Meet Chana, Senior Graphic Designer at Ptex Group.
Equal parts passionate artist and smart strategist, Chana likes to get her hands dirty with design. Previously, she has designed packaging for well-known electronic consumer brands like Polaroid, Sharper Image, and Limited Too. While she only joined the Ptex team about 8 months ago, Chana is already bringing her broad talent, unique expertise, and proclivity for creative adventure to the Ptex team. Shake up her talents, pour ’em out into Adobe Illustrator, and you end up with the perfect cocktail of beautiful, cost-effective, and solution-oriented designs that help businesses grow. (Did I mention they’re beautiful?)
I had so much fun interviewing Chana about her unique path to design, her love for creating awesome packaging, and what she’s learned about the industry and herself throughout her career. Here it is… Enjoy!
What made you become a graphic designer? Where did your inspiration come from?
In elementary school and high school, I was always the “computer girl”. My father is a programmer and computer security architect—he and my mother also founded one of the first Judaica software companies and developed some of the first Hebrew fonts and typefaces. So I grew up around computers and was always interested in that world, the intersection between computers and art. Then, my first real (corporate) job was with Sakar International, where I designed packaging for consumer electronics. That’s when graphic design really turned from a job to a passion for me.
What is it about packaging?
I love the challenge of creating something 3-dimensional, something people hold in their hand—the packaging has to immediately forge a relationship with the buyer. When you decide to shop for something in store versus online, you rely on that spark of connection when you pick up the product. It’s about relationship building. Packaging is hugely influential in the customer’s buying decision. The shape of the box, the material, the words written on it, the size… all of these elements need to come together to create that wow factor.
On top of all that, the cost needs to fit into the budget. I really enjoy figuring that all out and finding solutions that are both effective and cost-efficient. Especially with the current rising costs of packaging materials and production overseas, it’s extremely important to keep budget in mind when conceptualizing packaging design.
What are the best skills you bring to this work?
I’m the type of person that gets things done. If I need to make something happen and it’s not in my skill set, I’ll learn, or find someone else who can do it, or find an equally viable solution. I’m an open-minded thinker. I recognize that there can be many paths to a destination, and I’m willing to walk down whichever one I need to in order to get there.
Flashback to when you were 10 years old. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A neurosurgeon. I am fascinated by the brain, how memory works. There’s a lot of brain science behind design, so I guess it’s not that huge of a leap :). Rather than cutting brains I cut boxes. Same thing, just a lot less blood.
What’s been a big lesson you’ve learned about package design that you wish all business owners knew?
Don’t be trendy just for the sake of being trendy. In the packaging world, there’s tremendous pressure to copy, to “follow the trends.” But that approach all but guarantees that you don’t get noticed. If everyone is white, go red. If everyone is dark, go light. But at the same time, it’s not just about being disruptive, it’s about being disruptive smartly. You want to stand out, but you don’t want to look like you don’t belong. It’s a balance. There needs to be a lot of thought put into WHY you’re making these decisions—is it consistent with your brand? Is it going to attract your audience? And so on. “Everyone’s doing this, so let’s do it too” is not sound strategy.
What’s something you’ve done in your career that you’re most proud of?
I worked with Limited Too as licensed brand with just a name and a logo, and I led a team in developing products that would resonate with today’s young girls, and with their mothers who remembered the brand when they were teens in the 90s. My research for this involved going shopping with a bunch of 14-year-olds, which was quite a learning experience. I learned that they’re very tactile—they touch everything. So, for example, we made sure that the packaging we created for an iPhone case was open, so you could touch the product through the packaging. The teens were also attracted to empowering messages like “Be bold, be brave, be courageous,” etc. They were not just focused on appearance or superficiality, and they disconnect when they’re talked down to. So we made sure that the messaging on the products and packaging reflected that. To appeal to that demographic, everything had to be designed to look pretty and feel good.
What’s been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Since much of my experience working with electronics has been with male-dominated companies and products, there were times that my ideas or opinions weren’t taken seriously because of my gender. I’ve had to prove that just because I am female doesn’t mean my perspective is “the female perspective.” However, every experience is a learning experience, and I’ve learned to communicate smarter and own my abilities. I’m more confident now because my work has successfully shown positive results regardless of target audience. Being a good designer means thinking of what the client needs to succeed and doing so, regardless of the industry or the target customer.
I will say, however, that working at Ptex I don’t experience that at all. Everyone respects everyone else’s perspectives and opinions here.
Speaking of, what’s your favorite thing about working for Ptex?
It’s a privilege to work amongst such incredible creative and strategic minds. Ptex is very focused on our clients’ success. All roads lead to helping the client meet their goals, and that’s really important because it’s sometimes easy for creative agencies to get wrapped up in the creative aspect and lose sight of that. Ptex is all about strategy-first—and we produce really cool stuff, so it’s the best of both worlds. Plus, I love that I’m able to flex my muscles by working with clients and brands in so many different industries. It pushes me to grow.
What’s your best advice for a designer just starting out?
Get inspired—but don’t copy. Go on Pinterest, Behance, and design blogs and look at lots of great design. Be open to exploring new forms. You don’t have a perfect eye right off the bat; the design eye is a muscle that needs to be worked out, practiced, honed. Stay on top of your game and constantly seek inspiration. Also, don’t lose your love and passion for the reason you design in the first place. Make sure you’re working on stuff you look forward to every day.
How do you want people to remember you?
As simple as it sounds: someone kind, who cares about people. I try to bring the human side into everything. Co-workers are people with real lives outside of work. Clients are there for you to build relationships with, not just get money from. Showing people kindness, attention, and support has a huge impact on their lives and helps them be successful. If I can play a small part in that and leave people better than I found them, I’m happy with that.
“Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things.”
In other words, think big picture. And don’t let yourself get sucked into the mud—the stuff that will bring you down.
You can follow Chana on Instagram at @chanasnyder and connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/chanasnyder.