Cherry Yiwei Qi is a current student in the RMIT Master of Communication Design. One of her studio projects, a visual identity for Program Records, a startup record pressing company, was recently selected for implementation, and she recently completed an RMIT-facilitated intership with the City of Melbourne. This short Q&A gives some insights into her experiences of the program and of studying in Melbourne.
What did you study in your undergrad and what led you to the Master of Communication Design at RMIT University?
— My undergrad study was a BA of Visual Communication Design. I spent three years studying with Raffles Design Institute in both Shanghai and Sydney campuses from 2012 to 2014, and then I transferred to Billy Blue College of Design in Sydney for the next half year, until mid-2015. Compared with other students, I think my undergrad experience was pretty dramatic and challenging, due to the cultural transitions across countries and colleges. It was quite scary in the beginning, but eventually I realised I sort of enjoy relocating and getting started in a new environment. I guess, to conclude, curiosity and a firm willingness to get out of my comfort zone are what led me to my third home, Melbourne, to continue my Master of Communication Design studies at RMIT University. Also, Melbourne is a perfect city that combines art, culture and COFFEE! I go where coffee goes, of course!
What advice do you have for international students interested in studying the Master of Communication Design at RMIT University?
— First of all, you should recognise your identity here as an international student, and that you are going to experience a lot of new things and learn from Australian culture and academic disciplines over a couple of years. On top of that, I would say being open-minded and adventurous as a hunter are two core values for international students interested in undertaking the program.
— Also, meeting and talking to creative minds from diverse cultural backgrounds and professions in the studio will help you perhaps to form a more holistic understanding and knowledge in both design theory and practice. Also, international students are highly encouraged to get out of their comfort zone and share critical opinions to other fellow students bravely. The staff and others students respect all voices, as long as you speak up. It will be beneficial for both parties who could contribute with their own point of uniqueness that may draw from their origins and valuable experiences.
— Lastly, I would point out that the Master of Communication Design offers quite a lot of exciting opportunities to allow international students to be part of the community and the industry, and to get some valuable experience or skills, such as work-integrated learning opportunities, the RMIT Mentor Program, etc. So don’t stay cool (hey, I know you are shy sometimes), just be adventurous and always put your hands up.
What is the community like within the program? Have you made valuable contacts with other students and industry guests?
— The Master of Communication Design is now growing into a multi-cultural, inclusive and supportive community of current communication design students and alumni. We have a whole-of-discipline lecture series every week for undergraduate and postgraduate students to get fresh insights and connections from the industry. Lecturers within the program are experienced and generous enough to offer tips and experience to the students. Sometimes, there are chances that students could go and visit lecturers’ own studios on specific Masters studio briefs.
— Also, there is a funny situation I remember, after a whole-of-discipline lecture, ‘Thinking images: illustration in graphic design’, in my first semester, in 2016. Me and one of the guest speakers, the illustrator Cara McRae, hugged with laughter after the lecture in the restroom because we turned out to be ‘instagramates’, as I told her that I’d been following her Instagram for ages, since undergrad. I think I must have just looked like a little fan to her at that moment. Whatever. And we still stay in contact through Instagram from time to time. It was an interesting and unexpected connection, but amazingly brought us into more and more conversations in the virtual world. Quite unique.
Did you use the skills you have learned in the Master of Communication Design in your internship at City of Melbourne?
— Strategic thinking and experimentation are two main skills that I have gained from the Master of Communication Design. Increasingly, I realise a role as a ‘content builder’ is very suitable for me, as compared to just being a ‘graphic designer’, especially on the data-driven projects, when you have freedom to design the narratives and to structure complex information.
Images © Cherry Yiwei Qi