MISSBISH Of All Trades | Naomi Otsu

Author: Nicole Fung
12.05 / MISSBISHES

Miss Naomi is a graduate of Parsons School of Design. Her illustrations and graphic work have made her a force to be reckoned with in the cutting edge digital world. Right after graduating she joined the notoriously uber creative team at Opening Ceremony where she ended up being the senior graphic designer. She's a woman of the world being half Japanese and half Korean, but she calls New York, specifically Brooklyn, home. We had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with her in all her favorite locations, getting to know her better and understanding what makes her a prime MISSBISH.

What was it like working as a Senior Graphic Designer with such a creative team at Opening Ceremony (OC)? What were some of the challenges?
I had so much fun! Back then it was smaller and we’d have potlucks and BBQ's. Su Barber, who is the Art Director at OC was an incredible mentor. It was such an honor to work under her and I learned so much more than when I did in college. The best part of it was that both Su and I had a lot of creative freedom and we worked together as a team (the art team was just us at the time). My job then was to handle anything visual - which meant web flyers to window installs to packaging to collaboration logos to textiles. The challenge was to manage all of that at once.

You transitioned from working at OC to an advertising agency and now freelance. What’s it like going from having a steady income, working in a more structured environment to taking the leap of faith and doing your own thing?
It's been a wild roller coaster ride - and I've learned a lot about working by myself and working with other people. There are always pros and cons to working at a small company vs. a large one vs. freelance. Being freelance definitely requires a lot of self-discipline, which is always a struggle when you don't have a project manager or "schedule." I'd like to say that that is the best and the worst part.

Why did you decide to leave OC and work at the agency? Why did you decide to focus on freelance? Is there anything you miss about working in a corporate environment?
OC was my first job out of college, it was hard for me to leave but I knew that I had to branch out and try other things to see what I really wanted and where I fit in the industry. Jobs are like dating - you have to figure out what you do and don't like before you know what you really want. I do miss having a place to go to to work, outside of home, oh and someone paying for your health insurance. Haha.


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“If you want a job, there is no harm in starting the conversation ... If you want it, ask for it! I did it and it was the best decision I made.”

Was it difficult defining your career path after graduating from Parson’s School of Design?
It was somewhat natural for me - which is weird since I love doing so many things. I never thought I would work in fashion, but I ended up interviewing for an internship at OC after getting a recommendation from my publication design teacher (Rob Giampietro) and then was hired right after graduating.

Do you have any advice for fresh grads that are pursuing a career in design?
If you want a job, there is no harm in starting the conversation. A lot of interns think that after the internship they'll have to find a job because they assume the company will ask them or they don't think their good they're good enough. If you want it, ask for it! I did it and it was the best decision I made.

What are some fun projects you’re currently working on?
The most exciting thing I'm working on is the passion project my sister and I are working on, called 8that. It's a blog that shares our food experiences in New York (and hopefully in the future other places too!). It's something that came out of the fact that we don't hang out enough even though we live in the same city. She writes and I draw... can't wait to see where it takes us! I'm also working on a magazine called "TOP RANK" which features women that are killing it in their industry. The issue is going to be released in the next couple of months and I can't wait to see it in physical form!


“I know it’s super cliche thing to say but I truly believe in balance. You have to keep your body and mind happy.”

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What’s your workout regime?
I used to run 3-4 times a week plus one day of weight training at S10, but recently I’ve swapped out one of my running days with a cycling class, I like it because it’s like going to the club while working out.

Can you tell us more about S10 Training?
I was introduced to S10 through Sophia Chang. What makes it the best is 1. our trainer Stephen and 2. the fact that I get to work out with my girlfriends to some DJ mustard - nothing beats that.

Can you share a few of your most effective home workout tips?
Run!!!! You can run anywhere and it’s free. I haven't tried it yet, but I heard the NTC workout app is pretty good.


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“Jobs are like dating - you have to figure out what you do and don't like before you know what you really want.”

You seem to be pretty into food as shown in your illustrations on we8that.com. Do you have a strict diet as well or nah? 
Nah. I wouldn’t say I have a strict diet, but I do tend to eat healthy 70% of the time. I used to eat whatever and whenever I wanted to when I was younger, but ever since I started running 3 years ago I realized my body needs the proper nutrition to sustain my energy and health - and needless to say I can tell my body is much happier. However, nothing stops me from eating a late night bacon egg and cheese from the deli or having a delicious dinner with my friends and family. I know it’s super cliche thing to say but I truly believe in balance. You have to keep your body and mind happy.

What are 3 hidden gems in New York?
1. Handmade noodles from Spicy Village in the Lower East Side: Complete hole in the wall, which is part of its charm. I think more and more people have discovered it over the years so it’s not so hidden anymore, but I still love it and i hope to god it never changes.
2. Blank Cafe in Williamsburg: A quiet Japanese cafe in my neighborhood that has the best vibes and Chicken curry.
3. Stella Dallas in Williamsburg: Awesome vintage shopping, if you're into that.

What does MISSBISH mean to you?
M: Making it happen
I: Independent woman
S: Sexy
S: Sporty Stylish
B: Brave
I: Influential
S: Strong
H: Head on

Photos by: Carmen Chan

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