Storyboard: Pearlyn Lii

What do people do in difficult times? They invent their way out of it.

My parents grew up in a very rural, underdeveloped part of South China. In fact, they even met in the same village. They were young and in love, though there was always the question of where the next meal would come from, or how they would make it through the next month. Life was difficult, as it was for many people of their generation.

So, what do people do in difficult times – when they’re left with nowhere to go and their options seem to be running out?

They think. They create. They strive and push forward so that they may see a better day tomorrow.

I knew I wanted to be a designer – I just couldn’t put what was driving me into words yet. I vividly remember playing on my parent’s old Windows 95 desktop, tinkering with basic programming code in order to visualize the patterns that made sense in my head. That was my sandbox as a child – my place to experiment.

My inclinations towards problem-solving led me to ArtCenter. I remember coming to ArtCenter and it feeling like the best-kept secret in the world. It was this verdant gem of a school, tucked away in the gorgeous hills of Pasadena. Not before long, my idea of what ArtCenter was began to change radically.

My time at ArtCenter helped foster the vision of adding to a tapestry that was bigger than all of its individual pieces. ArtCenter taught me to embrace the notion of designers as leaders. I believe designers shouldn’t just be brought on near the end of a project, so as to oversee fine-tuning and making sure all the right pieces are up to snuff. No, designers should be there from the beginning of the process – helping to mold the final outcome, coming up with new solutions and yes, leading.

The borders that separate interdisciplinary study are dissolving. I saw it at ArtCenter and it’s even more true as I navigate my post-graduate life. Now is the time for designers to take the reigns and help to co-create the future. Graphic design not only has the power to change the lens through which the designer views their craft. It has the power to influence the way that others see and interact with the world at large. Contrary to what some might believe, design doesn’t just apply to architecture or cars – nearly every facet of modern life is shaped by some kind of design, one that allows our lives to run just a little smoother.

Of course, life was never that smooth for my parents on their way to America and I guess the journey here is even less smooth now in the year 2017. We are entering a turbulent and uncertain era – one where it’s more important than ever for designers, creatives and artists to rise up and announce themselves as the voices of tomorrow. When I look at the folks I encountered at ArtCenter, I don’t just see a plethora of talented visual artists, architects and conceptual thinkers. I see people working in tandem to improve the world we live in. I see the future, the one my parents no doubt came to America for. I see tomorrow’s leaders.

Pearlyn Lii
BFA 2015 Graphic Design

The borders that separate interdisciplinary study are dissolving and it’s even more true as I navigate my post-graduate life.

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