It’s been a good 6 months or so since I finished my grad school at University of Sydney. I took a course in Interaction Design and Electronic Arts there for 3 semesters and it has been an awesome one to be honest. I got the chance to meet new people, new (foreign) environment and the best part is I got to formally learn interactive art, a field that I’ve felt in love with ever since I discovered it via internet about 5 years ago.
But as with other graduates, from every universities in every countries, a big question is not “what did you do in uni?” but rather “what can I do after I finished the course?” or in short “can I get a job with this degree?” With that I have a bit of story regarding this sensitive subject.
Before I enrolled myself in doing a master course, I previously worked in an IT industry, where I played a role of a network consultant, generally speaking. I was completely blind of what I had to do initially and considering I only took a 3 credits course in computer network in my undergrad course, this one was an ambitious step to say the least. However, the company was kind enough to let me learn from scratch. I got myself a fine piece of CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certificate and another VMWaver related certification. I also got to learn heaps of technical stuffs I’ve never heard before, plus the chance to sharpen my communication and social skill upon meeting new people (believe me, I’m horrible with that in the first place) and the best part was learning about organization and office life. Everything was fine. But still, regardless of what I got from that company, I founded myself constantly admiring other co-workers technical ability while continuously asking myself “am I good enough?” And in the end, I learned that why others advanced in a faster pace than me was because that field was their passion and there’s no way I can improve myself, mostly because that was not what I wanted myself to be. So I decided to left the company after 1.5 years working there and went abroad for a grad school.
Fast forward towards the end of last year. I’ve finished my course and I had to go back home. Things started to get a bit mixed up. Happy to go home but anxious because I didn’t have a job yet. Upon desperation, I contacted my old friend asking was there any way I could work with her, because I know she was (and still) an amazing motion graphic designer, she had her own business and maybe if she didn’t have any vacancy maybe I could ask her other people I could work with. In short, I got lucky. She and her co-workers had this interactive projection mapping project and for that they needed someone who’s good with creating interactive contents using Kinect. I was more than up for it. So, I packed my back, went home, met her team and started working, pretty much 2 days after I got home. We got 10 days to work and yes, we succeed. And me, I got a nice jump start for my career as an interaction designer/creative coder.
So, what do I do? Well, I create interactive artworks. It could be anything, from displays, videos, augmented reality animations, laser tag anything. In short, I created contents that user can interact with using non-traditional input devices (mouse, keyboard) such as, their bodies, laser pointers, or daily objects. How do I do that? I code to create custom software and I worked with the other 3d artists who provided me with required contents such as animation or video if necessary. Yes, I do make a living out of hacking webcams, Kinects and Arduinos and in programming environment like Processing, openFrameworks (C++ library), vvvv or TouchDesigner. I still affiliate myself with my friend and from that company I got interesting projects to work. However, I also branched out and started freelancing on my own, meeting new people and doing projects with them. It’s a fun and liberating work to say the least. The best part: I get to work from home with a very very flexible schedule. I have a chance to enjoy my life and not cursing Jakarta’s horrendous traffic jam. Sometimes though I had to stretch myself and working with no sleep for 2-3 days, but I consider that a compensation for not coming to the office for 2 weeks.
No matter how hard it is for me to explain people what do I do. No matter how much eyebrows raised when I tell people that I’m freelancing (it’s an alien word for engineers graduated from Indonesia’s best University). I sincerely do say I have my own dream job.