Do I need school to be...

a podcaster? with Alex Villacís

August 05, 2021 Alex Villacís Season 1 Episode 1
Do I need school to be...
a podcaster? with Alex Villacís
Show Notes Transcript

This week the host of this podcast, Alex Villacis, was interviewed by a future guest of the pod. Alex is a graphic designer, service designer, podcaster, traveler and curious human being currently living in Rotterdam. During this episode we talk about her Origen story, how she got to The Netherlands, why she is making this podcast and more.

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Alex Villacis:

I've had great teachers and I have terrible teachers. But from all my teachers, I learned something even if it was don't make people feel stupid, or don't leave people to their own devices without explaining them why, Hello, hello, hello friends and welcome to the first episode of Do I need school to be. An interview show in which me, Alex, sits down with people in the creative field to talk about how they learned their trade and their journey with education. We're all different. And we all learn in our own particular ways and in this show, I want to talk to creatives about what their experience has been, what experiences shaped them with teachers, and what they think will happen in the future of education. On this first episode, I'm actually not the host, but I'm being the one interviewed. And yeah, it's just a really fun conversation with one of my future guests about why I made this podcast and yeah, we go off the rails but I really hope you enjoy that and that you listen to episode two. Have fun!

Future Guest 1:

And welcome your first guest, who is actually the host of this podcast, you don't know who I am. I'll come later on the host of this podcast, Alex Villacis.

Alex Villacis:

You just butchered my last name, though.

Future Guest 1:

What's your last name?

Alex Villacis:

Villacs.

Future Guest 1:

Villacs

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, almost.

Future Guest 1:

How have I known you for three years and not known that it's Villacs? Well, it's, it's in Spanish. And it's a language that you don't know. So I don't blame you. You don't hold it against me that I cannot say your last name. I do hold it against you.

Alex Villacis:

Oh, shit. Okay, let's focus. Okay, let's focus. Yeah, so the in this first episode, basically, I'm going to like introduce myself. So in future episodes, people know who they're talking about. Talking to, goddamnit. Okay, go Armit.

Future Guest 1:

Yeah. All right.

Alex Villacis:

So I will delete your name.

Future Guest 1:

So I'm just gonna throw your own questions at you and see how you handle them.

Alex Villacis:

Nice.

Future Guest 1:

Awesome. So who are you and what are you currently working on?

Alex Villacis:

So who am I? My name is Alex Villacis. It's my full name is Maria Alejandra. For its I live in an English speaking country I live in the Netherlands was actually a Dutch speaking country. But the second language is English. And yeah, Alex a lot easier. That's what my grandparents call me. So I go by Alex. And what I'm currently working on is this podcast. I've always been very curious about the connection between creatives and education says we're all shaped by something. And I wanted to sit down with creative people to talk about their journeys. I think there are a lot of podcasts that talk about their work and what they're currently working on. But not enough that go into how they got there. Or if they do, it's very brief. It's just like I went to this school, but it's not about what teachers they had and what influences they had or what experience has shaped them the most. So that's the reason that I made this podcast.

Unknown:

And was there any particular incident that made you particularly curious about how do people get to where they are in terms of a process in their life or in terms of the specific discipline that you're in?

Future Guest 1:

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that because I've moved around the country, around the world so much. I was born in Ecuador, to a Korean father, 100 mother, then I moved to Mexico, then I move Germany, then I moved to the Netherlands, I met a lot of people and I realised that everybody has their own path. And there is not a set set of rules for a set set of rules. God, that's awful. There is not a single way to achieve what you want to achieve. So you and then when I came to this university, because I started University later in life at when I was 26. I saw a lot of people that have completely different paths. And I had people who were self taught people that were designing amazing things on instinct, and other people that needed more effort, like I was one of them. And I became very curious about how we were all going through the same thing, but in their own unique way. So you touched upon the countries that you hopped from before getting here. Can you delve a little bit more into how much What did you do at each country? How did you get here? What were you learning during your nomadic days?

Alex Villacis:

Oh, Jesus. Okay, so, um, my, I think everything starts my parents. My parents met when my dad was University in Honduras, he met my mom they met, they fell madly in love, and they moved to Ecuador. Then when I was fifteen, and then they had my older sister, they had me and then my younger sister. Eventually we moved to Mexico because of my dad's job. And I went to school there. I finished high school there and then we moved to Germany again because of my dad's job. And that transition wasn't very hard because I had been already in a German school. So when I was 12, my parents sent me to Germany for two months to do an exchange. And that was my first view into somebody else's reality. To go in from a place in, which is too dangerous for me a 12 year old to be alone on a bus to be in a place where it was expected of me to be in public transportation alone, because it was safer. So that opened my eyes from the very beginning to how different how people can live different ways in different parts of the world. And then in Mexico, even though we spoke the same language, it was a completely different context. And a completely different social structure. It's at some points. And then moving to Germany, in Germany, I went to, I originally wanted to be an engineer, but I failed miserably in out of German High School. And I just so happened that I moved across the street from a design school. And I went, I went in there thinking, I'm gonna be here for a year because design was never an option. For me, it was if you studied design, I don't want to be designing wedding invitations, I don't want to just assign marketing campaigns, nothing against them. It's just not what I want to do. And that was the landscape that was proposed to me in America. So when I was in Germany, I go randomly into the school, I fall in love with that, I realised that that's what I want to do. I graduate and I start working for this data company making infographics like full time. And I liked it, but I didn't love it, it felt like I needed more. And I didn't know what it was. I became a German citizen, because have lived in Germany for too long. And I decided, Okay, I want to get more education, I want to get my BA because my first degree was just technical degree. Around the same time, my parents had been continuing their hopping around the world, and they had made their way to the Netherlands. And then I was looking for schools in Spain, in France, in Belgium. And they said, hey, there's a design school here, check it out. And I ended up coming here. So I ended up in the Netherlands. And here I am four years later making this podcast.

Unknown:

I think my eyes just glazed over with the number of countries and languages and cultures you've named at this point.

Future Guest 1:

Yeah, so right now I speak five languages or well, four, and I'm learning the fifth which is Dutch. So I speak English, Spanish, German, French, and I'm working on my Dutch. How is that going?

Alex Villacis:

68 days into Duolingo. So how do you think?

Unknown:

Okay, let me remember when I was 14 days into Duolingo, I could say eek Ben and man, which means I am a man, which is completely use the sentence to say, So, can you say that you're a woman?

Alex Villacis:

Ik ben een vrouw, yeah

Future Guest 1:

Say, okay, she's a level guys. We don't need to, they don't need to. A level is the most basic one. So yeah, technically, okay. Language levels never made any sense to me. Why is a the lowest what I shouldn't be. Okay, nevermind. Anyway, we can just edit this out. Don't worry. We can read we can rant doesn't matter. I was wondering how do you profile yourself as a designer, because I know you're very entrepreneurial. And how you approach the things you do in life in general, like taking on this podcast is like your own initiative. The you I know, you work a lot with infographics, for example, for a lot of clients you work on, work for Yes, English

Alex Villacis:

work with work with

Future Guest 1:

Yes, better English. So I was wondering, if you feel like you have a certain domain that you will prefer working as a designer is trying different things your entire spice. So that I think that's the thing, my favourite thing about coming back to school and going to this university is that it allowed me to explore more what I wanted to do us a designer, the reason that I left my full time job is because I wasn't satisfied just making infographics. I wanted to see what else I could do. And then through the journey, he this the rocky journey of education. I landed into next Design Lab, which is my main art, my minor now. And I realised that the reason that I wanted to design is because I want to design solutions for people who don't have them. I think there's this gaping hole in the industry. Because designers are designed for people who are like them were people who are usually highly educated, people who are privileged, and people who have acquisitive power and from a certain socio economical background. But nobody's designing for the people who are poor, or the people who are in need or for nonprofits, we don't want to design for new one. And same for the Nikes and the Adidas and the apples. Nobody wants to design for that nonprofit on the corner. So I feel like as a designer, I want to fulfil that hole I I am plagued Oh my every day of my life by this star and I think that's where my entrepreneurial spirit comes from. I think it comes largely from my mom. But I think it also comes from the fact that I am haunted by the thought that I got extremely lucky that I was born to my parents when I was born. And that in the conditions that I was born in the same maternity ward that wasn't extreme That wasn't very fancy, because we could afford at the time, there was probably another little girl who was born at the same time to the same place that I was, but didn't get us lucky. She's probably working as a maid in a hotel somewhere, or she's working as a secretary, or maybe she's not, she didn't even get an education. Like how dare I, with the luck that I got not do my best to offer help to her. And that's why I went to work in like my profile, I do graphic design. And I also wanted to service design, which is applying design thinking to solving problems, and creating products for companies and other and other businesses. And I want to do that, with that background thinking that I want to put out this good thing in the world. And if I can just solve one problem, if I can help one business, create a product for one person that needs it badly. I'm fine with that. And for example, I'm working with a friend right now we're developing a tool for emotional agility, which is teaching kids a nonverbal way to communicate their emotions, without needing to use like puppets. And without saying, like, being happy is good and being angry is bad. And same thing with that. It's like if I can help one kid express themselves one way and get help, because it's how they could get help. I'm good. So yeah, that's, that's my long winded way to say that I am a graphic designer and service designer with a social entrepreneurial direction. A very good description. I've thought about this a lot. I genuinely think that tagline. Very summarised yourself took so long to make. I know, it works really well.

Alex Villacis:

It works really well. I think it works.

Future Guest 1:

I think it's worth the amount of time. Yeah. So Alex, in your journey in discovering your domains, and as a designer, what kind of teachers did you encounter on your way here? teachers could be people, it could be events, anybody's teacher situations you've been in.

Alex Villacis:

Um, well, the first the first teachers, we were parents, my dad who instilled in me a sense of curiosity, since I was very young. And my mom who was always very entrepreneurial, very on-the-go very looking into how to make things better for everybody. And I just always saw her doing things and exploring new things and pushing herself. So she was my firt. My first the first two people, teachers that I had in my life, then I was very lucky that I had a lot of like, random teachers that were great. So for example, I had, when I think about it, when I go over to my mind, I had a really great biology teacher, his name was head writer. He was the first science class that I had in German. And I had just come back from Germany. So it was perfect because my German was like on point. And everything that he taught us was always very anecdotal. So he find a way to make every class very funny and very brought down to our level. It wasn't that nature is out there. It's like nature's here. Always brought everything happens. I mean, his farm, every story came from a farm where he grew up, so it was hilarious. And then that same year, I had another great teacher I have for our Mr. Johnson, which was my math teacher and he was like, I kid you not. I want a woman who was 150, beefy, tiny glasses hair pullback in a tiny ponytail. she instilled fear in us from the very beginning. If you respected her when she entered a room, you respected her. You were quiet the entire class, you were enamoured by what she was teaching you. When she would laugh. She would love to say Haha, like literally, haha. And she was always so ceremonious. Like if you had a question she will he was so theatrical, theatrical. If you had a question she would, he would raise your hand and she would say, student, please tell me what you need. It was so interpretive. She was so entertaining to watch, and you are if you had to get someone to her locker, she should be like, please just hand gesture, please go across the stage and get it. Everything was so detailed and so amazing. And I just became enamoured with the way she taught and I hope I can go back to Ecuador so like say hi to her and tell her like she wasn't a podcast because I think she would laugh she would like with her particular Haha, laugh.

Future Guest 1:

Hi, Mrs. Mestanza. What's her name again?

Alex Villacis:

Mrs. Mestanza.

Future Guest 1:

Hi, Mrs. Mestanza and Mrs. Mestanza.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, she was great. And then I had other I had also not so great teachers. I had teachers that I remember my math teacher when I was in Germany and I credit to him me failing out of German High School. He was not he was not a good teacher. He was more interested in just going through the syllabus and actually talking to us. And he assumed that because three people understood what he was talking about. The rest of us did, and he gave no support. whatsoever. So I part of me thinks that he wasn't sure that enjoyed making me feel stupid. And I hated that I think he deterred me completely from math. And then when I was in art school in in Germany, I had a teacher who was again, doing the bare minimum he had to do to teach, like, he will give us an assignment, leave the room completely for three hours, and then come back to like, oh, you're finished good by never even explaining why we had to do or anything. So I think it was. I've had great teachers and I have terrible teachers. But from all my teachers, I learned something even if it was, don't make people feel stupid, or don't leave people to their own devices without explaining them why.

Future Guest 1:

I think it's a very, it's a skill to not be guided by your ego while you're teaching. Because Yeah, it is such a hierarchical hierarchical structure like listen, children, I shall embark you on a journey of knowledge.

Alex Villacis:

Exactly.

Future Guest 1:

I will be your leader in this way and detaching your ego from that, and generally getting down to that level and explaining to them side by side rather than from the top is such an important aspect of teaching someone in a way, which is more empathetic and less exactly your you have finally deserved this bit of knowledge that I have given to you Exactly. And I gave you like in their instances in which letting people just just learn on their own, it's good. Like, for example, here in the academy, we have access to the resource printer or any or the super printers, you get a worship from one hour. And then it's like, leave your own devices. But you know that the person is always present there that if the machine stops working, you're going to get help, you can experiment, you have these people in the stations, I will go to I will go to war for Nora in the in the material station in the wood station. Because she will explain something to you, you will do it. And she's there to help you know, not only to keep you safe, because it's her job to keep you safe from cutting your fingers off. But also from helping you and looking into which is the best way you can do something and you get that support. So I don't think that a teacher should always be there like watching over your shoulder. I think it should be an error and always present thing that you know if I need help, I can go to you. So with that math teacher that I mentioned the one in Germany, you could not even ask him even questions like when the class was over, he was out he was jacket on five minutes before the class and scrap his bags and leave. So there was this lack of connection. He was like there to do a job and I get a teaching job. But I think especially when you're teaching people who have creative proclivities, the extra mile should not be an extra mile should be like, Okay, I'm going to take time to see what this person actually needs. The thing is that the academy does very well the people who work in the stations are very attentive, and they want to help you they want to see you succeed. And they want to experiment as much as you want to. I like the way that the tools that the academy are generally treated like this is a machine and it works like this. You can reappropriate the operations of this machine however you want. There is no like one step by step process that you're supposed to follow in something if you want to use a cell screen to create a light projection map or something. Yeah, go for it. Like, it's just the physical hardware is there, what you do with the hardware is up to you. As long as you don't break it

Alex Villacis:

Just don't break it, you just don't break it. And as long as you don't break it, you can do whatever the hell you want. And maybe you'll be successful at it, maybe you won't be successful at it. But it's not about being successful or not. It's about just making the thing and gaining that experience. I learned that you should never put transparent paper in the RISO printer because it will fuck it up.

Future Guest 1:

Oh, because it's too glossy

Alex Villacis:

it does not absorbe serve ink.

Future Guest 1:

Oh, because it's too glossy.

Alex Villacis:

Because it's too glossy. It's not for it's not porous. It's a it's a material that rejects water. So it will not absorb the ink, it will get stuck in the machine. So that's something that I learned while doing on my own. But then somebody came and fixed it for me, somebody helped me has taught me how to do it. So into my better techniques for using transparent paper. So yeah, it was a whole thing. That's really fun times fun times

Future Guest 1:

fun learning experience, which hopefully did not break the printer.

Alex Villacis:

Of course, please don't break the RISO printer. That's a sin.

Unknown:

There's is one RISO printer in school and the graphic design department was like at least 60 people. So like 90 people now. You better not break the printer. Everyone will be mad at you. So as we come to the end of a nice day of podcasting, the sun is going down, the owls are coming out I can see the moon let us know. What do you feel? How do you feel about the future of creative education? Where do you think it's headed? What are your hopes and dreams?

Alex Villacis:

I honestly don't know. And I think that's why I have this podcast. Because I'm gonna ask people who know more about it than I do. And I think these there is an interesting point. I'm going to happen. I think that sadly, with the rise of AI, a lot of things are going to change. That's supposed to be the next Industrial Revolution, I would love to see a point in which AI is used to teach neurotypical people. And then people who are maybe not neurotypical, but they accommodate to that better. And face to face interaction can be used when needed. I think adding options. So you can have options be like maybe you want to learn from my eye, maybe you want to look for a teacher, maybe you want to have the face to face interaction, maybe you don't need it. And that's why I have this podcast because I want to see where creative education can go, and where we're going in the future and how we can learn and take the best advantage from it.

Future Guest 1:

Very nice.

Alex Villacis:

Thank you.

Future Guest 1:

So finally, you have something to promote, other than this podcast,

Alex Villacis:

I'm nothing other than this part. I think that was the main thing. So if you're listening to this first episode, I hope you'll listen to the second one as well, which is coming out at the same time. And yeah, that you enjoy this journey with me talking to people about their journey into creativity and to integrate medication. See you later. Okay. By the way, this is one of the people that are going to be interviewing, you will listen more from this man's beautiful voice in an episode in the future. So yeah, stay up to date on that.

Future Guest 1:

Follow my ASMR podcast.

Alex Villacis:

Oh for fuck sake Well, I hope you like that. Because it's just a little sample of what's more to come on this show in which, Yeah, apparently I go off the rails talking to people about their creative journeys, although in this case was my creative journey. But yeah, you'll see what comes next. So yeah, a few things is a weekly podcast. So I hope to see you next week. Although this first episode comes with the second episode right away. So I hope you'll listen to that. And if you like what you hear, follow us on social media. You'll find all the links to that on the show notes. And yeah, I hope to be in your ear soon. God that's awful. Okay. Stay, keep learning and stay curious. Have a good day. Bye.