Author Archive

Worth a rewatch: Graphic Design department’s new Begin Here video

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
Still from the Graphic Design department's Begin Here video.

Still from the Graphic Design department’s Begin Here video.

Have you watched the Graphic Design department’s new Begin Here video for prospective students? If not, do so now. All finished? Okay, now watch it again. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

Notice anything unusual? Besides department chair Nik Hafermaas posing with a hawk?

No, you’re not going crazy—several elements in the video change upon a second viewing. For example, the individual students featured during the “people like him and her” portion of the narration. Watch it again and you’ll see yet another pair.

What’s going on here? This two-minute recruitment video is not a video in the traditional sense. Rather it’s an interactive work that mixes together a series of dynamically populated video segments as well as time- and location-based information—like the user’s current location, current weather for both the user and for Art Center students, and the current week and term at the College—into a cohesive narrative.

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Rhapsody in goop: Graduate Art alumnus Michael Zahn’s Madita pays tribute to his muse

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
Video projection still from Graduate Art alumnus Michael Zahn's (MFA 14) thesis show Madita.

Video projection still from Graduate Art alumnus Michael Zahn’s (MFA 14) thesis show Madita.

Every artist has a muse: F. Scott Fitzgerald had Zelda; Coco Chanel had Etienne Balsan; and John Waters had…Divine.

For a more contemporary example, look no further than the cover of Art Center’s recently published Graduate Studies Viewbook. It’s there, underneath the diecut lettering, where you’ll find an image of a bright green alginate cast of a human hand.

That hand belongs to, and was one element of, Graduate Art alumnus Michael Zahn’s (MFA 14) thesis show Madita, which was inspired by someone he met as a foreign exchange student at Kunsthochschule Weissensee in Berlin.

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As seen in Star Wars Rebels, the Force is still strong with alumnus Ralph McQuarrie

Monday, October 6th, 2014
Star Wars Rebels crew from  L to R: Sabine, Chopper, Kanan, Ezra, Zeb, Hera

The Star Wars Rebels crew from L to R: Sabine, Chopper, Kanan, Ezra, Zeb and Hera (Disney XD)

As the concept artist for the original Star Wars trilogy, Illustration alumnus Ralph McQuarrie (BFA 56) was instrumental in the creation of those films’ fantastical characters and settings. In fact, the late McQuarrie’s pre-production paintings he created in 1975—including depictions of the villainous Darth Vader, the Millennium Falcon starship and the Death Star space station—were instrumental in convincing 20th Century Fox to fund the first film.

“He was one of the main godfathers of concept design,” says Tim Flattery, chair of Art Center’s Entertainment Design Department of McQuarrie. “His groundbreaking work on Star Wars catapulted visual storytelling to a new level and will continue to inspire concept artists for generations to come.” (more…)

Graduate studies at Art Center: Art and design for a changing world

Friday, September 26th, 2014
Media Design Practices students Kristina Ortega and Jenny Rodenhouse's Wearable Services, created in the Intel-funded Connected Bodies course.

Media Design Practices students Kristina Ortega and Jenny Rodenhouse’s Wearable Services, created by the Intel-funded Connected Bodies course. Photo by Stella Kalinina

From business ventures to social justice, cultural research to experimental mediums, transportation systems to spatial experiences, Art Center’s renowned graduate programs offer designers and artists exceptional opportunities to create unique and personal career and life paths.

For the recently released 2015–16 Viewbook, Art Center Provost Fred Fehlau invited leaders from the College’s six graduate programs—Art, Environmental Design, Film, Industrial Design, Media Design Practices, and Transportation Systems and Design—to offer their perspectives on the current state of their fields, and what it means for prospective graduate students.

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Creative entrepreneurs go BOLD-ly forth, getting to the heart of the matter

Monday, September 15th, 2014
Lynda Weinman of Lynda.com and Yo Santosa of Ferroconcrete at Art Center's BOLD Symposium.

Lynda Weinman of Lynda.com and Yo Santosa of Ferroconcrete at Art Center’s BOLD Symposium.

This past weekend, Art Center College of Design presented BOLD: The Art Center Symposium for Creative Entrepreneurs, a daylong symposium of presentations, lectures and workshops at the College’s Hillside Campus in Pasadena, focused on the future of creative entrepreneurship, design-driven startups and artist-run businesses and nonprofits.

The main takeaway? You gotta have heart.

More than 350 alumni and other guests heard inspiring stories of both triumph and failure—because for entrepreneurs, the two are never mutually exclusive. Fostering community and maintaining faith in one’s ideas are essential to survival. California’s improving economy is helping too, according to Kimberly Ritter-Martinez of the L.A. County Economic Development Corporation whose optimistic data reports kicked off the proceedings.

Among the 35 artists, designers, movers and shakers who presented: Lynda Weinman, co-founder of pioneering online education company Lynda.com; Colette Brooks, founder of Big Imagination Group; and Yo Santosa, founder of Ferroconcrete.

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Brad Bartlett scattered inspiring pebbles of wisdom throughout his Great Teacher Award address

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
Instructor Brad Bartlett stands inside student Ka Kit Cheong's "Plaception" installation. Photo: Chris Hatcher

Instructor Brad Bartlett stands inside student Ka Kit Cheong’s “Plaception” installation. Photo: Chris Hatcher

“I went for a long hike on Sunday morning to think about what I would say to you today,” said instructor Brad Bartlett this past Saturday at the top of his commencement address to Art Center College of Design’s graduating class of Summer 2014. “During that hike I remembered something one of my college professors, Dr. Michael Pause, once said: ‘May I always remain a pebble in your shoe.’”

Immediately prior to delivering his speech, Bartlett became a twice recipient of College’s Great Teacher Award for full-time faculty; he previously won the award in 2003. Also at Saturday’s ceremony, Humanities & Sciences instructor Rocio Carlos won this year’s part-time faculty Great Teacher Award.

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Student Leadership Award winner Hugo Pilate extols the art of listening and being heard

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Student Leadership Award winner Hugo Pilate. Photo: Chuck Spangler

Student Leadership Award winner Hugo Pilate. Photo: Chuck Spangler

Who ya’ gonna call? Hugo Pilate, apparently.

This past Saturday, as Product Design graduate Hugo Pilate made his way to the stage to accept Art Center’s Student Leadership Award for the Summer 2014 term, Ray Quirolgico, the College’s Associate Provost for Student Affairs, offered the following caveat: “Hugo has asked me to affirm that he is known for run-on declamations so you may need to brace yourself,” said Quirolgico. “I was also informed to give you his number in case you get lost in what he has to say at any point.”

He then read off Pilate’s phone number not once, but twice.

Lest you think the French-born graduate was just having a laugh, Pilate gave out his number again as he capped off a speech that focused on the importance of being heard and, even more importantly, listening to others. (more…)

Not sure what type of design to study? Sample them all in Andrew Hall’s Design 360

Monday, August 11th, 2014
Artist and ACN instructor Andrew Hall in his studio. Courtesy of the artist.

Artist and ACN instructor Andrew Hall in his studio. Courtesy of the artist.

For the past four years, artist Andrew Hall has taught Design 360 at Art Center at Night (ACN), Art Center’s continuing studies program. Design 360 gives students a whirlwind tour of many of the major disciplines offered at the College, including: advertising, graphic design, filmmaking, illustration, product design and transportation design.

In the class, he asks his students to imagine a product that “protects something” which can be “something obvious like safety goggles” or something more abstract “like a camera, which protects memories.” Then, for the next 12 weeks, students give their product the full treatment—designing everything for it from a logo to a storyboard for a 30-second commercial—and then present it to the class, complete with drawings that show their process. “The presentation teaches the importance of really owning your concept.”

Hall finds the diversity of his students particularly inspiring—some take Design 360 when they’re at a point in their career where “they’re just treading water and need to make a big decision” while others treat the course as a philosophical journey. “Some of them come up with solutions far more cerebral and spiritual than a product you can hold in your hand.” (more…)

Media Design Practices alum delivers TED talk on memes as the ‘street art of our social web’

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
An Xiao Mina examines "The Meaning of Memes" on the 2013 TEDGlobal stage.

An Xiao Mina examines “The Meaning of Memes” on the 2013 TEDGlobal stage.

Think you know your memes? If you’ve spent any time online, you’ve probably run across the likes of Grumpy Cat, Scumbag Steve or, one of our personal favorites, Art Student Owl.

Those viral images and videos that people modify and spread across the Internet are always good for a laugh, but at the TEDGlobal 2013 conference in Edinburgh, Media Design Practices alumna An Xiao Mina took the stage to deliver a talk entitled “The Meaning of Memes,” shedding light on how individuals across the globe are turning memes into “the street art of our social web.”

In her talk, Mina provided examples of how people in both democracies and censorship states have used memes to speak out on controversial issues, from the detainment of Ai Weiwei to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. “These memes are about more than humor,” Mina said on the TED blog. “They do what art and visual expression have always done—make us feel less alone.”

This story originally appeared in Art Center’s Spring 2014 Dot magazine, where you can read more about alumni and faculty achievements.

Fashion forward meets emotional rescue: Art Center students imagine the future of wearables

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Sangli Li's Expressive Wearable.

Sangli Li’s Expressive Wearables shields its user from intrusive sights and sounds.

With Apple and Google both adding fashion professionals to its regiments, it appears that the next consumer electronics war will be waged not over the smartphone in your pocket, but over the devices worn around your wrists and over your eyes.

Always ahead of the curve, Art Center students, instructors and alumni are currently imagining where wearables might head next. And while wearables will undoubtedly translate to big business, how might this technology change our behavior as human beings?

This question, and many more, were explored in a recent Intel Corporation-sponsored Wearables Ecologies course taught by Media Design Practices (MDP) Professor Phil van Allen and Associate Professor Ben Hooker.

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