Category Archives: Uncategorized

Knowledge is power: A Transportation Design student’s journey from Zimbabwe to ArtCenter

Zimbabwe

This story first appeared in Dot magazine.

One day, when then 6-year-old future Transportation Design student Thokozani Mabena was playing with friends in the shanty town where he grew up, in authoritarian-ruled Zimbabwe, he was drawn to a magazine he spotted near some trash bins.

Poring through the magazine, Mabena saw an article showcasing a Japanese designer who conceptualized the Nissan Z sports car. The article also featured a big, round, bright orange dot. Mabena didn’t know, during that pivotal moment of curiosity, that the dot represented ArtCenter, but he instinctively liked the article’s gorgeously vivid car design sketches.

“I’ve been sketching since I was 3. I was like, ‘Wow, maybe this is something I could do one day!’ and I just stored the thought in my memory bank,” said Mabena. “I didn’t know what a classic car was. I knew public transportation. I rode in carriages, pulled by a donkey. One time I rode an actual bull. Sometimes we had to walk long distances. Sometimes we took a truck with an open bed, and stood for hours. We rode bicycles, and in trains, buses, and then cars.”

Three decades after first seeing that ArtCenter dot, Mabena—who came to the United States in 2006 as a refugee—is now set to graduate this term, and will debut his ArtCenter Grad Show thesis project Airbnb-GO on April 20.

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Faculty Council announces Spring Teaching Advancement Awards

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On Friday, March 17, the Faculty Council announced the 2017 Spring Teaching Advancement Award recipients. Teaching Advancement Awards offer faculty the opportunity to receive up to $1,000 to support a range of activities that enhance their knowledge as an educator and benefit students in classrooms and studios. A total of $3,000 is available to be disbursed each term to successful applicants for research, conferences, workshops, exhibitions and related travel expenses that are not covered by departmental classroom support.

The Spring 2017 recipients are:

Faculty Council will be accepting applications for Summer 2017 TAA grants early in the Summer Term. All faculty are encouraged to apply. Please contact facultycouncil@artcenter.edu for more information.

Seeking Solace: The Travel Ban’s Impact on ArtCenter Students

TravelBan

Note: This story first appeared in Dot magazine online.

Inside Graduate Art student Delbar Shahbaz’s South Campus art studio, several of her smaller sculptures—with pale birdlike bodies and human-looking heads—line a high shelf. A quote by British artist Tracey Emin declaring “Love is what you want” is scrawled in big black letters on a wall. In the corner, on a hot plate, sits a tea kettle, trailing fresh steam.

The studio is a safe space for the 38-year-old, who moved to the United States from her native Tehran, Iran in 2013, and started at ArtCenter in 2015. It’s a zone where Shahbaz—who has a green card and is set to graduate this term—can think, imagine, work and feel free.

That feeling of freedom changed on January 27 for Shahbaz and Iranian Transportation Design student Ehsan Momeninejad they said. That day President Donald Trump issued an executive order—currently blocked by federal courts—banning citizens from Muslim-majority countries Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. Shahbaz’s sister, a Canadian citizen in Vancouver, was about to give birth to a son. Their parents live in Iran.

“I really want to go and see my sister, to help her, but I’m afraid. What if they don’t let me come back?” said Shahbaz, drinking tea in her studio. “I’ve already built my career here. I’m teaching an ArtCenter at Night sculpture class in the summer. I was feeling, with this order, ‘I’m alone, and I don’t have any land.’ Until then, I thought the U.S. was my land.”

Shahbaz and 27-year-old Momeninejad—who has a student visa—both protested at Los Angeles International Airport the day after the executive order was announced. News surrounding the order, and an updated one reportedly in the works, has shifted week by week. Momeninejad had intended to visit his parents and sister in Tehran in April, and now doesn’t want to risk going back and not be able to return to finish his degree, he said. Shahbaz has thrown herself into her work, seeking solace from ArtCenter faculty.

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An Intern’s Blog: Jonathan Hsiung

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After going through six terms straight at ArtCenter, I decided to take a term off to do an internship. I wanted to learn more about what product designers do as professionals and validate what I’ve learned at ArtCenter. One opportunity led to another, and a term off turned into an entire year away doing three internships. The first was at Propelland, the second at Facebook and the third at Mercedes-Benz. Each of these experiences have taught me different lessons that have helped me to grow tremendously.

Come to think of it, doing internships is just like prototyping my life. Prototypes represent possible futures, and I get to learn from my internship experiences what works for me and what doesn’t.

While each internship was drastically different from one another in terms of company culture and work environment, the skills required were generally similar. As a product designer, I worked in cross-functional teams, conducted user research, designed user flows, built prototypes, produced specs and final assets and worked on implementation with engineers. Many of these functions validate the skills I need as a product designer that Art Center has helped me hone and acquire.

As an ArtCenter student, I’ve come to realize is that the hefty amount of deliverables and presentations required weekly in ArtCenter’s program has allowed me to develop a strong work ethic and good communication skills. These skills have helped me navigate various difficult situations in the workplace, and enabled me to work and perform more effectively under pressure.

If I have to pick the most important top three things that I learned during the entirety of my internship experiences, they would be self-awareness, self-initiation and prioritization. Acquiring a higher sense of self-awareness has allowed me to constantly reflect on how I can perform better. Self-initiative allows me to better drive my own project and not have to constantly depend on the progress of others. Learning how to prioritize has enabled me to make decisions and tradeoffs quickly and become a more efficient designer.

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Staff Council Report: How is the College reacting to growth in terms of staffing and budgeting?

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On December 7, 2016, President Lorne Buchman and CFO Rich Haluschak joined a regular meeting of Staff Council to discuss questions posed to them regarding the impact of the College’s growth on staff. The resulting discussion was candid and informative. Lorne assured the group that the College is committed to increasing staff as necessary to accommodate growth and that staff should be compensated for increased workloads and/or new duties. In response to the questions, Rich informed the Council:

  • A total of 23 staff positions have been added or upgraded as a direct response to enrollment growth since 2011.
  • Certain departments, such as Facilities and Educational Media, have had a spike in overtime since 2011. The College is currently reviewing needs in those departments to make sure they are adequately staffed.
  • Departmental budgets are automatically increased when a staff member receives a salary increase.

Both Lorne and Rich stressed that staff who have been shouldering increased workloads and/or responsibilities should be compensated for those increases and employees who believe their workloads or duties have increased beyond the scope of their job descriptions or expectations should be discussing these issues with their supervisors. In response to a question, Lorne acknowledged that the College doesn’t have a process for staff to present their concerns outside the normal departmental lines but he noted that staff can always reach out to Human Resources.

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Student Spotlight: Alvin Oei on building your professional network

Alvin Oei

Environmental Design student Alvin Oei is busy building his professional network while managing the challenging workload that is an ArtCenter education. He arranged for a line-up of luminaries to gather at ArtCenter on September 23 for an industry panel on the future of themed entertainment. Alum and former Disney imagineer Geoff Puckett moderated the panel that included legendary Disney imagineer and alum Bob Gurr; alum and principal of The Hettema Group, Phil Hettema; Dave Cobb, principal at Thinkwell; Entertainment Design chair Guillaume Aretos and imagineer Chris Beatty.

If you missed it, here is some of the wisdom shared with the audience:

  • Phil Hettema: “New technology comes along every 10 years. The secret sauce to the business of themed entertainment is that it is one of the last places you can go to have an experience with someone else.”
  • Bob Gurr: “If you’ve been asked to do something you’ve never done before, the answer is YES. If you can think and you’re curious you can figure out anything.”
  • Dave Cobb: “Completely unfettered blue sky is a myth. This is a highly collaborative artform that business and management are a big part of.”
  • Chris Beatty: “We’re all salesmen, we need to convince everyone they have a dog in the hunt.”

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Goodbye Dotted Line, hello ArtCenter News!

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After a brief hiatus, we are restarting this blog with a new emphasis on connecting and celebrating our ever-expanding two campus community. ArtCenter News is where we will exalt our student successes, laud our faculty accomplishments and discover our staff talents. While anyone can read and follow this blog, and we encourage all to do so, it is primarily a place for the ArtCenter community to come together. It is a forum for us to revel in what makes ArtCenter unique, acquaint ourselves with each other and our programs and offerings, and discuss issues we face. We may be spread out physically between two campuses and many buildings, but we are a community and ArtCenter News is a place for us to convene electronically. Everything that relates to what is happening at the College is relevant. We will post stories about students, faculty, staff and events, as well as important issues that affect how we learn, how we teach and how we work.

We invite—and encourage—all members of the ArtCenter community to submit ideas, tips and first-person tales. Please send your news, thoughts and stories to anna.macaulay@artcenter.edu.

All posts on ArtCenter News can also be read on our college intranet, Inside ArtCenter. Stories that are relevant to both internal and external audiences will continue to be told in Dot magazine online, which resides on our main website, artcenter.edu. There you will also find a gathering place for posts about both ArtCenter and the larger art and design world, which are curated at ArtCenter Now. The ArtCenter story is also told through our compelling alumni video series, Change Makers, which lives on our YouTube channel, along with other video assets.

In addition to reading our stories, we encourage everyone to share in the conversation through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And you can catch a slice of ArtCenter life by following our Snapchat feed.

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

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.

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

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

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BOO! It’s another ghoulish Halloween at ArtCenter

We wanted to know: What are your greatest fears? Lets hope it isn’t a fear of 600 million pounds of candy, sexy halloween costumes and halloween themed blog posts from your alma mater – because all of the above are as unavoidable as death and midterms. A lot has changed since the Irish origins of “All Hallows’ Eve”, when martyrs, saints and lost relatives were celebrated in the light of turnip lanterns. We hope you enjoy your tricks and treats but remember what one of your fellow students says in the video, “Fear is just a biological process that makes us more aware of situations.”