Mga Balikbayan

The Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue, Inc. (FIND, Inc.) is a non-profit organization that connects Filipino American student organizations all over the east coast. Every semester, they host conferences at different schools across the districts with different themes reaching cultural empowerment, professional development, and community building. I had the opportunity to represent District II (UConn) as a National Director for a semester and a half. Before that, I was the graphic design chair and documentations co-chair for the fall dialogue of 2015.

I originally submitted another design (completed half-heartedly) that wasn’t approved because it wasn’t unique enough to the theme of the conference itself. I didn’t really think about the message of the title itself and settled for just a map of the Philippines with the title and info on the banner in a font that I thought looked nice. In my mind, this simply stated that 1)this is a conference and 2)it’s related to being Filipino (job done). But of course, that wasn’t enough.

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This was my first experience with branding, and not to mention, my first time actually designing graphics (thank you for trusting me with this, FIND). I took the shortcut to create something that would simply look nice without considering its intended thematic direction. The motivating message behind ‘Mga Balikbayan’ was a sort of homecoming, through which delegates were able to connect to their cultural roots to understand how they can impact their own communities. A balikbayan box is a universally recognized term amongst the Filipino and Filipino American community as a care package filled with toys, clothes, electronics and other goods that are difficult to obtain in the Philippines. It also symbolizes the patriotism and devotion that Filipinos have for their mother country. So, in a literal sense, the balikbayan boxes had to be shipped over on airplanes, as well as those returning to their country. The plane was the image I decided to run with.

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The ‘A’ of Balikbayan was the plane that I later digitized

In making the original design, I didn’t make any preliminary sketches and started layouts straight in Illustrator, which was bad because I had no direction of what I wanted or where I was going. So this time around, I made some quick sketches and decided to return to what I was most familiar with – hand lettering. I drew all the letters in ink except for the ‘A’ in Balikbayan, which I created a plane for digitally.

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This was the general flyer that I came up with for the event. This design was also used to print on shirts for the planning board, national board, and volunteers involved with the event.

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I had fun creating the event banner, which was used for the Facebook event page as well as cover photos for those promoting the event. It’s a plane ticket to be used as entry for the conference.

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This was one version of the name tags that were printed and worn with lanyards for the day of conference. Different colors were used to differentiate national board, planning board, documentations crew, volunteers, workshop moderators, and general delegates.

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Only photo I have of myself from the event

I sadly didn’t take any photos other than the one above taken by my friend Christian (who I met through FIND!). It’s ironic that I was documentations co-chair and I forgot to document myself… I was too busy running around trying to help run the event (there were more than 700 people who attended!) and making sure things run smoothly. I invested so much into this event because I loved the team behind it and the message we were trying to spread. This was also the first time in the twenty-something years of FIND, Inc. that UConn was able to host, which was a big deal. What made this experience really special though was the chance for me to push my limits and create more than I thought I was able to. I learned how to turn my hand-lettered drawings into digital designs, and I’ve used that in so many other projects since then. This is still my favorite project to date and I am forever grateful for having helped with this conference.

Creative Ideas: Served Daily

Date Completed: March 2016

This chalkboard wall was painted for a previous student who drew simple, but beautiful line drawings almost every week. After the student graduated, one of her drawings remained but the wall had been untouched for over a year. One of my good friends pushed me to take the opportunity to create something on a large scale – this was definitely the largest work that I completed at the time, and my first work in a public space! After meeting with the department head and getting the okay, I was good to go.

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I started working around 10PM on a Sunday night, hoping to be in an empty building. Of course, dedicated art students are always there at weird hours. I also didn’t want to be caught by anyone erasing the previous artwork, since it had been there for so long and everyone had loved it (I didn’t want to be known as that girl that took it away). I ended up staying past 3 in the morning to finish it.

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My friend and I really admire Lauren Hom’s work, who’s art style was my inspiration for this piece. She’s done a number of beautiful chalk pieces that communicate ideas really well. I also love the transient nature of chalk – it can be erased, can always be reworked, and not to mention, cheap!

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Me (5’1″) for scale

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This photo was sent to me by the Department Head, showing the finished project in view while a painting class is in session. It gave the area a renewed vibrancy and a motivational message about the talented students we have at the School of Fine Arts. Now, the chalkboard wall is used for other student projects, continually being used to express new ideas.