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

by 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.

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Building a better digital world: Meet the inaugural graduates of ArtCenter’s interaction design program

by December 16th, 2015

An excited crowd gathered around Ting Wu’s Kaleidoscope exhibit, spilling out into the Hillside Campus hallways during ArtCenter’s Fall 2015 recruitment open house. Inspired by the toy she loved as a child, Wu wondered what it would be like to experience the inside of a kaleidoscope. Weeks of user testing and research for the Play Studio assignment paid off: The popular interactive installation transformed the joy of the single user toy into a shareable immersive and, yes, kaleidoscopically cool experience. Visitors hastily snapped selfies of their own digitized images while others used the installation to create stunning art. Perhaps most significantly, this unqualified Grad Show hit represented an important ArtCenter milestone: Its creator would soon become a member of the first class of ArtCenter students to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Interaction Design, the College’s youngest undergraduate program.

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World-class design education, delivered digitally: Meet the online learning innovators behind The Skool

by December 15th, 2015

Chris Do and Jose Caballer, co-founders of The Skool. ArtCenter photo by Jennie Warren

Chris Do and Jose Caballer, co-founders of The Skool. ArtCenter photo by Jennie Warren

The business of online learning is booming. Just ask lynda.com co-founders, former ArtCenter faculty member Lynda Weinman and alumnus and Trustee Bruce Heavin (BFA 93 Illustration), whose company was acquired this year by LinkedIn for $1.5 billion.

Inspired and mentored by these pioneers, Graphic Design alums Jose Caballer (BFA 96) and Chris Do (BFA 95) represent a new generation of innovative education entrepreneurs. Together the two have co-founded The Skool, an online learning resource for designers.

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Student opinion: What’s the role of activism and the #blacklivesmatter movement at ArtCenter?

by December 11th, 2015

Current student, Kayla Salisbury

Current Illustration student, Kayla Salisbury

The following piece, by Illustration student Kayla Salisbury, emerged out of a dialogue that began in the comments section of ArtCenter’s Instagram page. Kayla sought to connect with other ArtCenter community members around the activist movements calling for policy change on college campuses across the country and around the world. Because ArtCenter can be an intense, focused and sometimes isolating environment, Kayla wasn’t sure where or how to engage her peers in a public dialogue around these issues. So we offered her this space to begin that conversation. Please feel free to use the comments section below to weigh in with your own opinions. And should you need more space to express yourself, we also welcome student submissions from all viewpoints.

I am writing this blog for ArtCenter students, particularly those who don’t spend much time talking to people outside their apartments and classrooms. I feel it is vital to know what is going on in the world. Everything has an effect on us, whether we know it or not. Stereotypes, the media and the current state of America are just three factors that influence us in ways we can’t even measure.

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

by 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.

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

by 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.

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Watch legendary artists create OUTSIDEIN: The Ascendance of Street Art in Visual Culture

by December 1st, 2015

ArtCenter’s OUTSIDEIN exhibition, on display at both campuses through January 10, 2016, was inspired in part by the mural Keith Haring painted at the College’s Hillside Campus in 1989, commemorating the World Health Organization’s second annual AIDS Awareness Day. That piece, which took two days to paint, was Haring’s last completed work. Three months later he died of AIDS.

To commemorate Haring’s legacy as well today’s celebration of the 28th anniversary of AIDS Awareness Day, the above video traces the origins of ArtCenter’s longstanding relationship to street art and the insurgent role graffiti-based street murals have played in embedding social and political messages in an emerging, evolving and now mainstream form of creative expression. Combining in-depth artist interviews and time-lapse footage of their creative process, this piece provides a rare glimpse inside the creative process, connecting the dots between the legacy of this subversive art form to its current role as an arbiter of pop culture aesthetics and an access point for popular engagement with the arts.

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Blazing a luminous trajectory: Doug Aitken, Jen Rosenstein, Mark Ryden and Lawrence Carroll

by November 24th, 2015

Doug Aitken, Station to Station

Doug Aitken, Station to Station. Courtesy Regen Projects.

1. Since graduating from ArtCenter nearly 25 years ago, Doug Aitken (BFA 91 Illustration) has blazed a luminous trajectory. From his breakout Electric Earth video installation at the 1999 Whitney Biennial, to the nomadic Station to Station (2013), the Southern California native creates multimedia works at once monumental and ephemeral.

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The overpowering and humbling beauty of UH-OH Frances Stark at the Hammer Museum

by November 20th, 2015

Frances Stark, My Best Thing, 2011. Digital video, color, sound. 100:00 min. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchase. Image courtesy of Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York.

Frances Stark, My Best Thing, 2011. Digital video, color, sound. 100:00 min. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Purchase. Image courtesy of Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York.

“’UH-OH’ is among the finest solo museum shows this year.” Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, November 12, 2015.

It is not often that an artist has both intrigued and intimidated me as much as Frances Stark (MFA 93). So it was with some trepidation that I set out to the Hammer Museum to see Stark’s mid-career retrospective, UH-OH: Frances Stark, 1991-2015, on view until January 24, 2016.  The exhibition brings together more than two decades of Stark’s poetic compositions and autobiographical reflections, featuring 125 works, including the artist’s early carbon drawings, intricate collages, and mixed-media paintings as well as her more recent videos.

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ArtCenter master plan features affordable student housing and elevated quad and cycleway

by November 17th, 2015

ArtCenter’s vision for a South Campus student housing village, mobility hub, public gallery and park-like quad. (Image credit: Michael Maltzan Architecture / Tina Chee Landscape Studio)

ArtCenter’s vision for a South Campus student housing village, mobility hub, public gallery and park-like quad. (Image credit: Michael Maltzan Architecture / Tina Chee Landscape Studio)

ArtCenter College of Design has made public its new master plan, charting a 10-year vision for the future of the College’s physical campuses. At a November 12th reception, nearby residents and business leaders were treated to an early look at the visionary proposal that will provide students with innovative learning and making spaces as well as much-needed housing. The College plans to break ground in 2017, following the City of Pasadena’s review process, to create a thriving art and culture educational urban destination.

Highlights of the plan include an elevated park-like quad that spans the Metro Gold Line tracks, a transportation hub, a cycleway, the transformation of Raymond Avenue into a tree-lined pedestrian-friendly road and a student housing village.

“This is mission-driven growth informed by the College’s conservatory-like approach to education,” said Lorne M. Buchman, president of ArtCenter College of Design. “We’re sharing our vision for rich, intercultural and transdisciplinary dialogue, and our goal is to ensure that institutional development is synonymous with meaningful change in the surrounding community.”

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