Ash Huang

Ash Huang

Joined over 7 years ago via an invitation from Justin E.

  • 1 story
  • 9 comments
  • 2 upvotes
  • Posted to AMA: Ash Huang, Independent designer and writer, in reply to Kayla Ervin , May 10, 2016

    Hey Kayla! Most of my work comes from referrals and people I know. I've taken a few cold emails, but I prefer when I know the client or they are someone vetted by someone I know. It makes the process a little easier, and trust runs a bit smoother.

    I'm pretty happy with my network right now, but if I weren't, I would probably cold contact more companies that I liked. Perhaps if I wanted to break into designing for a new industry!

    0 points
  • Posted to AMA: Ash Huang, Independent designer and writer, May 10, 2016

    Hi Brett!

    Thanks for reading :) related to research, I'd ask what you would do if you were in a similar position for something like engineering or design. If you would make resources available for another eng or designer (on a contract basis counts), I would consider doing the same for a researcher. A good research study saves so many cycles of pain and sadness. There are good research contractors out there!

    Of course, we all need to get scrappy once in a while. It doesn't take much money to get a few people in the door; depending on what you're trying to find out, you can ask a few users if they'll come in, or even post up a Craigslist/FB post share for friends of friends.

    I've heard some people have had success with usertesting.com as well, as another option.

    1 point
  • Posted to AMA: Ash Huang, Independent designer and writer, in reply to Max Lind , May 10, 2016

    hi Max!

    • Hooo, boy. There were a lot of moving parts to getting The Firesteel produced. Part of it was actually writing the thing, which took a very long time. I hired an editor to help me get the plot and scenes just right. I have a print background, so I worked directly with Thomson Shore to print the books and ran a Kickstarter to make the burning hole in my pocket a little less fiery. At the time, producing the book was my full-time job. It's a lot of work talking to printers, designing, writing and setting up websites!
    • I love design and writing equally! To me, they are actually somewhat the same, just different materials. Some projects require more of one than the other, but mostly everything I do incorporates both.
    • I met a lot of wonderful people at my full-time jobs (note: I contracted with Dropbox, though they felt like full-time family!). Since we've worked together, this being San Francisco, lots of those people have moved to other roles at other places and we've gotten to work together again. Working full-time also definitely leveled up my skills. I learned how to run many parts of a product, from wiggly little settings designs to growth funnels and marketing pages. I joke that working full-time was a sort of grad school.
    • Tech in particular has an obsession with hockey stick growth, big numbers going up. Metrics are great, but they can blind. Being inclusive is more than 'set it and forget it', it is hard and it's done with small actions every day. If you want to help, when you see something, say something. Don't just ignore it. If someone interrupts someone, say, 'wait, I wanted to hear the rest of that thought!'. If someone makes a racist joke, ask them to explain why it's funny, say it doesn't make sense to you.
    0 points
  • Posted to AMA: Ash Huang, Independent designer and writer, in reply to Christina Fowler , May 10, 2016

    Thanks, Christina! :)

    1 point
  • Posted to AMA: Ash Huang, Independent designer and writer, in reply to Joel Califa , May 10, 2016

    Hi Joel! It's probably all those frogs I licked as a kid.

    4 points
  • Posted to AMA: Ash Huang, Independent designer and writer, in reply to Jessa Clark , May 10, 2016

    Hey Jessa!

    I had a friend in high school who didn't like it when her food touched. She would eat around where they'd merged, leaving little lines of food on her plate.

    I, however, love to mix my food all up, sometimes in confusing ways. Similarly, my work all seems to magically hang together as a bibimbap-tiramisu of themes. I block out specific time in my busy weeks to work on each project, but I work on 3–4 things most days. I'm a big believer in 'procrastiworking' (credit Jessica Hische on that one). It's partly why I stay so busy—but usually working on something else helps me through my blocks on whatever I'm working on.

    Sometimes I do hit universal blocks. I spend a lot of time in my head, giving myself pep talks, running scenarios. When I'm at a good place internally, the blocks are very isolated and tend to naturally evaporate as they cook in the back of my brain. I get concerned when the block grows, because it means some lizard-brain program got inserted into the CD-ROM drive I didn't know I still had. I have to mash the eject button and deal with the consequences.

    1 point
  • Posted to AMA: Ash Huang, Independent designer and writer, in reply to Alice Yang , May 10, 2016

    hey Alice! First: Accept your hairy fate. I don't even lint roll anymore; my pup is multi-colored so he's on everything I own. But in seriousness, avoid wools and knits. Embrace cotton twills and synthetic fabrics.

    There are different things you can do to get ready, like find clients slyly on the DL before you leave. Definitely make sure you have enough money to last ~8 months or so in your rainy day fund. Even with success, dat income can vary wildly, to the point where you're making 5 months' salary in a month and then nothing.

    However, for the fear, like pet hair, you have to accept it. It's just going to be a bit scary, I think that's the only way to continue. I always knew I wanted to leave full time work, the question was just when. I definitely didn't feel ready when I left, and there was never a moment where I wasn't terrified.

    It might help to know you can always go back to full-time work if you don't like the freelance life. It's certainly not for everyone and the only way to know for sure is to try. But, also, things become relative. I was terrified of leaving full-time work for client work, but now as I'm trying to get my own projects going, I think, 'I can always go back to client work' :)

    2 points
  • Posted to AMA: Ash Huang, Independent designer and writer, in reply to Justin Edmund , May 10, 2016

    Hi Jedmu! I like this question because it's why I left fulltime work to become independent. I'm a severe introvert, so meetings, interviewing candidates and open office plans rate pretty low on my excitement meter, so I wanted to spend less time doing that and more time creating.

    I'm greedy for time. I'd love to be doing more and exploring more modes of making, like ceramics, perhaps. I'd love more time to explore photography, illustration and poetry, which has taken a bit of a backburner in the past few months.

    I'd love to do less paperwork. The only way I can get myself to do receipts now is to put on a TV show while I do it. And tax season is more complicated. Lots of little pieces of paper to lose.

    3 points
  • Posted to AMA: Ash Huang, Independent designer and writer, in reply to Koen Bok , May 10, 2016

    Sorry everyone—learned not to use emojis in comments :) n00b problems.

    Hi Koen! Great q. Writing and design are very similar. In writing, you also primarily worry about story, contrast, hierarchy and pacing. I found that poetry was a good way to get started. It's similar to making little design moodboards, conveying ideas in the simplest, most effective and beautiful way.

    And, like design, the best way is to sit your butt down in a chair and write. You can read all about it, but as I often say, nothing cures but doing the work. This is the only way to develop your voice and figure out what interests you. A teacher once told me that when we write, we reveal our obsessions. I have found this to be true. You have to be mildly obsessed to keep going through writer's block and doubt (it's just like having a great mission statement!)

    If you're looking for things to read, two of my favs: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner

    4 points
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