Tag Archives: student

Pre-departure Thoughts

February 5-7, 2017

What’s it like to leave everything I’ve known and loved for almost half a year on my own? I had gotten my acceptance letter to go on exchange at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia a few months ago and was finally leaving. There was a heavy mixture of excitement and nervousness the days leading up to my departure. Even when I was saying goodbye to some of the most important people in my life, it was only starting to hit me then that I was leaving for a while… It felt odd to utter sentimental words of a farewell because although I knew I would miss them, how was it possible to mean those words completely when I couldn’t even believe that I was leaving.

When I got to the airport and was ready to leave, it wasn’t easy saying goodbye to my parents without choking on my words. I was already missing going home to them with warmly cooked food ready on the table, having them listen to me talk all about my day, and open arms to embrace me in a hug. I also received a call from my sister and a friend before I boarded the plane, and it was comforting to chat with them during my last few moments in Canada. During the first half of my flight, I sat by the window, two seats away from a huge Super Bowl fan who exploded into cheers on the quiet plane ride at random moments and a seat away from a woman who had her earphones plugged in and a book in her hand during the entire flight. Tired from staying up until 6am the night (or morning) before with last minute packing, I slept through my flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles, staring down at the snow-covered Vancouver and then at the endless sky of blue in between fluttering eyelids – the views were beautiful. Walking from one building to the other to get through customs on my own was an experience in itself. I was surrounded by people of diverse culture and ethnicity – devout monks, nervous Chinese families, hippies in silver hair and unique wear, groups of black people, and CBCs like me. I wish I could have stayed in LA to explore some more, and I wondered where everyone was going. My neighbours during the second half of my flight from LA to Australia were an elderly woman traveling with her husband and also a soon-to-be international graduate student from Mexico. I slept for half the time and then watched one and a half movies – The Great Gatsby (which I absolutely loved!) and Interstellar. The plane ride was enjoyable. I was bursting with curiosity to find out what the other side of the hemisphere looks like! Yet, it also felt like the longest plane ride ever. I’ve been on longer plane rides before and I didn’t even have enough time to finish my second movie, but perhaps the thought of being faraway from home made the distance feel further… Holding a cup of apple juice in my hand and a glass of wine in hers, the Mexican girl and I toasted to studying abroad in a new country with expectancy and smiles, and before I knew it, I was looking out onto a wide, open field of yellow grass and scattered Eucalyptus trees.

Dear Australia, you have been my dream since the beginning of my post-secondary years. I’m here – with mixed emotions of fear, excitement, anxiety, and anticipation – but I’m finally here. Here’s to five months of adventure in a country that will become my home soon.

Finding my Career Path

When I was a young child, I was gifted a workbook that prompted me to draw what I wanted to be when I grew up. To this day, I still clearly remember the colourful butterfly I drew on that page.

Remembering the blissful days of my childhood when things were so much more simple and all I wanted to be when I grew up was to be a colourful butterfly one day. If it was only that easy. If only I could fly off, care-free and explore the world… No, I’m not a butterfly, but that beautiful butterfly I drew may have signified my exploratory phase into the beginnings of my career: venturing further into the world of visual arts.

Thus, I grew up to love drawing: something that had never ran in my family background. I would draw on any surface I could set my hands on (yes, I remember drawing on the headboard of my bed with a ballpoint pen) and I spend hours on the internet looking for tutorials when I was in middle school. My cute cartoons and illustrations became more detailed, attempting to replicate a photograph on a blank piece of paper. Realism drawings of still objects became hyper-realistic until people thought I had suddenly become a photographer. I naturally developed an eye to see the world and the spaces around me differently, converting the three-dimensional world into a two-dimensional realm in front of me. I thrived in it and it didn’t take long for me to find a sense of identity through drawing and sketching. Everyone around me was certain I was going to be the next Emily Carr. It seemed like I had my career mapped out for me after many long nights of practicing in my bedroom: my professional career path had already been set for me.

The last hyper-realistic drawing I have drawn to date. — March 2015

 

So it began: my senior year in high school and I was one of the handful of students who had gotten a letter of acceptance into Emily Carr University on the spot. This was what was deemed to happen my whole life by my peers. Was it fate?

Not too long after I received a letter from Simon Fraser University, informing me of my acceptance into their School of Interactive Arts + Technology (SIAT), I had to make a big decision. I had never heard of this program and didn’t know of any graduates or alumni from SIAT. I spent my whole childhood moving a pencil around on paper, was I really going to make the transition to digital design? I thought, and thought hard for awhile, but I sensed an urge to explore my skillset: where could digital design take me? At the end of the day, I followed my gut and took the leap into the realm of design. This period marked my transition into technology and design, pushing my sketching pencils into the back of the shelf.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know how to code and I only had intermediate experience with Photoshop. The summer before my first year in university, I spent hours and days going through online tutorials to learn as much of Adobe Illustrator and InDesign as I could. But I loved it. I loved that making a mistake was a simple and quick CTRL/CMD + Z to fix. Strokes and lines were so much smoother, cleaner and there was no accidental smudging — this was fool-proof.

Illustrations done on Adobe Illustrator for a freelance project — October 2015

Slowly, the time and demand I had for sketching decreased and since my second year, I have not posted a single photo of a drawing. Do I miss it? Yes — I can recall the nights when I was upset and drawing took me into a place of serenity, a place where my worries did not exist. It will still always be a part of me: when I brainstorm for my designs, knowing how to sketch is always at the core and every time, it brings me back to my roots — where I started and came from: pencil and paper.

Rough sketches for a game design.

I have made my transition from an artist to a designer and I’m not turning back.

– E

Check out my portfolio work!