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Som Liengtiraphan

Som Liengtiraphan

Meet NYC-based UX Designer and illustrator, Som Liengtiraphan.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a UX Designer and illustrator living in Brooklyn. I design experiences and interfaces for complex data analytics software that helps data analysts get to their answers faster and better understand their data. I like to illustrate quiet moments in life that often gets overlooked and the absurdity of imagination: dogs playing in a dog park to a llama flying into the air in a hot air balloon made of flowers.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I live in Brooklyn, the younger sister of Manhattan. It’s less busy than Manhattan, but not any less lively. There is a neighborhood for everyone, whether it’s Bushwick, Prospect Heights, or Windsor Terrace. The creativity here is evident everywhere, public art is huge and you can almost see art on every corner whether its a mural or a sculpture.

 

The creativity here is evident everywhere, public art is huge and you can almost see art on every corner whether its a mural or a sculpture.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The best thing about Brooklyn is the variety in neighborhoods. I love just being able to go to a neighborhood that fits my emotions and needs of the day. The worst is that it’s being gentrified. Lots of Manhattan people are moving in, raising the rent, and driving local people that used to live here away.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Diverse, accepting, open-minded

 

How did you start your career in art?

I’ve been drawing my whole life and entered a bunch of competitions when I was younger. I would have probably done more, but my parents were very traditional and said that art and design was not a good job and I needed to become either an engineer, doctor, or lawyer. So I stopped focusing on art as much and studied math and science. I was good at it, but I never enjoyed it. I went to college for engineering and fell into software engineering. But I learned early on that I didn’t enjoy coding and that I felt never boxed in and that I couldn’t be very creative. I was also very depressed because I felt like I didn’t have a creative outlet. Eventually, I started taking painting classes again that that helped my mental health a lot and I made a promise to myself that I will never stop making art again. It was almost around the same time that I discovered that there was a whole design side to technology and software engineering. I pivoted my studies to Human-Computer Interaction and design and I never looked back.

 

Eventually, I started taking painting classes again that that helped my mental health a lot and I made a promise to myself that I will never stop making art again.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

My parents were definitely hesitant at the beginning of it. But I think they saw how unhappy I was in traditional engineering and from then on let me do what I wanted. My friends were very supportive and I was fortunate to have met a number of mentors and older students that really encouraged me and helped critique my work. My fellow male computer science classmates weren’t that supportive. They didn’t believe that design in software engineering was a real job and didn’t understand why I would not stay on the traditional path. But I proved them wrong.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I would love to pivot industries and design for education or humanitarian causes. I would also love to write and publish a book, that would be the draw. I would want to illustrate either something about woman’s art/design history or something about animals and the environment.

 

I would love to pivot industries and design for education or humanitarian causes. I would also love to write and publish a book, that would be the draw. I would want to illustrate either something about woman’s art/design history or something about animals and the environment.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Sha’an Antes, she’s an Australian artist/designer/illustrator that I absolutely love. I think her work is so whimsical and really puts you into the imagination of a child.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Supportive, smart, empowering, open-minded, accepting. I am fortunate to be surrounded by amazing women in all aspects of my life. I have great co-workers at my design job. I have awesome illustrator friends. I even have a tight group of friends in my ballet classes. I think it’s important to find women in all areas of your life. Even if it’s just one person, there’s just something about having a fellow woman that can support you and you can support together.

 

Supportive, smart, empowering, open-minded, accepting. I am fortunate to be surrounded by amazing women in all aspects of my life.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Honestly no, I wasn’t taught that creative females existed. I knew a lot of females in the math and science fields because that’s what I was taught in school. The only woman I remember admiring-ish was J.K. Rowling. I love Harry Potter and the world she created but I never really looked up to her because she didn’t seem like something I could ever become.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

People don’t expect you to be able to reach success, or under-estimate you, or just pass you over for jobs and gives it to another male. It’s an up-high battle every day to try and prove to everyone that you are a competent worker and can do anything any other creative can do.

 

Never give up, even if it looks dire, keep on trying until you really can’t do anything anymore.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Never give up, even if it looks dire, keep on trying until you really can’t do anything anymore. Also, if you’re trying to figure out what you want to do, I like to give the reverse advice. Figure out what you hate, then knowing what you like is much easy. It can sometimes be hard to figure out what you like, but identifying what you don’t like is much much easier.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Som Liengtiraphan.

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