In celebration of Savannah College of Art and Design’s second graduating class in Hong Kong, we’re spotlighting three soon-to-be alumni in illustration, graphic design, and photography. These graduates are the honored salutatorian, valedictorian, and excelsus laureate of the SCAD Hong Kong Class of 2015. Their achievements, both academic and extracurricular, undoubtedly prove they will lead distinguished creative careers. Keep an eye on Bianca Lesaca, Adam Newbold, and Sandra Dans as they plant roots in Asia and cultivate their talents.
B.F.A., illustration, 2015
People are hungry to absorb stories in Asia. They just don't know it yet because only one kind of creative food has been fed to them. They don't know there is a new, different palate. —Bianca Lesaca
Bianca Lesaca seeks to design imagined worlds that leave lasting impressions—and she’s off to a great start. In 2013, Lesaca was part of a winning team of SCAD students who designed and pitched a new attraction for Hong Kong Disneyland as part of the Disney ImagiNations competition. Their concepts, based on Peter Pan’s Neverland, won her a summer internship with Walt Disney Imagineering. A year later, Lesaca collaborated with sequential art classmates on the redesign of Ocean Park’s animal mascots, as well as story concepts and the proposal for a new character. But Lesaca dreams of one day telling her own iconic story and building a new imaginary universe, one that rivals J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. “Knowing what I can do with video game or animation concept art, I can create my own world,” said Lesaca. “It's very empowering.”
While completing a bachelor’s degree in multimedia arts, Lesaca came across The Fundamentals of Illustration by Lawrence Zeegen. At the same time, she was captivated by the illustrations of James Jean and Ayakato, struck by the endless applications of their artwork - from window displays to fashion runways. “With that inspiration and the impetus from the book I read, I wanted to explore it further,” rememebered Lesaca. Upon graduating, she enrolled in a summer residency for illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. It was her first visit to the U.S. where she experienced an invigoration of creative energy. Lesaca ultimately chose to pursue an illustration degree at SCAD Hong Kong rather than staying in the Big Apple. She explained, “Hong Kong is actually just as busy, bustling, and vibrant as New York. Because Asia is an emerging powerhouse for the creative industry, I wanted to be a part of it.”
Before attending SCAD, Lesaca wasn’t interested in designing characters or environments, and yet she was drawn to the multidisciplinary development process of concept art. “It’s world-building,” she said. “I definitely want to tap into the concept art industry and be an in-house studio artist. That's something I plan on doing when I go back to Manila.” Lesaca sees her visual narratives as a way to connect with like-minded creatives and art communities around the world. “There are stories and realities that are happening here on the other side of the world that go unheard. It’s worth telling them.”
Walla Walla, Washington, USA
B.F.A., graphic design, 2015
Graphic design is not just about making beautiful things you want to make; you’re making for what people need. —Adam Newbold
Adam Newbold has a less-is-more approach to graphic design, and is driven to connect with communities through design and social service. More importantly, positively impacting people’s lives and experiences is his deepest passion. For example, he found a YouTube video that features a low-cost design solution for schools in rural India that lack desks. “That’s what I would love to be a part of—making a real difference using design,” he said.
With a love for travel, Newbold came to Hong Kong by way of the U.S. In his opinion, “Going to Hong Kong or Savannah was in theory the same distance. If I’m on the other side of the United States or the other side of the world, it’s still the other side of somewhere,” he observed. What attracted him to Asia was the idea of being totally immersed in a major international city—not to mention the reputation and global reach of SCAD. This allowed Newbold to build relationships with a diverse set of contacts using the universal language of the arts.
Outside of SCAD, Newbold started coordinating community art projects for the Make It Better program as well as for The Sovereign Art Foundation, both arts charities focusing on disadvantaged children in Hong Kong's Sham Shui Po. He has also volunteered with Society for Community Organization and mentored two Cantonese boys. “We don’t even speak the same language, but we make it work,” said Newbold. In addition, he has gained valuable insights behind-the-scenes of higher education through assisting in the office of student success and serving as the president of the United Student Forum at SCAD.
All of these experiences have contributed to Newbold’s heightened interest in teaching. “I love helping other people, and being able to take my knowledge and experience and give it back to someone else,” he noted. Yet Newbold envisions merging his love for graphic design and education with his culinary hobby. “I would enjoy owning a place where I could do all of the above: teach kids how to bake and cook, and design the materials to promote it. That would merge all of my passions,” he said. The possibilities truly are endless given Newbold’s creative talents and positive attitude.
M.F.A., photography, 2015
I've enjoyed delving into the fine art aspects of photography and using it not just for commerce, but also for its ability to transmit ideas and allow concepts to take form. —Sandra Dans
Sandra Dans is SCAD Hong Kong’s first excelsus laureate, the highest honor given to a SCAD student at commencement. Dans has practiced photography since she was 17-years-old and has worked professionally in the field for the last six years. She decided to pursue an M.F.A. not only to hone her craft but also to mentor young Asian artists through higher education. “I want to work with Filipino photographers and help them make informed art decisions,” she explained.
While studying at SCAD Hong Kong allowed Dans to develop “an international perspective,” it kept her connected to the Philippine art scene. “Whenever I'm back home, I partner with the photography organization at the University of the Philippines Diliman for workshops. I really enjoy the discourse,” she said.
Her visual conversations—the obscure stories in photographic imagery—share narratives of underrepresented voices and document issues of gender and identity. According to Dans, “It’s now suddenly very important that Asians, and especially Filipino artists, make themselves heard, and that we allow ourselves to have voices in a very western centric art scene.” She has also explored more commonplace concepts such as “selfie culture,” and created a series of saintly self-portraits for her thesis.
Besides teaching, Dans desires to establish an artist collective as well as a museum-quality printing business, thanks to an internship at Widerhall Fine Art Photographic. She sent her résumé to Widerhall on a whim and founder Jacqueline Furniss responded immediately. “I learned a lot about the technicalities of producing photographic work,” said Dans. This experience played a big role in shaping her personal art practice. “In the darkroom, print quality becomes very important. You learn to know all of these things about how prints are made and what they should look like,” she said. “My eyes are just a little more sensitive now.”