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An interview with Melissa Lim Shuen

Hear from Singaporean student, Melissa Lim Shuen (BA Graphic Communication) on her experience on working on live briefs with clients at Norwich University of the Arts.

What do you like about living in Norwich?

The first thought that came into my mind when I first moved to Norwich was how tiny it was compared to Singapore. It took me awhile to adjust to the pace of Norwich, but I grew to really like how this fine city has a strong community spirit, friendly people from different cultures, cool and affordable independent shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs, and on top of that, everything is within walking distance.

When there’s something happening in London, it is quite convenient to commute by train in two hours or by coach in three hours.

I am glad I chose NUA to further my studies. Norwich never fails to surprise. It’s exactly what I thought an English city would be like. It provides the perfect balance for living, playing and studying. I will miss Norwich for sure!

What has been your experience working at NUA?

NUA is a specialist university, which means everyone around me is working in the arts. That encourages cross-course collaborations because you always meet like-minded people.

My tutors are always very supportive and helpful. Plus, there’s a close-knit studio environment, with the lecturer offices right next to the student work area; it’s easy to go to them for a quick crit or discussion. And they’d help, pointing us in the right direction without spoon-feeding. It feels and functions like a real industry studio, which is conducive to open-discussions, experimentation and independent working. The University is also well-equipped with its own library, digital printing studio, printmaking and 3D workshops, with technicians readily available. It really is a breeze to get things done if you’re committed.

Do you feel prepared for life in the creative industries?

My experience at the NUA has helped shape me into a confident graphic communicator. I have a better understanding on how design can be used to create meaningful visual narratives that inform and inspire. I am more versatile now, and feel ready to take on the challenges ahead.

Describe your experience at NUA in three words:

Liberating. Spontaneous. Versatile.

Where do you believe digital design is headed?

There is more emphasis on digital design than print/analogue communication these days, since everything is widely digitalised. Everything is also data-led, so digital design can cater to specific audiences for more effective communication. But there should always be a balance between digital and printed communications, not forgetting the tactile aspect of print #PrintIsNotDead.

What inspired you to create your final piece?

I have always been interested in contemporary culture and looking at ways to use design to create visual narratives. For this, I was inspired by the issue of media consumption and my own observations of how people over-rely on technology. We are becoming digital slaves to our devices and that is taking a toll on the interactions we have in real-life.

How the final piece was executed. I built an installation piece called The Virtual Purgatory Booth. For most of my projects in Year Two and the first part of Year 3, I was working with digital tools and thought it would be the same for my final project. But I decided against that because it felt like the right thing to do. I was quite worried at first, but it turned out to be such a gratifying process to work analogue – sewing, printing, book-making, applying vinyl, painting, perspiring etc. It reminded me to always challenge myself to use the medium that is the most appropriate to best execute a concept, be it analogue or digital.

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