Personal Statement

Personal statement submitted in my application to MICA‘s Digital Art program in 2001.

GRAPHIC DESIGN took me by surprise in my second year of college at the Ateneo De Manila University. Before then, I had been wanting to go into writing, and before that, the sciences. Somewhere along the way, the focus shifted to computers, and what I could do with them. That’s when I decided to join the Art and Layout team of The GUIDON, Ateneo’s official student newspaper.

The Art and Layout department was renamed “Graphic Design” that year, and The GUIDON had just emerged from its first baby steps in desktop publishing. I hit the ground running, introduced to the job with a crash course in both traditional and contemporary newspaper design techniques, using dummy sheets and scissors and tape, as well as PC’s with Pagemaker and CorelDraw. In a matter of hours I learned the principles and processes of basic typography, typesetting, style, balance, composition, white space, leading, kerning, and all those other concepts that come with design for the printed page. Within a week, I was rushing to meet deadlines, laying out News and Features pages. Outside of my formal studies, graphic design for The GUIDON occupied the rest of my college life, right up till graduation day itself. Along the way, I was promoted to Graphics and Photography Editor, and my thirst to delve deeper into the arcana of the art was slaked by hours of painstaking self-study. I bought books on design, I began to study HTML, I even borrowed a GUIDON computer, took it home, and installed Photoshop and other graphics applications, that I might learn more.

Meanwhile, a month-long internship at an advertising production house introduced me to the world of video post-production. I worked on Media 100 and AfterEffects, and I felt that I had found my niche. After graduation, I joined Omnipost, a high-end digital post-production house, where for two years I worked with creative directors and production managers, edited TV commercials and corporate videos, designed 2D animations and visual effects, and learned the basics of the Editbox and HAL Express systems by Quantel. On the side, I continued to build up my knowledge of design, studying the use of WYSIWYG applications and applying the graphic techniques I had learned in video to the web.

It was after two years that I decided to make a major shift to web design as a profession, and I joined the local portal,, as web design executive. While there, I began to learn the use of CSS, rediscovered the fine art of manual HTML coding, and I took my first steps in Flash animation. Shortly after, I moved back to a video-based company, New Media, authoring video to DVD and other digital formats for disc-based media and the web. At the same time, however, I continued to study and expand my self-initiated design training. In my free time, I designed my first, then second, then third Flash websites; I studied the ins and outs of domains and web hosting; I learned to install and write Perl/CGI and PHP scripts; and, discovering the Web Standards Project, I completely embraced standards-compliant XHTML and CSS-based design, applying it to my own personal portal and weblog,

At this point, I’m tempted to stand back, nod my head, and say, “Ah, a job well done!” but that would be a grossly premature assessment of my ability, which, even after all this work, is still in its infancy. So far, all my training has been self-studied, my knowledge acquired by imitation and painstaking trial-and-error. While I may have developed passable interactive design skills on my own, I lack formal education in the theory of the practice. Furthermore, my design ethic is more focused on speed, simplicity, and usability — certainly positive traits for a web designer — yet my online work remains aloof, almost clinical, lacking the more visceral impact which should accompany an artist’s vision.

Hence, my quest for a M.A. degree in Digital Arts at Maryland Institute, College of Art.

With your university, I aim to formalize my training in interactive media design, and develop a uniquely personal aesthetic: a focused artistic identity of design which I can truly call my own. Your program offers just the right balance of technical training and abundant creative exercise which will help me evolve artistically, while also exploring the technological tricks of the trade across several fields.

MICA’s solid reputation as a leading arts college, combined with the sample works by MICA graduates linked to and presented from the website, as well as the MICA website itself, convinced me to prioritize MICA above all others as my school of choice for an M.A. in Digital Arts. I bring with me a systematic and organized work ethic, a passion for creating usable standards-compliant web pages and multimedia presentations, and a yen to explore new horizons in both technological and artistic fields of interactive design. It is my desire that, as I grow in skill and creativity with my tenure at MICA, I can also help to enrich the university’s own vista, both with mutually beneficial knowledge and the building of strong, lasting personal associations with students and faculty alike.

My aim is to graduate as a skilled designer and a dynamic artist; one who can bring a distinctive culture of sensible-yet-beautiful design to the profession. With this, I hope to do my share in shaping an industry which subtly affects all that we see and much of what we do — and help change it for the better.