December 18, 2014


Pratt Alumni Spotlight: Chiung Hiu Chiu


In October I had the pleasure of meeting with Chiung Hiu Chiu --who goes by Chiu -- an award-winning visual designer, art director and Pratt alumni. She has worked with some of the top design firms in the New York City in her career thus far, and after speaking with her, it is obvious she is going nowhere but up.

Tell us about yourself.

“My name’s Chiu, pronounced like a sneeze ‘Hah-chiu’. I love movies - I’ve seen Amelie seven times; I dislike diet food. I love music... all kinds of music. I am currently working on digital campaigns for multiple clients including Samsung and Converse. I like to draw and take photos of everything, everywhere.”

“I first came to New York in 2005 to travel and learn English. After spending some time in New York, I fell in love with the culture and lifestyle of the city. When I went back to Taiwan, I found myself missing NYC so much that I decided I needed to move there. While living in Taiwan, I was actually majoring in chemical engineering. I used to draw beautiful covers for the experiment reports, even though my teacher didn’t ask for them. I never really expected to move to NYC; it was traveling there in 2005 that changed my mind. I moved to NYC in 2006 to attend Pratt Manhattan’s Graduate Communication Design program.”

How do you think your Pratt experience has helped shape you as the artist/creative professional you are now?

“While I was at Pratt I took every class equally as serious - whether it was a design class or a theoretical class. I felt it was important to create work in every class.”

Here is some stuff I did while I was at Pratt:

Images provided courtesy of Chiu. Not for re-use.

“This project was about branding: you picked a company where you felt their branding failed and rebrand it. I picked the New York Sport Club - they have a logo but it doesn’t say anything about working out and it doesn’t inspire you. I noticed when people are working out they always make ‘Uh!’ sounds so I used that as an identifier. I wanted to develop a brand that would inspire people to work out. I decided to do a print campaign where I drew dumbbells and bars and cut finger holes into the pages so you could move the images as if they were real.”

What are some of the challenges that you faced as an international student?

“The first challenges I faced were the language barrier and cultural difference. I always felt discouraged by my communication skills; it was a struggle to clearly articulate concepts to people. I have ideas, but people don’t understand what I’m trying to say. Now I talk to my co-workers first to help me get my point across better. I’m still trying to learn how I can build up my language skills in a more efficient way. Cultural differences, on the other hand, are my nightmare. The culture I’m living in now is completely different than the culture I grew up accustomed to. Also, it’s challenging because as a foreign student when you get a job you have to ask for a work visa and employers have to pay extra to hire you. Most of my friends from Taiwan had to go back to Taiwan after college because New York is already very competitive and you have to get extra help as an international student.”

What is some advice you want to share with current Pratt students?

“It’s important to take every class equally as serious, don’t give up in smaller classes. Looking back, I regret not taking my first semester classes as seriously. My English was really poor the first semester, so the I spent more time figuring out what the teacher was saying rather than actually learning what was being taught. I kind of feel like I lost the first semester. By the second semester I started an internship because I didn’t want to waste any more time.”

“It’s also important to work on your own projects aside from company or school work. There’s one thing you can control - yourself. If you give yourself assignments you can do whatever you want and produce work that is true to your aesthetic, style and self. Most people think that doing work in your spare time is too much but you shouldn’t think about it - just do it! Just sketch and keep sketching and doodling and at the end you will see progress in your work. You should never think ‘What project should I do?’. If you think about things too hard, and you think about too many steps in a projects it will just block you. I draw whenever I can - it leads me to different places.”

Walk us through a day in the life of Chiu.

“Well, I check my email every thirty minutes, and spend about 20% of my day on Facebook. Unfortunately I spend a lot of my time in meetings, but when I’m not, I spend a lot of my day daydreaming and thinking about ideas. I also spend a lot of time doodling to come up with ideas.”

Here are some examples of Chiu’s ongoing doodle projects. You can check out the rest of them of them here: http://cargocollective.com/heychiu/Everyday-Doodles
Images provided courtesy of Chiu. Not for re-use.

Did you do any internships or have any work experience while you were at Pratt?

“As soon as I started going to Pratt I realized I shouldn’t just be a student but I that I should get a job as well. I got a part time job on campus being a lab monitor. My friends started doing internships and that made me realize that I should start looking around for one. Unfortunately, there weren’t very many opportunities at the time. My first internship was with MTV and it was SO COOL, however like many first internships, it didn’t pay. I did a lot of flash banners for the shows. I went there three days a week during the school year and completed the internship for academic credit. I loved the environment and the people I worked with. they ended up asking me to stay but with no pay so I started looking for other internships. While at MTV I got some great advice from one of my coworkers, they told me I have to build connections as a student. If you’re locked up in one place then maybe you’ll just end up there.”
“My second internship was paid working for Firstborn Multimedia. After that I worked for RGA - one of the top agencies in the world. They offered me a job after the first semester and I ended up working there for four years. I was offered a job while I was drawing icons for Verizon and my creative director saw my drawings and thought I was talented so they kept me. Throughout my time at Pratt I was constantly running between work and school. After being at RGA for a while I decided it was time for a change. I was given West Coast opportunities but ended up going to Shanghai, China to work for Wieden + Kennedy, the company that does all the advertising for NIKE. My title in Shanghai was Head of Design - I learned a ton about leadership.”

“After my experience at Wieden + Kennedy I knew I wanted to teach students how to build their portfolio because when I hired people, our recruiters spent very little time looking at people’s portfolios and interviewing them. You have to be extremely versatile. One time an employer asked me: “ Do you ever sleep?” I took that as a compliment. While in Shanghai I was never really able to get used to the Chinese lifestyle. I was still so in love with New York City that I decided I just had to go back. When I went back I had to start all over with getting a work visa, doing paperwork, blah, blah, blah. When I returned to NYC I started working for Razorfish (digital agency) but I didn’t really get used to it. Then I went to JWT (J. Walter Thompson) as a Design Director. I felt it still wasn’t a right fit, then one day I randomly ran into my old boss from RGA. We started talking and he offered me to come back since I wasn’t really happy with my current job. It wasn’t that I was sad about working at JWT, I just wasn’t completely satisfied with the work I was doing. So I decided to go back to RGA - and that’s where I am now.”

My time spent talking with Chiu gave me a great idea of what it is like as a professional after graduating from Pratt, and she has some great projects that she has worked on. To learn more about what she has done, check out these links:

Portfolio

Some work from Pratt

The on-going doodles

Photo Blog

CH!U® Daily Journal

Written by: Christina Nahas 

December 16, 2014

Inside Track into Industry: Publishing

It was a rainy fall evening and there was just a hint of sunlight left outside. Students and alumni were lined up to sign in and register with umbrellas in hand at the Student Union. The room was set up with 11 circular tables and at each table there were two to three employers, authors, art directors, editors and designers from different companies, including Entertainment Weekly and American Photography.
 
Inside Track to Industry: Publishing began with the strike of a gong. Then came Deborah Yanigisawa’s introduction of Rafael and Martha, who were the organizers of the event. Rafael explained the instructions for the night: “Whenever a question is asked, you ring the bell on the table”. The employers met with students and alumni to discuss career plans, share career stories, and provide information about the company they were there to represent.

A screen projected a live feed of the Twitter hashtag for the night, which was #PrattInsideTrack, and we found many tweets such as:

  • @Raphaelschnee (Sir Schnoopy): “Talking about book covers at table 6! #PrattInsideTrack”
  • @iamssih (Emily Faber): “Love learning about American Illustration at table 7!! #PrattInsideTrack can’t wait to learn about more industries”.

After 30 minutes, the gong was struck again and all the employers shared with the entire group the most interesting questions discussed at each table.

It was exciting to see different publishing companies all in one table with Pratt students. There were a good number of students at Table 4, who spoke with Michael Windsor, the Art Director of Penguin Random House, along with others from Time Magazine and Time Out New York. Table 10 had the chance to meet Kevin Brainard who studied at SVA and is now a designer for book covers, theatre posters and magazines (such as Living and Brides).  He discussed the diversity of his work: “We like to stay diverse and keep it moving… keep it changing”.

The gong was hit once again and Deborah asked the group to share the most interesting question at the table. The answers included:

  • “How we got started doing our jobs” from Table 2
  • “Transferring from a book to an eBook”
  • “Most effective way to get illustration work to an Art Director- if it’s monthly: call, if it’s daily: don’t call.”
  • “Is it normal to jump from job to job?”
  • “How companies are judging books on different scales, such as how it would do financially, etc.”
At Table 6, Ryan Fischer-Harbage (literary agent at The Fischer-Harbage Agency Inc.) and Thad Ziolkowski (author of the novel Wichita) asked students about their classes. This was a table I really enjoyed visiting, as there was a French vibe to it. They discussed the simplicity of writing, using quotes like this one from Blaise Pascal: “If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter”. They joked and conversed about subtractive methods in writing, stating that if you can say what you want in a simple way to do that, because less is more and simple is profound.

Other tables included Nick Nartorelli (Manager of eBook productions at RHPS Group), who discussed eBooks and noted how they are HTML language and how anything that can be done in an eBook can also be done on a website -- like animation, color, and sound. Another table got the chance to speak with Rhonda Schaller (author of Create Your Art Career: Practice Tools, Visualizations, and Self-Assessment Exercises for Empowerment and Success)  and Moses Gates (Urban Planner at AICP) who talked about writing and finding your audience. One tidbit I overheard advice to writers from Moses: “Don’t tell them you’ve written the whole book or ‘I already have the book done’ because companies want to be cooperative with the writing process”.

Table 7 got a chance to speak with Mark Heflin, Director of  American Photography & American Illustration. They talked about the student’s edition competition section of American Photography and American Illustration: “You can pick your best ten, or two pictures”. Check it out, as the deadline is in February - you can register here!

IMG_9196-1.jpg
Mark Heflin conversing with student

Someone asked Mark if he started as an illustrator, and his response was that he used to be a tap dancer and a singer. He then described the types of “survivor jobs” he has held. He explained what temporary (temp) agencies are and shared his story of how he started working for the office through one of those agencies and ultimately became director years later. I was surprised to hear that there are just two people that work at his office. It was interesting hearing about his position and what it is like inside American Photography. I will definitely be submitting my work to them, you never know if it could be, I hope you do too.

Our next Inside Track Into Industry: Public Spaces, will take place on Thursday, January 29th. Be sure to follow Pratt Success on Facebook for registration information, which will be provided closer to the event!

Written by: Jazz Seijii Hernandez
Photographs by: Jazz Seijii Hernandez

December 8, 2014

Gotham Tours: Makerbot

On October 29th, I got to be a part of our second Gotham Tour at MakerBot. We headed over to downtown Brooklyn where the MakerBot office was located. When we entered their office there was a gallery which included the first 3D printer designs and showcased some 3D prints that highlighted some of the many ways we can make use of a 3D printer. Two that stood out in my mind were the high heel shoe design and a frog dissection kit.


MakerBot Prototype 3D Printer

After walking through the gallery we entered their office space. Desks were filled with colorful toys and the sound of 3D printers was everywhere, -- it was like hearing a group of robots doing detailed work. Every desk was stocked with a MakerBot printer, and it seemed like they were all in use at the same time. We walked through the multiple departments -- the marketing team, the design studio, and the learning department, and they all had fantastic views of the city.

We were then led into the conference room where Matt Sung and Peter Ciccotto gave us a presentation of the different components of the company. Peter spoke to us about his role in user experience, making e-commerce easier, user research, design and prototyping. He indicated the importance of speaking to buyers in a language they understand, as there are ways to speak and inspire certain populations (such as schools).

He mentioned how at MakerBot “we try to be more emotional in how we speak about our devices” and how they consider “what’s the best way to convey this message” or ”what is the best way to tell the story”. Peter also mentions keeping track of buyers and taking into account what buyers are coming back for -- …”where there’s smoke, there’s fire” and that is the cue to get something started.

Peter explained to us that the replicator of the printer, which is an important part of the printer that serves as the heart, was not revealed in the website (or even given the option to buy and replace) until a week prior, but was a feature the printer has had for a year. He spoke about their process to make this information more visible to the user and gave some details as to the reasoning behind their website design for this functionality.

They then began to speak about the different factors that go into the presentation of a MakerBot store. They create 3D renders, plot out the color of the walls, typography, location of bathrooms and digital design in screens. It was interesting to hear all the dynamics that go into planning a store.

We asked questions about their professional journeys and how they started their careers. They spoke about the importance of summer jobs, internships and networking from their different perspectives. What struck me the most was the discussion on networking with your professors and getting them to remember you.

Peter stressed the importance in handing in your work on time since it shows that you are able to handle deadlines. You might be surprised to hear his story on how this (positively) affected his first job and the hiring recommendations he made. Note to self -- make sure to continue submitting everything in a timely manner!

It was an extraordinary experience as a student to get the chance to check out the MakerBot office. You can check out reviews of past Gotham Tours on our blog to see where else we have visited. We would love to hear from you to find out where you want to go for the spring semester -- let us know on our Facebook page or via Twitter!

Written By: Jazz Seijii Hernandez
Photography By: Jazz Seijii Hernandez