Experience Working as a Remote Design Contractor

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screenshot of Book Riot store with Halloween ad (this was before their store redesign)

For the past year, I was a design contractor at Book Riot, an independent book review company. I was fortunate enough to be referred to by a friend, and I gained a new perspective being a remote designer.

My primary responsibility was to create marketing creatives to boost audience outreach, which was mostly creating graphics for various social media platforms. I also had the opportunity to design t-shirts, which allowed me to flex my illustration skills.

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Reintroduction

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Shades of February [7]

A post shared by H O Y I N C H A N (@c.hoyin) on

 

Uh, h-hello. Aside from my post about the documentary Whose Streets?, it has been more than a year since I have properly written on this blog.

I just woke up one day not knowing what to write anymore. Mind-numbing activities took precedence because they didn’t involve a lot of brain power and they felt good in the moment, like eating a candy bar you know will make you feel sick the minute you gulp down the last bite. Whenever I came home from work, I wanted to shut off my brain. I was mindlessly browsing the Internet with no real destination or purpose; it was like a drug. It’s funny how we have so much information within our reach, but it sometimes blinds you from what’s really important.

I wanted to find a sweet escape from reality and avoid the looming burden of adulthood. Unfortunately adulthood is unavoidable, and I’m still barely waddling along the currents. It is difficult to prioritize my goals—which to be honest, I don’t even know anymore—and figure out how to reach them as obstacles slam into me in waves. I guess you can say I can’t find the North Star, and I’ve been struggling with this for the past year.

I have countless drafts and ideas, but no motivation to move them forward. I want to say it is fear that’s stopping me from pursuing these ideas. Not because I’m afraid of what others will think, but rather afraid of how am I going to sustain whatever it is I’m doing once the task is completed. It’s a silly fear, I know, but I guess I would rather have a filled to-do list rather than an empty one. I know, I know, ideas are just ideas, and there isn’t THE PERFECT ONE, and new ones will come along, but I think it’s that waiting period between a completion/following-through on an idea and acting upon a new idea that frightens me. It’s irrational, I know.

So that is what’s been going on with me in a nutshell. That and life events that occupied my time and made me put my career and relationships on hold. The past year I focused on buying a house with my family. This one major life event is a blessing and a curse. It made me feel so numb at one point, the feeling still haunts me today. I may write about it to reflect on the whole experience in a future post. Recently, my family has been blessed with a new family member: a cute 3-year-old cairn terrier mix named Waffles. I spam my friends on twitter with his photos.

I also reflected back on my previous posts and drafts, and started to wonder what I’m trying to say. I started out this blog just for kicks in reviewing what I’ve watched, read, or eaten. However, I came to realize I wasn’t writing anything meaningful and even I, myself, found myself wondering why were the things I saying of any value. So what? It hit me that I “say” rather than “explain,” and so I decided that I want to focus on developing my analytical skills in future posts, and bring a more meaningful conversation to the table.

I also want to sprinkle a bit of what’s been going on in my life and the garble of thoughts running through my mind… but part of me is hesitant because I keep asking myself how personal is too personal. TMI, you know? At the same time, I want to be as authentic as possible because I want you, fellow stranger whom I never met, to know the person behind the words you’re reading on your screen, and I hope my stories of my personal struggles resonate with you in some way.

For those who’ve stuck around, thank you. If you’re just passing through, please say hello or give a 👋

photo credit: Hoyin Chan. He always makes me look fabulous with his amazing photography skills. Check out his instagram.

Adventure is out there

batteryspencer

I am the type of person who prefers to stay indoors. The comfort of a book, tv drama, or the Internet can satisfy me. However, reality often slaps me in the face and begs for attention. I often forget that in my twenty+ years living in this beautiful state called California, I have yet to explore many parts of Northern California. I don’t think it’s FOMO, fear of missing out, but rather everyday is a missed opportunity to take advantage what is right around the neighborhood.

So once you’re done reading this post, I urge you to hit up a friend (or not because sometimes the best company is your thoughts), turn off your laptop, and go on an adventure. It can be to the park or to the closest cafe. My point is you don’t need to go somewhere fancy to have fun and you should try to go somewhere you’ve never been.

Think of going out as if you’re exploring the city for the first time. Possibly there may not be much but I think you can find beauty in the mundane.

udon

One of my friends loves saying “#udou,” which I often read it as “udon,” hence the title of this post. For those who don’t know, “you do you” is “the act of doing the things that you normally do. Nothing more, nothing less. Just being yourself and showing everyone who’s boss around here” (source: urbandictionary).

The other day I was out with some friends who are my juniors (i.e. they’re still in high school or college). I haven’t seen some of them in a while, so we jump right into pleasantries like “how are you” or “what’s been going on in your life.” Then this conversation proceeded…

Friend A: Did you graduate yet, Marisa?
Me: Yeah, I did.
Friend A: Finally… took you long enough

What. Did my ears hear correctly? Now, text is pretty hard to convey mockery, but it sounded like I was being judged for taking six years to graduate. I let it slide but it did remind me of times when an acquaintance often joked that I was never going to graduate.

Yes, it took me six years, but I proudly wear that fact like a medal because it could have been longer due to budget cuts. I am fortunate enough to even have studied in higher education, something my mom didn’t have the opportunity to do. So what if it did take me an extra two years than the norm? I am doing things my way, just like you’re doing things your way. Everyone’s moving along at their own pace. Is that so wrong?

I hope I don’t sound passive aggressive because that isn’t the intent. I think as long as you have a goal in mind and you’re enjoying the journey towards that goal, then it’s okay to move through life at the pace you want to go.

#udou

What’s next?

For twenty years, I have been in school. I’m sure others spend more or less time than I have, but we all probably have the same question running through our minds after graduation: What now? What’s next?

A few weeks ago I graduated from university. I spent six years pursuing a higher education and earning my Bachelor’s in Graphic Design and Linguistics. Throughout those six years, I knew my end goal and I knew what I needed to do to achieve that goal. Here I am, beginning a new chapter in my life. It’s daunting yet exhilarating not knowing what lies in store. However, I feel like a lost animal aimlessly wandering because I don’t know what my new goal is.

Find a job? Cold. Find a job that pays the bills? Warm. Find a job that values you? Definitely hot… but also, I believe, a bit difficult to come by.

In the last semester of school, we had many alumni from the graphic design program come to our class to give us advice on scoring interviews, making the transition from school to work, and building our portfolios. One guest speaker left some valuable nuggets that have been running through my head as of late:

  • “Know what you want”
  • “Know your worth”
  • “Your most valuable asset is you”

These words of wisdom ring loudly as I enter this new chapter. Keeping them in mind really shifts my focus from simply finding a job to finding a job that values me. I admit, I’m neither outspoken nor assertive, and I struggle in voicing my needs and wants. I frequently find myself justifying why my job treats me the way they do. Don’t get me wrong, my jobs, past and current, have treated me alright. However, every time I take a step back and reflect, I realize that I frequently overlook the obstacles I’ve overcame and the skills I’ve gained. As a result, I fail to realize that I frequently downplay my worth. At the end of the day, I think it doesn’t matter how much you get paid because if your job values you, it’ll reflect in how they treat you and you will be justly rewarded.

My advice: don’t be like me. Know that your experiences and opinions are just as valid as anyone else in your work environment. Sure, you still have a lot of learn, but you still bring insight that maybe your coworkers haven’t thought of. Your personal journey is unique and valuable and important. “Your most valuable asset is you.”