I was born into a family that takes immense pride in academic achievements. That was not a bad thing per se, and I actually proved to be quite a bright student in both primary and secondary school. Eager to please, I had never achieved less than excellent grades and was often top of my class.
This good fortune continued; I enrolled myself in the A-levels programme in Taylor’s University with hopes of becoming a doctor soon after. A lot of money was at stake, but my parents were rather eager to have me become the first doctor in the family, due to parental pride and some sibling rivalry. But I digress!
As a child, I was always very interested in art. I would pick up a crayon and make a doodle of everything I saw. My love for reading and watching Japanese anime series motivated me to draw even more, spurring me to design and tinker with Photoshop later in my teenage years. I was also musically inclined – being a strings person and a happily hopeless fan of Beethoven’s and Schumann’s orchestral works, I loved playing in string ensembles (which I did in Taylor’s as well). Besides giving piano and violin lessons, I also played music at boutiques and shopping malls to help foot my expenses for music classes.
Taylor’s was an experience like no other. I enjoyed my classes and made various unforgettable new friends. It was fun being in a predominantly male class, as I was from an all-girls convent school! However, despite all the laughter, the wonderful lecturers, and the constantly intriguing lessons, something crucial was missing. I would later discover that it was passion I lacked – passion for what I was studying.
It would be both untrue and unfair to say that I favoured fine arts over science, because both held equal importance in my heart. If I had the choice, I would become an artist, musician, and doctor simultaneously. However, I am also too spontaneous and free-spirited to settle for a life of studying and dealing with patients. Not that being a doctor is unexciting, mind you – it just wasn’t the kind of excitement that I was seeking.
I thrive under the adrenaline rush that comes from trying to meet a deadline, and savour the thrill of performing onstage with a violin or piano. It might be a stretch to say that my ambition is to actually be a freelance designer and music teacher while dabbling with performing and illustrating on the side, but there you go.
My parents were, as expected, not too happy with my decision of shifting to the arts, although my mother was actually rather supportive and helped me transfer to The One Academy a short while after my AS exams (the first stage of exams for A-levels students). It was a totally different environment, with a diverse spread of students and lecturers alike. Pursuing art was a breath of fresh air, for it is all about making something out of nothing. I finally feel that I have embraced my true calling by becoming a multimedia design student at that institution.
In this course, we focus on technical knowledge while honing our skills as a designer. We learn a lot about programming, coding, web design, and the works; our projects are actually really very interesting! We are given a lot of creative room to experiment, and some of our projects include Flash animations and art installations.
In multimedia design and designing with online media, the possibilities are truly endless. Online media is so free and uninhibited – when it comes to design, the sky is literally the limit! You could say that I am entranced with the idea of having no limitations whatsoever in designing and creating countless revolutionary design ideas.
With the many kinds of tools and programmes that we have at our disposal, there is very little a multimedia designer cannot do or design – we are overcoming all sorts of different obstacles everyday. Technology’s rapid progress is every designer’s dream, for we are now given absolute free rein to create ideas that impress, engage, and enchant other people.
I am also working on my music, and if all goes well, I hope to join an orchestra later on and continue teaching while trying to be an accomplished designer. After all, if you do not take chances, you will never know what lies ahead! I was set on pursuing medicine for many years, but upon seizing an opportunity and giving arts and music a chance, I am now happier than I have ever been. And you know what they say – sometimes, you just have to go with the flow. Godspeed, I say!
Cheng Wan Kimm is currently studying multimedia design at The One Academy. She is a part-time music teacher, specialising in piano and violin. Her many unorthodox interests include composing music, portrait drawing, and playing dance games at the arcade. Click here for more articles.
Note: The above entry was written in 2010 for What’s After SPM?, published in 2011. This non-for-profit book project is a collaboration between Leaderonomics and a team of young Malaysians. Click here for details on the project and authors.