On 06, May 2012 | No Comments | In | By Cathy
In my time as a junior, I saw myself to be a very well planned person. I felt comfortable to follow the pathway that the majority would consider “true and usual”. So it might be quite expectable that my childhood vision was to become a lawyer, and my teenage vision was to become a businessman. However, with around 12 years’ full time working experience in design related fields I apparently have changed a lot since then.
Have you ever try to follow a pathway which you are not familiar with? When you go home from work, do you ever explore? Sure, it might take more time than usual, but occasionally you will find an unexpected surprise. By casting aside convenience and taking risks, we can achieve things we never considered or thought possible. This is why I love art and design. I believe that art and design must not be constrained by the past but need to follow-up on uncountable possibilities.
In my junior years from secondary school to early university, I had no doubts in the teaching style of my teachers: teaching as a circumstance of instruction taking place in a classroom. Teachers were responsible to push their knowledge into their students’ heads. Maybe my attitude was supported by seven years in a Band 1 school with good reputation, maybe it was caused by my family’s background: in any case I learned to “obey”. I remember though that I was rather jealous of a secondary school classmate who had excellent painting talent. At that time, I started thinking whether I could also be an artist as my future career. However, as I learned to “obey”, I continued to follow the “appropriate path”.
The story suddenly changed through a music contest in my secondary six year: I needed to create a stage design for the school music contest in the school hall. I do not remember how I achieved this with very limited design knowledge and skills (or I should say “zero” knowledge), but I remember the appreciation from teachers and colleagues for my design work!
I started working on design related jobs during my undergraduate study years (part time/freelance) and after my undergraduate study (full time). The first few years were not a particularly good experience – I was in fact one of the starving designers that my parents would’ve warned me about – until I started work for a fashion company, the “Design Shaolin Temple”. I was responsible for the design of ladies young fashion for a local fashion brand. At that point I didn’t have any fashion design experience, thus I needed to put in a lot of additional effort to succeed as a professional fashion designer and visual merchandiser. This experience proved to be very important to me not only because many of my designs were chosen by my boss, but also because he gave me the opportunity to display my work before the most important critics of all: the general public:
After this job, I developed my own methodologies to improve my design competence. Exploring undiscovered methods and paths requires self-criticism, self-assurance, and courage. I basically taught myself design by researching and combing through hundreds of design books, websites or even the environments around me. Through my own studies, I came to realize that design could not be learned without my own life experience too.
Today I work as a design educator at the HK Institute of Design. I do not have any particular passion in education, but I do my job well. Apparently you do not choose your job, the job chooses you.
I mainly teach students design and multimedia. In this context I had an unforgettable experience when one of my students told me that she did not want her work to be selected for an exhibition just because of her good efforts; she wanted her work to be truly outstanding. When I was listening to her reasoning, all the failures and difficulties I had experienced myself before seemed to suddenly disappear. This experience reminded me once again that design methodology and strategies are the key to success. Although self-motivation is extremely important, seeking the guidance and critique of others is essential to good design since others can find what I may have overlooked.
I have studied design, painting, drawings, visual merchandising, business, art, installation, multimedia, programming, interactive media, etc. Different teaching approaches, different instructors: every course of study has been an experiment. Study made me know that I love design/artworks/installations, and that there is always room for improvement. I love accident and multi-pathway in study!
By continuing my studies at the AVA I’m giving myself the opportunity to become more artistic and unrealistic as I realise that I am still quite commercial and practical. I trust something new will happen. Life is just like that, art is just like that.