People & culture Series: Yingzi
We’re back with another interview of a Monstercat team member!
Our second installment of this series features Yingzi Xi, an Intermediate Graphic Designer at Monstercat. She’s one of the several talented designers at Monstercat that bring life to the visual storytelling of the music, the brand, Monstercat himself, and much more.
Learn more about Yingzi’s inspirations for her work, what she designs for Monstercat, and which artworks may have a personal touch from Yingzi that you can spot!
What do you do at Monstercat?
So my title is Intermediate Graphic Designer, and I'm part of the creative team at Monstercat. I've worked with different teams and I design album covers, emails, event assets, social assets, marketing campaigns, some merch items, and more.
What inspired you to get into Graphic Design at the beginning of your career?
Oh, wow, so many things, I think the most important ones are calligraphy and gaming. When I was very little, my parents got me into this calligraphy camp that I didn't like at first. But then I was truly impressed by the lettering techniques. So I started to pay attention to the world around me, typography-wise. Such as storefronts, street signs, logo designs, packaging. I’m so intrigued by how the designers out there can make simple words so interesting by applying the artistic treatment. I wanted to do something like that. Another part is gaming, I grew up playing games. But I'm not always playing to win, I could stay in one scene and just appreciate it, going around the whole map seeing how they put visual elements together. I wanted to be able to tell stories with graphics too. So I guess that's two parts - the main inspirations.
What type of video games do you like?
My favourite series is Far Cry. Every single one of them is so good.
As far as inspirations, is there an artist or designer that inspires you with their style? Is there someone you look up to in an artistic field?
One of the graphic designers I really like is named Chipp Kidd. Book covers are similar to album covers in a way, you need to achieve many goals with one piece of design. How do you do that? It's very meaningful. And Chipp Kidd uses a different style of artwork for different books. And there's also Paula Scher, a typography designer. She designs for theatres, nonprofits, institutions, etc. Take the identity design she did for The Public Theater as an example, it’s challenging because the identity needs to work in all different aspects. From large-scale installations, like wall posters, to smaller everyday items, like stationery. She’s incredible at typographic design.
How do you incorporate your own personal style of design into the look and feel of Monstercat?
For example, when I get an album cover task from Inna (Sidorova, Head of Creative Production in Design), she passes the creative brief to me and based on that, I deliver different options for approval. It can go for a couple of rounds from our internal review to the final artist's approval.
Being a huge fan of typography and surrealism art, whenever there’s a chance, I would pitch these wild ideas to our team and the artists.
What is one of your favourite depictions of Monstercat artwork?
Wow, there are so many I remember! For example, I worked on ‘Océano Naranja’ by Airdraw & Jo.E. That one kind of plays into the surrealism art that I really wanted to do. And it works with the song perfectly. That's so far my favourite work that I have worked on at Monstercat.
What are some interesting challenges that you get to work on in your role?
Creating visual content in the music industry is super fun but also challenging, as we go all out to provide something unique and exciting for our releases to help them stand out. That requires us designers to stay on top of or better ahead of the trend, meanwhile keeping the consistency with our own Monstercat branding, which has been successful for more than 10 years.
What is something that you love the most about working at Monstercat?
The people. And the philosophy. We can express our opinions freely along with our professional judgment. As Inna, our Head of Creative Production likes to say - “there are no bad ideas, it may just not be its time”. Everything we do at Monstercat is fulfilling our vision toward artist sustainability, and everybody is making all efforts on a daily basis. so there is this incredible bonding among team members.
Specifically, using our creative team as an example, it’s highly encouraged that we discuss even our wildest ideas with each other. It’s kind of like the Pixar Braintrust mechanism, we get to share our opinions and critics honestly, and that I think is a very healthy creative culture.
Favourite Monstercat release?
Vicetone - Nevada (ft. Cozi Zuehlsdorff) is probably my most looped release, it’s been many years from its initial release till now, but I just can’t stop loving it. We also just released a lofi mix in February, a different vibe, but really good!
What is one of your predictions for the future of design in the music industry?
Well, I would definitely go with the more 3D, combined-dimension kind of art. With the NFT trend and everything, people just like to see graphics in different dimensions. Also, a lot of Monstercat fans are younger and have been exposed to this type of art for a long time, so we might see more of it in the future.
Which of Monstercat’s company values do you personally resonate with the most? Community, curiosity, integrity, or tenacity?
If I were to rank, the first one would be Community. And the second one will be curiosity. I'm always curious about new things that are happening not only in design and music but really everything. And with Community, it’s the core to everything, in my opinion. Outside my 9-5, I also do some volunteer works at different local nonprofit organizations and really enjoy it.
What would you say someone could expect if they came to work at Monstercat?
This is not just another job. Working at Monstercat is an incredible experience where your opinions are valued, and your work/life balance is taken good care of. Working at Monstercat means being part of great events, professional developments opportunities, so many employee perks, and a big plus: you should check out our kitchen!