Vincent Zhang and Michelle Kim, current ArtCenter students, are Co-Organizers of the upcoming TEDxACCD event November 4 – Beauty of the Fall – an exploration of failure. No pressure. Storyboard brought them together to learn what makes them tick.
I grew up in China and lived there until I was eleven years old. Over the course of my childhood I was privileged to attend high school in Canada and later move to Chicago, where I would study engineering at Northwestern University. Along my journey I’ve learned that one of the most valuable traits a creative person can possess is adaptability.
Upon moving to Canada, I began teaching myself the fundamentals of the English language. By the time I wound up in Chicago, I was beginning to understand the value of adaptation. Every move presented a new set of opportunities. With each uprooting I burrowed into a foreign ecosystem that would redefine who I had been up until that point – and also foreshadow who I would later become.
At ArtCenter, my burgeoning knack for adaptation found a natural home. I learned to see past the fog of my ego to see the needs of others. To this day, some wonderful professors – including Jeff Higashi, Karen Hofmann, and others – have persisted in instilling in me the value of making myself useful to a team.
It’s this mindset that propelled me to take a leap into the world of TEDx and accept a leadership role in designing a conference at ArtCenter. My fellow students and I wish to provide our audience with nothing less than an authentic and fully immersive TEDx experience, as overseen by our gifted faculty advisors. What could go wrong?
This has been a conceptual call-to-arms. Our mission to disrupt old, outmoded ways of doing things and innovate from the feet up.
My experiences with Tedx have helped me to understand that design is one of the most human professions we have. Design is for solving human problems. And part of being human is seeing the possibility of what can happen when you approach things differently. Like embracing the beauty in failure. In a word: adaptation.
ArtCenter Student, Product Design
Former Student Government President 2016-17
Co-Organizer, TEDxACCD 2017
At this point, both ArtCenter and TEDx are so deeply embedded into the fabric of my life that it seems crazy to think that, at one point, I had no basic cognizance of either.
Let me rewind the tape for you guys. I went to high school in the sleepy Los Angeles neighborhood of Arcadia, where I was a full-on illustration geek. I knew I wanted to do something creative for a living, I just didn’t know what it was yet.
Enter ArtCenter, a school whose reputation precedes it. My high school friend Pearlyn (an ArtCenter alum) was kind enough to bring me into the orbit of two institutions that would go on to change the course of my creative life: the ACCD Business Club, and also, TEDx.
I met Vincent Zhang shortly after I got grounded in the school’s student government. As members of the student body government, Vincent and I both have to keep our fingers on the pulse of the school’s issues, whether it be on appropriately recognizing and understanding diversity within our community, creating more access to proper work and social spaces for students, or transforming the traditional expectations on student employment at ArtCenter.
I could tell when I first met Vincent that we shared a similar way of doings things – you could almost say we shared a brain. Our ongoing experiences with TEDx act as lessons on how to function within a group dynamic and how to make critical decisions within a concentrated timeframe.
At the end of the day, Vincent and I are both aware that part of our legacy as members of TEDx has to do with human interaction. Every undertaking Vincent and I have gone through, separately and together, has brought us to this point. We are proud that TEDx is a student-led, student-focused operation, and we are immensely grateful to the school for allowing us to take risks and learn from our mistakes.
The X in TEDx ultimately represents a kind of metamorphosis. It represents the unknown. It represents the future, waiting to be written by the students of this school. The X represents learning through your mistakes and carrying on a legacy of noble innovation. I hope that my fellow creatives heed this advice in blazing a new trail, so that others may follow.
ArtCenter Student, Illustration DesignMatters Department
Student Government President
Co-Organizer, TEDxACCD 2017