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Jason Khoo

Jason Khoo

Graphic Designer, 2009
Bachelor of Design (Hons) in Professional Design (Visual Communication)

Limkokwing University was highly competitive because it had to challenge rivals offering similar courses so my lecturers kept pushing me to do better. This helped me to work under a very intense environment, which prepared me for the tight deadlines and high expectations of the advertising and graphic design industry once I graduated.

27 February 2009

Moving Freely

Written by Catalina Rembuyan

Freelance designer and now director of his own company, Jason Khoo, takes some time off to tell us of his life as a freelancer and the many different routes he has taken to arrive at where he is today. Catalina Rembuyan has the story.

Jason Khoo Boo Hooy is no stranger to the diverging paths that life can throw at someone. “Believe it or not, there was a time when I earnestly thought of becoming a professional snooker player – of course, back then playing snooker professionally was not viewed as a viable career option.”

When he first completed his secondary school studies, he had already enrolled at a different institution before his aunt found out about Limkokwing University and dragged him out of his previous college to study there. Jason, who was then a mere kampung boy from Kedah, had not heard about the institution yet, and was drawn to the lucrative potential of multimedia studies before later discovering that his real passion lay in graphic design.

“I’m told by people working in the multimedia industry that graphic design can be very static. This is certainly far from the truth, because in graphic design and advertising the goal is to move people: you make them cry, and make them buy,” said the Diploma in Multimedia Design holder. “Despite the change of heart, I would not say that my time studying multimedia was a waste.” “Limkokwing University was highly competitive because it had to challenge rivals offering similar courses so my lecturers kept pushing me to do better. This helped me to work under a very intense environment, which prepared me for the tight deadlines and high expectations of the advertising and graphic design industry once I graduated.”

graphic design and advertising the goal is to move people: you make them cry, and make them buy.

After graduating, Jason went on to work as a designer in a company called Infinix Studio before becoming a freelancer two years later. Jason’s abilities eventually earned him the attention of multinational advertising agency JWT, and in 2006 he returned to working full time as the company’s art director.

“On the first day of my employment at JWT, I had to work until five a.m. in the morning. It was a very stressful, time-consuming and hectic job, but it was also extremely rewarding as I had the opportunity to work under Edwin Leong, who was one of the first Malaysians to win at the Grand Prix at Cannes,” he said.

Despite the opportunities that can be offered by a full time job in a high ranking position at a multinational company, Jason decided to leave the well trodden path and set off on his own course by opening up his own company in 2008. “Although nothing beats full time, being your own man provides you the kind of flexibility that simply isn’t provided by full time employment,” he said.

As freelancer or an entrepreneur, you will be faced with plenty of challenges. You have to rely a lot on your personal connections and sacrifice the glamour of having big names in your portfolio to work with a lot of small clients.

“As freelancer or an entrepreneur, you will be faced with plenty of challenges. You have to rely a lot on your personal connections and sacrifice the glamour of having big names in your portfolio to work with a lot of small clients.”

Being a freelancer does not prevent Jason from scoring large clients either. Jason was involved in the Barisan Nasional’s massive advertising campaign during the 2008 General Elections, when he designed the graphics for the campaign’s television commercials.

“I would say that the only noticeable advantage of freelancing is the flexibility that you can get with your own time in your hands,” he explained, “But the challenges that you face either as a freelancer or a full time employee is about the same in this industry.”

“You need to learn to get used to what the clients want and try to merge what they want with your own personal sense of creativity,” he added.

Jason explained that in order to acquire that sensitivity as well as having a good set of base clients that one can rely on, it is best to begin by working full-time. The state of the industry is extremely competitive that one has to be an expert at what one does.

An advertising campaign strategy is successful once it doubles or even triples the sales of one’s client. On the other hand, a person working in this line of work can be considered a failure if he only manages to come up with one concept for an advertising campaign.

“The advertising and design industry in Malaysia is becoming more vibrant and competitive and clients become more discerning. In 2004 and 2005 respectively, according to Cannes Lion, Malaysia became the highest ranked in the advertising industry ousting favourites like Singapore and Indonesia.”

Jason has a very simple definition of success: an advertising campaign strategy is successful once it doubles or even triples the sales of one’s client. On the other hand, a person working in this line of work can be considered a failure if he only manages to come up with one concept for an advertising campaign!

“It’s my job to let the advertising interact with the audience and to turn that interaction into sales,” he explained. Currently Jason is working on strengthening his personal portfolio, which has now grown to include camera company Leica. His personal past times include drawing and playing that old sport of his teenage years: snooker.

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