Above the Fold: Kevin Chun, Industrial Designer
In Above the Fold, we spotlight individual members of Coroflot's vibrant creative community. The idea is to take you behind the scenes and inside the minds of talented Coroflot members who we think are doing exceptional work. Coroflot was created by designers, for designers, and Above the Fold is the place where we can talk to creatives about work that we not only love, but think you'll love too!
Following his graduation from the Art Center College of Design, Industrial Designer Kevin Chun embarked on a wide-ranging career path that has found him doing design work for major brands like Polaris, Chrysler and TaylorMade. Currently, Kevin works as a Senior Industrial Designer at Acushnet, which handles product designs for brands like Titleist Golf and Vokey Wedges. But that's just his day job, and when he isn't working Kevin is pursuing his own design drawing projects as Chuntek Industries. He finds inspiration in his laid back California lifestyle, which he applies towards drawing fun concept cars and other vehicles. Not every designer can manage to channel art, passion, and professional skill into their work, but Kevin succeeds in this and for that reason we had to pick his brain in this week's Above the Fold.
Was there a specific moment in life where you realized you wanted to pursue a creative path?
Yes. I've always excelled in art/drawing classes growing up, but in high school I got into an argument with my instructor about technique on a certain piece and I didn't really draw much after that. However, in my sophomore year of college I took a drawing class and re-kindled the passion for art and design. Shortly after that class, with encouragement from classmates and faculty, I knew I wanted to pursue something creative. Art Center College of Design and becoming an automotive designer was the goal from there on out. I knew about ACCD from my dad and was going to follow in his footsteps. I remember thinking to myself: "Being able to design cars for a living would be an awesome profession." I really have NO clue what I would have done otherwise. It was meant to be.
Who are your design heroes?
My design hero is definitely my late father, John Chun. He graduated ACCD in 1967 and went on to become a designer for Shelby American doing design work for the Shelby G.T. 350/G.T.500 muscle cars. He went on to work for Chrysler Dodge Division (because they paid $50 more than Ford), designed a kit car Bradley GTII, and introduced plastics to Tonka Toys in Minnesota. He has an amazing story really. Right before I embarked on my creative journey in California and first time living on my own, he told me: "Son, you have absolutely no excuse to fail. You speak English and have student loan money to pay for school." During ACCD, a lot of times as a student you have to 'dig deep' because it's basically 'design boot camp' and you have to manage time efficiently. I really wanted to quit a few times, but what my dad told me was the fire that drove me to succeed through school. The extra 10 percent to get it done!
Can you share some details about your most recent project?
My most recent projects are automotive-based, but inspired by the California lifestyle using mixed media, different types of paper, patterns. It's exploratory work that I enjoy doing because it's not scripted and it's not for anyone else except for my own creative fulfillment.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
I'm excited to continue with the 'lifestyle series' mentioned above and looking forward to a woodworking class this fall. I miss using my hands to build/sculpt/create. The woodworking class came about because I was looking for furniture online and it was all very expensive. I thought to myself that, why buy it when I could just build it?
Walk us through some of your process for creating.
First and foremost, you have to be INSPIRED. Inspiration comes from anywhere and anything so...yeah. Music is an absolute must.
A very talented classmate of mine told me once: "If I don't feel like sketching, I don't." Go do something to get your mind off a 'creative blank'...see a show, visit museums, get a coffee or drink...whatever...stay active. I don't feel as though creativity can be forced, but unfortunately, it is most of the time! That is in terms of being a designer in a corporate setting with deadlines and such.
Are there any projects (professional or personal) that you are especially proud of?
I'm proud of all professional projects that make it into production because it takes a talented team and a lot of effort from many people to make it happen. It's pretty cool to see something on the road you've worked on. I have a power sports project, the Ranger utility side by side, that I worked on at Polaris Industries and I'm proud of it because I got to work on it exclusively, inside and out. Professionally, I currently design golf equipment and my clubs that are in my bag are a design I worked on so that's pretty cool too.
I'm especially proud of personal projects/artwork because it's not done for a client or management, but what makes me happy.
What tools (physical or digital) do you find yourself using repeatedly?
Sketchbook always. I love a classic crystal Bic ballpoint pen to sketch, prismacolor pencils too. I consider myself a hybrid designer where I take pride in using all my training from school. Loose sketches to tighter, more refined sketches with marker and then full on digital rendering using Photoshop. It depends on how I feel really...sometimes I jump right into Photoshop like the 'youngins' these days, but it's best to draw by hand initially.
Do you have a ritual for getting in work mode (music you listen to, certain exercise, food you eat) aka a productivity tip?
Although tough to keep up with, a healthy mind, body and and spirit is key to creativity and motivation. I think it's a given that you should eat healthy and exercise, but I know how one can be 'sidetracked' from that. Goal setting is important, but it's the accountability part that is tough for me personally. I have a whiteboard that I use to jot down notes and ideas. I see it every day so it's 'there', but like most things, it's executing the idea. Sometimes, whatever it is, just start something! Having a separate work area is important because you can only use that area to focus on a project and minimize distractions. Yes, music, absolutely! I use discovery on Spotify and just let it roll.
Outside of your professional life, do you have any other creative outlets or hobbies?
I think this is the best question because it's about real life! Work-life balance is key! Residing near the beach on the West Coast is a blessing. I love being outside to play golf, ride motorcycles, enjoy the beach, and surf. It seems I'm just a 'fair-weather' surfer now and need to get that stoke back. I enjoy going to museum events as well. The San Diego Museum of Art has a 'Culture and Cocktails' event that they throw a few times a year and each one has a different theme, which is fun. It's important to have fun and also to be happy in what you do and where you live. If you're not, do something about it. Getting out of town to see and experience different people, places, cultures and cuisine is probably the best thing to do. I have a motto this year and I'm moving forward. A professional golfer, Jason Day, said this in a presser and it stuck with me: "Stay addicted to the process of getting better." I find that it relates to most things in life. Stay passionate, be inspired, create.
Do you have any tips for getting the most out of your Coroflot portfolio?
I've had Coroflot since 2006 when I graduated ACCD. My thinking hasn't changed from back then; I feel like it keeps me fresh as a designer and it 'archives' work as well. Consistency is key because life happens and it's harder to stay on top of things. I'm looking forward to adding more projects on the site! I haven't perused the site as much, but I feel as though I need to be more engaging on the site with comments and likes.