I am currently studying at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and I plan to graduate this summer. Prior to Art Center College of Design, I went to a magnet high school named Advanced Technologies Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada where they offered programming areas such as law, architecture, design, so I was doing graphic design since then. My first job was an internship at a global branding firm named Lippincott in New York city and I did a lot of branding and design projects for corporate clients. Right now, I am interning at Pentagram in the same city. On the side, I am also doing design and branding works for several startups that are based in Los Angeles, Canada, and South Korea.
I think internships can have a drastic impact on students before graduating. It can be used as an important guide for us on how we set ourselves up before graduating. Doing internships widens your perspective on finding the right fit when you do enter into the workforce and I think it will get harder to live happy as a designer when you don’t land on a job that has a good fit for you. It’s less about technical learning and growth, but more about yourself as a working professional when you actually do go out there. It becomes less about design and more about life itself. I think most of design students value design over most of other things and that belief gets pushed back a little bit too. For those who plan on doing internships in the near future, I would suggest them to go to places where the design market is relatively big, such as New York or San Francisco. I think getting out of school to get experience in the big cities is a life-changing experience for a young designer.
My must-reads are Design Observer, 2x4 Ideas, and Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design by Michael Bierut. Design Observer has a lot of critical and philosophical articles and podcasts on graphic design. Some of them are not even related to design, but they definitely can give its readers new perspectives and way of thinking. Plus, they are written by some of the most bright minds in the industry so they can be persuasive, so it generates questions and makes you think more deeply about what you do.
2x4 is a global design firm and if you go into their website, they have a page named “Ideas" where the founder of the firm, Michael Rock posts writings on design. He has been doing this since 1989 and it’s still going on so he writes about what he sees today. I think writings like these have more periodical relevance to young designers than reading about design history books.
Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design is a book written by a renowned designer named Michael Bierut. Surprisingly, this book doesn’t have any image and some of its contents are not on design, but that’s what makes this book so good. The author talks about his personal experience and thoughts on design. Some essays will give its reader new sets of eyes to see design and they are fairly entertaining, but can also be very thought-provoking. In my opinion, any book on design with only words are all great to read.
Since my freshman year at college, I met a group of friends who were doing a magazine project outside of school named Vidi. It was a gathering for us to get better on designing, but also to have fun on the way. One time, I had to run around in the desert of Joshua Tree in California only in my underwear, socks, and hand-painted canvas mask for a photoshoot to generate some contents for our magazine. I remember seeing the shocked faces of drivers who were passing by and there was another traveler who stopped to take professional photos of me throwing a dead fish and pole-dancing on a cactus. Looking back, I think I was full of passion to get my hands on anything to design and have fun with my dear friends. The magazine is still going on and we hope to make it bigger as time goes on.
I wasn’t the one who founded Vidi, but me and one other person are the only permanent members on this team who stayed until now. My partner’s name is Phillip Kim and he is my roommate right now, interning at 2x4. We have two temporary members and they are Elbert Tiao from Google Creative Labs and Sammantha Kim from Mother Design NY. We are all designers so our responsibilities vary only slightly. I am doing more writing and coordinating whereas Phillip does more idea conceptualizing and form-making. Elbert brings more insights about UX/UI while Sammantha does more art directing, but at the end of the day, all of us are designing. We are trying to bring insights and expertise from various top companies to combine and create new and exceptional designs and experiences to people and communities around us. I love them because I can always trust that they will work hard and lift each other up for a long time in our careers.
Don’t sell yourself short and as long as you work hard to fulfill your career goals, I think anything is possible no matter how high you aim because graduating from school isn’t the end. All of us will go out there and continue to grow and learn with our loved ones and cherished friends.