Long Cao — EPIC Agency
Long is a designer & photographer at EPIC agency in Belgium. He also has a print and front-end developer background …
As a child I kind of found it difficult to concentrate at school, as a result, I didn’t do very well in the traditional school subjects. I just wasn’t very interested in being forced to learn something that didn’t excite me or seem meaningful at the time.
Design class was the exception, it felt exciting to imagine and create things! My school teacher recognised this, as did my parents who I always remember saying that "the most important thing is to do something you love doing". They encouraged me to study design at university and I’ve never looked back.
6:30: Some headspace before my workday starts, exercise, meditation, reading, or chatting to a friend with a morning coffee. This has been incredibly valuable to me whilst working from home during the pandemic.
8:30: Set the day up for success, get my to-do list together, do a bit of inspiration browsing, and most importantly choosing the daily soundtrack.
9-6: It depends on the project and the stage within it; generally, there will be some sort of combination of collaborative working with the team and client, and some individual heads-down focus time.
Post 6ish: If I can help it, work stops here. The best lesson I’ve learned is knowing when to stop working.
I tend to look outside of the digital design space; our industry is increasingly becoming homogenised through repetition.
People inspire me, I like talking to people about their life, their stories, interests, and crafts.
Photography and film, not just for the visual quality of these mediums but for the deeper story behind the image. Why did someone take the photo? What inspired them? What was going through their mind as the shutter clicked, and the world in front of them became frozen in time for eternity? Photography is deep!
Cycling, running, endurance-based sport is another source of inspiration. During an intense cycle or run, my mind goes to interesting places and often solves the hardest design problems that I’m facing at that time.
The MTA Live Subway Map by Work&Co. It’s functional, beautiful, has a story behind it, and it positively impacts people’s lives – for me, that is great design.
Two projects from recent years:
1. At ustwo, we recently had the pleasure of working with Christie’s, a 250-year-old auction house, across a large programme of work to redesign their website and app, create a longer-term strategic vision, and helped them to build an internal design capability.
It’s often such a huge challenge to make meaningful change in large organisations. I'm proud that we made a positive lasting impact together, for their business and their customers.
2. During my time at POKE, we partnered with Virgin Voyages at the start of their journey to build a cruise ship for the future.
During an intense 18 months, we defined a vision and created a series of digital products that helped customers discover and book experiences, control the atmosphere of their cabin, navigate the ship through digital way-finding, and even order champagne through a custom ‘shake’ gesture.
Being part of an early discovery journey, through to production and finally, the sailing of the ship was an amazing experience.
I see a big challenge within the industry in finding a balance between iterative agile delivery and making space to imagine a bigger creative idea.
For me, the most memorable products are those that have emotional resonance and creative flair at their heart, these qualities are sometimes hard to measure and prove value for early in the process.
You will become a better designer by living your life, trying new experiences and meeting new people, not by working all the time. Design can be part of your lifestyle but don’t make work your life.
Try and work on projects that align with your values as a person.
Learning is a lifelong journey – you don’t know what you don’t already know.
ustwo – we are always looking for talented people. Come and say hi! www.ustwo.com