Empowered by Design: Christy Bui, RTC Book Designer
on August 19th, 2021
When Orange County native Christy Bui was researching colleges in high school, she had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up. After all, Christy spent much of her time just trying to do well in school. She took AP classes and maintained exceptional grades. Christy was interested in many things. One of those interests was drawing, but only as a hobby. At the time, Christy wasn’t sure a job as an artist or designer would be stable enough for her future.
But sometimes, our talent leads us to exactly where we should be.
One day Christy stumbled upon the field of graphic design while researching the college her friend was applying to: the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM). As she read about the coursework, credits needed, and career trajectory, Christy felt a sense of knowing.
Graphic design seemed perfect. It combined visual creativity with practical application, two areas Christy excelled. But, this story does not continue at FIDM. Instead, Christy applied to and enrolled at UC Davis. In fact, she met her now-husband, Casey, during her freshman year. They live happily together in Orange County with their cat, Coffee Bean.
One might argue UC Davis was meant for Christy. Or perhaps Christy was meant for UC Davis. It was there she enjoyed classes in typography and information design. She learned how fonts work on the page and refined her affinity for the power of white space.
Another course that captured Christy’s heart and mind was a class in exhibition design. This class gave students the opportunity to design public spaces like the mock-up of a museum Christy and her peers developed. Plus there were fun field trips.
Graphic Designer Meets Book Designing
“A lot of designing was for the public good and public benefit,” Christy says. “That’s what confirmed it was the right direction for me. Being able to do work for the public good. That’s one of the reasons I’m still with RTC.”
With a sense of purpose and a newfound love for graphic design as a field, Christy started applying for freelance design jobs after graduation. However, college did not prepare her for the ins and outs of being an independent contractor. Fortunately, Christy’s search led her to an RTC listing for a freelance designer. She decided to apply and was granted the position. Now Christy has been with RTC since 2017 and worked on countless projects big and small.
“Book design is something I always wanted to do. I’m so happy to be able to do that,” Christy says. “My favorite design is from children’s books. I love illustrations. But I also appreciate the art installations we do.”
When it comes to book design, Christy begins her brainstorming process with pencil and paper before switching over to the computer to create more finite design elements. As she reviews cover concepts and author goals, the elements eventually come together like puzzle pieces on the page.
By the way, Christy enjoys jigsaw puzzles. She also loves crafting and making things with her hands.
In another life, Christy would probably be a dancer or Cirque du Soleil performer. She may be an indoor kid who loves playing video games, crafting, and watching Netflix, but Christy Bui was once a talented member of her high school’s color guard. She considered going pro after high school but would have had to pay tuition to be part of a professional drum corp. Instead, Christy chose to focus on college.
“I do like performing. It gets me out of my comfort zone. I’m an introvert, but I loved performing because of the music,” Christy says.
Christy listens to a lot of soundtracks but has an admiration for indie rock and instrumental music as well. In fact, she enjoyed performing so much that when her high school band director was in desperate need of a viola player, Christy stepped up and volunteered. She never played a string instrument before (and hasn’t touched one since high school) but had fun learning it.
Today you can find Christy working on RTC visions, blueprints, forms, and yes, book designs. The introspective and highly talented designer is both empathetic and compassionate when it comes to her work as well as her life. She’s humble, quiet at times, but when given the freedom to design, her intended message is loud and clear.
If you ask Christy if she has a favorite quote or mantra, she offers some words of wisdom we could all follow. Lately it has been, “Be kind because everyone’s doing the best they can.” But she also offers this piece of advice:
“Try to be 1 percent better every day.”