HomeAlumni FeaturesAlumni Feature: Joseph Thoong

Alumni Feature: Joseph Thoong

Skill: Graphic Design Technology
School: Vancouver Island University
Hometown: Courtenay, BC

1. Could you please share a bit about yourself in terms of your educational and career background?

I was two weeks away from the high school regional competition in my area and I had just found out about the Skills competition and graphic design. I had always done fine art so I thought learning graphic design would be simple. For those two weeks I relentlessly learned everything I could about graphic design. After the regional competition I ended winning gold, but as one of my instructors told me “only because yours was the least bad”. Ever since then I’ve grown a passion for graphic design and I’m finishing my 4th year of my under graduates degree in graphic design next spring.


2. What is your history with Skills Canada BC? Did you compete in the Regionals, Provincials, Nationals, WorldSkills?

I first competed in the 2016 Regional Vancouver Island North Competition with my last competition at the 2019 Worldskills Competition in Kazan, Russia. In total I’ve competed in two Regional Competitions, three provincial competitions, two National Competitions and one Worlds Competition.



3. What would you say has been your biggest personal or professional success?

I think I’m a sore loser at heart. What drove me to continue to compete and to keep pushing myself was losing. So when I came second in the 2016 provincial competition I knew I had to come back and grow as a designer, in the end I got second in the 2017 Nationals, and gold in the 2018 Nationals. I think there’s value in losing. It’s a part of growing, but it also depends on your outlook. I took each loss as a means for growth and opportunity. A chance for me to stand back up and keeping pushing myself.


4. What motivated you to pursue your chosen trade or technology path?

I was heavily into fine arts growing up. what I absolutely fell in love with about graphic design is the strategy. Fine artists create for themselves and the world, whereas designer create to solve problems through strategy. This isn’t to say art can’t solve problems. In design every decision needs to be made objectively with a strategy. The process of that decision making is extremely fun for me as well as the research behind everything.


5. Can you tell us something about your trade that most people dont know, or that you wish they knew?

I think most people assume that graphic designers simply make things look pretty. There is a factor in our craft that involves that but the majority of our work is simply solving creative problems for client’s business needs. You don’t have to be an artist to be a designer. My chicken scratch got me to Worldskills.


6. What is your vision for success in the future in your career?

A long career with some what of an impact on my industry. I think making sure I have a balance between work and life is extremely important for this vision. I want to love what I’m doing and continue to love what I do for a long time. I also have always wanted to make a positive impact on my industry, where it is to motivate the next generation or do something big. This is a broad vision for success but what I’ve learned from four years of Skills competitions is that outcomes can very ambiguous, and to stay broad and think big makes things a lot more fulfilling in the end.


7. What advice would you give to students who are thinking of pursuing a skilled trade or technology opportunity?

Keep pushing yourself. Find that special thing that excites you, reach out to people, learn as much as you can, find that thing that makes you excited to go to work because it’s such a wonderful place to be. And it may take time. I was extremely lucky to find what I love to do early in high school. The reality is that this is often not the case, try one job, see if you like it. You might hate it but grow to love it. I hated graphic design when I first started learning about it. Things are strange and confusing in the world but finding that things that excites you, drives you and you love is absolutely worth it in the end.




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