college has been a good thing, really


I had this discussion with my sister a little while back, but the topic just dawned upon me again earlier today.

How big of a difference did higher education make on my life?

While it would be hard for me not to make a fool out of myself by saying this, I want to admit that I walked out of high school thinking pretty highly about my abilities at the design craft. But the actuality was that I hadn’t seen enough and hadn’t known enough. I was, quite frankly, blind. Ignorant. Dumb, even. I still remember the first few “portfolios” I sent out to internship opportunities towards the end of high school – what a joke! Not only was I bad, but I had no knowledge of the rules or even the game itself. I hadn’t even the very fundamental necessities of the Principles of Design, taught to me during my very first college term. With this in mind, I asked my sister, who currently attends the same art high school that I did, if she had ever gone over these principles in any of her classes. The answer was no. I thought so. To me, it is almost sin not to reinforce these ideals very early on in an artist’s career. The lack of nurturing in this category left a huge blind spot in my design sensibilities. I get that my old high school had a great focus on the fine arts, but the design principles are largely universal and can be applied to anything, from fashion all the way to architecture. Sure there are exceptions, like artists with natural-born talent or “the eye”; but the bottom line is that even they, subconsciously, follow a latent formula that can be, and has been, broken down to a mathematical science. Last week, Michael Hanson, the infamous bad ass teacher of our school, gave us two short lectures, one on the principles of color theory and another on the Fibonacci spiral, during our Graphic Design History class. My mind was blown for a bit – all the formulas made complete and absolute sense. Furthermore, he went back through the lecture and pointed these out, case by case; all of the mentioned principles had been applied to age-old (and famous) art work. The one quote that Hanson gave to me and has adhered to my subconscious all these years is as follows:

“You can’t break the rules if you don’t know them.”

The honest truth of great art is that it breaks rules. However, I will oftentimes see artists try and go for the easy route by choosing a style that is more convenient to execute or less intensive, resulting in a half-assed product that manages not to appropriate, but transmogrify instead. If you don’t understand the roots of the style you appropriate, then your work becomes nothing but a mockery. Only through knowledge can you take what you see and apply it thoughtfully. This is what college has taught me: knowledge really is king. And thus I’ve found myself, more recently, hungry for knowledge, culture, and a deeper understanding to give my work a level of depth previously unexplored. Know the fundamentals, apply the fundamentals, then break them. Follow them and let them guide you, but do not be bound by them. So yes, college taught me tons of things. Get learnt.

Now, for some completely off-topic pictures !

Jay Chou

Jay Chou in Hip-Hop Stewardess (嘻哈空姐) - I've been back on a Jay Chou thing recently. His music is honestly just so-so, but I like a lot of his slow songs. It's funny that Chinese artists often take the successful formulas of America (including auto tuning lol) and bring them to the more conservative eastern culture. I'm really waiting for the day that the Chinese come up with their own style, especially in graphic design. It'll be groundbreaking, I hope.

Yi Yi

Yi Yi (一一) - Since I've recently been on a Chinese culture spree, I watched this movie and was pleasantly surprised. It definitely made my top 5 movies of all time. Yi Yi finds the profoundness of human experiences through a very captivating narrative. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Venom Action!

Venom (GGXXAC) - As drawn by my good friend Cory Tran (and colored by me). If you guys want to check out his web comic, head over to and check out Chaos Sword!


Last but not least, LA enters the talks of the Carmelo Anthony trade. Will it even be a possibility? And even if it was, is it a good idea? Many questions, though John Ireland believes it'll all be answered before the week is over. Strike while the iron is hot!


One Response to “college has been a good thing, really”

  1. I need to to thank you for this very good read!!
    I definitely enjoyed every bit of it. I’ve got you book-marked to
    check out new stuff you post…

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