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Artists can often experience the fickle nature of the public’s interest. While they are lauded, admired, even adored for the passion and intensity that inspires their creations they can sometimes be on the receiving end of the same public’s disdain for their work. Sometimes it’s not about the work itself but about those who receive it agreeing or disagreeing with the message itself. Still, a creative mind is not easily swayed by public opinion. Obvious household names like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, and many others are likely the first to enter one’s thoughts when considering this idea but it applies to all creatives individuals who use their talent to promote the ideas they are committed to; individuals such as Neo Tran. You won’t see Neo banging out chords on a guitar or gyrating in front of thousands of concert goers but make no mistake, he shares a great deal in common with the template to which these famous musicians subscribe. This Graphic Designer and UI/UX Designer prefers a keyboard and computer to a concert PA and instruments but he uses his talent at times to help shine a light on causes near and dear to his heart. As a vegan of many years now, Neo saw an opportunity to enlighten others and contacted the organizers and promoters of Socal Vegfest to help them take their look and promotion to a whole new level. This Southern California event is more about creating an environment that is a fun outdoor fare than being overtly pushy about their desire to see society take a step in their direction. It’s a perspective that Tran could get behind and he had a number of ideas how to aid this. Giving Socal Vegfest an aesthetic makeover (as well as a social media one), Neo was able to use his expertise and know how to empower a movement in which he has long been involved. Socal Vegfest is an annual food and music festival in Orange County California that promotes healthy, conscious eating and sustainability. Inspired by his passion for the cause, Neo contacted Laura Chang McManus, the event coordinator, to help with designs. McManus states, “Neo reached out to us to help with the Socal Vegfest. It is rare to see a young professional who is passionate in helping the vegan community. He is a graphics design wizard who possesses an artistic eye and intense ethic. He skillfully handled large print jobs of banners, posters, and signage for the festival. Neo is also proactive in mentoring others to use and understand his method. It’s reaffirming to work with someone as talented as Neo who is so focused on making a difference with their abilities.” As Graphic Designer, Neo was commissioned to handle large amounts of signage design for print for the festival. The signage included: backdrops, map design, booth signage, stage signage, poster design, direction signage, newspaper ads, and even a Snapchat filter. The job was highly technical, requiring him to create a nested design file with 200+ booth signage so the content flow correctly when produced. Tran took the lead in designing layouts for print, training, and lead another designer to handle the design file correctly. Because Vegfest has hundreds of vendors participating with each one requiring a Vegfest Logo, vendor’s name and booth numbers, address, allergens info, sponsor info, etc, the project demanded both an artistic eye as well as a highly discerning one. With an attendance that exceeds 17,000, Socal Vegfest is a major event for the vendors displaying their products as well as the general public and celebrities who come to investigate the health conscious eating habits being promoted. As a kindred spirit, Tran made it his mission to bring his best work to this lifestyle event which is so important to him. He reveals, “I became vegan about 5 years ago because of many reasons: compassion, sustainability, and health. From this new lifestyle, I learned to make delicious food. I realized that an understanding of this lifestyle needs to spread and make people more conscious of this healthy living habit. I’m active in contributing to the vegan, animal rights community in hopes that in the future more and more people would adopt this lifestyle to save lives. One way of being active in this movement is to participate in helping with vegan food events.”

While his work was displayed prominently throughout the entire location, one of his most enjoyable and creative contributions existed in the virtual world. Contributing his skills to one of the most popular Social Media apps, Neo created a Snapchat filter and submitted this to Snapchat for everyone to enjoy for the festival. He explains, “First, I created simplified images of cows, chickens, fruits, and vegetables vectors and then put them in a snapchat-sized-template. I had to be mindful of the coverage area so I left ample room in the center of the design for people to take their photos. I also need to make it simplified enough so the file wouldn’t be too big to submit. Once I had the finalized image file with transparent layer underneath, I submitted it to Snapchat using the Geofilter function on their site. I had to draw a parameter of the location of where and when the filter would be available and then submitted it. I was happy that Snapchat, the Socal Vegfest organizers, and myself all really liked it and approved. This is yet another example of the talent and diversity which Tran brings to this and every project he works on. Social media design is omnipresent. The use of social media has been ever increasing, leading to its ubiquity in modern society. It is an aspect of every job description when applying for a design job under any marketing agency or in-house position. Because every social media source has a different size, designers like Tran must be mindful of the requirements of each to apply the correct sizing to their art. Other social media ads can be more unique like Instagram carousel ads but Snapchat filters require some special sizing. Rather than a fat paycheck, what Neo found immensely gratifying about his work with Socal Vegfest was the experience of being on the grounds for the event. Strolling amidst the dancing, yoga, children, and of course...the food, he noticed many people having fun taking pictures with the Snapchat filter he designed and finding their way to the vendors by use of his many visual aids. He concedes, “It’s an amazing feeling to help with something you truly believe in. Of course, I feel like a hero, saving the world one design at a time. I personally think that everybody is endowed with a great talent that they can use it to save world. It is a win-win situation when you get a chance to use your design talent and to help a cause that you truly believe in, especially with art and design; everybody can understand and benefit from a good design. When you surround yourself with beautiful things, you feel less stressed, less worrisome, you feel relaxed. And to be able to use the power of art and design to help for a cause, it is a reward much greater than any monetary value.”

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