Arnold Ma, Qumin

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As part of the effort to ICAD Design Days to stimulate deeper discussions with the design community on the nature of being a design professional and the values of our work as a collective, we reached out to various industry practitioners and stakeholders, seeking their perspectives on a series of thought-provoking questions on current issues in relation to the core values professionalism.

Arnold Ma, Founder at Qumin Digital Marketing Agency shares his views with us.


What should the relationship between the academia and the industry be? How are we able to bridge the gap between what the academia is producing and what the industry is demanding (skills/traits/attitude, etc.)?

I’m a big fan of academia in any practice, and, I think it’s vital for anyone working in the creative industries to be very versed in the relevant educational foundations before embarking on a professional path. More so, without a strong academic background – theory, skills and fundamental knowledge – it will be much harder for someone to go “off-piste” and think outside the box when they start their career.

I love this quote from Picasso – “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist” ~ Pablo Picasso

I believe that academia should work in collaboration with industry, with minimal overlaps where possible. Instead, focus on strength of each side. i.e. Academia focus, first and foremost, on education that is much harder to obtain from industry while working – the foundations and knowledge – and preparing the talents to jump straight into a job where they are able to apply these learnings and start to gain practical experience immediately. However, this is not to say academia cannot/should not obtain up-to-date expertise from industry to teach these foundations – which often do change with our current ever moving digital landscape.

If academia and industry are distracted and lose focus on their respective roles, we could run into the danger of talents lacking both educational development as well as learning from practical experiences.

I truly believe a split responsibility to help develop future talent is the best approach.


What does “multidisciplinary” mean to you? In your practice/industry, do you think it is more important to be a “generalist” or a “specialist”, and why?

“Multidisciplinary” in creative industry, for me is a positive, it indicates someone that is able to apply their creativity in various formats – such as visual design, animation, video, etc. – I think this is a vital skill to obtain and develop in our world today.

While I believe it’s important to focus on specific disciplines, I also think that the application of creativity against the diversity of platforms and formats are vital when digital is/has over taken traditional media as the dominate communication platform.

E.g. short video (TikTok/Douyin) are fast becoming one of the most important formats in marketing and advertising, so a creative who is unable to apply their thinking and skills in this format will find it much harder to find work than someone who is able to be a more “generalist” in the way their creative thinking is applied.

More than any other industry, creativity, by nature is about thinking outside the box.


How has your industry incorporated ethical practices, if there are any? Do you think ethical responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the artist/designers or the client, or both?

I think it’s not something the advertising industry is very strong on. But I’d say ethical responsibilities fall on both – I believe the artists/designers should drive this as the owners of the output.


Are the nature of awards and competitions still relevant today and why?

Yes, it will always be relevant.

I’m a big believer of “pride in your work”.

Awards are the best way for the industry/academia to recognise great work. Awards are probably one of the best ways to motivate and encourage healthy competition – for creatives to always push beyond the status quo. And reward the passion/pride they put into their work.


What do you think is important for the arts practitioners/designers of the future to think about and challenge?

Diversity and inclusivity is something we are putting more emphasis on, but I think we still have a long way to go.

Especially in a commercial application. And not just in employment, but also the output of work that represents diversity – i.e. the work that are produced by designers on behalf of clients and agencies. Similar to ethical practices, I think it needs to be driven by creatives first and foremost as the owners of the work.