Tina Snow Le is a local genius of petite stature and outsized brain skills. She is also on the Action Team for the first ever Design Week Portland and the in-house graphics maestro at Solestruck (where we are about to buy an obscene amount of footwear in twenty minutes). Amidst the fantastic chaos of her life and in a cloud of gentle profanities, Tina answered some questions from comrade and Ace designer Martie Flores.
What connections do you find between your work, personal projects and everyday interactions?
They’re all mostly fueled by lack of sleep and a ton of yerba maté. My family has always instilled in me the value of hard work and I hold true to that. I absolutely enjoy what I do and feel fortunate to even have the opportunity to make something everyday. I don’t ever feel like I’m working; the line between work and play doesn’t exist. I think the biggest challenge of that is giving people and projects the attention they deserve. It’s important to me to be honest, be kind and to give my best at all times. My friend Ashley has always told me, “If it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing right,” and I foster that in everything that I do.
What would you like to see graphic design do for others?
You know that moment when you fall in love, and that thought beautifully haunts you to where you can’t think of anything else? This feeling of being in love is the reason why I am a designer; this is why I make. I get to fall in love again every single day. I hope that graphic design can help others feel the same way that I do about design, even if the subject is not anywhere near related.
How would you make someone fall in love with graphic design?
I don’t like making anyone do anything, or tell anyone what to do or how to do things. I get excited about things and like to share what I’m excited about with others. I probably use more exclamation marks than anyone will ever use in their lifetime, and my caps lock button is broken on my keyboard. Energy is contagious, and I can only hope that somebody out there will enjoy what I love as much as I do.
What are you doing now and what do you want to do to improve yourself as a designer?
I thrive when design is fused with community to create an experience that is exciting, engaging and, most of all, fun. It’s important for me to put myself in uncomfortable situations, because that’s when I feel like I learn the most. I want to use design to solve problems that don’t necessarily have anything have to do with design and have fun with it at the same time. If I can’t figure something out, I try to find a way or make one.
What’s one thing everyone, designer or not, should remember?
Lose your entitlement, not your integrity.
If you only made animated gifs for one person, who would it be and why?
It would be for my mentor and friend Kate Bingaman-Burt. Gosh I freaking love this woman and, honestly, who doesn’t? Kate and the Portland State Graphic Design program are to blame for all this trouble I’m causing with graphic design. If anyone loves a fat cat eating pizza while surrounded by hot dogs with lasers shooting around, it would be her.
What is your role in Design Week Portland? What do you want to do for it next year?
My role is to coordinate the open house portion of Design Week where 60+ businesses, studios, firms, and shops all over Portland open their doors to the public. I’m overwhelmed by the generous hospitality of the design community here, and so proud of our city for getting together to make this week happen. I don’t think any of the organizers, including myself, had any idea how big Design Week was going to get, especially with it being the first year in Portland. It’s been rewarding to see all of the events unravel and to hear the discussions all around town between designers and non-designers. I feel so honored to be a part of it, and I hope to cause even more trouble with the supreme dream team next year.