Author Archive

Art Center in Asia: It Began in Japan

Friday, November 21st, 2014
Product Design alumnus Kenji Ekuan (BS 57), second from right, arrives in the United States in the 1950s.

Product Design alumnus Kenji Ekuan (BS 57), second from right, arrives in the United States in the 1950s.

In the latest issue of Dot magazine, we take a look at Art Center College of Design’s long history—nearly 60 years—of connections to Asia. Take a trip with us through time and across the Pacific as we look back in history and forward to the future. Today, we explore the College’s historic relationship with Japan.

In 1956, Edward A. “Tink” Adams, Art Center’s first president, traveled to Japan with Advertising alumnus George Jergenson (BFA 35)—then the director of the College’s Industrial Design (ID) Department—and ID faculty member John Coleman. They had been invited by the Japanese government to tour the country and to share their thoughts on how industrial design could provide a competitive advantage for a nation still early in its post-war recovery.

After returning to the U.S., they filed a formal report containing several recommendations for Japan, including instilling a sense of national pride in products being “Made in Japan”—they cited Nikon’s confidence in placing its name on its camera, “one of the finest cameras anywhere”—and making sure Japanese students fully grasp their country’s rich cultural history. The future designer, it stated, “will learn more…from studying Japanese masters of painting and design than he will from Western art.”

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Art Center in Asia: Create Change Design Forums at Beijing Design Week

Friday, November 14th, 2014
Art Center's Mark Breitenberg welcomes participants to the 2014 Create Change Forums in Beijing.

Art Center’s Mark Breitenberg welcomes participants to the 2014 Create Change Forums in Beijing.

In the latest issue of Dot magazine, we take a look at Art Center College of Design’s long history—nearly 60 years—of connections to Asia. Take a trip with us through time and across the Pacific as we look back in history and forward to the future. Today’s focus: the College’s growing relationship with China.

Whether it’s the impending arrival of China-made cars to the U.S. market or Film alumnus Michael Bay’s (BFA 88) Transformers: Age of Extinction breaking the $300 million barrier at the Chinese box office, these days all eyes are on the Middle Kingdom. And Art Center is no exception.

Just ask Mark Breitenberg, special assistant to the College’s president, who led the Create Change Design Forums, a three-day series of presentations and workshops which took place in China this September during Beijing Design Week.

At the packed forums, co-organized by Graduate Industrial Design (Grad ID) alumnus Lan Yu and sponsored by her company, Art Center leaders and alumni met with employees from 70 Chinese companies to introduce them to Art Center’s methodologies and creative processes.

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Is Art Center the creative equivalent to bootcamp?

Friday, November 7th, 2014
Graphic Design alumnus Michael Noh's (BFA 14) SYNC project. Photo: Alex Aristei

Graphic Design alumnus Michael Noh’s (BFA 14) SYNC project. Photo: Alex Aristei

Studying at Art Center is like going through boot camp. You’ve probably heard students and alumni from the College compare those two experiences. But how realistic is that analogy?

Graphic Design alumnus Michael Noh (BFA 14), who graduated this past summer, has an answer. Prior to studying at Art Center, Noh served in the Army Reserves for four years, during which time he designed multimedia communications and also served on a tour in Iraq as part of a Psychological Operation (PsyOp) unit.

Which means, yes, he went through boot camp. So I put the question directly to this military veteran and working designer: Is graduating from Art Center really akin to surviving basic training?

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From Teen Midol to Macklemore: Storytelling by Graduate Film students takes many forms

Monday, November 3rd, 2014
Still from Matthew Ward's Damned.

Still from Matthew Ward’s Damned, the story of a woman who escapes a research facility and discovers the city around her devastated by a virus.

Art Center’s graduate Film program offers developing filmmakers an immersive opportunity to refine and expand their visual storytelling abilities. For the new 2015-16 Graduate Studies Viewbook, we profiled three members of that community: Lizbeth Chappell, Mego Lin and Matthew Ward. Here are their stories.

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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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