Trust your gut that this is the right path and constantly make things! I felt like with each project I had to prove to myself that I had what it took to pursue design and be successful. I placed a lot of pressure on myself, which I’ve now realized only held me back. It made me afraid to try new things and trust my opinion. I wish I could tell myself that it’s okay to make bad stuff and have bad ideas, it’ll only lead you to the better stuff and then the even better stuff!
When I was little I used to spend days and days firmly situated on the couch, tablet in hand, digitally painting horses on GIMP as a full-blown horse girl. It gave me a glimpse into the satisfying feeling of making, as well as how strong and supportive creative communities can be through the forums I used to frequent. My first introduction to making through graphic design was a class in high school taught by the incredible Ms.Chang. We designed posters for various school performances, book covers for competitions, and explored animation. I fell in love with the iterative and visual problem-solving element of it all, and it was because of that class that I decided to pursue design.
Now I’m in my final semester at WashU, diving into my design capstone project about public domain literature. I’m incredibly grateful that my university offers us the freedom to explore any other interests that we may have on top of our design courses. I’ve taken classes from all over the school, from history to programming to marketing. I’m surrounded by other students with wildly different interests than me. My time here has taught me how interdisciplinary design can be and how many worlds it touches. It’s a field that’s constantly evolving—where we are combining things together in new ways and where we as designers are always learning. That’s what has really made me love it, and I hope to be introduced to new fields and disciplines through my work that I wouldn’t have crossed paths with otherwise.
Value and support your peers! I’ve learned so much from how my friends approach solving projects and the feedback we’ve given each other. It can be so easy to get stuck in repetitive paths of thinking and be in a mental bubble of your own assumptions and experiences. I found it valuable to burst that whenever I can and try to create new paths. It’s helped me grow in new ways and become more in tune with others, which is important since my work’s audience isn’t just me. At the same time, I’d say remember that your personal perspective is what makes your work yours, so respect and own your own voice and opinions while learning as much as you can from those around you.
Despite the fact that New York City is absolutely massive, I’ve found that the city’s design scene to be supportive and close-knit. There seem to be endless opportunities to get involved in the community, which I really appreciate as a student. I’ve greatly admired incredible NYC designers from afar in college, many of them rising to full-blown celebrity status in my head. Attending talks, events, and a conference last summer I had the chance to meet designers who I followed on Instagram for years, who wrote books I’ve read, and work at agencies I admire, as well as hear them impart their wisdom and experiences. I loved how approachable and friendly the community seemed, and despite still being a student, I felt like I had a space in it.
Overall, NYC is a wealth of inspiration and has an energy of creativity everywhere you look. People—designers, artists, musicians, business people and the like—are constantly creating, pushing themselves, and participating in the community, and it’s a wonderful thing to witness and feel part of. My dream list seems ever-growing. To name just a few, I greatly admire Base, Collins, Mother, Spin, and Actual Source.
Hopefully, all the work I’ve made now I’ll think is bad in some way, which only means I’ve grown and improved! I hope to better articulate myself and my ideas, to continue to constantly make and be confident in my abilities to do so, and to be part of a studio or creative practice where I’m always learning and proud of the work we’re creating.