Saturday, July 02, 2011

What's Your (INspiring) Story: Eric Lee & 3D Designs

Last 2 weeks, I featured a comic artist. And this time round, I'm featuring a designer. He is not the usual graphics designer whom I'm more familiar with. But instead, this is a 3D designer, graduated in industrial design and now working as interior designer. 

This is Eric Lee, one of my online khakis. And I'm glad to have invited him to come on board - giving an insight on his passion, his belief on us doing what we are passionate about, and for sharing his background & industry. This, is his story..

After my STPM, I, like most students, was trying to decide what to do for my future. I confessed that I have strong dislike in studying which requires me to memorize. I prefer things to be more interactive and make full use of creativity. 

My sister recommended me this Industrial Design which is mainly about product design. I was quite intrigued as I always liked drawing.

eric lee

To tell the truth, my parents were against this choice of mine as they thought it does not hold any future. But i decided for ONCE in my life, I wanted to study WHAT I WANT and not what they ASK ME TO. 

Like most people, I initially thought designing to be a glamorous work whereby I only need to draw and sketch which actually I'm only average at. I was informed by my sister that design is a very tedious work and I took her word seriously. Unfortunately, not seriously enough.

eric lee 3d designer

Design is not as easy as it seems, or how I though it would be.

Besides our usual designing works which requires us to design creatively while meeting engineering and human behaviour aspects, we also had to come out with mock-ups and panels. 

3D modelling and renderings is not as easy as it always seems. We had to sniff the smell of wood, paint, glue and dust. We worked in terrible conditions and even slept in it. Imagine sleeping in a wood factory. That’s roughly how it was.

eric lee works

While doing all these, I had lessons from different fields such as engineering and marketing. Imagine doing a project which requires me to work on it hands-on while studying for several exams in the finals? Worst of all? The finals and presentation dates falls on the same week. I slept less than 6 HOURS IN A WEEK for several weeks on average. Usually at the final moments, I would not be able to sleep for 2 days minimum due to rushing project and studying.

Some might question my time management by now but I assured you, those are not last minute work. Most of us started earlier before getting the "consent" to do so actually.

My final year and final semester is my most memorable one. And in this final year, I had to rush for not only 1 design project but actually 2. All in the frame of only 3 months, I had to amend the project from the previous semester, finalizing the major project, getting a design project done, finalizing my thesis and study for exams.

eric lee
I almost thought I couldn't make it due to the tight schedule. I did break down due to stress on the final week. I almost entirely lost my passion in design. It cane to the point that I'm disgusted by my own works and everything I did is just for the sake of trying to pass.

Besides, design evaluation is very subjective. I had to work based on this vague passing standards which I'm not sure of either.

It came to the point that whenever I took a short nap or sleep for awhile, I even dreamt I was facing my work. I had to smell putty, thinner, spray paint, emulsion paint and strong glue smell for several weeks in my OWN ROOM. The smell is equivalent as bad as having a dead rat in your room for weeks.

eric room

I pushed myself hard with great help from my friends from other course and also my juniors. After weeks of effort, I think my average sleeping time for that month did not exceed 3 hours a day on average. 

Many who tried to study in design decided to give up due to the tedious work and loss of passion. Some basically lost interest in studying altogether. Even there are design students who managed to finish their course, did not seek for a career in design because they wish not to relive the nightmares.

That's not all. I also faced strong criticism for my designs. Criticism that would insult every single pride which you hold in your design.

eric lee design

I've seen people broke down after their presentation and some guys came out from their presentation with red and teary eyes. They could be seen holding a lot of emotions within them. Sadness, anger and disappointment. 

Being a designer, we hold our pride in our designs. Imagine having your own child being called "worthless", "rubbish" and also "a brainless product" from you. After all the hard work and sleepless nights, all you had gotten is a bucketful of insults. This actually explains why so many students decided to give up on their design studies. It is not the hard work they can't face, but the criticism is the one pulling the trigger.

However, I remained strong and take pride in my design and ideas. I was actually happy to know that external examiners gave me very high score; in fact one of the highest. This indicates that they like the idea of my design. 

Although I got low marks from my lecturer which literally lowered my confidence, but I am still proud of what I have done. This represents my determination and hard work. So after 3 "hellish years" in UTM, I can graduate with my head held high.

eric lee graduation design

Right now, I'm an Interior Designer in a quite established and well-known event company, Red Antz Sdn. Bhd. Honestly, working as a designer is almost the same as before. The difference is there will be shorter deadlines and you are being paid to do it.

I don't hope this story to be called as inspiring. I'm telling this to tell people that having passion is important. But patience and hard work is the real key to success in anything. I almost lost my passion in design during my university days but I remain patient and here I am doing event design.

I still have to meet tight deadlines, still have to stay up late and don't sleep for several occasions. There  are times that I even need to work on weekends on several occasions. I'm not exactly a very talented designer. But, I cover up what I lack by trying to improve and learn as much as I could no matter how hard things are.
eric lee design works
Some of the works by Eric
So why do I still do this? Because I love it although I hate the workload. I am proud of it and I think people should do what interest them the most.

It doesn't matter if you do not have talents, but by knowing what you are good at combined with hard work and patience, and then you can be good in what you do.


  1. Gosh! Am I glad I am not an interior designer! Haha!! But what Eric said is so true - having the passion is very important. Without it, you cannot last very long in what you do.

  2. Yes. Passion and enthusiasm can bring you far where talent alone cannot. :)

  3. I sometime oso pity Eric for its workload but i understand how much he love his job especially when his design is accepted! And im proud of him! :D

  4. Yes, design work is tedious and a lot of hardwork - even thankless.

    Working in an event-management environment can be taxing most times but your awesome attitude can surely see you thru, Eric. Keep it up!

    A great portfolio there.

    QC, thanks for sharing Eric's inspiring story.

  5. Wow, Eric is good! Lucky to have known him as a friend and lucky darling Caroline. ;)


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