Artist Interview: epi.to.me

Share
In this episode of Indieground Interviews we have a chat with Melina K aka epi.to.me, an inspiring graphic designer that shares her thoughts about music, work and experimentation in her creative process!

In the Instagram graphic design community, we know Melina K as epi.to.me—a digital artist who is growing fast while having a lot of fun experimenting with new techniques. From Singapore to Brisbane, Mel has been designing album covers, music festival posters, and a lot of speculative, free work that she uses to experiment with new techniques. 

We love her style and admire her courage in putting herself out there, moving from a designer job in an agency to becoming an independent digital artist. So if you are looking to take the same path, keep reading to find out how Mel got there!

Hello Melina, thanks for joining us! How are you, and what are you currently working on? 

Hi, I’m doing wonderful! I just moved across the ocean from Singapore to Brisbane, Australia so life has been pretty hectic as you can imagine. Currently I’m working on some really cool bucket-list type of projects, can’t reveal too much at this point but it has to do with my designs on a product and some exciting band materials.

What first drew you to graphic design, and what has been the path that led you to develop your career?

Honestly I stumbled into graphic design when I entered a course in school that I didn’t have as my first choice (fourth actually). I didn’t even know what ‘graphic design’ was back then! When I graduated I was taking up random jobs but eventually found myself in an agency, mainly doing production work, until I had to start designing some assets. It was then that I realized I have to buckle up and improve my skills if I wanted to pursue something related to my degree, so Instagram and its design community stepped in and it all took off from posting everyday to securing clients on the regular. It’s strange but it wasn’t my full intention to make graphic design my career – I knew I wanted to work for myself that’s for sure, but I never knew how to, until I saw how I’m valued as a designer and that this could be something I’ll enjoy for a long time. So yeah, this path has surprised me but I’m very happy to be embarking on it. 

Can you identify any particular artists, movements, or experiences that have significantly influenced your work and continue to inspire you today? 

In hindsight, I think I developed some interest in the creative/music industry with my collection of CDs when I was a young girl. I remember the first CD I ever bought was Gwen Stefani’s Love. Angel. Music. Baby. and how the art drew me in – from the gothic letters to the inner booklet design.. I never really thought much back then about how graphic design shapes the music industry until I was older. And now I can’t imagine not noticing these details and getting inspired when I walk around a record store or scroll through my Spotify playlist!

Given your deep connection to music, how does it influence your design process?

It mainly sets the mood for me. You can get a lot of cues from just being immersed in a certain sound or even the lyrics, and personally that’s where I start when I’m, for example, designing a music poster for fun. Images naturally get evoked from listening to a particular song, and that’s how visuals for a design come in as I’d want it to strongly reflect what I’m envisioning. Music is definitely one of, if not the top, things that serve as an infinite inspiration pool for creatives. 

Your work blends chaos and order, particularly through the use of vibrant, contrasting colors. How do you balance these elements to create a cohesive design?

I sometimes struggle with creating that balance, as I tend to go overboard or too messy with it. But I’ve learnt to counter that, I have to almost view a piece of work from an outsider perspective, because sometimes when I tunnel vision while designing, I don’t see how some elements might be clashing with each other. So I take a step back from the piece, or ask a friend what they think of it upon first glance. Additionally, there’s a funny step I take when I wish to check for cohesiveness – which is to squint my eyes at the art from a distance and if it doesn’t make me go ‘Hell yes I like it’, there’s probably something off about it and to try again haha. I trust my gut!

How has your style evolved from your early days in visual communication to now, and has technology played a role in that evolution?

My designs have definitely evolved over time. When I first started out, I played it safe and stuck to more basic styles. But as I gained experience and learned new techniques, my designs became more experimental and innovative. Technology has been a huge help in this process. Just being exposed to inspirational designers that I follow, it allowed me to try and learn new ways I can approach designing. I actually think for me to further my design evolution, I would probably have to explore a more analog way of doing things, like say incorporating the use of printers or tactile materials. There’s infinite possibilities combining analog with software, so much more room to experiment with and honestly that’s what I have yet to dabble in.

Could you discuss a particularly challenging project that pushed you out of your comfort zone and what you learned from that experience?

There’s no one single project that stands out so much, but instead I’d say any ‘firsts’ that I’ve done – the first official album cover, the first big poster, even the recent project that I can’t talk about just yet – has pushed me out of my comfort bubble. I get a lot of self-doubt talking before accepting a first-time project, just the fear of messing up and coming across as ‘inexperienced’. It’s always easier to stick with what you know but I’ve found out it’s missing out on so many opportunities to better myself. There were a few projects that I would’ve passed on simply because there were deliverables I’m not too familiar with, for example one that required illustrative skills. If I hadn’t taken them on with the belief that I can find a way and learn, I wouldn’t have known that I could do it and feel that great sense of achievement after completion. I always remind myself now that I’ll never know if I don’t try. There may be chances of a fuck-up, sure, but I rather just focus on trying my absolute best first. The finished work could turn out amazing and something to be extremely proud of.

When starting a new project, how do you decide which elements to use, and could you walk us through your typical creative process from concept to completion?

For personal projects, the spark of inspiration usually comes from a sentence that I resonate deeply with during that time. I usually keep a folder on my desktop of pictures I’ve come across that look beautiful and hold some sort of emotion for me. So from that selection, I try to piece it together, blending typography and visual. Personal designs usually don’t need that long of a brainstorm, the idea just sort of comes to me as I dabble along on photoshop. Color-wise, it comes at the end of everything. Sometimes I can already tell what color works for the artwork halfway through, sometimes I’d have zero idea and go back and forth on a color palette. But that’s the fun of doing artworks for myself – I just go with the flow of it, enjoying the process and hopefully it blossoms into something really cool with meaningful messaging!

How has living and working in Singapore influenced your artistic vision compared to other places you might have visited or lived in?

I think because I’m working with international clients so much, I’m not tapped fully into the local creative scene as much as I’d like to, plus I only started my design career relatively recently. Over the years I’ve discovered more and more amazing artists born and bred in Singapore though, and it opened up my eyes on how progressive the scene really is. But I can’t say much about how it has influenced my artistic vision due to only having a few years experience working in agencies that didn’t really align with my creative likes and dislikes. I’ve come to realize that stepping away from the conventional path allowed me to explore and define my identity as a designer on my own terms. Finding my own space and direction has been crucial in discovering my true creative potential.

Do you have a signature piece or project that you consider a turning point in your career? What makes it significant to you?

Not a turning point of my career per se, but definitely one that I’m glad resonated with so many people. It might have to be my ‘What Is The Point of Growing Up’ piece. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about the likes here, I just think the way this design successfully engaged with people reflects how personal experiences that feel like only your own are actually shared with so many human beings. This was one of my most genuine and vulnerable posts – I was in a bit of a dark hole thinking about how my life has changed and is going to change, especially since I’m also moving out of my nest. Being a full-grown adult is scary – there’s no instruction manual to do life correctly, or what to expect out of it. I wanted to put those thoughts into a j-card design (because why not) to make it less depressing, more light-hearted for myself. Turns out people related to it. The most authentic ideas do that for an artist. I think there’s also something cathartic about putting whatever deep thoughts out into the digital space for minds to connect with it, and I’m glad it did.

What advice would you offer to young designers who are trying to find their unique voice in the competitive field of graphic design?

Coincidentally they all start with ‘E’: experience, explore, experiment. Enjoy the process, not the money, not the likes nor followers, not just to be on trend. The most asked question I get is how one can find a ‘unique’ design style. But there’s not really such a thing as unique – everyone’s a copy of everyone else. We get influenced by the works we like and we channel some essence of that into our own works. You do get a little closer to your own style when you do those three ‘E’s often enough, and don’t box yourself up to just a particular trend. I read somewhere that community is more important than competition – so connect with fellow designers, do some fun collaborations, and get feedback from your close friends. Also, put out concept works for clients you wish to work with, and don’t be embarrassed to tag them. Trust me on that!

Looking ahead, are there new techniques, technologies, or collaborative ventures you are eager to explore in your future projects? What are your plans?
So now that I am officially based in Brisbane, I would really love to get to know other designers here and hopefully attend an event or two, just to build new connections and open up collaboration opportunities locally. Also to work closely with a band/musician here would be dope, as I work a lot with clients across the world so I don’t get much face-to-face interactions with most of them. Getting to know their vision and building that together from the ground up would be so fulfilling.

Discover the work of epi.to.me and find even more inspiration with our interview series!

Indieground Interviews is a series of posts dedicated to the most interesting digital artists out there, who are making an impact with their artwork, inspiring people all over the world with their vision.

We had a great time talking to Mel, and we highly recommend you go and check out more of her work. To have a full vision go to her epi.to.me instagram profile, and get lost in her dreamy, retro creations! 

And if you feel you’d like to read more stories of how digital artists are doing it out there, then we recommend you check out a few more episodes of our Indieground Interviews series!  

Here are some great episodes: 

 

Picture of Indieground Design

Indieground Design

We are a team of designers, developers & photographers from Italy and we love to create striking graphic resources! Have a look around our website to discover more about what we do and the services we offer!

Picture of Indieground Design

Indieground Design

We are a team of designers, developers & photographers from Italy and we love to create striking graphic resources! Have a look around our website to discover more about what we do and the services we offer!

Popular Articles
From the Shop
Check our premium products
Other Creative Stories
Wanna See More?
We have an entire archive of articles about graphic design, pop culture and 80s and 90s aesthetics. Check it out!

Follow us