Jessie Liu

Jessie Liu Freelance designer
Bachelor of Design 2020

We're so lucky to have such experienced and engaged tutors who have a wealth of knowledge to offer.

Jessie Liu

Meet Jessie Liu, a Melbourne/Naarm-based communication designer from New Zealand. Jessie enjoys devising engaging and considered design solutions that have a lasting impact. Her work focuses on brand identity, motion and print.

We caught up with Jessie to hear about her time at Monash University studying the Bachelor of Design and what’s next after graduation.

Congratulations on winning the Adobe Outstanding Portfolio Award! How did it feel to receive the award?

Thank you! I was ecstatic and overwhelmed with gratitude towards everyone who played a part in this journey and my projects. I think I tend to be quite hard on myself, so the recognition was a good reminder to be more confident about my work! Hopefully, the award reinforces my portfolio and serves as an opportunity to connect with cool people from the design industry.

What was your inspiration for your graduate project focusing on encouraging the discourse of design ethics?

The first part of my graduate project involved documenting the visual style of various Fish and Chip shops: bold shopfront typography, menus, handwritten special offers etc. It's like seeing a familiar friend in every town you visit! My research led me to questions of taste, like why does society consider this kind of design tacky/bad? Who even determines what 'good design’ is and why?

After that, I kind of fell down a rabbit hole, devouring articles on privilege, design decolonisation, design ego, creative saviour complex, and all very current and urgent issues. Conversations about these topics are increasingly necessary in this fast-paced and result-oriented world, but they're often difficult and uncomfortable. Rather than dumping all these confronting ethical issues on students doomsday-style, I decided to start bite-sized and focus on something more realistic and approachable: a design manifesto workshop that challenges students (or any designer, really) to think about their design practice. I think it's important to see the bigger picture of design's role in the world and acknowledge the incredible amount of responsibility a designer holds.

Tell us how you came to study Communication Design.

Before this degree, I studied three years of biomed and physiology back at home in Auckland, New Zealand. I thought I wanted to pursue medicine, probably due to external influences – my upbringing was very academics-oriented. I did alright but was never outstanding. I distinctly remember feeling so incredibly stupid around my peers. No matter how hard I tried, my marks weren't good enough. Anything creative that I liked doing, I pushed aside as a hobby.

After the third year of uni, I felt burnt out and defeated. Long story short, I 'followed my heart' (cheesy, I know) and applied for design. I think I was always interested in graphic design without knowing it was 'graphic design'. I find that it's the perfect balance of creativity and service, where I can help a diverse range of people directly.

Why did you choose to study at Monash University?

I had heard of Monash from friends and at career events at my high school, but I had never even thought of studying outside of New Zealand. It was kind of a miracle that Monash was pretty much the only university offering a design course for the year I enrolled, without requiring a portfolio, an interview or design subjects as prerequisites. I essentially had no proof of any sort of artistic ability, only my keen interest in design, my imagination, curiosity and willingness to learn. I am endlessly grateful that Monash Art, Design and Architecture took a chance on me. It's a fantastic course – from the design philosophy to the range of electives.

What is your favourite part of studying Communication Design?

We're so lucky to have such experienced and engaged tutors who have a wealth of knowledge to offer. I felt like they truly wanted to help the students and gave great constructive feedback. Oh, and the superb 3D scanners they have in the Digital Fabrication workshop at the Caulfield campus. I'll miss them.

What was the most unexpected thing you experienced in the course?

I used to be absolutely terrified of typography. I took Vincent Chan's Typography 1 elective (easily one of the best teachers I've had) to force myself to overcome this fear, and now I can't get enough of it. Type is so dynamic and expressive and, with the technology available today, it's become more exciting than ever.

What area in Communication Design are you focusing on?

I enjoy the multi-faceted quality of being a designer. However, I've found that I do a lot of branding. I like the holistic aspect of it and creating logical visual systems is satisfying to me. I also like dabbling in motion! With everything becoming more digital, it helps to give graphics a bit more life.

What career path would you like to pursue?

I'm curious about studio life! I'd like to learn about the practicalities of design as a service, such as fees, project management, working with clients, all while working on a diverse range of projects. I'm keeping an open mind as design is always evolving – perhaps there are paths yet to be discovered or created.

What advice would you give to first-year Communication Design students starting?

Don't be afraid to show work to your tutors and friends for feedback. You may think you can do it all yourself; hide the whole process and whip out something impressive for final submission, but trust me – the more perspectives, the better.

Make an Instagram, but don't use it as your primary source of inspiration. Have interests outside of design – it'll enrich your work and keep it refreshing and interesting!

View Jessie's graduate work and discover more on her current projects.

Kick-start your career at Monash with a Bachelor of Design.

Image: Proposed identity for 2021 Melbourne Cinémathèque. The striking white screen is used as a graphic device alongside a dreamy gradient to convey a sense of possibility and otherworldliness – as enchanting as the experience of watching a film.