Shopping Cart

Your Cart is currently empty. view / checkout / account / login

Open Manifesto

Child’s play.

An essay by A.C.

{30th of June 2009}


My Dad and I usually communicate in Chinese, as I spoke it regularly growing up. When I Skype home, he is always the one to pick up. He asks me how I’m doing, pauses briefly to listen to my response, and hands the phone over to my Mom. We rarely share long conversations and never speak in English.


This one time, though, last year, when I was telling him how difficult it was applying to graphic design grad schools, he paused for a moment and said, “If you think you can, you can.” I didn’t know quite how to respond. I’m not sure if it was his use of English or his seeming support for my plans that startled me. To that point, I had always thought him disappointed in my refusal to apply to law school. And here he was, telling me to live life on my own terms.


I’ve thought a lot about those words over my second week as an intern at Pentagram. In moments of self-doubt, I have tried to draw strength from the man whose expectations I have tried so hard to live up to. While I know that my dreams will never be his dreams for me, the thought that he is confident in my choices makes me willing to believe in my work despite my feelings of inadequacy.


The last few days have been extraordinarily busy. Though interns do not usually get to create designs, there was so much work this week that I was given the opportunity to make stationery sets for two clients and concert tickets for a well-known uptown symphony orchestra. Given that I had never designed anything like this, I was excited but had little idea what I was doing.


(The rest of this article is available, in print, in Open Manifesto #5)



Andy Chen, originally from Los Angeles, graduated from Princeton University with an A.B. in Sociology and a certificate in East Asian Studies. Over the summer of 2009, he is completing an internship at Pentagram Design under art director Paula Scher. Subsequently, he will serve a one-year appointment as Fulbright Research Associate at the Royal College of Art’s Helen Hamlyn Centre, where he will create design interventions for non-profit and charity organizations in London.