Insider's Guide - Ringling College of Art and Design

Insider's Guide - Ringling College of Art and Design

Yang (Kaisin) Qiu talks to us about what inspires her about studying at Ringling College of Art and Design.

Whether you’re already at school, looking to find a new school or even considering moving overseas to study, nothing beats hearing from the students themselves! We speak to Yang (Kaisin) Qiu about her experience studying at Ringling College of Art and Design.

The Rookies - Ringling College of Art and Design
Since 1931, Ringling College of Art and Design has cultivated the creative spirit in students from around the globe. The private, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in eleven disciplines and the Bachelor of Arts in two. The College’s rigorous curriculum…

The Specifics

What’s the name of your school?

I go to Ringling College of Art and Design.

What’s the name of the neighborhood?

We are located in Sarasota, FL.

Closest train station or public transport option?

The Sarasota Bradenton airport is about 7 minutes away driving, and our local bus SCAT goes all around the city. As long as you have your student ID from Ringling, it is free!

How long have you been there?

I have lived here for four years, since I was a freshman.

Why did you choose to study here?

The first time I heard about Ringling was when I was in high school inMissouri and my art teacher handed me a pamphlet of Ringling’s pre-college program. I applied immediately and arrived in the summer of 2018.

I fell in love with the Ringling community, made amazing friends that were very supportive and professional as artists at the same time.

The courses I chose for pre-college at Ringling inspired me a lot, and made me realise the incredible opportunities I could gain if I attended. Now here I am, four years later and couldn’t be more grateful.

The Scene

The first thing you see when you walk outside your school?

Other than the gas station where we all get our snacks at, and the coffee shops across the street, it might be Indian Beach that is about a 10 minute walk from school. We usually like to go there and watch the sunset with friends.

Tell us a bit about the Neighbourhood. What is there to see and do?

Besides the beach, we also have beautiful gardens you can visit. Every weekend there is a farmers’ market in downtown Sarasota, where you can get the best rosemary bread in the world. We also have many gelato places in the neighbourhood with some of the best flavors you’ll get to taste!

A mandatory stop for anyone new to your city:

The Ringling Museum! It is around 6 minutes driving distance from the school and it is one of my favourite places here besides the beach. The museum itself has an amazing collection of artwork from different countries and time periods. I love going there to read or even sketch after a long week of working on a computer.

Your school is great, but you would t mind a bit less:

Caterpillars in the spring. They are usually around places on campus with a lot of trees and grass. In that time of year, you really have to be careful where you step for around 2-3 weeks.

The unofficial uniform of your school is:

In my opinion, I would say thrifted clothes, which leads to beautiful unique styles each student has. It is very fun to see students expressing themselves through fashion at our school.

What clubs or extracurricular events are offered at your school?

Not only do we have a huge variety of clubs on campus that are art related, such as type club, the makerspace, illustration clubs and so on, we are also starting to have more sports clubs such as volleyball, ping pong and basketball as well.

Events wise, one of my favuorite events is Paws and Relax. Paws and Relax is where the school brings in many service dogs for students to pet, and really just take a break from looking at screens and sitting in the labs. It is amazing how animals can calm you down.

How would you describe the school community?

Instead of talking about how everyone is so nice and full of creativity, I want to highlight how professional my peers are in a work/school environment. The way we critique each other's work is highly beneficial and also inspiring.

To get feedback not only your teachers, but from your friends and peers too, is amazing. The students at Ringling have got your back and will always push and motivate you.

Everyone has a goal here and can’t wait to help each other succeed in the industry.

A common myth about your school is:

We have a river on campus called The Bayou, we always joke around how there might be a crocodile living under the water. No crocodiles so far, but we did have a few manatees swim by a few times!

A massive night out for students at your school is likely to be:

One of my favorite things to do with friends here is we all go watch a movie together, after the movie we would either get food or dessert, and then talk about the movie for hours. Either about the visual effects, storyline or character development etc. Because we get way too excited, sometimes we would be up until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning.

Personal Work by Kaisin Qiu

The Superlatives

You won’t find a better place to eat than at:

Fushipoke! It is a ramen/poke bowl place near campus that many of us love to go to.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen at your school is:

A squirrel without a tail. That little guy was running around our lunch tables, looking at us, and didn't seem scared at all.

How do you know what your professors want? How do you break down tasks?

Our professors often act like clients in the real world, but simultaneously as our creative director as well. If we keep in mind what our brief is for each project, and think about what the brand would like to communicate, and who the targeted audience is, our work would often hit the mark and satisfy our professors.

The first thing I like to do after I receive a brief, is to make a huge mind-map in my sketchbook. I like to write down anything I can think of related to the subject matter: think of concepts, and sketch out some quick doodles. Nine out of ten times, two words I write down that are super far from one another, often give me exciting design prompts.

What was the latest design or tech challenge you have faced?

Currently I am working on the biggest project I have encountered so far, which is my thesis! In this piece, I wanted to experiment with many different styles throughout the story, therefore keeping the whole piece cohesive, yet not repetitive, is my biggest challenge, besides having the story communicate to my audience!

What is your greatest takeaway from your studies so far?

Besides the skillsets I have obtained, I would say the connections I made along the way is one thing I will truly be thankful for forever. Not just Industry professionals and my teachers, but my friends and peers. We have supported each other along the way of growth, professionally and personally, that is my greatest takeaway.  

What advice do you have for students thinking of studying for your degree?

Keep an open mind about all the projects you get to experience here. You might not fall in love with everything they teach here, but it is important to experience everything and figure out what fits you the most. One day in the future, if a project requires you to complete a specific task, you would have the abilities to do so because of this.

How do you combine school work with your own creative work?

Besides designing, I often enjoy illustrating and making collages in my journal. When a brief calls for something that could implement some of the aspects in my collages, I will gravitate towards them, thus making my work a little bit more personal too.

Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you implement this in your own work?

My culture plays a huge role in where I get my inspirations. Many times I would look at old paintings, folklore tales, traditional architecture, traditional clothing and reference design, shape language, conceptual storytelling and so on.

What personal projects are you working on at the moment?

I am experimenting/practicing with cel animation at the moment. Last semester I felt like I was using Cinema 4D a lot, so now I want to go back to the beginning of animation and see where it leads me!

Personal Work by Kaisin Qiu and Jessica Buck

One thing you’d never change about your school is:

Our Ringling Galleries on campus! I have been working here for four years, and I love seeing how the artists they bring in inspire the students, and putting on exhibitions explicitly for students’ work.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing changed is:

Difficult question, but maybe having more parking spots for the students.

Someone gives you $1M to pimp out your school. You use it to:

I would first conduct a simple survey and gather the students’ thoughts and see what they need the most. Then I would probably split the money into 3 parts and fund the top 3 needs on that list. For my own department of motion design, I would love to help set up a render farm for our 3D animations!

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

I would love to work for a studio and focus on my design skills! I would love to help break down each brief from clients and find visually exciting solutions. Working on different briefs that challenge my design and animation skills while learning from my colleagues everyday would be my dream.

Yang (Kaisin) Qiu is a designer, animator, illustrator and ramen enthusiast born in Kunming, China. While traveling back and forth between China and the US growing up, she enjoys taking in both cultures and telling stories about her experiences through her work. When she’s not designing or animating on a computer, you can catch her doing little collages in her journal or doing crazy nail art while watching Miyazaki films. You can find more of Kaisin's work on Instagram and her own website.