DCCC student wins recognition in national design competition

By Alexia Davis

Michelle Hua, a graphic design major at DCCC, sits on a blue swivel chair in an art studio on Marple campus. She is studio monitoring as part of a work study program, and it is her job to make sure the studio stays clean and that safety guidelines are followed.

Hua’s backpack lies on a thick wooden high-top table. She reaches into it and pulls out a foil package. Her manicure, a pastel bluish green, stands out against the metal.

Hua lowers the foil and begins breaking small pieces from what appears to be a waffle, but is actually a combination of oatmeal, banana, granola and egg.

“I make everything in a waffle maker,” Hua says, laughing. “I once made a burger in it, and it actually turned out crispy.”

Hua’s creativity does not begin or end with her waffle maker. According to Bob Jones, professor of art and graphic design coordinator, Hua is also a very talented graphic design artist.

“[Hua] is a superb illustrator and has a keen eye for design,” Jones says.

Hua was recently a winner in the poster category of the 2018 AIGA Flux Design Competition, which is held to showcase the creative work of graduate and undergraduate students from across the
country. Hua says her piece, “New Babylon,” is best described as a utopian twist on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

There were 896 entries in 2018, making it the largest competition to date. Of those 896 entries, only 126 projects were selected to be displayed online and exhibited at Cowork Frederick, a collaborative workspace for independents, freelancers and entrepreneurs in Frederick, Md.

Hua was the only student from a community college to place in the competition.

“I didn’t even want to do it,” Hua says. “I didn’t think I could win.”

It was Jones who convinced Hua to enter her work, and she admits she is glad he gave her the push.

“I am sorry that I am not on campus this semester,” Jones says. “[Hua] would have been in several of my classes. My loss.”Back in the studio, Hua sits with three of her peers, all graphic design majors.

She mostly listens as they talk about upcoming projects and the possible meanings behind an individual’s color choice in design.

.Color choice was a big consideration for Hua’s winning poster, “New Babylon,” as it set the mood for her design.

“I just wasn’t into making buildings and stuff,” Hua says. “So I made it fun and cute and pastel.”

Jones says that Hua will continually modify a project until it is to her liking or gets the results her professors expect.

“She is funny, talented, and a hard worker,” Jones says.

At Upper Darby High School, Hua understood that only hard work would get her through the enormous pressure that comes with honors courses. She admits that she didn’t like having to take so many honors classes, but that she did it anyway.

“It was so competitive, and I knew I wasn’t going to be a science major or anything,”

In August 2016, two months after graduating from high school, Hua put her creativity into motion and began doing freelance design for products and packaging in the beauty industry. One month after starting her freelance work, Hua began her college career at Albright College. She was a fashion design major.

Hua explains that she got a little sidetracked before deciding to transfer to DCCC as a liberal arts major. When boredom set in, she changed her major to graphic design.

Hua says she chose to stay at DCCC because she really likes it, adding one of the most important things she looks for in a professor is a good personality.

“If [a professor] is really strict, you can’t be creative or collaborate ideas,” Hua says.In September 2018, Hua received a Purchase Award at the A.F.A. Foundations Exhibition at Marple campus. Her work, “Social Sadness,” was purchased by DCCC and will one day decorate a wall within the college.Hua currently juggles four to five courses per semester, her freelance work, which she typically does out of her room at home, and her studio monitoring job in the work study program. She believes the honors courses in high school helped to prepare her for where she is today.

“It’s all about time management,” Hua says. “You’ve got to balance it, and you don’t sleep at all.” don’t sleep at all.”

In the studio, Hua turns from the conversation to the clock on the wall. She takes note of the time, and turns back to her peers after realizing it is not yet time to leave for her web design class.

Hua continues to work hard in all of her courses, as she eventually wants to transfer to Drexel University because of its many art degree programs.

“I need to transfer, so I need the A,” Hua says.

Hua is still uncertain if she will move forward with graphic design when she begins at Drexel. She said she will if she continues to enjoy it, and if she doesn’t, she’ll just pick something else.

Hua is still uncertain if she will move forward with graphic design when she begins at Drexel. She said she will if she continues to enjoy it, and if she doesn’t, she’ll just pick something else.ething else.

Whatever she decides, her featured quote on Instagram, authored by Walt Disney, will remain an inspiration: “All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Contact Alexia Davis at communitarian@mail.dccc. edu 

 

Michelle Hua’s winning poster, “New Babylon,” from the 2018 AIGA Flux Design Competition. Illustration courtesy of Michelle Hu