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Interview with DCA Graduate Kevin Kwok

Designer Kevin Kwok

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I first dabbled in design when I discovered Photoshop in high school. Back then, I was interested in drawing and design but didn’t really consider making a career out of it. I went on to study Law and Business for my Bachelor’s degree—a total 180, I know. After I graduated, one thing I knew for SURE was that practicing law was not for me.

I explored the idea of working in branding/graphic design, but realized I didn’t have the right education and experience for it. That’s when I decided to attend the DCA program—with the goal of brushing up my technical and conceptual skills, and building a strong design portfolio.

What were your favorite courses and why?

Hmm there were so many! Off the top of my head, I really enjoyed Photoshop I with Hakon Engvig, Design II: Collateral Communication with Henry Mateo, Graphic Design Career Launch Pad with Pash, and ALL of John Beach’s classes.

If I had to pick one, it would be Design II: Collateral Communication because it was so challenging yet rewarding. The class was hands-on, practical and well structured. Henry helped push my logo, brand identity, and package design skills to the next level. I left the class with 2 solid portfolio pieces that I was proud of. The icing on the cake was being able to present our work to critics at an actual design office (for us it was at BMW Designworks). Thank you, Henry (and all my instructors), for inspiring me and getting me to where I am now.

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream design job, who are they, where do they work, and what’s the job?

I’m currently a senior designer at a creative agency called Wondros, and this wouldn’t have been possible had I not attended the DCA program. I’m also really interested in branding and brand building. So my dream job would be to work at well-established brand consultancy and design firms like Pentagram, Collins, or Wolff Olins.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

In 5 years, my goal is to become a Creative Director—either at an agency or in-house at a company that values innovation, creativity and design.

Great work, Kevin! We are wishing you every success.

You can contact Kevin at hello@kevinkwokdesign.com.

Recent DCA Graduate Interview: Felipe Farme D’Amoed

Learn more about Felipe, and the unique skill set he’s leveraged in his stand-out portfolio:

Tell us about how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

My relationship with design started with drawing while in class at school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Although I did that often, I never thought that was something I would pursue. After many years and different career paths I was introduced to design while working to create the visual identity and branding of the InvestEGGator, a 3D printed faux turtle egg with a tracking device. I worked alongside an Australian design agency who opened my eyes about how design really worked. That was the moment I decided to switch to what I love doing now, designing to tell a story. I knew about UCLA Extension through a friend and found the DCA program, which opened the doors for me to begin the transition to where I am now.

What were your favorite courses and why?

What I loved about the program was how gradual students were introduced to the techniques and eventually using them to express what they envisioned in their minds. It felt liberating to be able to hone the skills to put the ideas into a physical form. With that said, so many courses inspired me. To name a few, Design III: Branding, Package Design, Design II: Collateral Communication, Advertising Design and Designing Experiences were the most enticing to me by the depth of concept they relied on. These courses allowed me to focus on the message I wanted to come across and use design as the medium to attractively convey that. I believe these courses together with Publication Design were crucial to shaping me into understanding the world that Design has to offer in all its aspects.

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream design job, who are they, where do they work, and what’s the job?

That’s a tough one. I can imagine myself in so many different roles, but that’s what fascinates me. As I said, a job that would allow me to visually convey the message in a unique way to the end user would motivate me every day. This job would definitely be related to the environment and conscious consumption, teaching people in unorthodox ways about problem solving as a community. Unorthodox is where environmental design comes in, where the experience would shock and entice, giving the correct awareness to the issue in place. I am deeply motivated by plastic and ocean pollution, and conscious consumption. I would love to work in a place where this was the focus, as there is a lot of room to prosper and educate people about consuming the right products and services that bring us together and create positive social and environmental impact.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

Having my own business addressing social and environmental issues with unique experiences and innovative design that breaks the norm we unfortunately see very so often out there today. I would love to take Palo Audio further and use that as a medium to connect us to nature. I also want everyone in the world to have access to clean water. Not sure how yet, but I’ll get there. Let’s catch up in 5 years…

Thank you, Felipe. And best of luck with your worthy goals!

Interview with Recent DCA Grad: Xinyi Yang

Learn how recent DCA graduate Xinyi Yang combined a background in advertising with design skills in the DCA program, her favorite courses, and more:

Tell us about how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.
My background is in advertising. After graduation, I got a job in one of the tour operators as a marketing specialist. My daily job required me to do the design of newsletters and banners, which I hadn’t learned a lot in my school. I decided that it was time for me to improve my working skills. Friends of mine suggested to me to take design classes in UCLA extension. I am glad that I took the class and enrolled in the DCA program.

What were your favorite courses and why?
Typography and Design III: Branding. I always had the problem of choosing the typo in the banner. Typography class really helped me a lot with that. The professor of Design 3 is awesome. He always pushed us to improve and inspire our potentials.

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream design job, who are they, where do they work, and what’s the job?
I would like to be in the entertainment or gaming industry. To help them work on their products and branding makes me excited.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
I see myself as a product manager.

Thank you, Xinyi!

Course Spotlight: Code Literacy

Curious what you’ll learn in our new Code Literacy course? Instructor John Selig tells us more:

Why is this new course, Code Literacy, important for my design education?
There are countless advantages to understanding even basic programming concepts in today’s world. In many modern jobs, the difference between a good designer and a great designer is an understanding of not just how the product should look, or what it should do, but how the product will be built; there are synergies you can capitalize on, and issues you can avoid, by designing with an eye toward the technical details. Not everyone needs to be a developer, but anyone who works with one can be a little better at their job by speaking this language! And learning about programming can also help improve your logical reasoning, systems thinking, and sharpen your eye for detail.

Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?
Well, I’ll give you two! The first week, students will be tasked with a new spin on the classic “robot” exercise, where they’re asked to teach a robot how to make a peanut butter sandwich; it’s not as simple as you might think! But another project that I’m particularly excited for is a team exercise where students will work together to design a simple playing card game—first on paper, and then in code!

What will I take away from this course?
My main goals for the course are:

1. To reduce the anxiety that many people feel when faced with the intricacies of complex technical systems. I’ve taught hundreds of students of all levels, and this is a real thing: nobody likes to face something that they see as confusing and scary! But it doesn’t have to be that way!

2. To demonstrate ways that even a basic understanding of code can make your life easier, with real world examples including Gmail, JIRA, Slack, common computer tasks, finances, spreadsheets and much more.

And finally, 3. No matter what your background, I believe the skills, concepts, and tools presented in this class can help make you better and more effective in your career, whatever it might be. We’ve got something for everyone!

Thanks, John!

Enroll in Code Literacy today.

Interview with Recent DCA Grad: Laurie Racicot

It’s not hyperbole to say that design can change the world. Arguably no previous DCA student has better coupled top-tier design communication with a pressing social issue–in this case, the climate emergency–to enact change. We’re thrilled by what Laurie Racicot has produced in the DCA program, and by the role she will play in enacting climate justice.

Tell us about how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I’ve been interested in design for as long as I can remember. I believe it relates to every subject, every issue, every part of the world. So when I decided I wanted to create a career that could make an impact for good, it was a natural choice. I chose the DCA program for its amazing flexibility. I live in a small town and have small children. The options for challenging academic programs that fit into my life were pretty slim. I’m thankful that I found this program that let me build my skills remotely and on my own timeframe.

What were your favorite courses and why?

Typography II was one of my favorite courses. I had a great instructor and I really enjoyed getting into the nitty-gritty of how type communicates on the micro and macro levels. We got to refine letterforms and design magazine spreads.

I also really enjoyed the Publication Design course, which I completed as a mentorship because it’s not yet offered as an online class. It was fascinating to build a magazine concept from the ground up. I got to choose a subject I was passionate about, research the audience, and write a creative brief from scratch. Then I got to stretch my art direction, illustration, and typography skills.

I enjoyed Art Direction Boot Camp for the same reasons. I like the strategic thinking that goes along with writing a creative brief and doing all of the research that goes along with it.

And I can’t forget to mention Color Methodologies, one of the very first courses I took. I just really love working with color!

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream design job, who are they, where do they work, and what’s the job?

I have many dream design jobs at the moment, here is one: I would get a call from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or maybe someone at the Sunrise Movement, asking me to be Art Director for a campaign to promote the Green New Deal.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

I will be a freelance art director and design strategist with enough professional connections that I can choose to work exclusively on projects related to climate justice.

Congratulations, Laurie!

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