TODAY I MET MATT BARNES! If you don’t know who he is, he’s an awesome photographer from Toronto that I have been following for a while now. His work is just crazy! See for yourself.

Let me tell you what happened!

I was helping out some classmates with their video assignment and I almost broke my neck when I saw Matt step into the Seneca office. Talk about coincidence? Then he was about to leave…. and I just had to say something. I had to tell George and Mareks to stop shooting for a bit as I jumped out of my seat to introduce myself to him and say hi. And then George took a picture from his phone. Bad quality. So dark. Low res, high luv!

The IDP Program Coordinator, Ray was so kind and understanding of my fan-girlness. I told myself to be cool, but I just said, fuck it! It’s MATT FUCKING BARNES!

After our short video shoot was done, I searched high and low through the halls of Seneca. I was getting tired and hungry, ate a hot dog, talked to Tiffany and Danny in the halls and told them I just met Matt and that I’m trying to find the classroom where he was guest speaking in. Tiffany told me to check the Kaleidoscope room and she was RIGHT! (Thanks Tiffany!)

I then make my way over to the Kaleidoscope room. I was trying to find a way to go but I didn’t want to disturb them, especially since I’m not even in the IDP program (Independent Digital Photography). Ray saw me again creepily waiting outside the classroom and he invited me to come inside. (Thank you Ray! You are too kind!) It was Q&A time and I asked him some like 2 questions (OBVI, I had like a gazillion more questions but my hyper level was just up the roof!)

I listened attentively, busted out my notebook and took some notes and now I’m writing this blog post. I’m so glad to see my fellow Canadians following their passion, hustling everyday, putting out great work and getting recognition and appreciation for their art. It’s so inspiring to see how humble, funny and honest Matt was with the class as he spoke about his photography and life experiences.

I really needed this today. Those little reminders that people like this do exist in the world today and to just keep pushing no matter what obstacles come my way. Even when I feel like giving up, I try my best not to. But I still have my bad days like everyone else.

Thank you Matt. You seriously made my day.




PS: God really loves me and I have been getting some kick ass good karma lately. *Good job Julia!


Can’t wait!

Can't wait!

// vainforvanity
// juliahilao
// ksignature

DMA423 – VANS Rebrand


Project #1 – Re-branding

I chose VANS because I love shoes and have always been a fan of VANS. I chose this company because it’s something I’m more familiar with compared to the other companies that were given to me.

I did some research about the company and jot down some important notes about how they got started. Here are my brainstorming and preliminary sketches:

JuliaHilao_VANS_Rebrand_Sketch01edit JuliaHilao_VANS_Rebrand_Sketch02edit

I wanted to keep the original font from before. It’s very artsy, freehand and dominant. I played around with the thickness and styles to make it more modern. So far, these are my top 3 sketches that I like.

#1 is very minimalistic; simple lines with the “S” looking more like a digital “5”. I kept this very futuristic and similar to a digital clock.

#2 is more dominant with the combination of thin and thick strokes. I kept it similar to #1 with the diagonal stroke thicker in the letters V, A and N. The “S”, I tweaked the shape to show the checkered/diamond look. This pattern is one of VANS’ most iconic and popular shoes that I remember seeing a lot growing up. (I also put a side note to maybe extend the letter “S” to underline the word VANS.

#3 pays tribute to the classic bubble letter style. Instead of making it more round, I kept it chubby, short and wide. I think it still needs a little more adjustment on whether or not I should keep it 2D or play around with the shadows to give a 3D feel to it.

Colour Schemes:

Possible colour schemes I like for my new VANS logo are these 3 colour swatches I got from


hazOcaso Bold by osadezu


Peachy Keen by SoulStarMecca


Suntan City by merlevine123

The feeling, themes, style and vibe of the VANS company are:


Similar to their original 1966 ad.

The elements of the Brand Foundation:

Core Purpose – Why we exist
Vans exist because of the kids who were not afraid to be different. The kids who wanted to be free to be themselves and have fun.

Vision – Where we are going, and how we’ll know we’re there
Always looking for expansion, get more customers and brand recognition. Vans is no longer just a “skater brand.” But can cater to anyone who likes the style and appreciates their fashion that’s more easy going, funky and artistic.

Mission – What we do every day to get there
Do business well and smart. With style and grace; no shortcuts. To continue to strengthen their brand and not do what other companies are doing. Vans is not Nike, Addidas or Puma. To allow creativity and for the people to be able to contribute to something; make a Vans shoe their own by giving consumers the option to customize. This gives people the flexibility to create what they want and not be dictated by what is only available in stores.

Values – What we believe in/our principles
Vans believes in collaboration with other artists, culture, pay respect and tribute to the past and history, yet be open and embrace the future generations to come. Vans is classic and perfects their craft, yet is always trying something new, taking risks and thinking “outside the box” in order to stay relevant and current in trends. I love that Vans always makes new colourways to their classic shoes but still teams up with artists and illustrators to create a really unique shoe with their original drawings and art.

Position – How we are different
Vans caters to a certain niche and a certain market. People who are professional athletes or love skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing and BMX riders. It also attracted the punk rock scene and kids who wanted a laid back style that doesn’t compromise style and performance. At the same time, Vans can be for anybody even if they don’t do these sports.

Positioning Statement – How we say we are different
Vans started off as a family run business and continues on those principles and values. They understand people and know how hard this business can be because they had their share of rough times already, especially in the competitive market. They filed for bankruptcy in 1983 and it took them 3 years to pay all their creditors back.

Character – How we act/our voice
Vans started as a family business, so just like a family, Vans should operate with tender, love, care and respect. Customers are not just customers; they should be guests. By the time someone leaves your store, they can even become your friend. A business won’t thrive without a good, trusting relationship. That starts from the owners, business partners, employees and vendors. How they treat each other will inevitably translate to how their relationships will be with their consumers.

Who Are You?

It sounds silly but it’s actually a very difficult question to answer if you don’t have a strong grasp and understanding of who you are as a person. For my Career Prep course, one of our assignments was to write a short biography; explain what kind of work we do, what interests us, what skills/qualifications we have, etc. This was a lot harder than I thought! I had to really narrow it down to only two pages and not go overboard. My friends and those who know me well, know that I like to talk and ramble on with stories  (I can’t help it sometimes!) Similar to a resume, writing your artist bio can be frustrating especially when you are a student with little work experience in your field. In my case, I am a Digital Media Artist. What does that even mean? All I know are two main things: 1) I love art! (Print production, photography, movies, music, fashion, food, web design, and typography). 2) I want to learn more technical skills and build on my knowledge in computer editing softwares and use that to infuse all my interests in one! 

This is where it got more frustrating.What do I call myself? I am an artist. I am a photographer. I am a designer. I am a strategic thinker. I am a people person and gravitate towards real life experience. I love DIY and getting my hands dirty. I am… (the list goes on). I certainly didn’t want to name myself one thing because I have done other things that doesn’t fully explain it in one title. I’m certainly not a pro at Adobe Flash (bless your soul, Flash experts!). I’m not (yet) a skilled web designer or developer/coder.

Also, after attending the FTI with my classmates, it really opened my eyes. It was amazing to see such talent, passion and determination in the people behind the organizations and industry leaders in digital media. Reading about it, visiting their websites and seeing their work was awesome. But speaking to the staff and founders/CEOs, really inspired me to keep pushing and not give up. If they can do it, why can’t I? Next on the to do list, INTERNSHIP! Wish me luck!

After tons of brainstorming, sketching and revisions, I came up with these two designs as my business card. To translate myself as a person and as an emerging artist entering the world of digital media… here is what I came up with:


Nuit Blanche 2013

Some shots from this year’s Nuit Blanche 2013.

Nuit Blanche 2013

Ferris Wheel, 2013
Katharine Harvey – Markham, Canada

Nuit Blanche 2013

Paper Orbs, 2013
Marcin Kedzior – Toronto, Canada
Christine Kim – Toronto, Canada
Performative Installation

Nuit Blanche 2013

Queen of the Parade, 2013
Lisa Anita Wegner – Toronto, Canada
Vanessa Lee Wishart – Toronto, Canada

Video, Fashion, Performance Art
Lisa Anita Wegner & Vanessa Lee Wishart:

DMA233 – Movie Poster

DMA233 - Movie Poster

My final movie poster for one of my favourite movies, “La Vita e Bella

Medium: cut out images from magazines
Edited on: Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator