Vivay Li—Graphic designer at Phoenix Labs, the creators of the Dauntless video game

Vivay Li—Graphic designer at Phoenix Labs, the creators of the Dauntless video game

How did your practicum placement go?

I did my practicum at The Sequence Group, a boutique animation studio. They’re created cutscenes and motion comics for games in the Halo and Marvel franchises. Since Sequence didn’t respond to our initial emails about practicum placements, I rang their doorbell, delivered a hand-made package, and had a chance to talk their executive producer. Thankfully, that got me a practicum placement. You can view what I worked on at Sequence on my website.

Under (a lot of) helpful guidance from The Sequence Group, I painted a dinosaur narrative. I’m still very junior, so I’m really grateful that Sequence was so patient and helpful.

Under (a lot of) helpful guidance from The Sequence Group, I painted a dinosaur narrative. I’m still very junior, so I’m really grateful that Sequence was so patient and helpful.

What did you do this past summer, and how’s the new job at Phoenix Labs?

Over the summer, I split up my time between volunteering, freelancing, and networking. The bulk of my volunteer duties were associated with Vault 100, a studio space for entertainment designers. We would host art critiques, art pitch jams, and workshops at the venue. The Vault was established by concept artists from Vancouver's gaming and animation industries. I've made many good friends and fond memories at Vault 100. Sadly, we had to close its doors at the end of August because our rent funding had come to an end. The spirit of Vault 100 lives on in our coffee shop meetups, though.

Zen garden treehouse environment design, done during my time at Vault 100

Zen garden treehouse environment design, done during my time at Vault 100

Before I started my studies at Capilano, I knew how to work like a machine, but I didn’t know how to be human. If we practise empathy, if we think of walking up to a 3-year-old child who is scribbling with crayons, we would not put them down. We would nurture them. We all deserve to be loved, regardless of what we do or do not achieve. As long as we treat each other, and ourselves, with empathy and respect, we can tackle whatever this big bad world throws at us.
— Vivay Li
Magneto illustration, done during my time at Vault 100

Magneto illustration, done during my time at Vault 100

Coincidentally, my last week in the Vault studio was followed up by my first week at Phoenix Labs. I'm a graphic designer for their free-to-play monster slaying game, Dauntless. I work on a variety of tasks that span UI/UX, illustration, and branding. In my (honest and subjective) opinion, I think Dauntless is the coolest game that's being developed in Vancouver right now. I couldn't have asked for a better work culture fit. Aside from the nerdy atmosphere, there's also many opportunities to take initiative, have ownership over what I do, and get feedback from industry veterans. My co-workers hail from Bioware, Riot, Capcom, and EA. Had I not resolved my emotions beforehand at Sequence, I certainly would've freaked out over the thought of working with such an established team. Thankfully, I have grown up since then.

Now, go play Dauntless and slay some Behemoths! We're in open beta, and things are going to get even better from here.

This flaming hot Dauntless wallpaper features the Embermane Behemoth. Disclaimer: I didn’t work on this image, but I am working on other aspects of the Dauntless game, such as UI/UX and smaller illustrations.

This flaming hot Dauntless wallpaper features the Embermane Behemoth. Disclaimer: I didn’t work on this image, but I am working on other aspects of the Dauntless game, such as UI/UX and smaller illustrations.

What’s it like working with your fellow grad, John Dimal?

John and I are on separate teams, so our work duties usually don't overlap. However, I do get to run into him every day, and we have amusing chats in Slack. We also play Dauntless together whenever we need a break. John makes for good company.

What are some of the more memorable highlights from your time at IDEA School of Design?

Without a doubt, the classmates and instructors I've met through IDEA have made my four years of school very memorable and enjoyable. I hesitate to pinpoint one specific experience because that makes me feel like I'm leaving out a hundred other experiences. However, for the sake of brevity, I'll talk about my favourite quote from an instructor. She said, "It is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission." As someone who used to ask for permission far too often, that quote has helped me see the world in a different light. It gave me more confidence to make my own decisions.

Tell us about the awards you won

During my time at IDEA, I won a mixture of illustration and graphic design awards, such as Applied Arts and Salazar. Personally, I have a somewhat adverse relationship to awards and traditional indicators of achievement. There's more info about this in my answer to the last question. Nonetheless, it might be beneficial for others to see what has won awards, so here's one of my recent pieces.

Neutral Collectivism: part of a six-part illustration series in my  thesis project

Neutral Collectivism: part of a six-part illustration series in my thesis project

What type of projects are you currently working on?

I can't give too many specifics about what I'm doing for the Dauntless game – we do have an NDA, after all – but I can tell you about my personal side project. I'm working with my friend, who's a developer and writer, to create another indie narrative game. This time, we want to up the ante and make something that's more polished than our previous project. Both of us are in a similar position in our careers. We're young professionals who have day jobs in the games industry, but we want to continue to develop the skills that matter most to us. For my friend, that's writing, and for me, that's illustration and concept art.

Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

I'm not sure what the future has in store for me, but I do know what my own goals are. Here's a general overview:

Professional development

  • improve digital painting and concept art skills

  • create artwork for my second game on Steam

Community

Personal

  • I say this with hesitation: I guess I need to find a date.

  • Prepare for the apocalypse. I'm only half joking. Vancouver is supposed to have a big earthquake, you know.

Dinosaur Motion Comic 034 v010 by Vivay Li at Sequence Group (2018)

Dinosaur Motion Comic 034 v010 by Vivay Li at Sequence Group (2018)

If you could tell your pre-IDEA self one thing, what would it be?

I would show her my valedictorian speech. The full speech and video recording is available online, but here's a two-sentence summary of the write-up: Everyone deserves to be loved, regardless of what they do or do not achieve. When our self-worth is not reliant on our achievements, we are no longer driven by shame or fear of failure; instead, we are driven by our love of what we do.

Feel free to keep in touch with me on various corners of the internet:

Instagram: @vivayli

Portfolio site: http://vivayli.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vivayli/

Artstation: https://www.artstation.com/vivayli

First year IDEA student, Annika McFarlane, reflects on her first term in a 4 year art school degree program

First year IDEA student, Annika McFarlane, reflects on her first term in a 4 year art school degree program

Early Applications for Fall 2019 close on Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Early Applications for Fall 2019 close on Wednesday, January 23, 2019