We had the good fortune of connecting with Tina Kong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tina, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I spent a good bit of my childhood growing up and learning violin in China, and although I’ve relocated here to the States in high school, I carried over with me my passion for music and a few learning experiences. I suppose these influences have taught me that persistence, hard work, and enjoying what you do are some of the keys to a positive result. Education in Asia can be very different from what I was later exposed to in America, I’ve always been taught that hard work is needed to achieve perfection, and that there are no shortcuts for practice and learning. Though most of my childhood memories are filled with endless sessions of repetition (instead of rollerblading with my friends outside), I found a lot of joy in the hope that these hours I’ve invested will yield something wonderful, and being able to finally hit those notes perfectly was more satisfying than I had imagined. Looking back, I’d do it all over again, knowing that things are achievable if you just chip away at it enough! It seems I apply this to just about everything I do. Nothing is easy, someone knows how to do it right, and if you work at it enough and have the right team around you, it’s pretty amazing what people can do! (not to mention those afternoons go by pretty fast when there’s a smile on your face!)
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think I enable myself and my team to achieve huge milestones and launch enormous projects while keeping cool, collected, and calm, by breaking down huge projects into smaller, consumable pieces. I’m always excited to see what’s next in the field of UX/UI, the industry is evolving along with technology so quickly, and I’m proud to say I’ve helped to deploy some department-wide systems that I had previously thought was an impossible task! When faced with a huge challenge, and when I can’t digest the problem or create the solution on my own, I’ve learned nothing is impossible if you take the time to observe, understand, breakdown, and individually dissect each element of the challenge into little tasks. Making sure that the needs of each task is achievable with your resources, and that each task will propel you along to the next, with a little hard work you’ll find yourself progressing towards the solution faster than you can imagine. With this approach, daunting issues that cause stress and anxiety can quickly become manageable, and the little mini challenges become so much more fun and exciting to overcome.
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’ve always be captivated by nature. Therefore, I would probably take my friends to Griffith Park for a hike or just a picnic. Especially during this interesting period of time, visiting parks and hiking are considered luxurious actives to me. Griffith Park is great for finding a spot for yourself just to embrace the nature. It’s probably also one of the few outdoor places that you can go right now… However, when everything is open in the future, I would definitely take them to the Gene Autry museum right by Griffith Park. It’s a sweet medium size museum that allows you travel back in time to the “Westworld”. Besides the famous LACMA, I would say the Natural History Museum is one of my favorite museums in LA. I even went there on my birthday. If you are fascinated by animals like me, that would be a great spot for you to visit.
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?
There are so many individuals that helped and shaped me into who I am today, and I’m always very grateful for those who supported me along the way. One unforgettable mentorship that I had was from my professor Petrula Vrontikis at ArtCenter. She really pushed me to think beyond just a being a student and really made me believe that I can be a well trained designer who is prepared to face all the challenges in the industry. I was glad when she told me that my typesetting looked bad, when my brand message didn’t make sense, and encouraged me to “just redo it, you can do better.” Her honest critiques never defeated me, instead they really made me look at my work differently and push myself even further with concepts and details. I developed some great design habits after taking some of her classes!
I took/created all the images myself.