Natasha Azam

Natasha Azam attended the one-year MA course Advanced Design Visualisation at UID and finsihed in 2010.

What is your academic background?

I hold a Master&s degree in Multimedia design from IQRA University in Karachi, Pakistan, as well as a Diploma in Interior design from National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan. My main subjects were Videography, 3D-animation, 2D-animation, graphic design, postproduction and story boarding. To further refurbish my vision and my skills, I joined the one-year MA level course Advanced Design Visualisation at UID.

Since you left Umeå, what have you been doing?

I did my final project at UID for the in-house IP (Intellectual Property) concept project at Ericsson, Gothenburg on the visualization of Intellectual property as a message. The visualization was shown in an IP session held in Gothenburg. Take a look at the short message film clip on Vimeo.

After that I joined the Summer Design office in Botkyrka, Stockholm, funded by the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation, SVID. I was fortunately selected and was among the eight designers working on four main projects under the theme "Bridging": Kungsleden for vertical village concept, Veidekke on housing careers in Northern Botkyrka, Botkyrka municipality for attracting people to northern Botkyrka, and Portal. As a team we carried out research, analysis, and visualization, and we came up with innovative design proposals and solutions to bridge the gaps.

After that I have been working on digital visualization of the Acospector prototype, launched by the Swedish company ACOsense. I also have worked on graphic and product visualization related projects for the firm First Impression in Sweden.

In the future I plan to work in the field of visualization/motion graphics. I believe that designers are psychologists in some ways, having beautiful minds creating and showing striking things visually, and this skill can be utilized to relieve the pain coexisting in our world. So I am also aiming towards working non-profit for humanity globally, as a visual designer, contributing positively to society, in every way possible.

What is your best memory from your time in Umeå?

Umeå is beautiful and you relish every minute being there. Bumping into students from different countries makes it a unique place. Not only at the design school, but all over Umeå it is a nice and clean atmosphere blended with curiosity, friendliness and humbleness. I remember attending beautiful choirs, evenings with friends, and mouth-watering fikas. The first UID get-together-project was quite interesting since it&s the first week for everyone, and everybody from all different programmes got a chance to know each other in working together in a fun way.

Which aspects of your education at UID have been most useful for what you are currently doing?

I believe that everything that I learned at UID has been helpful in my professional life. My background is from Pakistan, and I was accustomed to that perspective and with the practices in educational institutions there, with people of the same culture and origin. The education at UID opened up other dimensions. Being a creative individual, the approach I now presume in looking at things, has been changed in a globally beneficial way. In ADV we worked on various projects with dynamic techniques, in software as well as in structure, and the importance of the design process was essential and visible throughout the whole programme. This is something I am now practicing in real life projects.

Do you have any good advice for new UID students?

I will say that UID brings students from varying backgrounds together in one platform, forming a small world of creative people. It&s a privilege learning from each other for a more fruitful and out-of-the-box way of life. So gain as much as you can!

What are you doing now, back in Pakistan?

I am not a fulltime employee but work on certain projects with a company in Sweden. I deliver everything online, so it is no problem that I am here in Pakistan, not in Sweden. I plan to work here in Pakistan for a while and eventually having my own company. Maybe later I will go to Sweden again.

Why did you choose the visualisation course at UID?

My background is in multimedia design and I obtained my Master&s degree here in Pakistan, and my field is all about storytelling, 3D and videography, and I had all of that from my previous education. But I wanted to study abroad to get more exposure and to achieve a new vision, and this I could only attain by studying somewhere else than Pakistan, because here you study with the same origin of people around, and then you develop one kind of thinking perspective. Since everything is becoming so global it is really important to seek dynamic exposure from around the world, since designers know no boundaries!

Being a girl from Pakistan I feel comfortable going to places where I have acquaintances, I prefer that. My brother has been in Sweden for about five years, so I opted for Sweden. Then I browsed online for different programmes and the ADV course really had what I was looking for. I looked at other programmes too, but ADV seemed most fitting. I wanted to learn more about 3D, especially the 3D-software Maya, and also postproduction techniques. ADV was interesting because it was a complete package of everything I needed, basically.

In your opinion, what are the biggest strengths of the ADV course?

I believe the biggest strength is the multicultural environment in the classroom. You have students from all over the world in one spot, so you get to know various kinds of ideas from the students around. It is not only about learning software and techniques; a big part is about interacting with each other on different levels. In my class each and every one was from a different country, no one came from the same place.

Also we had cooperation projects with the Advanced Product Design programme and with the urban planners, and through that we got to know more about what the other students at UID did.

Do you have a favourite project from ADV?

I think my final project was my favourite. Throughout the course we worked on different techniques of storytelling, and then in the final project I worked with the visualization of intellectual property. Intellectual property is linked to design, because design is also all about ideas and concepts. It was very challenging for me: how to visualize this intangible thing. I really loved it! (Natasha laughs)

Did the ADV course prepare you for the professional world?

Yes, I utilize the skills I learned at UID. But I think you always keep studying in life, I mean the process goes on, you cannot stop your mind from absorbing more knowledge. But for now, I think I am ready to work in different directions, I have the vital skills needed. The ADV course was very beneficial. By the way, I saw this really interesting Ted Talks, with David McCandless about data visualization; check it out!

Would you do anything differently?

I made the right choice! ADV totally supplied the kind of knowledge I needed, I wouldn&t have opted for any other thing.

How do you think the tuition fees for non-EU students will affect UID?

The beauty of being at UID was the multicultural environment, I think the best thing was that the students came from all over the world, forming a creative environment, and I think the tuition fees will affect that a lot. Students from for instance Pakistan or India prefer to study in UK or US, instead of somewhere where English is not the first language. The reason is the vast possibility of future job opportunities in the English speaking countries where you also get the degree in the same language. So with the tuition fees, they will not be as motivated to go to Umeå. Also it is hard to find work in Sweden, since the first language is Swedish. And living in Sweden is also very expensive. UID will be left with the EU students, and as a designer you really need to be open-minded and you need a lot of interaction with all kinds of people - that is what brings out really good design!

Natasha was interviewed by Alastair Warren and Elinn Bolonassos in November 2010.