Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design student Alexandra Olivia has always loved to draw.
“I’ve been doing illustration and graphic design since 2015, so since I was in high school,” she says.
Over the last few years, Alexandra, an international student from Indonesia, has been building a portfolio as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, working for big brands including Coca-Cola, Adobe, Vans, Mini Cooper and Renault.
So when it came time to apply for a university degree, the ACU degree was a logical choice. While other courses she looked at offered either graphic design or fine arts, Alexandra was set on finding a qualification would help her build skills in more than one area.
“The ACU degree includes both visual arts and graphic design, so I feel like it’s the course for me,” she says.
Course content spans studio-based art, graphic design and design history and theory, and encompasses topics like figure making, printmaking, object design and graphic design, all of which are relevant to Alexandra’s future career.
“I feel like all of my subjects are really useful. They’re not really related to illustration, so that has really helped me open my eyes to other [media] and they’ve also helped me to experiment with my work,” she says.
“The graphic design subjects have also been amazing – before coming to ACU and studying all of these subjects, my graphic design skills wasn’t really that good, so it’s really helped me a lot.”
Alexandra credits her studies, as well as volunteering to help out at a range of events beyond the classroom, as being critical to helping her build the professional and people-centric skills she needs to grow her business.
“When I was starting out as an illustrator, I was in high school, so I didn’t know how things worked – I didn’t know how to handle clients well, for example. When I went to ACU, I learnt all those things,” she says.
A community engagement subject, in which students are required to find and complete an internship with a community organisation, was also instrumental in helping Alexandra gain professional experience in Australia.
She found the role, which was at an art supply company in Melbourne, through one of her teachers, who contacted her to suggest that she apply.
“I was really panicking, because at the time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she says.
“It was a really fun job – I basically did tutorials teaching people how to do different artworks based on [the company’s] products.
It’s a typical example of the above-and-beyond approach of ACU teaching staff, who support students to achieve their learning goals as well as to grow and thrive
“That’s really important, because when you’re working and studying, sometimes that can be really stressful, or when you’re studying and you don’t have any support, it can be really tough. So for me, that’s helped a lot,” she says.