Kate Mao On Standing Out And Social Media Success

You know those people you lowkey stalk on Instagram, and because your friends don’t follow them (yet!), they’re like your own little hidden gem? Yeah, well for me that’s Kate Mao, a graphic design student who earned her way to being a minimalist style icon through her perfectly curated Instagram feed. She’s more than just good at styling outfits, though. She has some major brand collaborations – both in fashion and graphic design – under her belt, and she hasn’t even received her diploma yet. Keep reading to hear how she manages it all, her dream collaboration, and more:

Kate Mao
Via @kateemao

1. What is your occupation and what does a typical day look like for you?

I’m a graphic design student in my final year right now, so that means a lot of late nights and stressful days. I wake up in the mornings and make myself breakfast, make my bed, and listen to music. Then, I basically crank out work for the next five to six hours with a few breaks in between. I’m hugely food obsessed, so I also try to take days out of the week where I can visit local restaurants and markets in my evenings. 

2. What is your favorite project you’ve been a part of and why?

Not really fashion related, but I got a chance to create some large painted installations for a JP Morgan Chase and Co. building in New York last summer. Just installed the pieces recently this past month, so I’m pretty excited about that. 

Kate's work for Marine Serre x HYPEBAE
Kate’s work for Marine Serre x HYPEBAE

3. What would be considered a dream collaboration for you?

Anything with Rei Kawakubo would be a dream. 

4. How has social media been a successful tool with helping you to further your career?

It’s definitely helped me talk to people more–but even so, I can still feel shy or nervous around meeting new people. Also, I’ve been lucky enough to visit/talk to a lot of brands abroad, in cities like London, Paris, and Melbourne, which has helped me collaborate on items and products I didn’t even know existed. 

5. You work with a lot of fashion brands; how do you think your love of fashion and graphic design expertise make you stand out in the creative world?

I try to keep it natural as much as possible. All of my photos are taken on my phone, and I think it helps to keep up with any ideas and moments I’m experiencing throughout my day. I like corners, construction sites, pavements and random interiors I might find. 

6. What are your 3 favorite fashion items you own?

Sacai White Shirt, Nike Wintralia Sneakers and my Jil Sander black trousers. 

7. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Try everything once.

8. What Instagram accounts are inspiring you right now?

@reltubatokad @digitalf33ls @sacaiofficial

Really great people/accounts. I’ve probably saved half their photos onto my phone, and get a lot of ideas through them. 

9. Where can we see more of your work?

I’ve got a website (www.katemao.work) for any graphic installations/designs I’ve done. 

Cover Photo Via Kate Mao

Follow Kate here

Words by Kate Sullivan