Author Archive

Illustration alum and legendary Star Wars poster artist Drew Struzan on the awakening of his own creative forces at ArtCenter

Friday, December 18th, 2015
Illustration alumnus Drew Struzan (center) receives the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award at ArtCenter's Fall 2015 graduation ceremony. Photo: Ross LaManna

Illustration alumnus Drew Struzan (center) receives the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award at ArtCenter’s Fall 2015 graduation ceremony. Photo: Ross LaManna

It’s not hyperbole to say that billions of people around the globe have seen the work of Illustration alumnus Drew Struzan (BFA 70).

As “the man behind the poster,” the 68-year-old Struzan has created iconic imagery for the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Muppets and Harry Potter series of films. Other instantly recognizable works of his include posters for Coming to America, The Goonies, First Blood and The Thing.

And though he’s retired from the entertainment industry to focus on his studio work, he recently lent his deft hand to a poster for Batkid Begins, the documentary about the boy who became Batman for a day thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and a D23 convention exclusive poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opens in theaters today.

This past weekend at ArtCenter’s Fall 2015 graduation, Illustration chair Anne Field presented Struzan with the ArtCenter Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award. After eliciting a standing ovation from the crowd inside the packed Pasadena Civic Auditorium, a visibly moved Struzan asked Field with a laugh, “Does this mean my life is over?”

After the ceremony, I met with the living legend and he was kind enough to share memories of his time at ArtCenter in the mid-to-late 1960s, when the College was located at Third Street in the Hancock Park Neighborhood of Los Angeles.

(more…)

Fox green-lights Film alumnus Saman Kesh’s feature film, Controller

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015
Saman Kesh, director of the upcoming feature Controller. Photo: Jennie Warren

Saman Kesh, director of the upcoming feature Controller. Photo: Jennie Warren

In late 2012, Film alumnus Saman Kesh (BFA 10) went to Taiwan on an assignment to write and direct a short to promote a forthcoming massively multiplayer game in the vein of World of Warcraft.

What Kesh ended up making over the duration of a two-day shoot was Controller, an eight-minute science fiction short film about an imprisoned young woman with psychic powers who takes physical control of her boyfriend to facilitate her rescue.

What does the former have to do with the latter? Other than two Chinese hanzi characters that appear at the 7:45 mark—since the game was developed for the Chinese market—absolutely nothing.

(more…)

Persistence, perseverance and Pixar paved the path to The Dam Keeper’s Oscar nomination

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015
Alumnus Robert Kondo, co-director of Tonko House's short The Dam Keeper. Photo: Jennie Warren

Robert Kondo, co-director of Tonko House’s short The Dam Keeper. Photo: Jennie Warren

In the 2015 Academy Award-nominated animated short The Dam Keeper, a young pig selflessly operates a windmill to keep a poisonous cloud from destroying his town.

Keeping imminent disaster at bay doesn’t seem to be an issue for Illustration alumnus Robert Kondo (BFA 02), who co-directed the film along with Dice Tsutsumi, the first project to emerge from their Berkeley-based animation studio Tonko House.

Take, for example, the story of how Kondo landed his first job. He recalls feeling sick one day during his final term at ArtCenter, walking out of class and heading to the parking lot to recuperate in his car.

(more…)

Every day is Veterans Day for students in Designmatters’ The Healing Trauma Project

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
Army medics treat a victim of a bombing in Tikrit, Iraq in 2006. Photo: Christopher Stoltz

In this photo by veteran and current ArtCenter student Christopher Stoltz, Army medics treat a victim of a bombing in Tikrit, Iraq in 2006.

“When guest speakers come into the class, they can spot me in the crowd and instantly tell I’m a veteran,” says ArtCenter student and former mass communication specialist for the U.S. Navy Christopher Stoltz of meeting with experts during this term’s Designmatters course The Healing Trauma Project.  “I think they can tell by my cargo shorts,” he adds laughing. “The non-uniform uniform.”

All jokes about conformity aside, one of the main reasons Stoltz signed up for the Graphic Design-hosted transdisciplinary studio is that it dealt with a serious issue—helping veterans learn about a method for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—and he wanted to represent an actual veteran’s viewpoint.

“I think a lot of people assume the military experience is what you see in movies like American Sniper, very extreme war stories” says Stoltz, who grew up in  Mount Airy, NC and served in the Navy for 14 years in a number of photography-related roles, including being an aerial photographer aboard the U.S.S. Harry Truman, and covering stories in Iraq from a soldier’s point of view for the Navy’s Stars and Stripes news agency. “Not every military job involves carrying a rifle. Some veterans worked desk jobs. I carried cameras the whole time I served. I also carried a rifle, but telling stories and capturing moments was my first priority.”

(more…)

HQ:LA Part 3 Spencer Nikosey – Creatives calling LA home

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015
Alumnus Spencer Nikosey at Killspencer in Silver Lake. Photo: Stella Kalinina

Alumnus Spencer Nikosey at Killspencer in Silver Lake. Photo: Stella Kalinina

For creative professionals, the allure of Los Angeles goes far beyond ‘You can’t beat the weather.’ In this series, ‘HQ:LA,’ we invite you to meet three thriving entrepreneurs who have made the City of Angels their headquarters. Today: Alumnus Spencer Nikosey.

Drive four miles northwest from our last stop, and you’ll arrive in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood. And it’s here on a stretch of Sunset Boulevard filled with storefronts pitching everything from antique furniture to Spanish-language Pentecostal services, that you’ll find Killspencer, the burgeoning company founded by Product Design alumnus Spencer Nikosey (BS 08).

Killspencer began as a project at ArtCenter in which Nikosey, inspired by a field trip to the American Military Museum, repurposed the tarp of a Humvee into a waterproof backpack.

To say his idea caught on quickly would be an understatement. Killspencer launched as the centerpiece of Nikosey’s graduating portfolio in December 2008; in January 2009 the company began selling products internationally. So why did Nikosey choose to manufacture in L.A.? That was also inspired by a field trip of sorts.

(more…)

HQ:LA Part 2 Yo Santosa – Creatives calling LA home

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
Alumna Yo Santosa at Ferroconcrete's downtown studio. Photo: Stella Kalinina

Alumna Yo Santosa at Ferroconcrete’s downtown studio. Photo: Stella Kalinina

For creative professionals, the allure of Los Angeles goes far beyond ‘You can’t beat the weather.’ In this series, ‘HQ:LA,’ we invite you to meet three thriving entrepreneurs who have made the City of Angels their headquarters. Today: Alumna Yo Santosa.

Continuing from our first stop, we head three miles west in the Entertainment District to find another clash of sounds playing out, this one driven by jackhammers and a rumbling cement mixer.

The noise makes it hard to hear Graphic Design alumna Yo Santosa (BFA 00), founder and creative director of design firm Ferroconcrete, whose rebranding projects include helping turn Pinkberry into an international presence, creating motion graphics for TBS, and redesigning the logo for The Today Show.

(more…)

HQ:LA Part 1 Noah Minuskin – Creatives calling LA home

Monday, November 2nd, 2015
Upper-term Illustration student Noah Minuskin in his studio. Photo: Stella Kalinina

Upper-term Illustration student Noah Minuskin in his studio. Photo: Stella Kalinina

For creative professionals, the allure of Los Angeles goes far beyond ‘You can’t beat the weather.’ In this series, ‘HQ:LA,’ we invite you to meet three thriving entrepreneurs who have made the City of Angels their headquarters. Today: Upper-term Illustration student Noah Minuskin.

From ArtCenter’s leafy Hillside Campus in the hills of Pasadena, head 14 miles south on Interstate 5 and you’ll find yourself at the edge of the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles.

It’s here, in an industrial area where artisanal coffee shops vie for the same space as scrap metal vendors, that you’ll find the pristine studio of tattoo artist and current ArtCenter Illustration major Noah Minuskin.

“It has a unique and raw energy,” says Minuskin, a Bay Area transplant, describing the neighborhood. “It’s generated by the creatives here, who are genuine, passionate and ambitious.”

(more…)

7 inspiring and delightful nuggets of ArtCenter wisdom from the 2015 Core77 conference

Friday, October 30th, 2015
Alumna Jessie Kawata speaks at the Core77 conference.

Alumna Jessie Kawata speaks at the Core77 conference.

Core77’s second annual conference came to town last week and set up shop in downtown Los Angeles at Vibiana, the former cathedral now event space, which Core77 called “an architectural gem” and touted as a venue that once hosted a concert by Snoop Dogg (“If it’s good enough for Snoop, it’s good enough for us.”).

It was also good enough for seven members of the ArtCenter community who appeared on stage at the conference, whose theme was Designing Here/Now, and who delighted and inspired the packed audience with “thought-provoking ideas and projects that are years ahead of schedule.”

Appearing on stage were: alumni Nadine Schelbert, Matthew Manos, Jessie Kawata, and Javier Verdura, the latter appearing in conversation with Transportation Design faculty Eric Noble; Advertising and Graphic Design faculty Nicole Jacek; and former faculty Ravi Sawhney.

For your own inspiration and delight, we’ve assembled seven of our favorite ArtCentric quotes from the stage:

“Water has its own will. When you design with it you have to develop an understanding for that will. You can never truly control it, but you can entice it to behave a certain way.”

Nadine Schelbert (BS 02 Environmental Design)
Director of Design, WET

(more…)

Where urban and digital realms merge, the post-geographic city emerges

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015
Everything, On Time (2015) by Tim Durfee and Ben Hooker (with Jenny Rodenhouse), "a testing ground for what the city is, and perhaps will be."

Everything, On Time (2015) by Tim Durfee and Ben Hooker is “a testing ground for what the city is, and perhaps will be.” Image courtesy Tim Dufee and Ben Hooker

This Friday is ArtNight, a twice-a-year event in which Pasadena’s most prominent arts and cultural institutions—including ArtCenter College of Design—swing open their doors for a free evening of art, music and entertainment.

In addition to attending a celebration for the opening night of the College’s street art exhibition OUTSIDEIN, visitors to ArtCenter’s South Campus will have a unique opportunity to see in the Wind Tunnel Gallery a preview of Now, There: Scenes from the Post-Geographic City, an exhibition from ArtCenter’s Media Design Practices (MDP) program which will be installed at the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture this December in Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

Curated by MDP’s Professor Tim Durfee and faculty Mimi ZeigerNow, There explores “what is now and where is there” in today’s reality in which “urban and digital realms are inextricably linked” by presenting a selection of screen-based works, objects and texts that “develop, explore and visualize a city not tied to any physical locality.”

(more…)

Classing up 1111 South Arroyo Parkway: Goodbye ’80s corporate office. Hello 21st-century atelier.

Friday, September 18th, 2015
Faculty Deni Wohlgenuth teaches on the first day of class. Photo: Chuck Spangler

Faculty Deni Wohlgenuth teaches on the first day of class. Photo: Chuck Spangler

Take the 110 Freeway all the way to Pasadena and just try not to notice ArtCenter College of Design.

The College’s recently purchased six-story building at 1111 South Arroyo Parkway has undergone a makeover—its stucco exterior has been painted black and large “ArtCenter” logos adorn each side of its wraparound mirrored curtain wall—arguably giving the College its greatest public visibility in history.

But it’s what’s going on inside that structure that’s really impressive.

The beginning of the Fall term last week brought with it the arrival of hundreds of students to the building, all of whom are taking courses in the recently reimagined sixth floor of the building.

And what a reimagining it is. (more…)