Author Archive

Watch legendary artists create OUTSIDEIN: The Ascendance of Street Art in Visual Culture

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

ArtCenter’s OUTSIDEIN exhibition, on display at both campuses through January 10, 2016, was inspired in part by the mural Keith Haring painted at the College’s Hillside Campus in 1989, commemorating the World Health Organization’s second annual AIDS Awareness Day. That piece, which took two days to paint, was Haring’s last completed work. Three months later he died of AIDS.

To commemorate Haring’s legacy as well today’s celebration of the 28th anniversary of AIDS Awareness Day, the above video traces the origins of ArtCenter’s longstanding relationship to street art and the insurgent role graffiti-based street murals have played in embedding social and political messages in an emerging, evolving and now mainstream form of creative expression. Combining in-depth artist interviews and time-lapse footage of their creative process, this piece provides a rare glimpse inside the creative process, connecting the dots between the legacy of this subversive art form to its current role as an arbiter of pop culture aesthetics and an access point for popular engagement with the arts.


Food for Thought: GradID alums Anuja Joshi and Geetika Agrawal design a local solution to global wanderlust

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015
Food for Thought founders Geetika Agrawal and Anuja Joshi

Food for Thought founders Geetika Agrawal and Anuja Joshi

Impresario is not often listed among the careers available to industrial designers. Then again, neither is chef, host or community organizer. But combine all those roles under the umbrella of entrepreneurial problem solving and you have the makings for a successful startup deeply rooted in ArtCenter’s Graduate Industrial Design (GradId) curriculum.

Food for Thought, the brainchild of Anuja Joshi (MS 09 GradID) and Geetika Agrawal (MS 04 GradID), is a digital portal curating events around the globe hosted by local cooks offering a menu of their favorite recipes. The result: a local solution to lonely planet ennui in the form of dinner parties satisfying a universal desire for community, good food and the wonder of discovery unique to exotic travel—minus the cost of airfare and lodging.

Not surprisingly, Food for Thought, has found some serious traction with wanderlusty foodies and adventurous flocking to events worldwide. Case in point: At the most recent gathering in Lisbon, Portugal, Manuel Nascimiento whipped up some of his favorite African-inflected dishes from his childhood for a sold out crowd.

Joshi and Agrawal’s traveling dinner party may not make it Pasadena for quite some time. So we tracked them down to answer a few questions about the origins of their intimate gatherings and their unorthodox approach to industrial design.


Explore. Reform. Succeed: How psychographic profiles drive Graphic Design’s innovative new website

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015
Graphic Design alum Youmna Chamcham's takes a Reformer's approach to design

Graphic Design alum Youmna Chamcham takes a Reformer’s approach to design

When a highly regarded graphic design program launches a new website, it’s often received by design community with the heightened levels of scrutiny and anticipation reserved for the latest iPhone unveiling. And those expectations become stratospheric when that academic department happens to have distinguished itself with its pioneering transmedia curriculum.

But all that pressure to dazzle the design world did not deter ArtCenter Graphic Design Chair, Nik Hafermaas, from breaking with convention in both the conception and execution of his department’s newly minted website. Instead, Hafermaas recruited a core group of innovative designers to take a distinctly idiosyncratic approach to developing and building the content of the site around a set of user archetypes known as “psychographics,” based on demographic research of likely visitors. The look and feel of the site was then created based on the written psychographic Q&As that Graphic Design faculty member Guillaume Wolf had assembled as the site’s driving conceit.

Hafermaas’ risk paid off. launched to great acclaim earlier this month. As the raves continued to roll in, we seized the opportunity to ask Hafermaas to illuminate the unconventional process that lead him to create a site inspired and inhabited by the presumed end user.


Catch a sneak peek at the past, present and future of fonts and ArtCenter’s new Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015
The centerpiece of the student-produced show was an interactive  typographical timeline enabling viewers to create a customizable program. Photo by Nik Hafermaas

The centerpiece of the student-produced show was an interactive typographical timeline enabling viewers to create a customizable program. Photo by Nik Hafermaas

The passageway leading into the South Campus gallery is swimming in an alphabet soup of letters and familiar icons and signage, hawking everything from the latest blockbuster to cheap, fast cash loans. It’s an immersive experience in the nuanced codes and messages contained within the various fonts and typefaces that punctuate our modern landscape. This visceral typographic encounter acts as an introduction to the student-produced temporary show, 85_15 TYPOGRAPHY: PAST/PRESENT/FUTURE, which is the first exhibition to be presented by the new Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography (HMCT), due to make its official debut on November 7 with the Symposium and Center opening celebration in its permanent space on the ground floor of ArtCenter’s 950 South Raymond building.


Q&A with Grad Art faculty member and alum Gabrielle Jennings on her new book, Abstract Video: The Moving Image in Contemporary Art

Thursday, August 20th, 2015
Cover image courtesy of University of California Press

Cover image courtesy of University of California Press

Gabrielle Jennings (MFA 94 Grad Art) is a multi-media artist and Associate Professor teaching in ArtCenter’s Graduate Art program. Most recently, Jennings has edited a collection of essays to be published by University of California Press: Abstract Video: The Moving Image in Contemporary Art (forthcoming Fall 2015). This groundbreaking volume includes a diverse set of essays centered around the question of abstraction in the moving image arts.

Jennings has been artist in residence at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin and 200 Gertrude Street Artist Spaces, Melbourne and has been honored with support from such organizations as the Art Matters Fellowship, Philip Morris Kunstforderung, and the Samsung Faculty Enrichment Grant. Among others, writers Harold Fricke, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, and Jan Tumlir have written about her work.

Jennings received a BFA from the University of California, San Diego.  There she had the opportunity to study with artists such as Eleanor Antin and Allan Kaprow.  She then studied with Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Patti Podesta, Mike Kelley, Stephen Prina, Lita Albuquerque and Sabina Ott in the Graduate Art program at ArtCenter.

With her book due to be released next month, Jennings answered a few questions about the broad spectrum of personal, professional and creative experiences informing her writing and video creative practice as well as her journey from student to faculty member in ArtCenter’s Graduate Art program.


All you need to know about the value of mixing business and design from Airbnb’s Katie Dill

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Doreen Lorenzo: What do you think influenced your career path and becoming a designer?
Katie Dill: Growing up my sister and I were chopping wood, helping to build the extension on the house, taking down trees, driving cars when we were nine years old, and just playing outside in the Adirondacks, making things, like forts and whatever would come to us. And so it was very hands-on—if you see a problem, fix it. I think that kind of approach took me onto the design route, which is all about problem solving and making things.

I’d never even heard of the profession of design, outside of interior design. I studied history in college, because I wanted to know why things are the way they are, and graduated looking to try to understand my next step. While I was studying abroad in Florence I fell in love with architecture, so I started to explore that as a career, speaking to several different architects, trying to learn how they got into it and what they did. That’s when I realized it probably would not be a good profession for someone as impatient as me.

My roommate recommended I talk to industrial designers, and when I did, I realized it sounded like a dream job come true. I applied to school and was accepted at Art Center College of Design. I studied industrial design and did a study abroad at a business school, INSEAD in Singapore, and then did several internships that took me further into the business world.

I saw how MBA students would tackle problems a designer could tackle, but in a different way. And I saw their way of thinking versus our way of thinking, and how together we could do something really great. That energized me to unite the fields. Because it’s not enough to just imagine a beautiful thing. It’s all about: how does that thing fit in the larger ecosystem? What’s the impact going to be on the community? What’s the impact going to be on the business?

Later when I went to work at frog design, I came in as what they called a design analyst. And I started doing more interaction work, and more design strategy, leading design projects. And then from there, after five years at frog, I was leading teams and building teams. Now my design project at Airbnb in many ways is helping to design the team that creates all of our digital products.

To read more about Katie’s experiences transitioning from agency to corporate design work, managing change at Airbnb and her ever expanding definition of what it means to be a designer in today’s world, visit FastCoDesign.


Alumni video: Monster motorcycle mastermind Miguel Galluzzi on the future of two-wheeled transportation

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Riding a motorcycle can be a near mystical experience. Under the right circumstances, a road warrior awakening can possess the potential to turn a wanderlust-y freedom seeker into a hardcore biker evangelist. For pioneering motorcycle designer Miguel Galluzzi (BFA 86 Transportation), that zeal took hold early on, when he received his first motorbike for his eighth birthday. Once overcame some initial disappointment—he was expecting a drum set—Galluzzi saddled up, hit the road and never looked back.

Galluzzi’s outsize passion for biking fueled his journey from his native Argentina to Art Center’s Transportation Design program and on to an illustrious career designing iconic motorcycles, including the Ducati Monster, the original “naked bike” which became a landmark of minimalist automotive design and defined the performance-based aesthetic of bike design for the decades that followed.


Best summer job ever? American Apparel hires Film student Zak Marx to direct a slate of commercials

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015
Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.59.35 PM

Current Film student, Zak Marx, between summer jobs for Nike and American Apparel. Photo by Photography and Imaging student, Christopher Stoltz.

Relevance is a loaded topic for anyone with creative aspirations. That goes double for members of the Instagram Generation seeking to forge a directing career on screens big or small. And multiply that to the power of three for anyone and everyone working in advertising.

The relevance of relevance certainly is not lost on Zak Marx, a current student in Art Center’s undergraduate Film Department who happens to qualify in all three of the above categories after scoring a coveted gig with American Apparel directing 12—count ‘em, 12!—commercial spots central to the brand’s image overhaul under its new CEO, Paula Schneider.


No developing world emergency is too great for UNICEF Innovation Lab lead and MDP alum Jeff Hall

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
Media Design Practices alumnus Jeffrey Hall, in black T-shirt, conducted fieldwork in Uganda before being named UNICEF’s Innovation Lab Lead for Indonesia.

Media Design Practices alumnus Jeffrey Hall, in black T-shirt, conducted fieldwork in Uganda before being named UNICEF’s Innovation Lab Lead for Indonesia.

As UNICEF’s Innovation Lab Lead for Indonesia, alumnus Jeffrey Hall has developed a simple standard for his projects: to use design to improve the quality of people’s daily lives. “I collaborate with some amazing people, both in the U.N. and the creative community, to see how innovative approaches can be applied to improving their programs, technology, process or partnerships,” says Hall.


Alumni video: Strategic brand storyteller Michael Etter sources his inspiration for the ‘beerification’ of wine

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Pizza delivery, filmmaking and teaching are not typical bullet points on a designer’s resume. But Michael Etter (BFA 03 Graphic Design) took a roundabout route to his chosen field at Art Center, which he ultimately came to see as the most effective means to exercise his passion for storytelling. The thread connecting all his diverse interests has always been a narrative one, which continues to inform his work today as a strategic brand storyteller.

What does that mean exactly? As you’ll see in the above video and the Q&A below, Etter works to define brands as if they were characters in a story he’s writing. He then shapes a campaign around the specific attributes of the company. It’s a process that has yielded supremely successful results. Case in point: His recent campaign for Union Wine Company, which was designed to take the pretension out of wine drinking and make it more casual and accessible to non-oenophiles. The resulting campaign combined design innovation—selling wine in cans. But it was Etter’s bold narrative about the “beerification of wine” that distilled the essence of the idea into a media-friendly easily digestible package, generating a smash hit for Union, which quickly sold out of its first run of cans and is now expanding its reach far beyond its roots in Oregon.