Leo P. H. Chan is a double alumnus, having graduated from BA (Hons) Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins (CSM) in 2003 and MA Typographic Studies from London College of Communication (LCC) in 2004.
An experienced graphic designer and brand consultant, Leo set up his own design agency On Your Mark Design Laboratory (OYM) right after graduating. Recently he's taken on more teaching roles in design institutions in Hong Kong, as well as being involved in 2 UAL international programmes; programme leader for the LCC MA Design Management overseas collaboration programme with HKU SPACE, and supervisor of CSM MA Arts and Cultural Enterprise programme in Hong Kong.
Alongside all of this, Leo is also one of the 3 Co-Presidents of the UAL Hong Kong Alumni Association. Along with Tanya Chou and Keith Wong, Leo creates a programme of events and frequently shares collaborative opportunities to support our graduates living in Hong Kong.
Here Leo tells about his career so far, as well as how you can get involved with the UAL Hong Kong Alumni Association.
What made you want to study at CSM, and then LCC?
CSM is a dream school for all design students in HK. I was studying design diploma at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and got an opportunity for an interview for CSM BA Graphics via Chamberlin. I still remember a key question in the interview, "Why do you want to study in CSM?" and my answer was, "if I can have the opportunity to study in this famous school, I won't just aim to be famous in Hong Kong my home town but I will try to make myself famous in the world." So, my ambition helped me to get the CSM offer. For sure I'm not yet world-renowned like my same year classmates and good friends Shantell Martin and Ryu Itadani, I do contribute a lot in developing Hong Kong design industry with key professional bodies.
Why LCC? Since I was inspired by my CSM tutors Phil Baines and Catherine Dixon, I took the LCC MA Typographic Studies to enrich my theoretical and practical knowledge in typography as I understand type is an important element in communication design.
What was it about the Colleges, and living in London that you enjoyed the most?
I spent 3 years in the previous Southampton Row CSM campus, I miss the spiral staircase at the entrance, I enjoyed the photo-shoots with my course mates in the photography studio, all technicians are friendly and the sandwich and coffee at the Cyber Café on the top floor were my favourites.
I lived around the Brick Lane area, where Bollywood music woke me up every weekend morning; that made me fall in love with Indian food too.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do now?
I founded my design studio On Your Mark Design Laboratory in London 2004 after I graduated from UAL, an organization engaged in design service, art collaboration and cultural development. I returned to Hong Kong in 2006, where I worked as a graphic designer and brand consultant, and practised design alongside a number of high-profile corporates including; AsiaOne Communications Group, I.T Apparels, Crystal International Group and Metro International. I also participated in NIKE 2016 World Cup national team collections, Uniqlo UT product development, Ruinart champagne windows for Art Basel Hong Kong and was honoured with the Perspective Magazine 40 Under 40 Awards in both 2009 and 2016 (young graphics & new media artist & designers) in Asia. I was also honoured to be selected by the HK Government as one of the fifty new-generation designers to showcase Hong Kong creative ecologies in Shanghai World Expo 2010.
Lately, I've focused on Art, Design and Cultural development and social projects, taken on more teaching roles in different design institutions and the role of programme leader for the LCC MA Design Management overseas collaboration programme with HKU SPACE, and supervisor of CSM MA Arts and Cultural Enterprise programme in Hong Kong.
How did your time at CSM and LCC help you get to where you are today?
I think what I learned the most was not from classes and lectures but from the study environment at UAL instead. The think-out-of-the-box approach, passion and curiosity in working on a project precisely from my peers, nurtured me to become more mature in my working. They broadened my horizons.
You’re one of the Presidents of the UAL Hong Kong Alumni Association, why do you think it’s important for these international associations to exist?
I wanted so much to connect with local industry and creative people in HK after moving back to Hong Kong for good, especially as I felt outdated after the years in London and not having many connections as a fresh graduate. The emergency for me to catch up on what's happening in my hometown, who I should talk to as a mentor to guide me to step into the industry was very important.
Ms Tanya Chou and Mr Keith Wong, who were part of the UAL HK Alumni committee at the time, also felt the same and we wanted to develop the HK Alumni Association to have a better organisational structure. So we gave our proposal to the UAL alumni office and, following an election at one of our committee meetings, Tanya, Keith and I took on the volunteer roles as Co-Presidents.
With our professional networks and experience after working in the industry for more than 10 years, the UAL HK Alumni Association aims to bring together the creative alumni of UAL who are based in Hong Kong for regular social events, networking, business opportunities, talent showcases and more. We want to assist every UAL alumni to achieve their milestones and have greater success on their career path and self-development.
You arrange a lot of events, and provide the alumni network in Hong Kong with a lot of opportunities to meet-up, and showcase their work. Can you tell us a bit about some of the previous events/opportunities that you’ve organised?
We organise a lot of panel discussions and seminars with corporates and organisations like Lane Crawford, New World Group, Nan Fung Group and Chow Tai Fook Art Foundation.
The most successful one was probably the UAL Global Pavilion as part of the Hong Kong British Council Science and Art of Creativity Festival (SPARK) Festival 2019. SPARK is a new platform for the exchange of creative ideas between the UK, Hong Kong and the North East Asia region.
I was honoured to be invited by UAL to be the Art Director of the UAL Global Pavilion. I worked closely with the pavilion curator and Chelsea course leader Katrine Hjelde. It was UAL’s second major international pavilion, which explored 21st-century ideas around migration, place and identity through the work of Hong Kong, Asian and European artists.
SPARK will see Hong Kong’s contemporary hub for arts and culture, Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts, host over 50 creative and education partners from the UK and Hong Kong.
How can people get involved with the UAL Hong Kong Alumni Association?
Besides the official UAL Hong Kong Alumni Association page, we also have social media platforms;