At the end of the academic year, a graduating senior from each major is named the Outstanding Senior for that department. But sometimes, it’s hard to pick just one—as is the case in the Illustration department. Today in part three of our 10-part series, we interviewed senior Phong Nguyen (CCAD 2011), who was named co-Outstanding Senior for the Illustration department along with classmate Graham Erwin.
Q.) What was your proudest achievement while at CCAD?
A.) During my time at CCAD, I’ve had several small achievements here and there, be it getting compliments from a teacher or winning an award. But if I had to pick just one it has to be placing 1st and 3rd at the 2011 CCAD Art of Illustration Show.
I had worked really hard on the pieces that I entered and wasn’t going to be satisfied with anything other than 1st place. When Chris Payne (Dean of Illustration) called my name for 3rd place, I was happy but a bit disappointed too because I thought that meant that that was the highest I could place. When he called my name again for 1st place, I was in shock but extremely happy. I guess this was possible because judging is done per entry piece and not per student. I can’t help but imagine what it would feel like if I took the 2nd place spot also.
Q.) Describe a particular thing you learned at CCAD that didn’t make sense to you at first, but that you realized later “Oh, that’s what that meant!”
A.) In freshman 2D design, we were taught the idea of dominant, subdominant, and subordinate in designs. I had never heard of this before so I just went through the lessons. At the end of my freshman year when I began to work on more personal pieces I started to realize the concept behind what I had learned. It’s even more evident when I had to explain it to someone while critiquing.
Q.) How did you land your first “real” job?
A.) My real job is the one I’m currently waiting to interview for. I have a friend who works at a company in Boston called Tencent that makes online computer games. After getting back from winter break, I started looking around for possible places to apply to. As luck had it, my friend informed me there was a position available at Tencent for an “environment concept artist.”
For the next month or so, I ate, slept, and breathed environment concepts. Eventually when I felt I had a good enough portfolio, I sent the art director at Tencent an email. Got an art test. Completed it. Got a phone interview. Now I’m waiting for the onsite interview.
During this time, my actual school assignments suffered but I knew it was worth it. There’re two minutes left in overtime, I’ve got no more timeouts remaining, it’s time to make a BIG PLAY.
Q.) Do you remember a single point that made you sit back and say, “This is why I am doing this?”
A.) When I saw a picture of Craig Mullins working freelance over the internet in his house by the beach in Hawaii. When I talk to friends who are in college and still don’t know what they want to do, they tell me their biggest fear is settling into a field of work that they don’t love. I know I love art so making a living doing what I love is a great way to live.
Q.) Finish the sentence. I hope future CCAD students…
A.) Would not wait too late to start getting serious about their work.
Selecting just a few of Phong’s works was an incredibly tough challenge. Visit his website to see what else is available.
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