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Frank's Art Class

Los Angeles Times

Frank Hsu

January 31, 2000
Story by Uyen Mai
Photo by Katherine Head

He is an artiest to the bone, who makes use of his passion for art working as a graphic designer.
Although Hsu provides a number of artistic services from developing corporate identities and logos to creating CD-ROMs, he says 80% of his business is creating Web Sites.

He often works independently, but he also is part of a network of programmers, designers and production artists who subcontract with each other to produce larger, more demanding projects.

With high-powered computers and Internet on his side, Hsu built a virtual office based in his Rancho Cucamonga home called Ultramarine Studios.

"I've had clients I've never met," he said. "They could be from the other side of the world."

He loves the freedom of being self-employed and working from home, but the sense of leisure from the words "home office" are misleading, he said.

His business has highs and lows. Although there are times when projects are light, there are just as many times projects pile up and he's working 14+ hours a day to make sure they're all completed on time.

Frank Hsu of Ultramarine Studios specializes in Web and graphic designs. Above, Hsu works on a Web site design for DesTech Solutions out of his Rancho Cucamonga home.

He recommends Web sites to businesses, even if they're small, but says having a presence on the Internet isn't a necessity - yet.

"At least at this point, not all businesses need it, but what a web site can do is make it a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week presence. The whole world may visit your site anytime by a simple click. You can use it to sell a product or build a company image, advertising your services or present an online catalog, etc. There are so many things you can do.... But then, 10 years ago you didn't need a fax machine, now it's mandatory."

The fast-paced technology that makes the net so ubiquitous also is what's ruling hid field, he said.

"Pretty much all the design work is done on computers, no matter if it's on the internet or traditional print media."

With five years in the computer graphics field, Hsu has personally learned the yin and yang of technology.

"There's good and bad," he said. "The good is that technology advances so fast there's more and more you can do that wasn't possible a few years ago. With the computer you can do a lot with a limited budget."

"The bad is also technology. I have to keep learning new things all the time. I have to constantly search the internet, buy books, read magazines, and even attend seminars and short classes."

Overall, Hsu enjoys graphic design, He thrives on the creativity. He likes the problem-solving involved when he's trying to put together the appropriate look and feel for his projects.

Perhaps most of all, he appreciates how close graphic design is to his passion - painting & drawing.

He had actually studied illustration and painting at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design. But he spent his last few semesters at the college falling in love with the internet and computer art.

"It's like a new media and field for traditional artists and designers," he said. "The possibilities are unlimited. The sky's the limit!"