Archive for the ‘Alumni Relations’ Category

Advertising alum Anthony Cardenas’ Penn and Teller Mazda spot lands Super Bowl slot

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Mazda CX-5 : Penn and Teller 30 second spot from Anthony Cardenas on Vimeo.

Anthony Cardenas came to Art Center’s Advertising program equipped with equal quantities of talent and doubt. He doubted whether it was wise to spend several years pursuing his second undergraduate degree. (He had recently received his B.A. in Marketing from CSU Northridge). He had questions about how he’d finance his degree. He also wondered whether it made any sense for him to focus on copywriting at an art and design college.

But eventually his anxieties lifted once he discovered that his unconventional choices — aka his differentiating qualities — were fueling his success. “Everyone I was in school with wanted to be an art director, so why not be a copywriter?” Cardenas remembers wondering. “I enjoyed it, my peers seemed to enjoy my writing and found it funny (or they were really good at pretending to laugh), and I thoroughly enjoyed doing that more than sitting on a computer comping all day. So, I made it known to all of my friends and teachers that I wanted to become a copywriter, and I was the only one at that time really.”

The decision paid off. Cardenas landed a job as a copywriter at Garage Team Mazda shortly before collecting his Advertising degree from Art Center. Less than a year later, he received word that the Mazda spot his team had created, featuring magician duo Penn and Teller, would air during the Super Bowl—an experience which is essentially a copywriter’s equivalent to playing in the Super Bowl.

We seized upon this auspicious occasion to catch up with Cardenas about the process of creating the Super Bowl spot, his  supernova career trajectory and how those early doubts have been transformed into unalloyed passion for creating advertising with an artistic sensibility. And, hey, if it happens to air in front of the world’s largest TV audience, all the better.

The Dotted Line: How did this project come about?

Anthony Cardenas: It was part of Mazda’s campaign that we were working on, which featured celebrities or someone who had “changed the game” in some way was a requirement. After going through a large number of potential candidates, we boiled the list down to five. That’s when we started concepting ideas on how each spot would look, and this one got picked in the end.

The Dotted Line: What was the ideation process like?

Anthony Cardenas: The process was a little different than what I learned in school, but essentially once we had our list of contenders (game changers), we started concocting different ideas on how to incorporate the person/persons with the car. Our main goal was to make sure it didn’t feel like two separate ads, but that it was one cohesive piece. Since Penn and Teller are magicians, we started thinking of ways we could incorporate a car into a magic act. That’s when we thought of cutting the car in half, but what we finally ended up with was quite different from where we started.

The Dotted Line: What were some of your thoughts on what makes a good Super Bowl ad?

Anthony Cardenas: This commercial wasn’t intended to be a Super Bowl spot: We had found out about two weeks prior that it would air in 6 different regions around the US, so we never went in with the mentality of making a Super Bowl spot. But after watching all of them this year and many years prior, I think what makes a good Super Bowl spot is something that can make an audience laugh, while still retaining what product the commercial was promoting.

That toe fungus commercial this year was god awful. But you know what? It was genius. Geniusly awful? That’s not a word but we’re pretending it is for a moment. Everybody was talking about it (even though most people were wondering why that became a Super Bowl spot in the first place). And I think it was money well spent on their part.

The Dotted Line: Did you approach this differently than other projects because of the pressure/opportunity involved in producing an ad for the largest audience on the planet?

Anthony Cardenas: We never knew this would air during the Super Bowl so we went in with the same attitude as we would with any of our work. I think even if we were to make another spot next year with the intention of airing during the Super Bowl, we would approach it the same way. I say that now, but I would probably feel extra nervous about making sure we did a good job with our spot. Millions of people will see it. And there are a lot of meanies on twitter.

The Dotted Line: What were your inspirations for the concept?

Anthony Cardenas: I would say old school magic (like when they all had mustaches) and watching some of Penn and Teller’s acts. We were just trying to think of the best possible way we could incorporate the car into a magic trick that would be an easy read for the audience and could be entertaining as well.

The Dotted What were the challenges in executing the concept?

Anthony Cardenas: I think the biggest was just making sure we had the right cuts in the spot so that the pacing and the flow of the commercial worked. We had cuts that went too fast, some that went too slow. Then we added in music to the spot and that changed it even more. Some of the music made the spot move too fast so we’d have to re-edit. Some would make it too slow etc. With shooting the commercial, we got more than enough shots to cover our bases and everyone was amazing to work with so honestly the biggest challenge was in post.

The Dotted Line: What did it fee like to see it broadcast during the Super Bowl?

Anthony Cardenas: I wish I could have seen it. But Los Angeles wasn’t one of the regions selected to broadcast our spot. I did get a call from my friend during the Super Bowl who lives in D.C and told me he just saw it. So that was kind of a cool feeling that a friend across the country saw something that I worked on.

The Dotted Line: What have been some of the most important steps you’ve taken to carve a career for yourself in this area?

Anthony Cardenas: Just trying to do the best work possible for our agency—something that not only pleases the clients, but something that makes the people who worked on it proud as well. It’s not always easy but I feel like with this spot we definitely achieved that nice balance. Also, just look at ads: Print ads, billboards, digital executions, commercials. Look at what other agencies are doing and see what works for them and what doesn’t. It’s a great learning tool and sometimes can be that inspiration you need when all else has failed.

Art Center’s Film department joins Birdman’s Emmanuel Lubezki in embracing ARRI Pro Camera Accessories

Friday, February 27th, 2015

ARRI PCA Gear for the C300 from Chase Hagen on Vimeo.

This video is more than it seems. It’s not just a polished promotional piece for ARRI Pro Camera Accessories, targeting young filmmakers. It’s actually a multi-layered (and slightly meta) example of Art Center’s core values—collaboration, industry-minded creativity, polished production values. Look closely at the video’s ingredient list (aka credits) and you’ll find that it’s been fortified with Art Center talent at every level. Film student Chase Hagen produced the above behind-the-scenes look at the production of a music video, directed by Art Center Film alumnus, Steve Dabal.

The piece, which was shot in the soundstage at Art Center’s Hillside campus, was commissioned by ARRI Pro Camera Accessories as a result of a relationship fostered by Undergrad & Grad Film chair Ross LaManna and Advanced Cinematography instructor Affonso Beato, ASC. Then again, Art Center filmmakers are in good company: Here’s an interview with Birdman‘s Oscar-winning cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, in which he credits ARRI equipment with facilitating some of the film’s most innovative camera-work and creative flourishes.


The pursuit of perfect sound: Eleven key takeaways from Daniel Sennheiser’s BOLD lecture

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Sennheiser CEO's Daniel Sennheiser (left) and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser.

Sennheiser CEO’s Daniel Sennheiser (left) and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser.

Last month, Art Center welcomed Sennheiser co-CEO and Product Design alumnus Daniel Sennheiser (BS 96) to Hillside Campus to inaugurate its BOLD Lecture Series.

Speaking to a group of students and alumni packed into the Los Angeles Times Auditorium, Sennheiser shared lessons he’s learned as a creative entrepreneur and gave a behind-the-scenes look at how he’s implementing a culture of design thinking into his family’s venerable audio company—a company whose many achievements include revolutionizing personal audio by creating the world’s first on-ear headphones in 1968—which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Below are highlights from his presentation:

On failure: It’s very important in your life to have moments where you fail. Failure is part of the journey. You learn it everyday in school when you go through moments where you feel like you’re failing. I still fail at a lot of things, but I get back up. And ultimately, success is standing up once more than you fall.


Social entrepreneur Nathan Cooke’s Fresh Life Toilets offer a fresh start to locals in developing countries

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
Nathan Cooke

Nathan Cooke

When Nathan Cooke (BS 08 Product Design) was first approached by a group of entrepreneurs to help start a new venture centered on building toilets in developing countries, he wasn’t terribly taken with the idea. But seeing their determination, he decided to help them build a test toilet.

Five years later, Cooke and his colleagues are still working together.  Cooke is co-founder and creative director of Sanergy, a social enterprise based in Nairobi, Kenya, with the mission of making hygienic sanitation affordable for everyone. Through Sanergy’s local brand, Fresh Life, the company franchises its Fresh Life Toilets to entrepreneurs in informal settlements. Franchisees, called Fresh Life Operators, make a profit by charging market rates for use of the toilets.

We checked in the Cooke during his most recent visit to campus for an update on lessons learned from launching this unique venture.


Connecting the dots between illustration, Linkin Park and a feature adaptation of Eric Bogosian’s Mall

Monday, February 16th, 2015

On the occasion of his recent feature filmmaking debut, we invited Illustration alumnus and Linkin Park turntablist Joe Hahn to share his thoughts on the creative process and his Art Center experience.

I attended Art Center in the fall of ’95. Having a love for comics, illustration and films,  I knew that I wanted to pursue a life where I could create things. Attending Art Center for 2 semesters was the beginning of the journey I’m still on. For me, it was an institution of talented instructors and a mixed bag of talented students that were on a journey of their own. Although, my focus at the time was Illustration, my mind didn’t settle on the fact that I would settle on that as a career. It was more of a feeling than an intellectual acknowledgement that I would realize years later. However, many of the principals in the foundation of art and illustration are principals that I apply to all of my creative endeavors that anchor much of my intentions.  These endeavors include art, music, film and communication.


Alum Travis Asada’s P.O.T.U.S. series of paintings casts Presidents’ Day in a whole new light

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how and what to celebrate on Presidents’ Day. Sure it’s nice to have a long weekend. But the occasion of our forefathers’ birthdays doesn’t quite resonate with the force of, say, Independence Day or even Memorial Day.

However, alum Travis Asada’s viscerally impactful series of P.O.T.U.S. paintings may remedy that Presidents’ Day malaise by offering an unusually intimate take on the presidency. A wildly ambitious project, the Illustration alum set out to capture each president, first as a drawing and then later in paint. Asada illuminates the above curated selection of images from his P.O.T.U.S series with an artist’s statement as well as a Q&A about his creative practice below. The combination of the two just might offer an opportunity for a deeper connection to our nation’s Commanders in Chief and their namesake holiday.


Love designed to last: Alum couples share the secret sauce to relationship bliss

Thursday, February 12th, 2015
Alumni Wakako Takagi (BS 06) and Fridolin “Frido” Beisert (MS 08) say "If you can make it through Art Center together as a couple you are pretty much bonded for the rest of your life." Photo by Max Wanger.

Alumni Wakako Takagi (BS 06) and Fridolin “Frido” Beisert (MS 08) say “If you can make it through Art Center together as a couple you are pretty much bonded for the rest of your life.” Photo by Max Wanger.

Art Center’s reputation as a creative proving ground doesn’t exactly evoke images of artistic ardor, sunset strolls or even longing looks among the library stacks. But, as the saying goes: love is stronger than hate, war…or, in this case, work-weary creative determination. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that Art Center’s bridge has also served a figurative function, fostering deep and durable connections among more than a few alumni who have tied the knot. 

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re taking a closer look at the elements unique to couples who survived three years of Art Center’s intense maker bootcamp of high-standards and brutal crits and successfully applied the iterative process to love.


Alum Andre Kim conceives Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room as an ampitheater of coffee

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 1.59.02 PM

It’s only been a year and a half since Andre Kim (BFA 07 Env) signed on as a senior concept design manager at Starbucks. But the young environmental designer’s creative sensibility has already had a transformative impact on the java giant’s shifting identity. In a bid to compete with the surging success of high-end craft coffee boutiques (hence those ubiquity of long lines of Gen Y hipsters patiently awaiting their $6 pour overs), Starbucks set out to create the ultimate coffee fetishist’s fantasyland in the form of a new flagship retail experience in Seattle, designed by none other than Kim.


Legendary industrial designer, alumnus Kenji Ekuan, passes away at age 85

Monday, February 9th, 2015
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.

It is with great sadness that we report on the passing of Product Design alumnus Kenji Ekuan (BS 57). The legendary industrial designer died on February 8, at the age of 85.

A former Buddhist monk and the founder of GK Design Group, Ekuan designed everything from the Akita Shinkansen high-speed train, Yahama VMAX motorcylces and the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce dispenser, the latter which resides in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

As NPR reported this morning, Ekuan’s decision to become a designer had roots in the bombing of Hiroshima in 1946, an attack which killed his sister and his father. ”Faced with brutal nothingness, I felt a great nostalgia for something to touch, something to look at,” he told Japanese broadcaster NHK. “The existence of tangible things is important. It’s evidence that we’re here as human beings.”


January 2015 Art Center alumni notes

Friday, February 6th, 2015
Spike TV's Framework, a furniture design reality show, features Product Design alum, Nolan Niu as a judge

Spike TV’s Framework, a furniture design reality show, features Product Design alum, Nolan Niu as a judge

From Oxygen’s Street Art Throwdown to Spike TV’s Framework to the 2015 Academy Awards to Toyota’s MIRAI—Art Center alumni were featured across the media landscape, doling out expertise on art and design-based reality shows and creating inventive animation and futuristic vehicles. See the full scope of this month’s alumni accomplishments below.