Ever-changing Tides

AlumniDiaries

I’m happy to say I’ve successfully navigated the high seas since I last posted, but getting to this point has not been an easy journey. Here’s a more in depth breakdown of how the last 6 months have been since I pinned my work up at the Pratt Show and walked across the stage at MSG.

JUNE: The month after graduation, I was back in Hawai’i for a grad trip home with my tightest group of friends from Pratt. Even though most of us had no job or apartment to return to when we got back to New York, those few weeks together were exactly what we needed. It was a time for reflection and clarity, fun and adventure. By the end of the trip, we had all made significant decisions about our futures.

JULY: My decision included staying in New York, which meant finding a job and an apartment in less than a month. The job came first, I called all the surf shops in the city and found myself at a very relaxed interview the week after I got back. I went through a patchy 2 week trial period, where I mostly lived off vegetables and rice, before being given the key and a consistent schedule.

AUGUST: Meanwhile, I hunted for a second job and an apartment. It was tough interviewing for a second job because I didn’t know what my schedule was going to be like from the surf shop yet. I learned to say “Let me get back to you about that” and “I’ll let you know if I will accept the position later this week”. This let me continue my job hunt for the best position, salary, schedule, etc. without burning any bridges. A few employers called me the next day asking if I had made my decision yet, which felt really good. It was a professional courtesy of me not to lead them on, which reciprocated a professional follow-up. I ended up working for one of these employers.

SEPTEMBER: Once I had secured a stable living situation and income, I turned my attention to expanding my network. I began searching for a studio that had facilities I was looking to use, a wood shop and gallery space, as well as a community within their walls that embodied the emerging art scene I intended to be a member of. I found this at the Con Artist Collective, located in the Lower East Side For a minimal membership fee, I’m able to participate in monthly exhibitions, weekly critiques, panel discussions and have an awesome group of people to collaborate with. Since joining the collective, I’ve begun my search for a residency program in Hong Kong and learned more about grants from local organizations through talks they’ve held. Another perk of the collective has been the amount of freelance work I’ve had access to.

OCTOBER: So, currently I have two freelance jobs that started in October. One is branding for a leather designer, and the other is designing a book for a photographer and writing duo. Almost all of the freelance jobs I’ve had started with a conversation. Introduce yourself to an unknown person, ask them what they do and see if you can help them with whatever it is they’re trying to accomplish. If nothing presents itself, share what you do because it can spark an idea for a job or lead to another connection that could utilize your skills. Have standard contracts written up prior to hearing the job so you can give them an estimate for project length and fees while you’re having a conversation face to face. Every job is different so it’s good to have the basics mapped out but be ready to be flexible. For example, the book design project I’m working on is going into the holiday season, so we have to take vacations and facilities being closed into consideration for our deadline. Unexpected developments are bound to present themselves and when they do don’t be afraid of picking up the phone and sort it out. Texts and emails can be forgotten, left unread or blatantly ignored but a voice on the other end of line has to be addressed. There’s a lot of back and forth on long email chains that start piling up when you’re sending work to be approved by 2-3 people so it’s important to keep files as organized as possible as well.

NOVEMBER: Well, that brings us to where we currently are and I hope this entry has been helpful. If someone says the job market is bad, don’t be discouraged. The grass is always greener on the other side and so is the money. There are plenty of jobs out there, the tough part is finding one that you enjoy and can thrive in.

Enjoy the winter holidays and check back in the Spring for insight on independent ventures, gallery exhibitions and PR.

Aloha and a hui hou!

SayakaUenoSayaka Ueno
Etsy, Instagram, Website

Sayaka was born in Japan, raised in Hawai’i and currently lives in New York City. She graduated in May of 2015 from the Communications Design department with an emphasis in Art Direction and a minor in Media Studies. With a positive and conscientious attitude, she keeps herself busy with design work and various artistic ventures. When she’s not by her computer, you can find her out in the lineup, surfing.