picture of Mingu Lee posing in beige long sleeve and glasses in front on pink wall
Haar&Co logo and business card
milk logo on ice cream cup
printed typography

Alumni Spotlight: Mingu Lee

Jul 08 2019

What are you doing these days?

I draw, design and art-direct for brands big and small with a sense of playfulness and minimalism to solve any design challenge they’re facing but often in the areas of branding, editorial, and packaging.

Currently freelancing as a senior designer at Jones Knowles Ritchie, working on some major QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) brands.

Can you tell us about some of your recent, favorite, most challenging, or most interesting projects?

I recently worked on the rebranding of GE Metem, an engineering company that specializes in drilling holes (big and small, I mean really small, like smaller than a strand of hair!) to metal compartments for aerospace and power generation industries. I had no exposure to this part of the world so everything was new and interesting to me. With an unofficial motto ‘make drilling sexy,’ we did a photoshoot of the metal pieces they make in their manufacturing facility in NJ and there was a piece created to be a part of the rocket flying to Mars!

Another project I had a lot of fun with was the rebranding project for Milk Bar, a sweet (and occasionally savory) shop that’s been turning familiar treats upside down, quietly shaking up the dessert scene since 2008 when it opened its first store in East Village. It was so much fun looking at the competitive landscape (while eating their sweets) and making a cool brand even cooler. We defined their core brand DNA and infused it to the elevated identity system. As part of the kit of parts, we created a set of stamps with words and icons that are so uniquely Milk Bar and brought them to the meeting. Milk Bar team loved it so much, and Christina Tosi—the founder—even made us a friendship bracelet herself! Truly sweet project among many.

Which designers do you admire most nowadays?

There are SO MANY amazing studios and designers I admire—from my all-time favorite Collins, 2×4 and Triboro to the new found like Never Now. But lately, I find a great joy looking at non-typical expressive typography uses by designers like Kristina Bartosova and Lars Högström.

What keeps you inspired?

I get inspired by anything and everything. When I’m at home, I constantly watch videos or read online/offline. I love going to book stores and museums, and if there’s any event related to art, design, fashion, and architecture, I try to attend. I also put a lot of efforts into collecting/saving inspirations I find so I can go back when needed.

What design trends do you love? Which trends make you cringe?

When big bold sans serif like ‘Druk’ is paired with an elegant serif like ‘Burgess.’ I love the interesting tense two different qualities create together.

If you’re curious to see what other designer’s daily life is like, come watch & subscribe my vlogon youtube!

Any advice for our incoming students?

Stay open-minded and learn from your fellow classmates. As a self-taught designer, I felt other students had many more design skills than I did at the beginning of the program. But that soon became a great motivation and I tried hard to learn from them, find what I’m great at, and eventually got confidence in what I did. So don’t worry about where you are now, feel blessed to be surrounded by talented designers and absorb whatever you can to be better you.

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