Ding Yuxin, also known by her English name Kimberly, began her UIC journey in 2018 and is currently in her third year studying Media Arts and Design (MAD) in the Division of Culture and Creativity (DCC).

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Ding Yuxin

Hailing from Yunnan, which is considered the most diverse province in all of China, both in its extraordinary mix of peoples and in the splendour of its landscapes, Yuxin adds a relaxed, vibrant feel to the student community at UIC.

When it came to choosing a university, Yuxin’s parents helped her look at what university will offer the best resources for their money, which led them to discover UIC. Her parents think the college, as well as the campus, is excellent, and after experiencing three years already here, Yuxin agrees.

“You can get something from here (UIC), especially when you see the library and the facilities at DDC, such as the equipment and the labs,” said Yuxin.

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Yuxin initially considered studying Accounting or Finance as they were something that she thought that she might like. However, Yuxin contacted a UIC student who was studying there at that time, asking what would be the “Best major at UIC”.

The student suggested one of the programmes in DCC. Yuxin investigated what DCC had to offer and decided that she will try Media Arts and Design, even though she had her doubts as she never really considered herself an artist. It was a very new world for her, and nothing she had imagined that she would end up doing.

“I saw myself as a girl who is into computer science or accounting,” explained Yuxin. “That’s a Chinese parents stereotype, that if you do accounting, then you will be rich”.

Yuxin, who did not exactly feel confident about herself choosing this programme, had many doubts in her abilities to sketching and drawing. “I have never been to a drawing class before: said Yuxin. “People believed if you are going to do study Media Arts and Design, then you need to be good at drawing, which in reality is not the case”. It was also reassuring to Yuxin to know that her classmates who choose MAD were also in the same boat when it came to drawing and sculpting.

“When it comes to choosing a major, you need to select something that you will like. Not only listen to and consider your parents’ advises but also listen to what you want”, Yuxin says.

Trying new things and exploring new designs and technologies is an essential part of what drives Yuxin. Admitting that drawing and sculpting isn’t exactly her thing, Yuxin explained that the curriculum allowed her to discover digital, 3D and interactive arts, much to her taste. “The good thing about art is that it is not limited. There are many possibilities to create different art using various designs and methods”, Yuxin commented.

During the summer of 2020, Yuxin felt trapped at home but wanted to explore somewhere new; however, the COVID-19 pandemic put a spanner in the works, so she looked at doing an internship. She set her sights on Shanghai and found an intern position at a small cosmetic company there.

Yuxin describes how she learnt quite a lot during this internship as the people she worked with had experiences from working in the UK and Australia. They brought new ideas and helped Yuxin become more creative and see things differently. “I think students who are looking to do an internship should strongly consider working at smaller private companies, as they can learn a lot and have their ideas and creativity tested.”

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Some of Yuxin's work

“I think it is okay for a design student to have their first internship at a small company. Most people would say that you can’t learn anything if you are not working in a huge company. For design student who cannot get the offer from a large company then some small creative studio or small design company can also be great choices. That’s because as a design student, we always create the things that we like. But not the things the market wants. Having an internship experience can help you to understand the workflow and the market requirements,” advised Yuxin. She explained how at larger or traditional companies use people more like a “tool”, and that can lead to limiting an individual’s creativity.

Once she graduates, Yuxin has thought about her future and has made it clear that she knows that she is the not type of person who can do business. “I am really into design. I will study more and aim to get a PhD overseas,” she said.

Yuxin believes she is one of the first students in her year that has already started to make their portfolios. “I believe it is essential,” said Yuxin when explaining about her portfolio.

Some advice that Yuxin would like to give to future MAD students is “It’s vital to schedule yourself. For first-year MAD students, it is the best time for you to learn more about art history as well as skills like sketching and basic design software. These are the most basic things for a design student. During your second year, it is time to explore. It is time for you to use all kinds of resources to learn different designs, which is very important for your future career. For a MADer, we have a lot of choices as we can learn Visual Communication, Pure Art, Interactive Design, Product Design, Audio, Game Design, etc. If you can learn more about these things and know which direction is the one you want to continue working on, it would be much better for you to focus yourself in that field. I think it’s time to start creating your portfolio during your third year; otherwise, it will be exhausting for you to prepare both your portfolio and FYP in your final year.”

Acting and singing are her two hobbies. She has acted for several students’ productions as they usually seek Yuxin when wanting to produce a short film or promotional work as she is attractive and confident. “I have a desire to go on stage,” Yuxin confidently announced, “and also I have a little bit of talent when it comes to acting.”

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Yuxin has done some acting for student projects

For singing, Yuxin was the President of the UIC Acapella Club, but due to an increase in college workload, she has stepped down from that position but remains a member. She joined in her first year because she believes the style of Acapella is impressive and unique. After all, Acapella doesn’t require instruments. Her influences include Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé, Serena Gomez and Rhianna.

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Yuxin is a member of the Acapella Club at UIC

Yuxin admits that she is her own worse critic, giving an example of when she first started at UIC and struggled to get to grips with using Photoshop. A Cinema and Television (CTV) student showed Yuxin how to use Photoshop, which she initially found to be a little embarrassing. Yuxin then took it upon herself to try and learn more about Photoshop by finding online tutorials, and she spent her free time trying to understand the software. “You can feel down when you’re struggling to learn something new, but it is important not to give up and don’t criticise yourself too hard about it”, she says.

For a girl who never thought that she would learn design, Yuxin has undoubtedly grabbed the challenge by the horns and found a passion, possibly her calling. Yuxin gloats that she is not only surviving in her course but is thriving at UIC. She confidently says that she enjoys her life at UIC.

From MPRO
Editors: Samuel Burgess
(with thanks to the ELC)