Drawing inspiration from everyday experience as an aspiring graphic designer
For Open Campus student Mei-Ling Mirow, design inspiration finds her at every turn. From childhood influences to the motivations from peers and professors in the Parsons Summer Intensive Studies program, Mei is collecting wisdom to adapt to her graphic design goals and bring her career to fruition.
Want to hear more about Mei, her practices and experience in our Parsons SIS Graphic Design three-week course? Read on to learn more!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Mei-Ling Mirow. I am a fourth-year student at California State University of San Marcos, and my major is Arts, Media and Design. I was born in China and was adopted at 16 months old. I am 21 years old now and have lived in California my whole life. I have experimented in many different interests, including pole vaulting, singing, playing the piano and guitar, dancing, drawing, and basically anything and everything creative. I started drawing when I was about five and have taken art classes throughout high school and college. I specialize in ink drawings but also love the graphic side of art, along with photography, videography and graphic design. I work as a marketing and design assistant, working closely with clients to create packages that consist of posters, social media posts, photography, promo/recap videos, and swag items or pamphlets for events. This job has taught me so much and has given me so many amazing opportunities to really practice and learn more about graphic design, which is also why I decided to enroll in a Summer Intensive program at Parsons.
What are your creative and professional goals, and how has the SIS program prepared you for your next steps?
Some of my top goals are to work for Insomniac helping with marketing and graphic design strategies. Insomniac is an American electronic music event promoter business. They play a big part in some major music festivals including EDC, Escape, and Beyond Wonderland, taking care of ticket sales and creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all who attend. They’re also making sure they’re always able to give back to the growing community.
I also enjoy coming up with new ideas and ways that I can share these ideas with others in different forms like social media, product design, and visual art installations. I love being a creative director and hope to have a business of my own involving work within the creative community. I want to be able to travel and share with thousands of people. I truly believe that every experience is a learning experience, and taking these intensive classes is amazing because you get to immerse yourself in something that can change your life. The best thing about taking one class at a time is that you get to focus and really grow in one interest instead of taking 4-6 classes at a time, which doesn't exactly allow you to focus and soak in everything you can learn.
What are you most surprised by or proud of in your overall experience in the program?
I have definitely seen my skills grow because of the intensive course, spending five-plus days a week focusing on one thing. Not only have I learned a full scope of what I am being taught, but it’s motivated and inspired me to do more creative work outside of class. I found this to be surprising and wonderful— I thought I would be exhausted after class, but more than anything they motivated me to push harder and showed me that I can do a lot if I just stay focused. I honestly couldn't even pick a favorite memory or project because everything I did benefited my future and just bettered the person I am and will continue to be.
How have the relationships you built within the program helped to shape your experience?
The relationships I have made in the program are amazing because everyone around me is all so talented and creative in such unique and individual ways. The professors are so proud and really, genuinely happy for all of their students, which makes the experience even that much more amazing.
One of my professors, Gigi Polo, definitely influenced me through the Graphic Design 1 class I took with her because she would always listen to my elaborate yet still very doable ideas and would always be there to lead me in the right direction. Sometimes the best help anyone can give you is just by offering an attentive, listening ear! For me, just being surrounded by other people who are also working as hard and being creative is motivating because the environment matters when you're trying to really focus on what you're doing.
What projects did you work on in your class?
The class really brought me a lot more than just learning how to use Adobe software. I worked a lot on marketing, learning just how much thought goes into how something is marketed and for what kind of person, and how to do so in a way that not only captures the audience but means something more to someone. The class taught me that everything in marketing is intentional, and many might not know that when passing a poster on the street or seeing certain colors on logos, all of it is really thought out.
For the first project, I created a product that was a survival kit for first time ravers at a festival. For the next two projects, I had to create, brand, and find the “who,” “why,” and “how” of my product. Through these exercises, my brand really developed and changed throughout the process. It is now is something that I want to continue to work on and grow in the future, even after class has ended.
I also really enjoyed our third project because it gave me an opportunity to create a brand of my own. Little did I know that through that process, I actually tapped into something that I have always been interested in. I just hadn’t found my place in it yet, until now. I started "All Around Awareness," which for now exists on my website. “All Around Awareness” aims to bring awareness around several types of social initiatives, including cancer awareness, pride month, and more. As it grows,I hope it will be a place where people can go to find articles, volunteer opportunities, tips, and other people to connect with and learn from. I am still in the process of growing it and figuring out just how I want to make it work and what I really want people to get out of it. It’s just amazing to me that from this one project, I found something that I really want to pursue in the future!
Where do you find your inspiration?
Honestly, I ask myself this question every day. For me, inspiration comes from the experiences, conversations, emotions, and feelings I have and feel throughout the day. I also absolutely love the art piece "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymus Bosch. I also love the artist Dustin Yellin.
It’s kind of funny, but “The Garden of Earthly Delights” made me think of the “Where’s Waldo” books I loved as a kid. I would always look through them searching for Waldo, but would find myself admiring just how much was going on in them (I would also draw doodles anywhere I went, just a ton of random drawings that would inevitably all clump together like the “Where's Waldo” books). That’s the first thing that captured my attention about “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” and when I really looked at it, the more I really admired not just the style but what was happening in every inch of the painting. What I love most about that painting is the way in which it tries to describe the world, and how there are so many ideas and theories about our what it means. It’s really astonishing when one can present those ideas in such a unique and beautiful way.
As for Dustin Yellin (who was shown to me by my professor, Gigi Polo), I really admire his work because it also has that similar style I like. His work is enticing from far away, but it’s also, when you get close, so magnificent and full of life. I have been dabbling a little more in larger scale pieces and art installations, and most of Dustin's work is very large scale. I admire how he is still able to incorporate these amazing, small details, which I am so fond of and most of my own art is similar.
Do you have any advice for another student wanting to take a similar course in the future?
You could listen to every amazing thing I have to say about the experience and the program, but at the end of the day, you are the one in control of your own future, your own growth. Taking the first step might be scary, but what's scarier is not trying at all. You learn from your experiences, the good and the bad, and there will always be something to take away.
I plan to finish college this year, and then I really want to work for the music festival industry on marketing, creative content, art installations, and all-over creative event planning. I am also really excited for the future because I want to create my own brand having to do with awareness and travel, sharing knowledge and helping people.
Written for Open Campus by Casey O'Connell.