“Never be afraid to fail. If you’re afraid to fail, you’ll never learn anything.”
Graphic Designer, Instructor at UC Berkeley, Co-Founder and Creative Director of York & Chapel—the trajectory of Nelson Ho’s career is a unique and interesting one. We sat down with Nelson to learn a little more about one of York & Chapel’s founding members.
What was your career path? How did you get here?
“I’ve always known that I wanted to own an agency. Mainly because I hate working for other people. [Laughs]
Right from the very beginning, I learned a lot from everywhere I worked. And some of those were valuable lessons in how not to run an agency, or a business. People who yelled at each other, demeaned their employees, avoided conflict—and you could see those flaws throughout the company.
From those places, I learned who I didn’t want to be. More than anything, I learned the importance of treating people honestly. Treating people as people, not just employees. As soon as you look at your team as just a group of employees, you lose that sense of connection with the people you work with.”
What piece of advice would you give to creatives in the industry?
“You should never be afraid to fail. If you’re afraid to fail, you’ll never learn anything. The reason why I’m in the position I am today is because I was prepared to try new things and risk it not working out.
You’re better off making mistakes when you’re young. The stakes are low when you’re just starting out. Those are the days when making a mistake won’t cost you, or your company, all that much.”
Has the industry changed a lot since you started?
“A lot. Back when I started out, I thought, ‘Okay, I’m a graphic designer. I’m going to design logos, or brands, or whatever it is.’ The landscape has changed. Few companies are hiring for just those skills anymore.
When we first started the company, we were a graphic design agency. We’ve had to pivot a lot. Right now, we’ve moved into Experiential, UI/UX, and SaaS. But that’s not a bad thing—finding interesting and fun new ways to challenge yourself creatively. It stops you from getting stale.
The lesson is to find new things to work on, things you enjoy that will keep you switched on and engaged. Professionally, it’s always good to be outside of your comfort zone.”
Is it true you used to go to Universal Studios every weekend?
“Yep! When I was living in Los Angeles, that was the one splurge I allowed myself. The Universal Studios annual pass cost about $120 a year, parking included. I’d go straight after school—go on two or three rides, then head home.”
What’s your go-to comfort food?
“A bowl of ramen with fried Spam and a sunny-side-up fried egg. It’s delicious! But I can’t eat it too often anymore.”
To reach out to Nelson about a creative project (or ramen recipe), email email@example.com.