Just who is Mel?



Meliza Lin Arocena Deocales. That my full name. But you dont need to know that, because I also answer to a three letter monosyllable ‘Mel’, though I prefer Meliza. Meh-lee-zah. I know people say z ‘zed’ here, but no, my name is not pronounced Melitzah, nor is it pronounced Melissa. If it was, then the spelling should have been Melissa, but no its not spelt that way is it. Actually it’s pretty easy to say. Its Lisa with Mel in front of it. Only your ‘s’ is slightly a semi ‘zed’.

Yeah, no. I may not appear fussy about my name, but that’s only because I’m tired of correcting and re-correcting people, over and over again.

I am eighteen. Fresh out of high school. From the shore side of the bridge. I went to Westlake Girls High School. West what, Westlake! A part of my life I thought I’d never miss, but now as I’m being piled more life decisions and this new concept of becoming an adult, well suddenly I miss it more than anything else.

First impression people get of me apparently, is that I’m this- what was it again, le quote “some ultra-hardcore-super-nerd”. Ha! Well. I dont know. I guess that’s pretty spot on. Only I would just say that I care of where I will be say five, ten years from now. Im future-oriented. I enjoy things in the present. Yes. But I care about what’s ahead of me too. I like the security in the control I have over my future.

Like of my decisions for what course I wanted to take in uni, and which uni I’ll go to. That was a decision I have been looking into since NCEA started to rule my student life. I wanted to take Architecture. It had been my dream- to be an architect, ever since Form 4. So last year I made sure to take all the subjects that I know would get me into Architecture. Calculus. Art History- instead of English, because it would feed into my arts too. And Painting. And Sculpture. And Graphics. Yeah. Crazy? Yeah. I know. I was the epitome of crazy. I still am, mind you.

That thing Austin Kleon said about being boring, because that the only way you get work done? Well. That was me, last year. I pretty much never left the art department. I lived there. And I thrived. Im not boasting. Not at all. But Im happy with all the things I have achieved. I came top in Graphics overall, in my year. Got my name engraved on that freaky hand trophy. And finally beat that girl who kept coming first in the past few years. For our architecture brief, we were to design a student common for Westlake, and the top three designs had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in to the Board of Trustees. I was one of those three. I remember being so happy, because it could help me get into Architecture. Since my calc grades weren’t so sweet. Actually, Im sure if they tasted like anything, they would have been bitter. Poison. I only ever used calculus periods to take naps, since I was not familiar with the act of sleeping.

But then I got called in to see the Deans one day. Thought I was in trouble. Cos I havent been going to any of my classes apart from my art periods. This was October last year, when everything was due. And I had to complete three portfolios. Six actually, since I applied for scholarship. Anyway- I thought I was in trouble. But in fact it had been the other way round. I actually had been granted a scholarship to AUT. I remember being overjoyed, because my scholarship application to UoA was rejected since I didnt have enough excellence credits.

Before this, I was invited by AUT to attend the annual Product Design 24 Hour Challenge, so I pretty much got an ‘in’ on what Product was all about. And I was hooked. It made me realize that I did not want to be dealing with buildings all my life, but with my own creations and ideas.

I had always wanted to launch my own business too. I had thoughts of creating my own brand. My design personality as a brand. But I just dont know in what industry. I’ve thought of kitchen accessories, clothing accessories, desk and office accessories, to domestic and commercial furniture, and even transport design. I clearly dont know yet. That bugs me. Because I like knowing I know. But Im working through it.

I do know however that I want to be my own boss. And have my own business. But I guess that’s in the long run. At this point, I feel strongly to merge my interest in fashion and product together. Or I dont know, find something in our world or society that needs to change or be mended and mend it. Inject something new?

My folks tell me that design is rubbish. There’s no money in it. That it should be all about practicality and finding a job that will provide. Yeah. I get that and all. But I just dont see myself stuck in a hospital doing a nurse’s job.

Im scared too. What if I dont find a job in the end? I dont like the uncertainty it holds for me. But at the same time, I wouldnt have it any other way.

A lot of people my age are also unsure about what they want to do. And my friends have changed from one course to another. And another. And another. It scares me though. It got me thinking what if I’m not in the right course? Just what if? I always had this idea of having only one bullet in my gun. Do this right once, so there’s no need to repeat.

But I reckon if I just keep going, Product can take me anywhere. After all, what is the definition of the word ‘product’. Product can mean anything! And I have two years to really dig deep and find out what I really want to do. Because I find that, when I’m doing something I love, no matter how hard it is. I would stick to it.

I did so much research during the inter-semester break. I was so eager to build a safety blanket for my mentality.  I did not want to be thinking that I’m not in the right place again. Call me weird or over the top, I don’t care. I’ll do what I want to do with my life, thank you very much and you do whatever with yours. So I found out that this company Formworks Design exist in New Zealand. I plan to apply for an internship with them when I have built up a convincing portfolio and when I have acquired more advanced prototyping skills. And most definitely, when I am more sure of my design personality.

And then I plan to do my Masters in Umea in Sweden. Yes, their two year programme are taught in English and the university is very prestigious. Then I shall seek for another internship. Yeah. I feel funny too, planning all of this, when there’s a lot of things that can happen in between.

I know that I want to learn who I am first as a person and as a designer. I believe that to be a successful designer you have to be different. You have to be fresh. I guess what I mean is, YOU have to know who YOU yourself are. And that you wont sway from that, because no two people are the same. And because each is unique, you become your own personality, and in turn that informs your creations. Or at least that’s how I see it at this moment in time.

I was unhappy with my studio marks from last semester. I was lost, to be honest. I really cannot explain how. I just feel like a blind man trying to feel my way through. The transition between two lecturers was pretty harsh on me. Nick had a really distinct style of teaching. He wouldnt push you to one thing but rather skirt around that idea; suggest things that lead to that idea without really telling you what it exactly is. It bugged me. It really did. I wanted to know what it was that he didn’t like so I could work on it more. And Hale. Hale was clear about what she wanted. But then at times it would be a different opinion the next time I ask her. Which was confusing. And instructions were a bit confusing too, as raised by Stephen during the lecture this morning. I remember that one time when I had to regenerate concepts because what she wanted was for us to build ‘around’ the canister and not fully encase it. This I only found out two or three weeks after the brief was given.

I struggled with generating original, ‘mind-blowing’ ideas. That’s what I want to work on this semester. I plan to do this by digging deeper. Doing more research. And I do mean a lot of it. Because I could pick up on something along the way that could inform my design decisions. And seek inspiration in not only existing products and designers, but also nature?

And that way I could be more sure of why I did what I did- so I can be more convincing in delivering presentations. The back story is everything. It makes for a better design. It’s, I guess- called selling not only your idea but yourself too, to the market per se.

I also see the need to document my thoughts and insights as I go. It informs me of what I was thinking then when I need to cross reference, and it also informs the lecturer.

Time management. That’s something I need to work on too. More focus. Less social. More boring. I plan to do this by adjusting the workload is spread between primarily the weekdays, so that I have the weekends to fall back on if I need to along the way. Also revisiting the time chart would every week to keep on track, and readjusting it if the need comes along. I guess, it would also help to document things as I go and not leave it till last minute.

Be more thorough. Definitely. Follow the design process crucially. Use the creative tools. Matrix, scamper, swot analysis, pestle. And a lot more formative evaluation according to not only the specifications of the brief but also pestle.

Prepare fully for presentations. Know what to say. Anticipate questions. Be sure about your design decisions. Back story is good. Take time.

I want to work faster, meaning I want to generate ideas really fast. And learn how to rapid prototype. And above all, avoid self editing after every one idea. Quantity. And then, and only then quality.  I also want to draw better– to better my communication visually.

And last but not least, I want to grow as a designer. I want to know more of me. I want to find me. ‘Side projects and hobbies are important’ indeed! Its what makes you, you! Your music. What you’re into. Your background.

So who am I?

Life is not life without art. I love to paint. I appreciate beauty. And I think nature is beautiful. I’m a sucker for a sight like the sun setting over Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. The snow-capped mountains to the green moss threatening to cover rock forms. I love music. I love to sing. Im in my church choir. And I sing every day. In fact, my parents have to yell to shut me and my sister up when we’re singing. They always ask if we ever get tired of singing. Of course the answers from both of us is always no. Sometimes I play the guitar.  But I haven’t mastered one song yet. Lol. I follow fashion blogs. And I dream of being able to afford the things I want. I’m a health freak. I used to be chubby. I loved to eat. I still do. But I’ve lost too much weight to get back into what I was used to. I worked out like crazy last year. Changed my eating habits. And gave up soft drinks. Chocolate and junk food are only treats now. However last sem has been bad for me. Money from Studylink gave me freedom to spend money I don’t have. And I dream to travel. Most especially to Europe.

There’s more to me than two thousand words. But I know I have to stop now before I start writing a novel for you to read. Besides, I’m writing my life story as I go. Every day. So I guess this story is ‘to be continued’. Or it just means I’ve run out of the allocated 15 minute time limit.


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