Young designers empower creative freelancers in Hong Kong

June
11
2015

As in all industries, the path to entrepreneurship in art and design is full of peaks and valleys. Motivated by challenges in their freelance careers, 30 Savannah College of Art and Design students launched a collective for young designers in Hong Kong. They call themselves "22nd century designers," or XXIID, and aspire to address questions facing up-and-coming artists and designers who work in diverse creative capacities – from graphic design and marketing to illustration and photography. With SCAD professor of advertising and graphic design Gianluca Cinquepalmi advising, seven XXIID members recently convened in Causeway Bay to fine-tune the XXIID guidebook for freelancers, which covers topics like pricing structures, contracts, and client demands. We sat down with them for a preview of this sorely needed resource, which will soon go to print, and to learn about their goal to unite the next generation of creative talent in Hong Kong.

SCAD: Why did you form XXIID?

Melissa Trias: I was tired of being pushed around with freelance jobs. Associate Dean of Academics Derek Black pitched the idea of creating a junior designers’ league, and we had one meeting where everyone discussed the problems with freelance work. Then professor Gianluca Cinquepalmi got involved. He thought we needed to produce something tangible. So we started as a club and it turned into a publication and design collective.

Gianluca Cinquepalmi: The idea of XXIID was to create a platform where creatives can meet, discuss, and improve. Our job and vision is to give tangible and reliable tools based on our knowledge and industry standard. We cannot cover every single aspect of it, but at least we can give some guidelines. I can bring the perspective of a professional who has dealt with and worked in the industry while looking at the real needs of the students.

SCAD: What are some of the challenges that you face as young designers in Hong Kong?

Trias: There isn’t an association for designers that we could join while still being in school, but we wanted to connect with other creatives in Hong Kong. We felt like we were being misrepresented in terms of value because people would ask us to do work either for free or lower than what we deserved.

That was one of the driving forces of starting XXIID. We deserve to be compensated for the hard work we have devoted to cultivating our craft. - Melissa Trias (M.F.A., luxury and fashion management, 2015)

Shann Larsson: When I first started doing freelance design work I didn’t know about contracts and what rights I had as a designer. With this design collective, we’re outlining things that are applicable to Hong Kong in terms of payment and your responsibilities.

Adam Newbold: It’s difficult to find a single source of trusted information. We’re trying to pull this together into a more accessible space, specifically geared toward young designers in Hong Kong and Asia.

SCAD: Is this resource something that is lacking in Hong Kong?

Newbold: There is the Hong Kong Designers Association, but we feel that younger designers are not represented very well.

Trias: In the U.S., there is AIGA, the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Their standards and ethics have been so functional. We have very valuable skills that we’ve acquired learning from professors who are experts in their fields. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be pricing our work at the correct salary.

SCAD: What artistic and design disciplines are represented in XXIID?

Cinquepalmi: I love this project because I had the opportunity to involve almost all of the departments in SCAD Hong Kong’s school of communication: graphic design, illustration, luxury and fashion marketing, advertising, video, and motion media design. It’s not only for graphic designers.

Newbold: This is the most collaborative project I’ve ever been involved with at SCAD.

Cinquepalmi: We aimed to enroll 30 students as active members of the development phase, and aim to increase by tenfold when we have the publication and the website done. We hope that with the content we have generated, we’ll engage around 300 to 400 students and have them signed up for our mailing list, so that we can tell people about the association, what’s happening, and eventually promote upcoming events.

SCAD: How will XXIID make a better tomorrow for today’s artists and designers?

Cinquepalmi: What is important for us to achieve is making the industry understand that there are talented, prepared designers who act professionally and there are not-so-prepared designers who don't act so professionally.

We need to work towards making it easily understandable to the industry the real value and worth of a graduate, different from somebody who just stumbled upon Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. There is a difference in professional attitude, ethics, and knowledge that we can transfer. - Professor Gianluca Cinquepalmi

Trias: The purpose of the publication is to equip our graduating students so they can go out into the world and be successful freelancers.

Cinquepalmi: The idea of XXIID is amazing because the industry needs it. There is a nice video of Lee Clow from TBWA Worldwide, which states we are treated as if we are doing our clients' laundry. He is the creative director of a preeminent ad agency, working with clients like Nike and Apple. If TBWA complains, imagine what other designers have to do. [Laughs.]

SCAD: What other content will XXIID share on the website and in the publication?

Newbold: One of the tools lists locations for working throughout Hong Kong, not only co-working spaces, but also cafés—secret spots that don't mind if you stick around and have plug-ins and WiFi.

Trias: Professor Cinquepalmi proposed a pricing wheel. When he pitched this idea, he said this would be the “freebie” to get people interested in the publication.

Newbold: Pricing in the U.S., in my opinion, is much higher than in Hong Kong. We want to know the average going rate so we’re not incorrectly pricing our projects, while still getting fair pay. The current plan is for the pricing wheel to be a web-based app. It’s a formula that’s been developed based on information we’ve gathered from various organizations and freelancers around Hong Kong, and the pricing standards they’ve set for their projects. You can plug in the type of project you’re working on and the hours you expect to work. It helps figure out an average going rate, so you can better price your work.

Trias: There are tools and resources that exist in the real world, such as Team Gantt, Basecamp, Behance, and BlinkBid for photographers. Knowing about these resources helps because we can learn the theories, but we need to know the industry standard. In making this publication, we not only get to use these resources, but we also get to share with our readers that they exist.

Newbold: We’re also creating descriptions on how to prepare a creative brief. And we're doing the same thing with contracting, so that you know what needs to be included.

SCAD: Do you plan to team up with students from other Hong Kong universities?

Newbold: In the future, we would love to see this grow into incorporating designers from different local universities and elsewhere.

Cinquepalmi: We believe as designers and as content creators that great content and great ideas survive. If we can create something worth reading and sharing, we can attract other universities.

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3 emerging designers to watch in Asia

June
4
2015

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.

Bianca Lesaca
Manila, Philippines
B.F.A., illustration, 2015
Salutatorian

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.”

Adam Newbold
Walla Walla, Washington, USA
B.F.A., graphic design, 2015
Valedictorian

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.

Sandra Dans
Manila, Philippines
M.F.A., photography, 2015
Excelsus Laureate

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.”

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The World Cup through the eyes of U.S. Soccer's lead designer

July
10
2014

Be it baseball, football, basketball or soccer, fans may think it’s pure sport that draws them in. But the electric atmosphere surrounding the World Cup, for example, is partially the result of the players' exquisite athleticism and partially the result of long hours put in, and deliberate decisions made, by designers like Savannah College of Art and Design alumna Emily Choate (B.F.A., graphic design, 2005), lead designer for the U.S. Soccer Federation.

The club may not have advanced, but thanks to Choate and her team at Stone Ward in Chicago, who have worked with U.S. Soccer for five years, feelings of patriotism, a shared sense of pride and adrenaline, still hang over the remainder of the World Cup games for fans of U.S. Soccer. You wouldn’t have known it by passing a pub on the day of a match, but the job of rallying a country and that kind of intensity behind U.S. Soccer, which typically plays second fiddle to American football, basketball or baseball, was no easy task. 

Choate's work touched every piece of collateral that one could imagine being associated with the World Cup, from ticket design and apparel, to email signatures, bus wraps, stadium graphics and bar regalia (i.e., posters and coasters).

Here’s Choate on designing U.S. Soccer’s “One Nation. One Team.” promotional and awareness campaign for the Men’s and Women’s World Cup, finalized in November 2013 and rolled out to the public in January 2014.

SCAD: What was the brief that you received from U.S. Soccer?

EC: ‘We need a more coordinated campaign across all our platforms, a unifying iconic statement and look that is big enough and simple enough to engage with all Americans during the world’s largest event.’

SCAD: How many people are on your team and what were their roles?

EC: We are a close-knit team of brand managers and creatives. Our intern, SCAD undergrad Jackson Bernard's (B.F.A., graphic design) first day was the first day of the World Cup. During the Ghana game, he worked fast and furiously with our brand manager, myself and the client and his team in the U.S. Soccer Federation social hub. He's with us for the rest of the summer.

SCAD: What considerations go into crafting a design for an event as visible as the World Cup?

EC: Especially for a World Cup year, you need to make sure your message and approach are invigorating within your base (existing fans, casual and hardcore), as well as a nation of potential new U.S. fans. What we found was that the campaign even captured the hearts of people all over the world.


SCAD: How long did it take to arrive at the final design?

EC: As for the overall design aesthetic and tagline, we worked with U.S. Soccer through various concepts, honing down to our final design for about two to two and a half months.

SCAD: Why is the design you went with – One Nation. One Team. - the right one for U.S. Soccer? How does it fit the brand?

EC: It’s clean. It’s pure. It’s American. It also connects fans and players interwoven on the same journey in the most simplistic way. There is a Women’s National Team, a Men’s National Team and Youth National Teams, all representing the U.S. One Nation. One Team. And the blue, white and red bands (also similar to the 2014 away jersey) always run through the entire width of a design piece, showing a united nation behind our colors.

SCAD: How is designing for a professional sports team different than designing for other brands?

EC: Preplanning and strategy are important. Having a good plan in place helps because you always have to be prepared to capitalize on opportunities when they come about. Sometimes you have six months to prepare for things, sometimes you have 20 minutes, and in the event of live graphic creation for social media during a game after a goal you have less than a minute or two to get something out to the fan base of followers that is celebrating that moment.


SCAD: How does the U.S. brand compare that of their opponents?

EC: We’ve seen a lot of club teams in the EPL that do design well. But on the country level, soccer is the number one sport among most other countries. They don’t have to do too much marketing or design to rally their countries around a team. In the U.S., where soccer isn’t the number one sport, you have to compete and promote a little differently. I think after this World Cup we are finally changing the perception about the world’s sport among many Americans. 

SCAD: How do you measure the success of the design?

I believe the best design is the kind you don’t have to tell people about. If it’s effective enough, people see it, are affected by it, and notice it on their own. - Emily Choate

SCAD: What else would designers or soccer fans find interesting about this campaign?

EC: To do this job well you have to separate your fandom and work. I love soccer. U.S. Soccer is my team. When it comes down to watching games or working at games, you have to put yourself into work mode so that you can focus on sharing an experience with the fan rather than getting lost in the moment as a fan. 

SCAD: When did you become a soccer fan?

EC: I played in high school. I became a World Cup lover in 1998 while traveling with family through Europe, and became a Women’s National Team fan in 1999 when they had their second World Cup win. I became a huge U.S. Men’s National Team fan during the 2010 World Cup. I can’t single out any particular player, it’s such a team sport.

SCAD: How does it feel to turn on the World Cup and see your work?

EC: Seeing your work on TV always feels good, but what’s really rewarding is knowing that the work is inspiring a nation and especially the team. It’s more about knowing that I’m part of the team that is working to show the Men’s National Team that a nation is behind them. We collected fan messages and have carefully placed them in locations on the Men’s National Team’s journey from training camp in May all the way throughout the World Cup. Whether it’s a quote at their training camp, in a stadium, in a locker room, or even inside the jersey, we truly let them know in a unique way that their nation was with them the entire way.

SCAD: Is this the job you envisioned yourself having while you were studying at SCAD?

EC: I wanted to be a graphic designer since I learned that it is a real career. When I went to SCAD, I remember one of my professors talking about a former student who was the designer behind the Super Bowl logo that year. I thought to myself, "Maybe one day I’ll be doing that." I know very little about football, but the magnitude of the Super Bowl is something I know very well. Now I’m creating graphics and helping strategize campaigns for the U.S. National Teams, which play in the world’s largest sporting event. It’s humbling.

SCAD: What’s the best design advice you’ve received and given?

EC: Received: Pick your battles. Given: Do what you love and believe in. It shows in your work and the people affected by it.

If that’s the case, then the hearty response of U.S. Soccer fans to their team’s World Cup run would seem to indicate that Choate has found work she truly loves.

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The evolution of an art and design education

April
25
2014

This week we've featured the reflections of Savannah College of Art and Design alumni in the Northeast, South, West and Midwest on their industries and the education that prepared them for their careers. We'd be remiss to not feature the faculty members responsible for helping to direct their paths. Below you'll find faculty perspectives on how SCAD has evolved to keep pace with, and sometimes outpace, the world of art and design. And like the students who once roamed SCAD's classrooms and study halls, so too have those locations undergone powerful transformation.


SCAD Museum of Art

What's the biggest change you've seen at SCAD since you began teaching here?

SCAD was the best kept secret in art and design education in the year 1990. Now it is a top tier university for art and design. I used to have to explain SCAD to everyone I met, now everyone I meet seems to have a story about some great experience they have had with SCAD students or alumni. 
-Tom Fischer, Professor of Photography, first year at SCAD 1990

There has been a lot of change, yet there’s something about the school’s DNA that has guided that change. You could relate it to comparing a young azalea to a mature azalea, in that the qualities and the promises inherent in the young azalea are manifested in the more mature plant. The blooms have always been there, yet now those blooms are expressed in a more elaborate array of instances, and they can be witnessed by many more people and at greater distances. They catch a larger spectrum of the sun. 
-Scott Boylston, Professor of Sustainability Design, first year at SCAD 1998


Poetter Hall

What's the most signifcant change that your field has seen since you began teaching at SCAD?

Graphic Design is one of the fastest changing industries, so the constant change of our curriculum is extremely important. Our seniors produce responsive digital publications and websites for their portfolios; they breathe new technology like air. Some of these cutting edge portfolio presentations can be seen on the Atlanta Graphic Design blog, and if you are only familiar with the old style portfolio presentation, you will be blown away. 
-Henry Hongmin Kim, Professor of Graphic Design, first year at SCAD 2004

SCAD students have always been outstanding in their eagerness to learn and excel in their majors. They are a pleasure to share knowledge with. 
-Judith Ott Allen, Professor of Art History, first year at SCAD 1986


Maisson Basse

How has your work to prepare students for careers in art and design changed?

Over the past 4 years, I have noticed the increasing importance that internship opportunities play in providing real world experience for students at their entry point into art careers. It has lead to impressive positions at colleges, public art organizations, the film industry, and museums. We are focusing on impressive internship opportunities more than ever and fitting students into compatible internships that successfully lead to jobs. 
-Susan Krause, Professor of Sculpture, first year at SCAD 2000

On some levels, I’d compare design for sustainability in 2014 to web design in the early 1990's. I remember well the days when businesses considered web design first as a fad, then as a necessarily ‘evil,’ then as an essential core to their business success, and then finally to ‘if you don’t have a website, you’re out of business.’ Sustainability is following a similar path, and so teaching sustainability has gotten a little easier since we started the program 5 years ago because we spend less time justifying the discipline and more time celebrating its successes.
-Scott Boylston, Professor of Sustainability Design, first year at SCAD 1998

 


Norris Hall

Is there one student you've taught whose work you are particularly proud of?

I would have to say that one of my former SCAD Savannah students and now my current supervisor, Associate Chair of Animation, Matt Maloney, might be the best personal story for me. Even as a student, Matt was always an outstanding artist, animator, filmmaker, and film historian and is only more so today. Over the years I think we've learned from each other and the fact that he is now an outstanding professor, department leader, and colleague is a really beautiful thing. 
-Becky Wible Searles, Professor of Animation, first year at SCAD 1999

It's hard to pick one, so here's a few: Chris Schweizer, Jackie Lewis, Hunter Clark, Doug Dabbs, Cara McGee, Justin Wagner. These are all alumni who have gone on to have some amazing careers. I am constantly impressed by my current students as well.
-Shawn Crystal (M.F.A., sequential art, 2001), Professor of Sequential Art since 2006


Student Center transformation

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