How one alum wrapped an NYC train in Spiderman silk
In late 2023, UWC ISAK Japan alum Bach (’18 / Vietnam) took a ride on the 42nd Street Shuttle train in New York. The route was pretty routine, but for a three-week period last fall, it showcased a landmark achievement in Bach’s early career. Between Times Square and Grand Central, a striking PlayStation Spiderman 2 wrap designed by Bach was featured in all its web-slinging glory. “Before UWC ISAK, I never imagined I would do such things in my career,” Bach shared. Now a motion designer at PlayStation working remotely from Boston, he reflects on his transformative high school experience.
Journey from Vietnam to Japan and the US
Disenchanted with the Vietnamese education system’s emphasis on rote learning, Bach sought an alternative when he discovered UWC ISAK Japan. “Education back home was more about cramming; there was no critical thinking. History was about memorizing. There was no questioning of ethics. At UWC ISAK, things were different. We were encouraged to speak up instead of just sitting down to learn, and to research multiple sides of issues. On top of that, teachers have experience with diverse kids. I was able to grow a lot, and if I had stayed in Vietnam, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Embracing Diversity at UWC ISAK
According to Bach, the socioeconomic diversity at UWC ISAK sets it apart from other international schools. “Financial Assistance was never stigmatized,” he recalls. However, upon moving to the US for college, he noticed a distinct social divide among students receiving financial aid and those that don’t.
A Lifelong Passion Becomes a Career
UWC ISAK Japan’s robust Visual Arts program allowed him to thrive, and he began to think of art as a career. In high school, he became interested in filmmaking and VFX by watching Marvel movies such as X-Men and The Avengers. “I wanted to try to do that myself, so I created as many videos as I could at ISAK,” he explains. Upon graduating, Bach opted to study Film and Media Studies at Tufts University to become a part of the film industry.
Finding Direction Through Reflection
Bach’s initial aim to make a mark in the film industry shifted during the Covid-19 pandemic. This period of global pause allowed him to reevaluate his career direction, a skill he credits to his time at ISAK. “I learned the importance of aligning my career with my interests, regardless of the income,” he explains. Bach realized that the film industry was not his calling, as the hustle was not a match to his personality. He decided to pursue a career in 3D motion design, a field where he can still put all his camera knowledge to work, while being a more independent artist. His journey took an unexpected turn when he secured an internship at PlayStation. Despite being the least experienced candidate, his eagerness to learn stood out. This curiosity and appetite for learning are common traits among UWC ISAK Japan alums. Currently in his early twenties, he’s the youngest in his team, with the next youngest employee being 34.
Finding Direction Through Reflection
And the learning has continued. “So far, it’s been really fun, and it’s a great stepping stone for my career,” Bach explains. He is very grateful for all the opportunities this job offered him at a young age, including designing the train in New York mentioned earlier. “I was very grateful and very nervous.” Although his more creative initial designs weren’t selected, he aspires to explore more artistically free projects in the future. His freelance work, including an advertisement for Circle K, showcases his talent for charming animations.
Bach’s future in the arts is promising, and he is excited about taking on more creatively-driven projects. “That’s something I would like to explore more: purely creative projects, less corporate,” he says. His involvement in freelance projects, such as creating ads for Circle K, reflects his desire for more whimsical animation work. The journey of this UWC ISAK alum in the artistic world is one to watch as he continues to grow and leave his unique mark on the creative industry.