Posted 08 February 2024
Interview by Nicole Fan
Mention Julie Chan

Experiential designer Julie Chan talks textiles, technology and creative fusions

Like many in the creative technology space, Julie Chan believes that art and tech can be “seamlessly integrated” – but those words carry an added layer of meaning for her, because seams and stitches were once the basis of her entire creative practice. Having previously studied textiles, she’s never quite relinquished her love for fashion, even though she currently designs within more experimental realms. Creating everything from luxury fashion NFTs to Decentraland gaming wearables, Julie’s work spans the metaverse and augmented reality; yet, her path has been far from smooth-sailing. Here, she discusses navigating her creative journey overseas, dealing with financial pressures, and learning by trial and error.

Julie Chan

Julie Chan

Job Title

Freelance Designer



Selected Clients

Bad Times Disco, Council of Fashion Designers of America

Previous Employment

Experiential Designer, Brand New Vision, 2023
Junior Metaverse Tailor, Brand New Vision, 2022–2023
3D and AR Design, Tommy, 2022
3D Knitwear Designer, Cobalt Fashion, 2021–2022

Place of Study

BA (Hons) Textile Design, Chelsea College of Arts, 2017–2020


Social Media


What I do

How would you describe what you do?
I am a visual creative who is interested in using technology as a tool to communicate and experiment with ideas. I’ve explored augmented reality (AR) by myself and worked in a startup focused on Web3-related projects, but I also conceptualise my designs through other forms of graphic communication – including static graphics, motion graphics and video formats.

Whether I’m building metaverse experiences or AR filters, my process begins with sketching out ideas and doing a lot of visual research. The next step is then to design the 3D assets, which involves a lot of trial and error. That’s why collaboration is really important to my design process: it can be technically challenging to design with technology and working with different specialists has always provided useful insights. My approach is to find the right people with similar interests and create something together.

“I’ve always seen textiles as connected to technology – the weaving machine is essentially an ancient computer.”

Julie’s early work in bag design

What are the main influences and inspirations behind your work?
My greatest influence is fashion as a form of expression and a driver of culture, along with peers that are fashion image-makers and digital fashion artists. I’ve always seen textiles as connected to technology – the weaving machine, for example, is essentially an ancient computer. That’s why I still draw on a lot of skills that I gained through my background in textiles design, which is evident in the visual references of my projects.

For instance, when I was at Brand New Vision, I worked on a campaign for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) to celebrate their 60-year anniversary. The campaign was meant to honour the excellence of American fashion through technology, so we created a series of collectible video NFTs for the likes of designer labels Tommy Hilfiger, Willy Chavarria, Diane Von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors and Coach. The videos showcased the value of the NFTs by accentuating the quality and fine detailing of the fabrics, so it was really an intersection of textiles and technology.

“For human creativity and technology to coexist symbiotically, the creator has to first understand themselves and their own creativity.”

You’ve mentioned elsewhere that you’re interested in “the personable fusion between art and tech”. Could you expand on that?
I think technology is a tool or enabler that can be seamlessly integrated with our creativity – the greatest challenge for me is to understand the ever-changing technology and figure out how to use it to my advantage. For human creativity and technology to coexist symbiotically, the creator has to first understand themselves and their own creativity; only then can they utilise technology as a tool.

Would you say you need any specific training for what you do?
I’m still in the process of finding my niche and consolidating my skills to move towards a more commercial output. Coming from a product-centric design background, I made a huge transition when going into roles that were more focused on communication design, which is all about conveying meanings, concepts and ideas. Through watching various YouTube channels and reading in my own time, I’ve managed to learn a lot of graphic communication skills by myself, but I’m still in the process of receiving better training in graphic and digital design principles.

AR nail art filters for ‘Paranormal Social’

What’s been your favourite project to work on from the past year, and why?
My favourite project has been an AR experiment called ‘Paranormal Social’, which aimed to provide a paranormal experience through technological beauty transformations. Commissioned by Hong Kong-based DJ collective Bad Times Disco, I made a Snapchat filter for one of their vinyl sets and based it around nail art, which has its niche in the worlds of both AR and fashion. It’s received great feedback and I hope to expand such projects into commercial concepts for brands in the future.

How I got here

What was your journey like when you were first starting out?
Honestly, I feel like I’m still just starting out as a designer. Graduating during the pandemic in 2020 meant that it was especially difficult to find opportunities, and I started my career in the knitwear industry as it had been close to my field of study then. My creative journey has been more like a marathon than a sprint, so I try to keep an open mind by just leveraging my position and abilities to reach my goals.

How did you go about landing your first few jobs, clients and commissions?
From my experience, knowing the right people can be more useful than just having the skills. Having a good online presence is helpful as it allows people to find you online, but attending events is great too as it exposes you to more people.

I go to panel discussions occasionally as those places are filled with like-minded people who could potentially become collaborators, and you can find many of such events on websites like Eventbrite and D&AD Events. Also, don’t be afraid of messaging recruiters and sharing your work through platforms like The Dots and LinkedIn.

“Knowing the right people can be more useful than just having the skills.”

How important would you say social media and self-promotion are to your work?
Very important. It’s the most direct and interactive access that people have to your work; it’s also the most immediate way that you can approach others. That being said, I’m learning to maintain a healthy relationship with the platform by distinguishing between my personal and professional accounts.

What has been your biggest challenge along the way?
My biggest challenge has been navigating my creative journey overseas and taking advantage of the place I’m in. Growing up in Hong Kong with English as my second language, I didn’t know a lot of people in London when I moved and found it difficult to find my feet. Since then, I’ve learnt to be more open about my journey and work.

Diane Von Furstenberg NFT video, scene design, and motion design

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful to your work or career, what would they be and why?
I find it useful to organise my range of interests into saved folders on social media platforms as it helps me better reference things; I also create shared boards and folders with people to collaborate with them.

I’ve also found the Creative Pep Talk podcast to be really helpful. It’s taught me that there are so many types of creatives out there and I don’t have to restrict myself from branching out into other art forms. Other than that, I’d also recommend podcasts like MIT News, Material Matters and 99% Invisible.

Have there been any courses, programmes, initiatives, access schemes or job boards you’ve found helpful or would recommend to get into your sector?
I haven’t experienced it myself, but I’ve known people from D&AD Shift, a five-month programme for people who want to get into the agency space. I think that would be useful for people looking to build a strong portfolio and get industry connections.

What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative?
I am currently waitressing and doing some graphic design work on the side, in addition to doing freelance jobs to support my monthly subscriptions and gadgets. It’s been really difficult with the cost of living crisis, which has put a real financial strain on creatives. The industry is not hiring or providing as many commissioned opportunities, so I’ve learnt to be a lot more frugal with money as well as plan ahead financially.

“I’ve been encouraged to keep pushing my ideas even if they don’t work out.”

Motion, 3D modelling and video editing

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
The best career advice I’ve received came from a friend who is a creative strategist. Coming from an agency background where career paths are more linear, he encouraged me to keep pushing my ideas even if they don’t work out.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
Having a mentor and learning from feedback is so important when it comes to navigating your work and career, so I’d recommend getting some mentorships or training to help you along your journey.

Interview by Nicole Fan
Mention Julie Chan