MIKE FINISHED his graphic design university degree a year ago. He had no permanent job prospects, parents questioning the wisdom of his career choice and worry creeping on.

Humble, lovely and covered in tattoos, he spent some time with Slanted Mansion sharing his story.

He said his lack of full-time employment after university wasn’t made easier by class mates having better luck with positions, particularly those who scored jobs in some of the top studios. His parents, who are Vietnamese, were also putting the pressure on. “They expected me to become someone who worked in the medical field, or a lawyer or accountant,” Mike said. A freelancer now, he’s happy taking a chance on regular work and cash flow because of the opportunities that arise. His parents, seeing him so happy and flourish in the design world, have also finally accepted his career path.

He had a neat space which was organised, clean and precise. Very similar to other graphic designers encountered by Slanted Mansion!

Mike’s freelance positions have mostly been within the branding sphere of design. He does, however, work for a not-for-profit organisation, We don’t care. WDC uses media and special events to engage a new generation of people who want to make a positive difference in the community. Mike said their mission is to empower young people to transform communities and become the force behind positive social change.

His friend, Samuel Koh came to him with the idea for WDC in 2009. He was initially worried about what Mike’s response would be. “I was ecstatic and completely loving the words that were coming out of his mouth – helping others, changing the world having an impact on social justice. I was absolutely sold because this is what I want to do with my life.”

Mike is creative director and design director for WDC. The team is young and potential is “oozing out of everybody”. WDC has run two events, with hundreds of volunteers. Mike said it’s shown him “we are capable of really making a difference”.

In September WDC ran an event called The Fashion Fund held at Melbourne’s Federation Square. It was a one-day charity event aimed at raising awareness and money for homeless people in Victoria. “We had a large, inflatable pop-up store filled with branded, pre-owned and donated clothing. The money raised went directly to the charities that we were supporting.”

The response to WDC and its events has been overwhelmingly positive, Mike said. He described the response from young people as “amazing”. “Countless times I have heard these words, I want to help out however I can. That to me speaks volumes, especially since Generation Y is considered to be self-loathing and oblivious to the world that surrounds them… I beg to differ.”

WDC has begun to produce a magazine, We Don’t Care About, which promotes social justice by sharing stories, promoting faces, movements, organisations and charities that drive change. “Our aim is to use the arts, music, fashion, design and creative worlds as our main platform of communication. We want to inspire action which will lead to positive change. Our target audience is today’s trend setters and seekers; they are culture conscious and socially aware; a class of young, working professionals aged between 18 and 28 year.”

Mike provided a list of pros and cons regarding his choice to work with WDC over seeking an internship.

PROS

  • I’ve improved my ability to converse with strangers (thanks to cold-calling)
  • I’ve learnt so much about the not-for-profit world and business

CONS

  • No pay and long hours! I knew what I was getting myself into and thankfully I was freelancing and working at a retail store at the time
  • Lack of funding, but thankfully people were super generous

Check out some of Mikes work here, and keep an eye out for WDC’s video series coming soon here.

“I’ve always loved animals since I was a boy. I dunno, I find them so intriguing. Their uniqueness and intricate-form really capture me.“No stranger to tattoos, showing a nice collection over his arms and legs. Also admiting to tattooing a few of his mates and toying occasionally with the idea of apprenticing in a tattoo studio.  One of the spreads Mike designed for WDC's new magazine