[AUS] UTS - Designing Big Dreams

Photo of Zachary Chenoweth

In summary:
Recent UTS design graduate Zakary Chenoweth received an international award for his work as a production designer
He studied at UTS:INSEARCH as pathway to uni, after initially missing out on the UTS course he wanted to study at the end of high school

As a child, Zakary Chenoweth was obsessed with his parents’ camcorder. He lugged it around the house and took macro photographs – textiles, wood-grain and anything geometric provided inspiration. His fascination for the visual soon grew into a passion for art, which he excelled at in school.

However, Chenoweth put so much time into art that when it came to applying for university he realised, too late, that he’d neglected his other subjects and would never make the cut-off mark for his first choice – visual communication at UTS.

Thankfully, all was not lost. The parents of one of his friends heard an ad on the radio – he could study at UTS:INSEARCH and transfer to UTS later. And so Chenoweth’s creative journey began.

While he hadn’t taken the HSC seriously, once at UTS it was “game face all the way”. Chenoweth stayed on campus, sometimes for days, in order to finish a project. “I’d hide and sleep on a couch. I really stretched the security guards’ tolerance to the limit.”

It was in a compulsory software-based animation subject that Chenoweth found his niche. “It set off something massive in my head and that sort of shaped everything.”

For his honours year project in 2012, Chenoweth combined animation with his other passion: fashion.

His choice wasn’t conventional – it’s quite rare, says Chenoweth, to use animation techniques for a fashion film. Neither was it the best choice for getting top marks – he lost a few because his project didn’t speak directly to all of the set criteria.

But marks weren’t Chenoweth’s prime motivation. “I wanted to impress myself, I wanted to impress my peers and I wanted to impress my lecturers.”

His lecturers were impressed by the originality of his work - and they weren’t the only ones. At his graduate show, the design manager of a company called XYZ Networks offered him a job as a junior broadcast designer.

“It just sort of went on from there.” Chenoweth is now a broadcast designer for pay TV music station Channel V Australia, where he has co-produced animations and worked on a complete redesign of pop-culture, entertainment-news program The Riff.

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In an industry where juniors usually only change words on promos, Chenoweth’s portfolio – which can be viewed on Vimeo – stood out to the judges of the 2014 Ron Scalera Rocket Award. The international citation recognises a producer, marketer or designer with two years’ experience or less who is already creating outstanding work.

Chenoweth received the award at the PromaxBDA North America and Global Excellence Awards in New York in June.

The 2012 winner, Leo Nguyen (also a UTS graduate), is now working as a senior designer in New York. “He’s an inspiration,” says Chenoweth.

Chenoweth also hopes to work in New York – not only because he sees it as a great city, full of opportunities, but because it’s home to his partner who is preparing to present at New York Fashion Week next month.

“Ultimately, I’d love to work in a studio and art direct, maybe even music videos or films.”