We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabbi Soong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabbi, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I originally was going to be a dentist actually. I never really considered pursuing any creative career growing up. I had an appreciation for art, but I’ve always had difficulty trying to make it growing up. I could never find the reason to make anything or express myself through the medium. I’ve always been more of an analytical thinker anyway, so naturally I was drawn towards STEM subjects, went to school to study biology, and ended up pursuing dentistry for that reason.
Graphic design always fascinated me though. I wasn’t sure why then, but logos, typography, fashion, and package design intrigued me a lot, so two years ago I took a design class for fun. That’s when everything clicked. I realized design was based more on thought, logic, and narrative rather than on aesthetics, and this understanding made creating easier in every way for me. It’s allowed me to explore and investigate the ideas in my head, even through mediums that aren’t traditional graphic design. Design’s become an outlet for me to share my ideas too, and I believe that sharing these ideas can help contribute to a better world.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I definitely focus on the process rather than the product. There’s the influential photographer named Platon who takes those fantastic portraits, and I love how he describes his shooting process. It’s really intimate and personal, and my favorite part is when he notes to leave aesthetics for the very last. I think about that every time I design. I believe we live in such an aesthetic-driven world, and though aesthetics are attractive, they’re only surface level, and there’s negative consequences when we forget that. I try to use aesthetics as a hook rather than the substance in my designs for that reason, and I’d like to think that approach is conveyed through my work. Especially since I’ve found that creating complex, thoughtful designs that happen to be aesthetic serves as a sort of surprise for lots of people, and I love that I can provide that kind of joy.
I also think that growing up with an unconventional background in design has serves as a strength. I ended up switching to study Business at USC, so I kind of consider myself a self-taught designer since I don’t have a proper design education. In that way, I’ve gotten to grow my own appreciation for design and have become such a nerd about it, so I know I’m genuinely passionate about the practice. It’s also taught me to be my own hardest critic, so I’ve grown a lot in self-discipline and taste, which of course helps in all other areas of life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I just had a friend from home (Georgia!) visit me, so luckily I can use his stay to help answer this. I’m not much of a planner— I’d much rather have soft itineraries with room for spontaneity. So each day I’d aim to consume some sort of the following: food, nature, music, and conversation, all of which are easy to find in LA. I’d probably take my friend to a local taco stand or one of those cheap late-night spots in K-town. For nature I’d aim to take a trip outside of LA, like Joshua Tree or Big Bear. Definitely stay the night too, so we’d get to see the stars. For music there’s lots of small shows always being thrown. A ton of my friends are musicians, producers, or involved in the music industry, so finding an intimate show or an underground rave is easy and always lots of fun. I’d also have my friend hang with my friends here in LA. I’ve realized none of my friends here are originally from LA, and somehow this city draws people from all walks of life together. I love the people that I’ve met in this city, so I’m definitely going to help contribute to that.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I guess I’d dedicate my talent to my siblings, especially my older sister. They’re both special needs, and my sister’s mostly mute. I think growing up with her has taught me to communicate through means besides speech, and that really shaped how I think and perceive the world. Visual communication comes more naturally to me for that reason, and I’m glad design allows me to facilitate this kind of connection.
I also contribute the fact that I don’t have a singular visual style to my siblings. I’ve realized that my siblings don’t conform to societal norms and standards because they’re not as aware of them, and it kind of makes them invincible. They’re entirely genuine, one-of-a-kind, and cannot be pigeonholed, and this notion bleeds into how I approach my work. I’ve noticed I won’t let myself adhere to a single style, because I think keeping to the same style puts you and your ideas in a box. At least for me, it does. I believe ideas require certain visual styles over others in order to be communicated effectively, so I do my best to explore every possible one that exists to make my work stand out.