Today marks the end of another semester, and with this I wanna do a recap so I can put this chapter behind me. Funny how this sems feels like its over even though I still have 3 more papers to go.
It’s such a strange semester because it passed very fast, but yet it took so long to pass this fast. Feels like a complete contradiction isn’t it?
So many things happened in this semester.
• Obscured Exhibition
• Revamp of ConnexSCIons
• Esplanade’s Huayi Project
• Toh Kian Chui Bursary
• PI Internship application madness
• Guest lectured for the first time (as in, me being the lecturer, on Typography to a COM232 class)
• School work and life
Essentially I did more things in this semester than the last two combined. In return I was banking on the fact that the exams will be a breeze. And I kinda intend for it to be as such. For example, the 429 portfolio I have already submitted today. While I know I have all the way till 22 Nov, I wanted to get this over and done with, and I know that I can live with the results and the work I have done. In a way ever since I came back from exchange I knew this part of me has changed forever. Results and grades, they are just what they are. So while I am proud of what I have done for the mod, I know that I probably won’t be among the best in grades, and yes, I can live with that,
Which made today all the more special. Today I would have received all the assignments back from Tim, and boy was I surprised when he went, “At the top prize goes to…” And viola I saw my own Google self-promo ad up on the screen in front of the entire class. To be honest that was what I had secretly hoped for since the 1st lecture, for my work to be chosen and celebrated. And after a while I kinda resigned to the very plausible fact that it won’t be the case. But it wasn’t a negative emotion; it’s more like some sort of peace knowing that it’s better to not aim for that kind of recognition anyway.
But ironically when I did my portfolio submission, I redid the Google ad. Yes, meaning that the A grade Google ad didn’t make it into my portfolio anyway. I must confess for a split second that perhaps I should go update that into the portfolio, but I knew I wouldn’t.
I redid the self-promo ad into a series of ads for a bid at Taiwan High Speed Rail. Of course, it’s as fictitious as the bid for Google, but its more realistic given that that desire to return to Taiwan was at least real enough.
Even all that has happened in this semester, I just long to do something meaningful, for myself, instead of satisfying clients’ whims. It’s a part of me that just wanna fuck the world and self-indulge in myself and my dreams for once. Regardless the grades obviously. None of the items in my portfolio are A grade assignements. I’m lucky to have an A grade assignment now, but grades are not the most important thing anymore.
The common theme amongst all the ads in my portfolios are that they all took me quite a substantial bid of time to conceptualise. The Google ad was whipped up in 30 minutes. The point is I’m just not as vested into the Google ad compared to the 5 pieces inside my portfolio. And since I was no longer concerned about grades I had all the freedom to do what I truly wanted to do. And that, my friends, is truly liberating. And yes I can live with that.
Obscured was something I never thought I would do. But what I never did is done. The first time my work is one the public stage for people to look, gawk, scrutinize, criticize, pander, ponder. It was really unsettling a thought, but on that day I felt like a proud father looking at my children. None of the work was for a commercial client. Everything was of my brain, for people that mattered to me. If you design something for your client, that idea might be yours, but that product is the client’s. It’s with personal projects that I can really consider something truly mine. And because it’s mine I can live with that imperfection.
ConnexSCIons was something that started off as an afterthought; I wanted to redesign the magazine. Managing interviews and schedules was something I had to learn to do as well. I thought I knew enough, proves that I still have much much more to learn. Though instantly the next internal reaction was to say: who am I to redesign the magazine? But I did anyway. I used two weeks to come up with a concept that I would find decent and befitting of the content it contains, something that is elegant and uncluttered. My challenge was to elevate the level of design yet make it simpler and more flexible, more sustainable in the short run; it needs to be easily replicable and take on various forms, without losing its own identify or overly asserting it. The end product will be out in December, and I’ll be looking out for it.
To be honest I was half hoping Esplanade won’t call me, but they did, and it was in the thick of settling the Cnx work. But I knew it was a God-given opp and I had to take it head-on. What followed was weeks and weeks (and still on going) process of ideation. Due to embargoes and all I cannot comment on specifics, but I’m truly excited for the line-up and there will be at least one group that I want to go listen to. It’s a blessing to be able to listen to the music of an artiste while designing for them. It’s an honor, the crazy load not withstanding. And with a new client of course I get to learn how the commercial work works. Definitely an eye-opening journey with Huayi.
Professional Internship (PI) was another rollercoaster journey as well. I wanted to go to TBWA pretty badly at first; I thought God would open that door eventually, so I held faith to the end, all the while putting all the other rejections away at face value, though they all eventually came back to bite. I mean, who wants to be rejected 5 times anyway? But on the second phase, I went to OMD, and felt the good vibe. But reeling from 5 rejections in my belt I was more a realist than an optimist. I asked the interviewer (who is a very nice lady), when her company can give a response to I can know what to do (instead of mindlessly waiting and then get rejected and wait again — the sem was really eating into me then), and the next thing I heard was amazing.
“I’ll confirm you now. See you in January!”
That was the best moment I had in a long while. An interviewer who printed out my resume in color and looked at each line. She asked me about my faith, why I liked to write Chinese poems, noted my INFP personality, asked about what ‘social literate’ meant. I talked about some experiences studying the voting behaviours behind the Weetee competition when I was the marcom. Those things. And at no time did she ask about my designing capabilities. She wasn’t interested in what I could do, but more into me as a person. I thank her for that.
I am also grateful for the TKC bursary. Even though the blessing didn’t flow the way I expected it to; it is no way taking way the fact that God has blessed, and I’ll learn to be grateful.
I admit that this semester is so inundated by Huayi and ConnexSCIons that general school work, its projects have all taken a peripheral role. I can’t make everything my priority; I just hope I put in my sufficient best in school.
And now that the semester is officially over (what exams, anyway?) I just wanna wind down slowly and just continue breathing. Huayi is well on its way and I foresee the road ahead to be much much better than the one I travelled just a month ago.
There is still work. Exams need to be preped. Huayi needs to be completed. Body needs to slim down from the binge of eating through the sem and lack of sufficient exercise.
… and the best part is….
I think I can live with that.