Extraordinary stays hungry

Sophia Chang is a graphic designer and illustrator. Originally from Queens, she credits her relentless drive with growing up among the non-stop hustle and ambition of New York City. Sophia received her BFA in Illustration from Parsons School of Design in 2010, and has since gone on to collaborate with big-name clients like HBO, Refinery29, Lululemon, Beats by Dre, and more. She co-founded the brand experience agency We Ascend and the online health and wellness publication UNDO-Ordinary. Sophia dives into how she got her start, what she does to stay creatively challenged, and how sharing in your success is often the most Extraordinary thing you can do.

HOW CAN WE ALL CHASE the CHECK? And BE the BEST WE CAN BE by WORKING TOGETHER?

I’m a New York City native, born and raised in Queens. I moved to L.A. a few years ago, but I travel back and forth. Growing up in New York has helped me realize how much of a New Yorker I am, and how much of the city’s go-getter attitude is embedded in my DNA. I’m always thinking about how I can be as efficient as possible and make the most of my New York minute.

I stayed in New York for college, studying at Parsons School of Design. During my entire undergrad, I worked a part-time job, audited classes outside my major, and did internships. I was lucky to intern with a great artist (I was his silk-screen cleaner) and with an illustrator. I also had the chance to intern at Complex Media back when it was Complex Magazine. I got a window into how my favorite magazine worked across advertising, editorial, marketing — and what those words even mean. That internship taught me all that goes into designing a magazine and inspired me to start and run my own.

I recently launched UNDO-Ordinary, an online publication that’s all about turning the health and wellness industry on its head. We don’t write about $50 Pilates classes, juice cleanses, or how to get 6-minute abs — things that aren’t interesting or relatable to people in the creative industry. Instead, we take real-life advice and package it in a way that’s digestible and compelling. UNDO-Ordinary is more of a passion project for me; a way for me to create something for the greater good and challenge myself while showcasing the work of other creatives in my community.

This is also my intention behind my brand experience agency We Ascend. As a freelancer, I’ve had the chance to work with a lot of great brands, and I wanted to share those opportunities with all the amazing, talented people I meet every day. This is something I’ve always done: connect the dots between creatives so we can all benefit. In other words, How can we all chase the check? And be the best we can be by working together? I see We Ascend as the next step in my career. It’s not just about me; it’s about helping everyone rise up.

A high school teacher of mine once said: Whatever you do, be the best at it. If you’re a janitor, be the best at it. If you’re a dentist, be the best at it. I took those words to heart. When I start my day, I try to make each day count. And when I go to bed, I want to know that I took at least one step, or half a step, further in my goals. And if I’m ever feeling lazy or uninspired, I try to remind myself that I don’t work under fluorescent lighting, that I’ve worked hard with the cards that were dealt to me, and thankfully have been able to sustain a living doing what I love. That’s enough of a motivation for me to keep going.