The Visionary

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

DREAMS are made for children, as the song goes, but for this young man, his dreams were a foundation to build on, as Weekend writer Fiona Patricia S. Escandor discovers.

Possessing a vision is always the first step in the road to success. It is what keeps a person focused and determined in accomplishing whatever it is he so desires. Such is the case with creative virtuoso Genesis Raña. Over the years, he had dreamed of building a school centering on new media, where he hopes to impart his skills and inspire today’s budding artists to be exemplary at what they do.

Genesis did not have a time frame in mind, thinking that he would be working on it much later on. Yet he toyed with the idea constantly. Inside a small black notebook he carried around are sketches and rough drafts on how he planned to go about it. He had devised his own curriculum, created a lesson plan, and even visualized how the classrooms would look like.

Things eventually fell into place for the aspiring mentor as he was presented with the opportunity to realize his dream. With the recent launching of the University of the Visayas School of New Media & Design, of which Genesis stands as school director, he proves that anything is indeed possible when a vision is paired with passion.

Genesis has been dabbling in visual design for over 20 years. He was only 14 years old when he was first exposed to the craft, as he used to help out in his uncle’s design studio.

He said: “At that time, I never really knew what it was. I didn’t know what a graphic designer was. I worked there during summers as an errand boy. I liked it because there were computers and during the early ‘90s, for me that was already a big deal.”

His love for artistry goes way back though and having always been fond of illustration, Genesis befittingly found his niche in digital design. By the time he entered college, he had already compiled a portfolio of designs through several projects done with his uncle.

Genesis’ firsthand experience in the field ultimately left him “bored” during the school days. The concentration on theories, plus the unavoidable roster of minor subjects discouraged him. He said: “At that time, I hoped there was a school that really focused on what I wanted to do.”

“We, creative people, we always want to be stimulated,” he said. “What kept me from quitting (school) was the theater guild. I spent more time there and the best moments in college that I can recall were not in class, but with the guild.”

“There, I realized that school can be fun if you’re doing something that’s aligned with your passion,” Genesis said.

Genesis’ impressive work experience includes working in an advertising agency in Brunei, where he stayed for two years; working as a graphic designer for Sun.Star Cebu; working with Jay Aldeguer and Kenneth Cobonpue, both of whom he considers his mentors; until he eventually founded Indiesign Creative Group in 2005. Last year, Indiesign Creative Group was changed to Empire Creative Group.

“The dream was always there,” Genesis said. Even more so as he interacted with a new generation of designers whose skills, according to him, are not exactly at par with industry expectations.

“They study for four years, but their actual computer time is less than a hundred hours,” Genesis reasoned out. “What’s important in being a graphic designer is that you should be on the computer and that you should be hands-on.”

Genesis takes inspiration from Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-Hour Rule, which states that it takes 10,000 hours to be good at something. Genesis said: “10,000 hours—it takes three years if you do it eight hours a day.”

Little did Genesis know that the opportunity to finally realize his envisioned design school was just around the corner. In 2011, he was approached by the University of the
Visayas and he was asked to take part in the institution’s plans for rebranding. Then it was in one of their meetings that his idea was brought up.

“We talked about the logo, our plans for the rebranding, my portfolio, etc. Then they asked me about my plans and so I told them, ‘Sir, I want to build a school,’” Genesis shared. He presented his plans to UV’s executive vice-president Jose Gullas and the latter decided to help out.

“Three months, eight hours a day, and no minor subjects,” the school director explained. “It’s all about visual design. First month will be focused on software proficiency, after which, they will be working on real projects.”

Programs that will be offered are three-month certificate courses in visual design, photography, and digital illustration as well as diploma programs in 2D and 3D animation, motion graphics, and film production. The School of New Media & Design is at the Gullas Medical Center in Banilad.

“I never expected this would materialize soon,” Genesis admitted. Then as he talked more about the program curricula, the school’s interior design, or how he plans to guide the students during the year, it was evident that Genesis was simply filled with enthusiasm that his vision had finally been put to action.

“Just be passionate at what you do,” he said straightforwardly. Quoting Steve Jobs this time, Genesis said: “Find your passion, and if you haven’t found it yet, just keep looking.”

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