When Ray Chang applied to The Academy of Art University, he knew he wanted to pursue art and design. He hadn’t received any prior training. He didn’t have a portfolio, and he had never used design software.
Ray chose The School of Web Design & New Media’s BFA program because he was familiar with computers and technology. He saw this as a place that would offer him the most potential in creating the work he was interested in.
“In hindsight, it was the best choice I could have made,” said Ray.
Fast forward to his final semester, and Ray is preparing to graduate at the top of his class, as valedictorian. At the May 10 commencement ceremony, Ray will deliver a speech to his classmates, friends, and family. He’s keeping the speech a secret from his family, who will be visiting San Francisco for the very first time.
“From the very submission of his first assignment in Motion Graphics 1, I knew Ray was special, said Colin Sebestyen, WNM Motion Graphics Lead. “He certainly possesses the things that are needed for success: a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and general aptitude towards the software and technology. However, his strength lied in something you rarely see in beginners, and that is a sensibility. His taste is good, and this is the extra something that makes his work really stand out.”
One of Ray’s favorite projects is his Fotografiks piece from Motion Graphics 1. In this class, Ray said he learned how to incorporate time into his work and that good storytelling is an underlying key to creating art.
Ray’s drive to create comes from his love of stories. Much of his inspiration comes from his experiences in Taiwan, and he looks to other forms of art for that. He considers Marina Abramović and Yayoi Kusama to be among his artistic role models.
“Growing up in the suburbs of Taiwan, my imagination was the gateway to transport myself to other worlds…Through creating a design language, I get to submerge myself briefly in an imaginary world,” Ray explains.
Ray used his time as a student to take chances with his work. If he could instill advice into his fellow classmates it would be, “Being in school gives you the opportunity to realize your wildest ideas. The project criteria in classes are only the minimum requirements. You can take projects as far as you want, and get the most fun out of it.”
If you look at Ray’s projects, you can see how this attitude carries through his work. He teamed up with classmate Blake Piyathanapong to create Cache 94, a self-expressive web experience that looks back to where both students’ creativity comes from, home.
Ray and Blake’s project, Plëy, won WNM’s coveted Best in Show award at last year’s Spring Show. The project was created in the Automotive UI class, which is a collaborative effort between WNM and students from The School of Industrial Design. In this class, students work with a real automotive industry client to develop new concepts for transportation. In the end, the client may choose to use these ideas for their company’s products.
“Trying to accomplish something sophisticated in a topic I barely knew about was very challenging. We gave it our all, and winning Best in Show was great validation that it was worth the time spent,” Ray said.
After graduation, Ray hopes to continue working as a motion graphics artist at Lightform.
Lightform is a creative tool for creating projected AR experiences. Ray is currently working for the company creating custom projection artwork. He works collaboratively with other artists to project motion content onto their installations. Lightform is targeted to launch this summer, and their launch video will feature some of Ray’s work.
He would like to thank Colin Sebestyen, for introducing him to motion graphics.
“[Colin] taught me the balance between creativity and critical design thinking, and now I am able to support myself with [these skills],” Ray explains.
For now, Ray is busy enjoying the last few weeks of the semester and preparing for next week’s commencement speech.
“It feels very surreal to be chosen [as valedictorian], and I’m still adjusting to the idea,” says Ray.
He would like to shout out to his amazing friends Ashlynn, Blake, and Zhiwei, who have supported him, offered honest advice and provided great friendship and company throughout the past few years.
We look forward to seeing all that Ray will achieve outside of school. There is no doubt his skill, dedication, and passion for creative work will take him far.
You can check out Ray’s portfolio at achuray.com.
Main article photo provided by Ray Chang.