My Journey: Sam Kuo (Designer)

“TRAVELER’S notebook has been an important friend of mine for many years, and in a nutshell, it’s like a” mirror that lets you see inside yourself by reflecting your truest thoughts.”

Sam’s morning starts a bit earlier than ordinary people. He pays a visit to his favorite café every morning before he then migrates to his office. He opens his TRAVELER’S notebook and starts writing his ideas. “With TRAVELER’S notebook, my mind is calm and clear. Nothing can interrupt my thinking. My thoughts just flow into the paper.” Sam describes himself as hands-on designer who always pushes to design anything and explore new boundaries. He’s always full of ideas and itching to implement them in the real world. He is a designer at a well-known advertising agency named interTrend Communications Inc. based in Long Beach, California. He drives corporate branding combining the power of design and technology. His scope varies depending on the projects: from website design, to social media communication, influencing clients’ marketing strategy. Aside from his day job, he also teaches online courses as a lecturer in AR and graphic design at his native Taiwan university. You might think Sam was born to be a designer. But it’s not true. He didn’t always dream of becoming a designer. He majored in German in college and didn’t even come across the field of design until after graduation. Talking about this experience with Sam made me realize how some of us need time and life experiences to really find out what we’re passionate about and it’s never too late to start a new chapter in life.

It was actually Sam’s mother who gave him an opportunity to encounter a TRAVELER’S notebook. Sam’s mother, who has a strong knowledge of Japanese culture, started a sukiyaki restaurant and a select shop for Japanese miscellaneous goods and stationery. She ran this shop in Taiwan and became familiar with TRAVELER’S notebook. When Sam was graduating from high school, he asked his mother, “I want to have a new notebook when I go to university. Do you have any recommended notebook brands?” The moment his mother said the name “TRAVELER’S notebook”, Sam couldn’t help but to think that it was the right notebook for him. Following his mother’s recommendation, he immediately found a small shop in Tainan City that sells TRAVELER’S notebook and purchased a brown one. It was in spring 2012. His first impression was a notebook, but why is it so expensive? However, as soon as he picked up the leather sample at the store, he was captivated by its incomparable and comfortable feeling, “so I wasn’t worried about the price anymore”. Sam went on to explain that he also really enjoyed the concept of continuity in a customizable notebook. “I didn’t like the disposable feeling that I had to finish using one notebook and switch to another. Keeping the same leather cover that has been with me for so long and just switching out the refills was a perfect concept for my lifestyle.”

“Keeping the same leather cover that has been with me for so long and just switching out the refills was a perfect concept for my lifestyle.”

Sam’s journey with TRAVELER’S notebook started when he first entered university. The day Sam finally had the notebook in his hands, he found that not only did he acquire a new travel companion, but Sam described his TRAVELER’S notebook to us as a “mirror”. The stickers he uses, the notes he jots down all speak back to him and represents his true voice. Sam really enjoyed university for the next four years and elaborated that is was an amazing wandering journey. All the while he was logging his travels in TRAVELER’S notebook and he gets a real sense of how far he has evolved when he looks back and opens his notebook. While traveling around the world, he became more aware of the depth of photography and filmmaking, and through the encounters with various people, he truly discovered himself. “what I love to do, what I am good at. I do things with my free spirit and that brought so much excitement and joy in my life. It was TRAVELER’S notebook that has given meaning to such fluent days, and is an important companion who has been a great listener. TRAVELER’S notebook has also made me listen to my inner voice that was telling me that I should pursue the path to become a designer”.

It was TRAVELER’S notebook that has given meaning to such fluent days”.

During Sam’s tender at university, Sam studied very little and spent most of his time producing and editing movies with his friends. He would take long summer vacations staying in Australia and the UK for a few months at a time.“I like to jump into what interests me as I go. It was very pleasant to feel that my world was expanding”. At the end of his 4th year at university, there was a TRAVELER’S notebook next to him, filled with everything he experienced and felt on his journey. At any time, he can pick it up and receive feedback about his personal feelings.

Through a four-year wandering journey, I realized I was happy to create something along the way that will explain things about myself every time I interact with it.” 

As a hobby, Sam made videos and took photographs, but his major was in German and up to this point, he had never learned design. Being that he wanted a thorough understanding of design and really wanted to take it seriously, Sam decided to go back to university and study design for a profession. He sent his application to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. The major he decided to specialize in was advertising, which didn’t require him to present his portfolio. As a result, Sam was accepted, and this opened his path to becoming a designer. Sam says he was able to make the decision to re-learn at college, even at the expense of a large student loan. At the crossroads of life, Sam said he always opens the TRAVELER’S notebook and interacts with it to really understand his inner voice. If we all can ever take a moment to switch off all the electronics and just write the words that come to our minds in a notebook. Listen to yourself before you talk to others for advice. This will enable you to organically come to a convincing decision. “My journey with TRAVELER’S notebook will continue. No matter how many difficulties I may face in the future, I think I will be okay because I have my TRAVELER’S notebook. My answer always exists inside me. My TRAVELER’S notebook mirrors my present, links to the past and guides for my future self.”

“My answer always exists inside me. My TRAVELER’S notebook mirrors my present, links to the past and guides for my future self.”



Hsiu Chi Kuo (Sam) – Designer at interTrend Communications Inc.

Born in Taiwan in March, 1992

He grew up spending his holiday time away from school traveling all over the world in over 27 countries. When graduating from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, his main areas of focus were branding/identity, emerging technology, and marketing/campaign strategy. He is currently working at interTrend Communications Inc. as an unmediated designer that loves combining design & new technology to create magnificent end user experiences. Sam is an active contributor to the upcoming creative design community in Taiwan by teaching online courses and sharing his own experiences & knowledge to help the design community prosper.

Design Awards
2018 – 2nd place @ Young Glory 2017/18 Student World Champions
2019 – 1st place Cannes Young Lion Final representing Taiwan in the participating design category
2019 – 1st place – Top Writer in Design

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