Here at Contently, our primary focus is to showcase the incredible talent within our constantly expanding network. As some of you might know, crafting top-performing graphic design involves navigating a maze of challenges to achieve the perfect visual. With that said, designer Sissy Yee, in particular, caught our attention on day one with her positive attitude and creative skillsets.
Located in the Greater Tampa Bay Area, Yee’s Berlin Grey Design Studio serves as a hub for creative projects ranging from custom-coded websites to engaging animations.
In a recent chat, we had the opportunity to discover Yee’s effective techniques and work processes that contribute to her success.
Q: Could you give us a quick rundown of who you are and your journey to become a content creator?
Yee: Hello world! (Credit: WordPress default copy) – I hope someone gets that! I’m Sissy, and I consider myself a multi-disciplinary artist and designer. I believe there’s a huge difference between the two! My background is in fine arts with an emphasis on painting and drawing, and I’m a self-taught graphic and UI/UX designer. I have a small studio, Berlin Grey Design Studio, where I (and my amazing assistant and other freelancers I sometimes work with) take on all sorts of projects, from print or digital assets to animations to custom-coded websites. I sort of fell into the content marketing industry nearly 10 years ago when I was building my business. I was taking on any project that came my way while in the background making silly infographics about my travels, which piqued the interest of people with needs for infographics and other things. This led me to the content marketing industry. So, I credit my love for infographics, which helped build my portfolio to what it is today.
Q: Can you describe your creative process when starting a new design project from concept to completion?
Yee: Of course! First and foremost, I’ll read any creative brief provided, and depending on the client and/or the project, I’ll have a kickoff call with them to get into further details about the project needs. I usually like to ask clients to send me some inspiration with things they like or are looking for. Sometimes, I’ll create a sketch for those who request it, while other times, I’ll either brainstorm by sketching things on my own and/or browse other people’s work to draw inspiration from. Once all this is said and done, I jump into the designing phase. Depending on the project, I’ll fire up the necessary software to use and throw all my inspirational pieces onto the file so I can reference them easily while I’m creating. I tend to make around 2-4 different ideas, and by the end, I’ll send 1-2 of them over to the client to see which they like better and then work off that one going forward until it’s up to everyone’s full satisfaction.
Q: How do you approach client briefs to ensure your designs align with their vision or message?
Yee: I use the inspiration pieces they send, review any notes I have or have been provided, and refer to their brand guidelines, website, and socials.
Q: Which designers or artists do you admire and draw inspiration from, and how has their work influenced your own?
Yee: I love Salvador Dali and Henri Matisse, and lately, I’ve been slightly obsessed with the works of this Italian muralist, Agostino Iacurci. I think all three have a completely different style, but all of them have something unique and timeless feeling. They also work with colors in a way that’s very captivating. And as a lover of colors, I’m drawn to works that use color theory in a way that’s a bit offbeat or just well put together – both of which I think are a rarity. I’d say Dali’s work mostly influences me with the surrealist aspect, Matisse with fluidity and softness, and Iacurci with colors, clean lines, and a hint of surrealism.
Q: What are your goals and aspirations as a designer, and where do you see yourself taking your career in the future?
Yee: My goals are to grow my business with more employees and do less hands-on design work. I really enjoy brainstorming fun, out-of-the-box ideas with clients, so I see myself either doing more consulting and/or working as an art director. And while I’m already doing this for some clients, I’m still happily designing. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop completely with the hands-on design work, as I really enjoy doing it!
Q: How do you balance personal creative projects with commissioned work, and how do they complement each other?
Yee: Honestly, it’s hard to balance both! I try to carve out time for my personal creative projects, but sometimes, I just have too many work-related projects going on (I must say, not a bad problem to have these days), so it can be sort of hit or miss. But I’m always doing something creative outside of work, whether it be cooking or baking, a DIY project, redecorating, or simply choosing my outfits. I try to live my life as creatively as possible. I also believe my personal creative stuff is quite different than my commissioned work, as I tend to work with a lot of corporate companies with strict brand guidelines, and my personal style is more out there, super colorful and funky! I try to incorporate some of these things with clients who allow for it.
Q: What are some of your favorite subjects or themes to design, and why do they resonate with you?
Yee: I love to cook, so working with food and beverage companies is one of my faves. This is a rare industry that comes my way, though. So, if not food and beverage, then anything that I feel has a good cause always makes me feel like I’m playing a small part in bettering the world by getting their message out there.
Q: What is your preferred style of design, and how do you think it sets you apart from other designers?
Yee: My preferred style is always five things: modern, minimal, clean, functional, and (when allowed to be) colorful! I interned under an award-winning, published, and incredibly talented Swedish multi-disciplinary designer/artist (a mouthful!) to whom I attribute much of my design knowledge. I think because of this internship, I was able to understand and learn more about that Scandinavian minimalism look and feel— which is something I’ve always personally loved. I remember submitting things 20 times just to adjust 1-2 pixels, and while that was rough, it definitely taught me a lot!
Q: What content marketing blogs/newsletters do you read?
Yee: I mostly only read stuff from Medium.com, Alex Mathers, and James Clear.
Do you have an interest in infographic design or want to become a content creator? Take a look at Sissy Yee’s portfolio—and be sure to subscribe to the Contently blogs: The Content Strategist and the Freelance Creative, and follow us on LinkedIn and X.