I think it’s a natural thing for people to want to be remembered.
When I was in first or second grade, I walked into my parents’ bedroom in the middle of the night and asked, half-asleep, “Am I a hero?” — a deeply embarrassing incident they still tease me about to this day. To me, being a hero meant doing something worth remembering. Even at that young age, I wanted to know if I would leave behind a legacy.
That desire is probably what first drew me into drawing and other creative fields, as these things serve as evidence of your existence.
In college, I joined The Daily Californian because I enjoy making visuals for publications. I threw myself into the small animation community on campus. I coded up Pokémon rip-offs (Nintendo, please don’t sue me) and watercolor shaders, and I made lesson plans to teach Python or the basics of 3D modeling. There’s no rush quite like putting something into the world and thinking, I made this.
To be clear, it’s not some belief that I should be famous that led me here. In fact, I’m often pretty shy about sharing my work. I just wanted to create things someone was looking at, and maybe they’d hold on to the memory of it (and by extension, me).
But through long production nights working on the paper or rendering the frames for another animated short, my mindset began to shift. In times of frustration, I asked myself, does what I’m doing matter?
Honestly, I’m pretty sure most of the people in the Daily Cal don’t know what I’ve done for the paper, as illustration and layout are the sorts of things most people treat as an afterthought, and my leadership positions haven’t been the most public-facing. This column is my first byline, and my visual contributions are droplets in the ocean of content. Working on animations is some of the most fun I’ve had in college, but I can’t say the end products are going to stand the test of time (much of my work already looks unbearably old to my eyes).
I’ve worked closely with many people and made so many things, but the memory of a campus is short. In four years, there won’t be anyone here who knows my name, probably. The fact of the matter is each student is just one of tens of thousands, and our time at this university ends. Papers decompose, and digital archives are lost on the vast internet.
Despite the obsolescence of memory, I haven’t fallen out of love with the Daily Cal or anything else. I still love drafting design and illustration concepts and scattering 3D flowers on digital landscapes. I still want to make things I am proud of, and I still think it’d be lovely if someone looks at one of my works and thinks “I’ll remember this.” I still get sad if I feel like my efforts have been overlooked. But I’ve decided that, even if it’s not widely remembered, my work still matters as long as it matters to me.
What I’ve made in these past four years represents the experiences I’ve had, the skills I’ve gained, the bonds I’ve formed and the sleepless nights I’ve spent with friends. I can hold a paper and remember grabbing stress-relieving frozen yogurt with the team midproduction or heading back to the office at 1 a.m. to fix layouts. I can watch a clip of animation and think about how we storyboarded those scenes while watching silly bird videos on the projector of a Kresge Library study room.
And I know that these things we’ve made and the times we’ve spent together matter to us, the people who poured our blood, sweat and tears into something just because we cared about it. Even if no one else remembers our works or who made them, I will remember these moments fondly.
To Courtney, Connor, Emily and Kaitlan — I will remember working together for semester after semester on paper after paper and making the work fun, somehow. I couldn’t have asked for a better team or better friends.
To Connie and Patricia — I will remember staying up until ungodly hours coding or talking about video games and anime or doing whatever else with you guys, two of my closest friends even after all these years.
To Amanda, Maia and Sarah — I will remember frantically hopping onto Zoom calls after our latest disaster at this paper and suddenly laughing it all away because it wouldn’t matter anymore.
To my UCBUGG family — I will remember our karaoke sessions at Jaguar after long nights of teaching and our skribbl.io battles during quarantine. 3D stuff is hard, but I’m so glad I found this small corner of campus.
To Raymond — I will remember all the nights we cooked dinner at unreasonable times because I was out a bit too late and you waited. Thank you for always reminding me that there are memories to be made outside of working.
The heroes of my story are my friends and family, who brought a bit of laughter and light to long days and nights. I’ll admit, I still want to be remembered — but as long as those around me remember these small moments, too, that is more than enough.
Alexander Hong was the 2020-21 creative director. He joined The Daily Californian in spring 2018 as an illustrator and was a deputy design editor in fall 2018, spring 2019 and fall 2019 before becoming the design editor in spring 2020. He is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer sciences.