I'm looking to connect with other Asian ad creatives. If you're struggling to enter the industry, what do you feel is holding you back?

I've been lucky enough to have been in advertising for almost twenty five years but in that time I can count on one hand the amount of colleagues that have come from an Asian background such as myself. I'd love to know why more Asians don't make it into the industry and what the obstacles might be, although speaking from personal experience, I can kind of guess - such as the pressure from my parents to get a 'proper' job.


  • I'm from Taiwan and I have been lucky enough to break into advertising in Europe. :) The obstacles for me at the beginning was when you book is full of non-English work and are made for clients that no one here would know, how do you prove yourself to the creative directors - but I suppose this applies to any creatives that move to different country and doesn't speak English as their first language, not just being Asian.
    Now I'm a senior/ mid-weight, thought all the creative are all self-conscious in a way, I feel as an immigrant (plus female) creative my self-consciousness is at another level. I often feel my work is not good enough, the way I present work can never be as compelling as a native creative, which stops me from stepping up. The diversity in advertising has been a topic and things are changing though, but I also don't want to get the job because I tick the diversity box ;) I want to get it because I'm great at it!
  • I think Asian creatives have to struggle with viewing themselves from a 'White Point of View'. For example, I worry that whatever I create carries too much of my cultural background that it won't hold with a British audience, or certain nuances will be lost. As someone who grew up in a country where English is not the native language, I also have to worry about ad agencies viewing my language skills as not up to par, even though I know many 'native' speakers who have worse spelling/grammar than me!
  • Hi Monty,

    I've just come across this https://www.dearadland.com. Perhaps you'd like to share your stories there as well?

    I think it's a generational and immigrant question. No immigrant parent from the 70s and 80s thinks I'll move half the world over and bust my ass so my kids can starve in Art school. Also, immigrant parents from that era equate success with financial status rather than social staus.

    Having said that, when I was a digital designer there were quite a few Asians working UI and UX design. I think design and advertising has that balance of creativity with monetary gain. However, now that I've switched over to photography, I don't see fewer photographers of colour in the art photography world.
  • Hey Monty,

    I have been working once a week as an intern for an ad agency and I agree with you. Not often (so far 0) do I see advertising professionals with an asian background. Pressure from parents I think is definitely a factor as I face this myself, but I also the lack of representation.

    Only very recently have I understood the world of advertising as before I was never aware of people like me who have or could make it. I didn't have that 'idol' because I never knew. Personally with me, I think it's the lack of support & direction that has me feeling lost. Until now I struggle with my creative work (primarily photography) because I always fear of 'not making it' or living up to the expectations of success I was raised to set.

    Now though there are more and more platforms that highlights creatives from different backgrounds and I feel that their presence really does help.
  • Hi Monty,

    I don't particularly work within advertising, however I am a fellow creative - surface pattern designer. During my time within the industry I've come across a small handful of indian/asian creatives, I would love to see more. I suppose it's not a typical profession that our parents can envision. I've been lucky to have supportive parents/family and I'm proud of all I've achieved!

    As generations come, I'm sure things will change!

    Best Wishes

  • Hi Monty,
    Interesting question that you've put out there. In my 18 years in the industry I have come across very few designers & art directors. Without stereotyping the typical Indian, I feel our generation weren't as open to working within the creative industry as parents have channeled their motivations to being the Doctors, Lawyers, IT etc etc.

    Personally I looked up to my brother as he was at Art college when I was at school. He went onto be a Art Director and the only thing i wanted to be is a Graphic Designer from the age of 13! He really did inspire me where I feel a lot of my Indian friends might not had that.

    I'd like to think this has changed as 2nd/3rd generations are more aware and open to different cultures..?

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