Three Things Owen Chen Has Learned

Owen Chen

Owen ChenVFS Digital Design grad and current UX/Visual Designer for Bing Social at Microsoft  was recently in town and did an impromptu presentation to current students just before the Digital Design Showcase. Entitled Three Things I Have Learned So Far, Owen’s talk was brief but entirely to the point, and just the thing the students needed to hear to encourage them at this point in their studies.

Here are the highlights from the three things he has learned:

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Launch Pad: Digital Design Talks with Carter Gilchrist and Novita Prasetia

When starting a business, most of the owners will have a small client base already in place, but what makes your business successful and allows you to continue and grow is totally a different story. The theme of this term’s Digital Design Talks is Launch Pad. Our speakers will take you through their journeys as first-time business owners in the design world. As interesting as the business side of design can be, don’t forget that your design still has to be appealing and interesting.

As for our speakers, we have invited Digital Design alumnus Carter Gilchrist, and current Digital Design student Novita Prasetia, to present their amazing stories to us.

Carter Gilchrist has over 13 years of web experience and has worked on a diverse portfolio of projects. In 2009, he co-founded Unbounce with 5 other colleagues, and is currently the Director of Product and User Experience.

As a full-stack developer and designer, he is responsible for everything from the UX design strategy, through to UI design and development, as well as back-end implementation.

Previous to Unbounce, he lead the front-end web product development for, a revolutionary browser extension, and was a Co-Founder of Fire450 Internet Product Development. Prior to that, Carter worked with the User Experience product team at Bodog Entertainment.

Outside of Unbounce, Carter plays in a number of bands, and helps run an independent record label, Unit Structure Sound Recordings.

 Novita (aka Vivi) is a current student in Digital Design at Vancouver Film School. When she was in high school she was not sure which path exactly to choose for her future, but she knew that she wanted to be in a creative environment. After a while, she chose Film Production and got her Bachelor’s with Honors in Film and TV from Limkokwing University of Technology in Malaysia.

After about a year of working in the film industry, she realized that she has a strong passion for Interactive Design, and so she went to VFS.

While she was waiting for the program to start, she started thinking about her first step in the business world. She saw an opportunity in generating income using her other passion, which is Crafting, and got help from her parents to open her first Crafting store: Knit Knot Crafthouse. She was fortunate enough that the business took off after a month, and she launched the website. She converted her garage into a store and now, after about 7 months, the store is doing very well.

She is enjoying her time being a Digital Design student and learning about different approaches to problem solving. She hopes to get a job as an Interactive Designer upon graduation.

Digital Design Talks is happening this Wednesday, September 12th at 4:30pm in the Main Theatre of VFS at 420 Homer Street. The talk is open to public, so please feel free to come and enjoy listening to the story of these two brilliant speakers.

Concept Art and Character Design

After the Digital Design Talks on Wednesday with Peter Gikandi from Big Park Studios, I was inspired to do some Concept Art. The first things that came to mind were: ‘boat,’ ‘captain’ and ‘monkey with an attitude.’ I opened up Photoshop, started sketching, and the image presented here is what I ended up with.

It was a great feeling to just take out some time without worrying about my final project and do some experimentation.

I’m looking forward to future talks with Peter Gikandi — this one was inspirational, and his demos are awesome.


Digital Design Talks ‘Chops’ with J.R. Canest and Peter Gikandi

VFS Digital Design Talks Chops

The Digital Design Talks lecture series is changing it up this week. We have two heavy-hitters on the roster instead of the usual three. This will allow them both to dive a bit deeper into their presentations. The theme is ‘Chops’ and the bodies of work that our speakers have created proves unequivocally that they  have them.

Peter Gikandi, an environment and character artist working at Big Park Studios is returning for an encore presentation. He blew the students away a year ago when he did a live, improvised character-design tutorial. He had the audience shout out suggestions as he created a character from scratch, allowing their ideas to be his inspiration and walking us through  his approach to creating unique and memorable characters, impressing everyone with his technical prowess and showing everyone a few new tricks along the way. What will the results be this time? You’ll have to attend the presentation to find out!

J.R. Canest (Jorge R. Canedo Estrada) came to VFS as one of the VFS Youtube Scholarship winners. Crazy Enough (his title sequence project) started winning awards while Jorge was still a student (including being a finalist in the Adobe Design Achievement Awards) and  and has been featured on numerous Motion Design blogs. After graduating in 2009 he moved to LA to work at Buck in LA where the praise for his work continued on projects that he did for  Google Talk and the acclaimed documentary Waiting for Superman. We’re thrilled to have him back in Vancouver where he is now working at Giant Ant.

The event takes place on Wednesday March 14th, starting at 4:30pm in the Main Theatre at the 420 Homer Street Campus of VFS. Although it is part of the Digital Design curriculum it is open to the public. If you are interested in attending please send an RSVP to