This interview is the first in a series from Hamish Besley a third-year student at Victoria University Wellington – Te Herenga Waka, Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation. Each interview was first published in Baggy Pants and Butter Paper, an editorial publication for students by students (conceived in Hamish’s final year of study). The interviews explore each students pathway to design, choice of discipline, their unique personal narrative, experiences studying, the projects they take pride in, their challenges, inspirations and aspirations.
Today Hamish shares his interview with Communication Design & Film Major Bella Alexander-Kemble.
BP&BP: Introduce yourself!
Hi, I’m Bella. I’m originally from Hawkes Bay but have been in Wellington for the last three years studying a double major in Communication Design and Film at Victoria Univerity.
BP&BP: What made you come to Victoria?
I kinda just always saw myself living in Wellington after university and Vic seemed like the best option for what I wanted to do. A combination of Design and Film. I just loved Wellington and wanted to be here.
BP&BP: What made you choose design and the specific major?
I’ve just always been a creative person I guess. Always drawing, painting, and creating, being in art extension classes in primary school. It was kinda like the natural progression. My major is Communication Design and I would definitely consider myself a designer (not necessarily a graphic designer). I want to do films and so that’s a big reason for doing design. I knew I didn’t want to do fine arts because as much as I enjoy painting it’s not so structured as I feel design is. Obviously, I can’t talk smack because I’ve never done an arts degree but, I feel what we are taught in design is a lot better in terms of applying that to the commercial world and other industries.
BP&BP: Did you ever question that choice or did you do something different and then changed?
Yeah, constantly. First-year definitely made me not want to do industrial. More so even last year (second year), I questioned it a lot because the course we were doing I didn’t see how that was getting me where I needed to go. Looking back on it now I think I learned a lot and it’s been very useful. But, at the time, like Typography (COMD201), I couldn’t care less about it. But even then, the course that I did, I was thinking about how does this link to what I want to do? I think with the capstone project (COMD391) I’ve realized I have been taught these things but in a different format. They are still all applied. I just haven’t had the opportunity to do a project that I want to do past uni.
BP&BP: What project are you most proud of? Why?
I really enjoyed the whole Drawing course (COMD211, or my comic (COMD311), or the poster I did for illustration (COMD231). For the poster, it was the final product that I liked so much. It was a bit more character creation, getting to make a person and a history.
Nadia Lumens, COMD231, 19.07.19, watercolour, ink, & Photoshop
BP&BP: What project are you least proud of? Why?
Probably anything I did for Typography. Some of the work I did was fine and I consider myself a pretty good writer. It’s just that I’ve never had an interest in the actual details of typography. So anything I did for that would have been sub-par. Fischer gallery, I don’t remember enjoying doing that but I quite liked how it turned out. The final poster competition was not fun for me (Designers Speak up?!). I don’t know why, I think I just didn’t get it. Because looking at other peoples I realized, ‘oh, you could do that?’ Because it was a typography poster and you weren’t allowed to do any kind of illustration.
BP&BP: What motivates you to get through those all-nighters?
Definitely the fear of failing, not getting a job post-uni. I don’t know. I just fantasize about how my life is going to be in 10 years. I just like the thought of working on really sick projects like movies and television. Hopefully, that will happen and you have to get there somehow. It’s the idea of what’s to come that keeps me going. And also because I know that the industry that I want to work in is not an easy one to get into. Film is just one of those professions where you have to expect to do things for nothing in return. I can’t imagine my life any other way, other than the way I imagine it. If I think about sitting in an office job, I just can’t.
BP&BP: What is the highlight of your working week?
At the moment I’m really enjoying tutoring. It’s nice having people come to you for advice. It just makes you feel good about yourself and if you can comprehensively give that advice it feels so good. Doing that recently has been interesting. It doesn’t feel like work.
Pikitopia Concert Poster, COMD231, 16.10.19, Photoshop
BP&BP: Outside of school what do you do?
I work at a cinema and I watch a lot of Television. Also, Uni, work, and consuming content. I like to tell myself because I’m a film student it’s important to watch a lot of stuff. Your content diet is important. I like learning about random things.
BP&BP: Do you think that affects your practice at all?
I think as much as watching things and consuming things is influential in my practice, sometimes I forget that doing stuff is influential. Like going for a hike and watching the world.
BP&BP: While at design school, what’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
I kinda slid through high school, the first year, and the second year (of university) with minimal effort and got pretty good results. But, coming into the end of the second year, the beginning of the third year, I realized I’m going to have to start trying. I was relying on talent rather than skill and everything that goes beyond that. Like research and practice that helps further your craft. I think I plateaued for a bit. I got to a point and though ah sweet, this is good.
I also just got sick of my lifestyle. Always being pushed to the last 24 hours of a project and always cramming stuff. It was something that couldn’t stay the same. Especially moving into the real-life design and film industry. Deadlines can move earlier and if you have already been putting it off and it’s moved you’re in trouble. So that’s something I’ve been working on more. I’m a very flowy person so I need structure.
Reclining Figure, COMD211, 29.04.19, charcoal & pastel
BP&BP: What was the best lesson?
In Drawing (COMD211), I just really adored that class. It was such a nice environment to learn in. Laura and Dylan, the lectures were amazing. I just felt free to experiment and I learned a lot about what I’m good at in that class, what I’m good at drawing, and how. Dylan noticed something about me I didn’t know. He said that I preferred to draw on a larger canvas, that was something I hadn’t realized. Now I understand that yes, I certainly do. That was maybe a little lesson. I learned that I was better on a large scale than a small scale.
BP&BP: If you could give your past self any advice what would it be?
Probably to socialize more. I wouldn’t call myself a loner but I am very content with being by myself. Kinda just to force myself to interact. Make a conscious effort to be more social. Especially while you’re in halls. That’s the time for it
See more of Bella’s work or connect with her at Instagram: @Bellasdesigning
Learn more about Baggy Pants and Butter Paper here https://baggypants.info/Issue-One-The-Tester and follow them @Baggy.pants.and