AUArts Alum 2017, BDes | Visual Communication Design
AUArts: What are you doing currently?
Jimmy Zhang: I'm taking my Master’s in Animation at University of the Arts in London.
AUArts: Prior to that, you graduated from Alberta University of the Arts?
Zhang: I graduated in 2017 in Graphic Design.
AUArts: Can you tell me what you've been doing between now and then?
Zhang: I moved to Germany and worked at a fashion house for almost a year after I graduated. And then I moved to London, because I also received an offer from the University of the Arts London, regarding my Master’s.
AUArts: Can you tell me about working at Hugo Boss in Germany?
Zhang: I remember back in the day, I told people in my class that I had an interview with Hugo Boss. And everyone was asking me, do you even speak the language? They asked me, how can you be that brave, to move to a country where you don't even speak the language? I didn’t think too much about it, I just did it.
I remember back in the day, I told people in my class that I had an interview with Hugo Boss. And everyone was asking me, do you even speak the language? They asked me, how can you be that brave, to move to a country where you don't even speak the language? I didn’t think too much about it, I just did it.
My experience in Germany taught me a lot to things. I remember being very overwhelmed at first, because Germans are really fast, some of the most efficient people that I’ve met in my life.
I think the very first thing I've learned from Germany was punctuality. Germans are very specific when it comes to time management.
The second thing that I learned was being interactive and collaborative. You need to collaborate with different people from different departments. It's really a big company, but everyone works as one. We work as a unit, so that's really important.
My experience in Germany changed me a lot. And everything was kind of different, compared to what we have in Calgary. It was quite fun, and Germans are really kind of straightforward. If they don't like your design, they say, I don't like it.
AUArts: When you were young, did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
Zhang: I always knew that I wanted to be an artist or a creative person. Even when I was a child, I remember my mom trying to teach me simple words. She gave me a flash card with the word, apple. Instead of saying the word, I always preferred to draw an apple. That’s really how I express myself. I like visualizing everything. Sometimes I see art as my primary language.
AUArts: Was your family supportive of you becoming an artist?
Zhang: Almost everyone in my family are artists and designers. My dad is a graphic designer. I’ve got two aunties, one is a graphic designer and the other one is an art instructor. I got two cousins, one is a digital designer and the other one is an art history researcher. My grandparents practice traditional art paintings.
So I grew up in a really arty environment, but my mom was the only person that didn’t study art in the family. She always wanted me to be a lawyer and get a law degree. I felt like law was something that was really far away from me, I didn't see myself working as a lawyer for the rest of my life.
AUArts: What advice would you give to someone whose parents didn't want them to pursue an arts degree?
Zhang: Always trust your intuition. For me, personally, intuition is more important than anything. It plays an important part in shaping what kind of person you're going to be.
Art and design is a really broad category. You have to figure out what kind of art you want to study, or what kind of design you want to do. I think your intuition can answer those questions for you.
Sometimes, I think intuition is more important than a particular skill. Because everyone can train to obtain a particular skill they need for working. But your intuition is really something that comes from the inside. I feel like sometimes, you've got to get inspired by yourself and not by others. So my advice is to trust your intuition.
Always trust your intuition. For me, personally, intuition is more important than anything. It plays an important part in shaping what kind of person you're going to be.
AUArts: What is the most important thing that you learned going to AUArts?
Zhang: I would say the most important thing I've learned wasn’t really about skills. Someone asked me, what's my biggest achievement after studying there for four years? And I simply said that I finally figured out myself. I finally know who I am, and for me, that's really important.
It took me a long time to figure out what I really wanted to do, what I'm really interested in. At the end of my third year, I finally realized that I was interested in graphic design and the fashion industry.
So when I got into my final year, almost all the projects that I did were all fashion-related. I think knowing myself, and know who I am, it's really the most important thing I've learned from AUArts.
I would say the most important thing I've learned wasn’t really about skills. Someone asked me, what's my biggest achievement after studying there for four years? And I simply said that I finally figured out myself. I finally know who I am, and for me, that's really important.
AUArts: It’ll be really interesting to follow your career and see where you end up. If you were talking to yourself back in high school, what encouragement would you give?
Zhang: I’ve always been a passionate person. I love what I do, which is art and design. I will always devote a big part of my life to it. Sometimes I’m afraid of losing it.
I would offer my high school self a bit more passion. The more passion I obtain, the better person I’ll be, and the more I’ll enjoy the things I love to do. So yeah, a bit more passion. Who’s gonna say no to that?
I was really impressed with all the talent I met at AUArts, and I’ll always try to find a way that connects people back in Calgary and people here in London. Because there are lots of talented people in Calgary, I just want to get all those talents discovered.