The String and Key Crew: Soong Shin

Jasmin H
Jasmin H
Sep 1, 2020 · 5 min read

As part of our ongoing employee spotlight series, we’ll be profiling colleagues who inspire us. Today, meet Soong Shin.

Company Role: Senior Designer

Most likely to: Check soccer news every day (mostly European leagues)

Secret talent: Great photographer, DJ, FIFA player, and flute player

After spending most of his life in Chuncheon, South Korea, our Senior Designer, Soong, moved to San Francisco for school. After a year or so studying on the west coast, he went back home but then decided the east coast—and NYC in particular—sounded like a good place to settle down (and who can blame him?).

From working on motion graphics, 3D animation, graphic design, and more, to showing his fine-art digital photography at both big and small exhibitions and publications in Seoul, New York, and New Jersey, Soong’s early career saw him eyeing both the design and photography fields. However, after quickly realizing the high cost of living in NYC, he temporarily hit the brakes on his artistic endeavors and went full throttle on pursuing a design career. It looks like it all worked out as he’s now a full-time member of our Creative team and, outside of that, has been working with some of our team members for over six years (so he’s basically family now).

Read on to learn more about Soong as he discusses life as a UI designer, how fatherhood has changed his routine, his secret talents, and more.

What do you do, and what does your typical workday look like?
My typical day starts with a cup of coffee and our creative morning meeting. This is where our team discusses what we’re all working on and where we are in terms of projects. It’s nice to talk and communicate before getting into the action in Figma or any other design tool. After that, I check my workload and prioritize what needs to get done that day. If I have any spare time, I try to read UI/UX design related articles that I’ve come across or have saved. Topics include, but are not limited to, fine art, branding, typography, motion, front-end design, back-end design, and anything else that is design-related. After everything is in a good place, I look at any specific tasks that need to get done for the next day. Once I’ve wrapped most things up, I close my laptop and get ready for bathtime with my little boy.

What’s your favorite part about working at String and Key?
I love the culture we have built here — it’s all about respect and flexibility. It’s something built into our culture, and in the way we work together. It’s a stark contrast to my previous experience of serving in the military. I also love our design team. They are all so smart and brilliant, and I’m inspired by them every day.

What excites you about your job?
The opportunity to learn how other teams work. I’ve enjoyed doing light front-end tasks using HTML and CSS. I’ve also had the chance to play around with a basic Swift by Xcode program. By working within these different programs and grasping what goes into the development side of things, I have the advantage of seeing any limitations from a web and mobile development point of view. I can then apply these takeaways to the visual design system.

What do you find most challenging about your role?
Learning new things. It can be a challenge to explore new ideas that require more in-depth knowledge. Ideas that involve making something I’m not entirely capable of making just yet. But, I love broadening my understanding when it comes to design. And the satisfaction from the outcome is so worth it — it motivates me to push harder.

What are the values that drive you?
I believe in being diligent, smart, humble, and calm but powerful. Those are the values I always keep in mind when I approach my workspace.

If you could swap places with anyone at String and Key, who would it be and why?
I would say one of the mobile developers so that I can learn some techniques and tools from their team. I say this because I would eventually like to design, develop, and launch my own app someday.

What unexpected subject could you give a one-hour presentation on with no advance prep?
I could probably share some stories from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which is a 14th-century novel based on Chinese history. From friendship to loyalty to socializing, and more, there are so many valuable lessons and precepts in the novel that we can all apply to our daily lives.

What keeps you busy outside of work?
These days, the Shin family routine is a little different thanks to the arrival of our little boy, Ewan. Taking care of a child is new territory for me, so I’m learning as the days go by. I will say, I’m so glad to be able to be at home with him, specifically at this early age. Thankfully, his daily routine is pretty consistent, and after 8 p.m., I’m usually free to relax and unwind with a beer.

Can you share any fun or interesting facts about yourself?
Of course! Here are a few:

  • I spent two years and a few weeks doing military service in South Korea.
  • I enjoy DJing (mostly electronic music) for small parties, exhibitions, and receptions.
  • I started playing the FIFA game in 2012, and have been playing ever since. Unfortunately, I’ve had to skip FIFA 2020 as I’ve been so busy this year.

Can you list five hashtags that describe your personality?

#Critical, #Composed, #Flexible, #Detailed/Picky, #Imaginative

Lighting Round:

Football or basketball?
Football (a.k.a Soccer in the U.S.).

Card game or board game?
Card game.

Skates or bike?

Music or podcasts?

Horror or mystery?

Interested in working at String and Key? Join us!

Learn more about the other members on our team here.