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Remedy 2021  •  01 February 2021

Designing My Future

By Emilia Tortorella
Designing My Future

I started life at UTS by travelling up north from a small town in the Southern Highlands. I was vivacious, eager to begin a new life for myself in the big smoke. Looking back, the notion of travelling to one destination and beginning a hierarchical journey in a Eurocentric system is a path I inadvertently followed. 

Nevertheless, I felt an immense amount of support from UTS, which helped me gain confidence in my abilities as a designer. From the financial assistance team helping me out with expensive Adobe subscriptions, to the free Bluebird meals providing students with noodle-y goodness, I felt as though all of my needs were met by UTS over the past couple of years. I lived in Yura Mudang (UTS accommodation), made friends, and pursued a degree that has given me a foundation to start building my career upon. 

My goals sometimes felt impossible, especially this year. The bushfires came up to the village next to my hometown, and then the pandemic hit while I was starting my final year. While being away from home was hard, campus life connected me with Gadigal land and the inspiring people who live here, as well as more opportunities than I could imagine. Living on campus made life easier when I studied the Google Project (I highly recommend that subject for VisCommers) and worked as an intern at Digitas (an opportunity provided to some of us by the Visual Communications faculty).

A friend of mine once told me to become clear about what my priorities are and follow through with those, otherwise, one’s existence becomes a fractured mess. So I found my holistic priorities — finishing my degree with marks that will get me into further study, meditation, starting my freelance business as well as being active every day — made it easier for me to see tiny steps of progress. Visualisation is a meditation technique I use, which requires taking some time out of your day to imagine yourself in the life you want and as the person you want to be.

I advise students to seek out financial support when in need. I know first hand that there is nothing worse than eating two-minute noodles every night while working part-time, studying full-time and trying to maintain good grades. 

Another tip is to ask for help — see your tutor outside of class time, either on a Zoom call or in-person. They are there to help you, not to scare you! Get together with your peers for social hangouts and make friendships that will give you heartwarming memories and funny anecdotes that will be with you for years to come. 

Consequently, the pandemic became a wise tutor that taught us how connected we really are. As designers, we have the chance to change the way people see and feel about things and how well people are educated on important issues. 

‘Artivism’ is a way people express activism visually on social media and has played a key role in the BLM protests as well as LGBTIQA+ liberation. Design can be used for the betterment of society or perpetuate more negative influences, such as promoting toxic ideologies through propaganda. Rather than just succumbing to our animalistic natures (you’ve seen it — people fighting over toilet paper), we have the privilege to help people connect through love, friendship, joy and empathy. These are the values I wish to design with and live my life by.

“As designers, we have the chance to change the way people see and feel about things...”

When I applied for Design in Visual Communication I had no idea what the course was about, simply what drew me to it was the word ‘visual’. It didn’t claim it was a graphic design degree or a fine arts degree, and over time it expanded my limited understanding of communication through illustration, coding, sound and motion. I made this post (5 Things my VisCom Degree has Taught me) to consolidate the key learnings during my time in VisCom and as a way to support others who have just begun and want a little head start.


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