13 August 2012
Singapore trio kick-start their design careers
They are not officially RMIT University graduates yet, but Dickson Liew, Dorries Lok and Russell Teo are already celebrating the start of their design careers.
The trio, who will graduate with Bachelors of Design (Communication Design) this month, have all secured jobs with established and emerging agencies in Singapore.
All three undertook their studies in their home country through the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), which this year celebrates 25 years of transnational education partnership with RMIT.
Pursuing design has been a dream since childhood for Mr Teo, who recently began work as Digital Designer at Comwerks, part of US-based digital advertising agency Wunderman.
In coming months, he will undergo further training in Singapore and the US through Wunderman's apprenticeship scheme, Z Academy.
"I've always believe in works that tell a story and hoped one day I could reach people's hearts through my ideas," he said.
"When the director announced they were employing me, I was elated and relieved to be wanted - it's just as good as getting married, you know you're somewhat secure."
The approach to teaching in the Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) helped him develop crucial skills for his new role, Mr Teo said.
"At RMIT, we're trained in working in teams to generate concepts and ideas with given briefs, which is a typical day at work for me now," he said.
"In addition, people at RMIT came from many different backgrounds and professions so I've learned a lot within the program, through exchanging experiences and skills with each other.
"The culture of learning never stops, even when I'm at work. I believe that is important to surviving in the industry - you've got to constantly upgrade yourself."
For Dorries Lok, one of the biggest surprises of starting her role as a Graphic Designer at Hatch Design Consultants Pte Ltd was the size of the projects undertaken by the four-person firm.
"Small company doesn't mean small business!" she said.
"Our projects cover the range, from small brochures to exhibitions in the Singapore Asian Civilization Museum.
"I was really excited and very honoured to be selected for the role from among the other interviewees."
Ms Lok said the teamwork involved in RMIT group projects helped set her up for the transition from study to work, with one particular social change research project making a big impact on how she perceived her role as a designer.
"I approached a kindergarten to work on the project, which aimed to encourage healthy eating habits and hopefully make a difference to the growing problem of obesity in Singapore," she said.
"The project involved teaching the kids how to make their own fresh salad by following some simple steps and they were so happy and thankful at the end of the day, they even asked if I could teach them more.
"I learned that being a designer is not just about aesthetics - it's about design thinking, functionality, sustainability and changing behaviours that you think could help the community.
"Communicating effectively to the right audience is the most important role of being a designer."
Dickson Liew started as an intern at Mangham Gaxiola - a recently launched advertising agency headed by creative director Robert Gaxiola - before securing a permanent role.
Contributing ideas in brainstorming sessions, providing art direction and "lightening the mood during work" are all part of his job description.
"The biggest challenges have been meeting timelines, making an impression on the senior execs and trying to keep up with their pace as they are very fast and good," he said.
"I'm constantly surprised by my creative director's ability to work under stress and generate amazing ideas within short periods of time."
Having previously focused on digital design, Mr Liew studied at RMIT to gain more skills in print and communication, which have proven valuable in his current role.
"In my short time at work, I have already been able to apply much of the knowledge I received in the program, such as grids and typography," he said.
"I found the program fun and challenging at the same time.
"Though the deadlines were sometimes very right for our projects, that actually simulates what goes on in a real life agency, which I think benefited me a lot."
Bronwyn Clarke, Director of Programs in the School of Media and Communication, said she was impressed by the commitment and creativity of all the 2012 graduating students.
"The Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) is an intensive program and our students are constantly asked to push the boundaries in conceptual thinking for design," Ms Clarke said.
"It is rewarding to see the successful outcomes for our alumni, who have obtained exciting positions in Singapore and overseas with a variety of top companies including DDB, Deloitte, Possible Worldwide and BBH - often on the actual night of their graduate exhibition.
"Additionally, many of our graduates gain the confidence to establish their own successful business.
"Our alumni keep in close touch with their RMIT lecturers and their peers, creating a valuable network for the rest of their careers."
Graduation ceremonies for more than 2,800 RMIT graduands will be held at SIM over three days from 21 August.
A project promoting Singapore culture by Russell Teo.
Dorries Lok's "Penstrokes to Keystrokes" typography project.
A poster promoting Singapore culture, by Dickson Liew.
Russell Teo's series of hand-stitched fashion catalogues.
Dorries Lok: These books tell a story about someone who has a great interest in life. It contains test tubes and a booklet that explains about the concept behind these test tubes.
Posters by Dickson Liew, designed to encourage Singaporeans to travel to Australia.
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