Starting an early art career

After absent-mindedly submitting her artwork online for a design contest hosted by the computer hardware manufacturing company NZXT, Diamond Bar High school senior Helen Pan  not only won the top prize but has also been offered a job opportunity with the Los Angeles- based company. 

Originally joining the company’s public Discord server in her attempts to win free merchandise, Pan said the contest was announced in January and was open to anyone.

“I didn’t really interact in it until they [the company] announced to everyone that [they] were going to have a giveaway competition and were giving away unlimited stickers to whoever [won],” she said. 

In terms of criteria, Pan said the company did not specify anything in particular other than 1080X1080 pixels dimensions for the artwork. 

The company ranked the winners based on a voting system. For one week, members on the server would react to their favorite pieces with specific emoticons, which eventually determined the winner.

“When the voting started, immediately I got, just in a few seconds, like 400 votes or something,” Pan said.   

In the event, artists were tasked with designing a sticker for the NZXTeam, a team of  ambassadors who represent the brand by streaming on Twitch as well as other platforms. 

Keeping in mind that the goal for the group was to promote the brand in hopes of expanding NZXT’s streaming community, Pan decided to draw the team’s mascot sporting a headset to symbolize streaming. The company manufactures gaming accessories.

“I correlated how the puck held your headphones in real life and in the illustration I made it [look] cartoon-ish,” she said.

After winning the competition, Pan was also given the opportunity to appear on the company’s podcast, NZXT Clubcast.

“It was just a chill moment where other community members could ask questions,” she said. 

On the podcast, Pan was asked questions about the brand’s Twitter account, why she  followed it and her thoughts on it.“I said it was unprofessional but it appealed to everyone,” she said. “These [the company’s tweets] were similar tweets like [fast-food company] Wendy’s: funny, [satirical] and relatable.”  

Pan first became interested in graphic design and art from Instagram and social media in general. 

“I think all the different aspects you get to see from all those different artists like those popular and big pages, [they] mostly made me be like ‘Wow I want to do that too,’” she said. 

Pan hopes to attend ArtCenter College where she will continue to study design. Pan was  offered a job at NZXT as a freelance graphic designer which she plans to pursue as well. 

“They’re hiring me because of the specific style I use, which is simplistic,” Pan said. 

With this paid position, Pan will be working on her own time and schedule. 

“Three years ago I was like ‘I’m going to work at McDonald’s or Costco’ or something but they ended up [asking if I] would like to work on a contractual basis,” she said. 

Although Pan expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to work at a major company like NZXT, she still hopes her passion leads her to even bigger job possibilities.

“There’s a lot of bigger companies out there, of course, like Google,” she said.