Start Building Your Portfolio: A Chat with Vivid 2018’s Lester Chan


By Mia Casey (Feat. Lester Chan)

When you’re studying it can feel like assignments, exams, lectures, and having a social life (or at least some semblance of one) can take up every free waking hour, so the thought of taking on more work may feel a little daunting.

But the best time to take on work and start building your portfolio is actually while you’re studying. This doesn’t have to be during the semester – a lot of organisations offer work during uni breaks, or you could volunteer for a few weeks, or even just doing your own projects in your spare time. Whatever it is, there’s always opportunities out there to start gaining those #skills that you’ll be real thankful for by the time graduation roles around.

Lester Chan, third year Bachelor of Animation student at UTS, did just that. During the holiday following his second year of study, he picked up some work with the animation studio, Flying Bark, thanks in part to a few UTS staff and alumni who put in a good word for him.

More recently however, a similar opportunity arose with Ample Projects (thanks again in part to another one of his tutors), that led to him taking part in Vivid 2018’s Snugglepot and Cuddliepie 100th Anniversary projection on Customs House.

He worked with Ample from February through to May, and found the experience really reiterated his love for the industry and his own creative practice, while helping him build his technical skills:

‘I really enjoyed Snugglepot and Cuddlepie because of how much creative freedom there was as an animator at Ample – the only limits were making sure our animation was consistent with May Gibbs’ work, and the screen it was projected onto – which was the Customs House.

The main challenge was learning how to properly animate around all the architectural features of the building’s facade, and luckily Ample Projects already had plenty of experience creating animated projections on buildings for Vivid in previous years, so I got to learn from the best. It was cool to see in real time how a smaller studio like Ample can incorporate and accommodate all the different workflows of the freelancers working there to create these massive projections!’

Despite it being an overall amazing achievement, there were still some challenges along the way – the main one being able to handle the influx of work while still studying:

‘Another challenge was trying to balance my work at Ample with the assignments piling up at Uni.

To be honest, I could have done a better job at keeping everything balanced, but I was really lucky to have a super accommodating teammate. As the deadline for Snugglepot and Cuddlepie got closer, I sort of had to schedule day by day to squeeze out as much time as I could spare. The directors at Ample were always really appreciative and supportive, even if we went over our deadlines.’

In spite of the late nights and hard hours, he found it all paid off in the end:

‘It was the most satisfying thing to see it finally projected just before Vivid officially opened. I had doubts in my head about whether it would look as good on the building as it did on our computer screens, but all those doubts were blown away by how much better it looked on the actual building! Seeing it made me feel like a kid again, and we were all super proud of the work everyone had put into it.’

Lester also knows the importance of a portfolio – check out more of his work below, or on his Instagram (@lstrchn), his vimeo or on his website!

Featured image courtesy of Vivid Sydney

(Other image sources available via image hyperlink)

By Mia Casey

By Mia Casey


Mia is a Sydney-based copywriter and content creator, who ran the UTS Careers Blog for five years since its conception in 2016.
Her freelance work focuses on branding development and helping companies create a cohesive identity narrative tailored for each of their platforms.
She enjoys piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.