakoon Panichgul (Thai-American fashion designer chosen to be featured by Anna Wintour of Vogue Magazine in the documentary, The September Issue). The publication celebrates the fashion of women who shop in the men’s department and it has been humbling to see my design work with this publication recognized by influencers of our generation that challenge gender stereotypes. I secretly smiled for days when Hailey Bieber reposted my cover!!! Most recently, I have also started art directing. Apart from designing the cover of musician PARTYNEXTDOOR’s most recent album, PARTYMOBILE, I also art directed a world of fun visuals for his music videos on Youtube. My most exciting project was probably designing custom packaging and stationery for Serena Williams as a gift from the Nike team to celebrate her multiple Grand Slams. The work I do ranges quite a bit but I really enjoy working with different brands and putting my shoes in different perspectives. I also love waking up every morning knowing each day is going to be a little different!
Where does your knowledge of fashion enter into your design sensibility?
I would say that my knowledge comes more-so from the industry rather than fashion per-se and I’ve learned so much from working with large fashion houses over the years. I learned that sometimes simple graphic elements work the best when designing for the industry. While I have a little bit of fun by placing my own fun elements into designs, ultimately simplicity is key in most of these situations… especially since I’m speaking on behalf of other creative visions and a simple canvas speaks more loudly to captivate a larger audience.
Where do you look for design inspiration and how does it impact the way you design?
As cliché as it sounds, I feel like I’m inspired by everything around me. I’m intrigued by different signage from the various places I’ve lived in as it really speaks to how different cultures communicate- which I think is really important when designing for the masses and taking inclusivity into account.
Is there a specific project that you enjoyed the most?
Designing the branding and creating a brand identity for UAE dog wellness brand, Rory’s Apawthecary was something that was SO fun for me. While this was more of a low-key project, it was for a small business and for a cause I totally support. I mean who doesn’t love dogs? And the brand’s products are so great! Even my bath-opposed dog loves their shampoos. I got to work with the founder to illustrate a bunch of dogs and imagine a really exciting and colorful world. I really enjoyed working with their team.
Do you have a dream client?
I have been so lucky and really loved working with all the variety of people and brands that I have worked with. I love getting to know people’s stories and being inclusive of multiple voices… so someone with a collaborative spirit and accepting worldview would be an ideal client for me.
Do you have any advice for others that would like to start their career in graphic design?
I would tell them to consume everything and anything, and also to be as adaptable as possible. Technology that we use as designers is changing at a very fast pace and adaptability and an understanding to our surroundings is something that is really important to understand as ultimately, the goal is to speak to the masses through visuals and mediums that the audience understands. Also, have fun and experiment!