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Kang Dong-sung We Dream, He Designs

Graphic design is the art of communicating through visuals. The way we interact with posters and advertisements is the result of images, words, and ideas meticulously drawn together by the designer. Likewise, Kang Dong-sung, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Kang Dong-sung Graphic (KDSG), is a graphic designer who aims to maximize his works’ impact on the public and present deeply inspiring results suited for his audience. Hence, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) would like to introduce the man who designs our today, CEO Kang Dong-sung.

Creating Reality through Inspiration

Q1. Please introduce yourself.
Hello, my name is Kang Dong-sung. I am the CEO of Kang Dong-sung Graphic. I majored in Media and Communication (formally known as Journalism and Broadcasting) and Visual Communication Design at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU).

Q2. How has majoring in Media and Communication helped you achieve your dreams of becoming a graphic designer?
Although graphic design’s most important pillar is aesthetics, I believe beauty must always come with meaning. My major has been a tremendous help to my career, which mainly consists of projects involving branding and communication design. Professor Chung Sung-eun, a professor whom I deeply respect from the department of Media and Communication, was especially helpful; I learned about strategic communication through her lectures, which is an essential quality for a graphic designer. I believe one of the main reasons for KDSG’s succession lies in my learnings from college.

Kang Dong-sung (kdsg.imweb.me)

Q3. Were there any other experiences during college that helped your career?
I participated in a variety of contests during my time at SKKU. I remember passing by an exhibition by a student club that had participated in a design contest, which piqued my interest. I thought participating in a contest would be an exciting challenge, so I entered one of them. When I placed second in my first contest, I thought design might be my future option. Afterwards, I won first place in my second contest and was convinced that this was my path. I entered one contest after another, and people started recognizing me outside of the competitions. I eventually decided to do graphic design full time.

Kang Dong-sung Graphic, the Brand

Q4. What exactly does KDSG do?
We participate in branding, marketing, and any project with design as its base. I assume we have a similar design process to every other company. The clients tell us what they want, and we work in cooperation with them until the final design. For a successful final design, he designer must be able to be in touch with today’s trends. I am usually inspired by different published designs alongside my personal intuition.

Artpiece Strangeness in Familiarity by Kang (mhns.co.kr)

Q5. What is KDSG’s brand philosophy?
Our brand philosophy has changed quite recently. It used to be “Better design, better life”; the idea was that a good design improves your life, making your life more practical or exciting. However, our brand philosophy now is: “Make our clients’ hearts roar.” Rather than personal satisfaction, we now prioritize how our clients feel after seeing our designs.

Q6. What efforts did you put into building your brand? Were there any significant hardships?
I needed a lot of knowledge to build my brand philosophy, and at the same time, also had to prove myself. Hence, I participated in various contests and put a lot of effort into them. Also, I devoted time to reading various books; one of the most helpful books was Made to Stick. I never actually considered such steps to be “hardships,” as I figured they are just part of the job. However, if I had to give a specific example, I would say that it is often challenging to create a design that both the client and I are satisfied with.

Q8. As a CEO, when do you feel happiest?

Musical Poster by Kang (kdsg.imweb.me)

Because the company is centered around our clients, my fulfillment also come from them. As a person who represents the brand, seeing how my design positively impacts and helps my clients’ businesses makes me satisfied. On the other hand, as I often design posters for performances or exhibitions, it makes me satisfied to see the show itself be praised, as it makes me feel as if my design has added to such success. I was incredibly grateful when I got to work on posters for famous concert halls, including the Sejong Center and Seoul Arts Center. Designing a poster feels especially liberating, as there is practically no limit to my creativity. I find myself incorporating more of my personal taste into them, creating my own artwork. Therefore, seeing my posters hung in Korea’s top concert halls is an incredible feeling.

Q9. What do you think is the most essential quality that a graphic designer must have?
I believe the most essential quality of a graphic designer is visualization. Clients usually only have a vague idea when they come in to make a request. It is like recounting a dream th e day after — you only have a cloudy image of what you want. Here is when the designer steps in; we must be able to materialize that idea and let it take a physical form. To be able to do all of this, a designer must diligently learn how to use graphic design programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Even though you may have all the creativity in the world, it is useless without the proper skills.

The Future of Kang Dong-sung

Q10. How do you want to improve KDSG?
As I mentioned earlier, KDSG’s philosophy is to make our clients’ hearts roar. As of now, I wish to continue managing my company with that goal in mind. Today’s trends are rapidly changing day by day. I, as well as KDSG, must work hard to keep up with the world’s speed.

Q11. KDSG has also produced music videos and artworks. Is there any other area you would like to explore further in the future?
Although I call myself a graphic designer, there is an infinity of possibilities and paths available in the world of design. Hence, I do not want to set a limit for myself. I want to continuously challenge myself and achieve whatever I want rather than setting a particular goal and binding myself to it. However, one plan I currently have in mind is to hold another large-scale art exhibition of my own work. I hope to present all my previous works as well as current artworks through the project.

Q12. Any advice for Kingos?
Start now if you have set your mind to become a graphic designer. You can begin by playing around with your creativity. Different experiences are crucial in a job that requires you to create new and exciting experiences for others. Be confident in what you do, and try to actively search for what you need to do. I believe every single Kingo is worthy of recognition and respect. Always remember that your peers, as well as your professors and alumni, are here to guide you. Be brave, and find your own path!

임현정  alicelim@g.skku.edu

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