Saturday High “Comic Book Illustration” students develop their voice, one panel at a time

by March 16th, 2015

Student work from Saturday High's "Comic Book Illustration" class.

Student work from Saturday High’s Comic Book Illustration class.

It may be fashionable these days to take shots at movies based on comic books—Hello, Mr. Eastwood!—but contrary to popular belief, comic books are not a single genre. Rather, they are a visual storytelling medium that has evolved over hundreds of years.

Today, comics are used to tell all kinds of stories—everything from coming-of-age dramas like Craig Thompson’s Blankets to the wartime journalism of Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde.

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Stuart Fingerhut reinvents the future of retail through experiential design

by March 13th, 2015

Stuart Fingerhut designs Scion's presence at major international auto shows.

Stuart Fingerhut designs Scion’s presence at major international auto shows.

The following profile of Environmental Design alumnus Stuart Fingerhut appeared in the January 2015 issue of VSMD Magazine. Read how Fingerhut’s leading-edge thinking about reconceiving the retail experience to be more about connection than commerce informs the success of his experiential marketing work for Toyota’s Scion brand as well as his personal design practice creating functional art.

Stuart Fingerhut seems to have this experiential design thing all figured out. As creative director for Toyota’s Scion brand at the George P. Johnson Experience Marketing Agency in Los Angeles, Fingerhut is responsible for creating Scion’s presence at major international automobile shows.

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February 2015 Art Center alumni notes

by March 12th, 2015

Illustration by Kim Ryu for the February 2, 2015 edition of the New York Times Sunday Book Review

Illustration by Kim Ryu for the February 2, 2015 edition of the New York Times Sunday Book Review

It’s been a fruitful awards season—and not just for the creative team behind Birdman. Art Center alums have amassed an impressive array of accolades, from the Caldecott Medal (the Oscars of children’s literature) to the Oscars themselves. So in lieu of glitzy after party, we’ve done the next (or perhaps next, next) best thing and compiled highlights from our alumni community’s recent accomplishments below. Enjoy!

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Giving design the business: The ROI on Art Center’s longstanding partnership with INSEAD

by March 11th, 2015

What at first felt like a total culture clash just a decade ago is now standard practice in most top-earning companies. The idea of blending design innovation with business strategy has quickly evolved from a seedling, to a trend and now to a “must have.”

Art Center alumni and friends reunited in San Francisco on February 28 to celebrate the 10-year partnership of the College and INSEAD, one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools. Close to 150 industry leaders gathered at the posh play-inducing headquarters of Airbnb on Brannan Street to toast the success of a concept early adopters admitted seemed wacky.

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Scholarship recipient strikes “Gold” with Imagine Dragons music video

by March 10th, 2015

Bryan Fugal on set

Bryan Fugal on set

Graduate Film student Bryan Fugal has already done more in the world of professional music video production than, well, many professionals his age. The Utah native and recipient of an Art Center MFA departmental scholarship recently wrapped up a video shoot for the Imagine Dragons‘ song, “Gold,” where he filled two roles: producer and first assistant director. It’s his second time working on a video for the band—and, he hopes, not his last. We asked him to tell us a little about the experience, the role of scholarships, and how Art Center did or didn’t prepare him for the gig.

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Jeff Wall on artifice, actuality and accident — and why he doesn’t make films

by March 9th, 2015

Jeff Wall spoke about his work and its influences. (Art Center photo by Juan Posada)

In the Grad Art Seminar series, Jeff Wall spoke candidly about his work and its influences. (Art Center photo by Juan Posada)

Vancouver-born and -based artist Jeff Wall is now living and working part-time in Los Angeles, which is good news for students at Art Center. A capacity crowd filled the L.A. Times Media Center at Hillside Campus last Tuesday night, eager to hear what he had to say.

Jack Bankowsky, who co-curates the popular Grad Art Seminar series with fellow faculty member Walead Beshty, introduced Wall, and reminded the audience of three of his works—opaque black and white prints—that are set in Los Angeles: Citizen (1996), a man lying on the lawn in a public park; 8056 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles (1996), a cinema-turned-synagogue, framed in a circular black vignette; and Office Hallway, Spring Street, Los Angeles (1997), a man in a dimly lit, nondescript hallway.

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Furniture designers square off on Spike TV’s “Framework,” featuring Product Design alum Nolen Niu

by March 5th, 2015

Common, Nolen Niu, Brandon Gore. Image courtesy Spike TV.

Framework judges Common, Nolen Niu, Brandon Gore. Image courtesy Spike TV.

When a casting agent called Product Design alumnus Nolen Niu (BS 99) asking if he would be interested in participating as a judge on a Spike TV show, he said “Hell yeah!” A fan of such shows as Bar Rescue and Catch a Contractor, Niu didn’t even ask what the show was about before agreeing to participate. That enthusiasm, and his well-earned reputation as a furniture designer, landed him a stint as one of three judges on the furniture design reality competition, Framework, Spike TV’s newest reality show, where contestants vie to be named best furniture maker—and win a $100,000 prize. There is still time to binge watch the entire series online before the finale, which will air March 10th.

At first it was a bit surreal for Niu to see himself on TV and to get recognized at some of the most random places. Overall though, “[this] has been one of the best experiences I’ve had during my career as a designer, says Niu. “The opportunity to judge a competition and hold a position of authority related to design was an absolute honor.”

In tune with the current maker movement, Framework offers a glimpse into the process of creating handcrafted goods. “The design and build process is very analog in nature compared to the completely digital lifestyles that we live in today. It’s important that these shows continue to be produced since it shines light on the level of complexity of the work we as designers and makers perform,” notes Niu.

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Harriet Rubin on speaking beauty to power and rebranding the meaning of leadership

by March 4th, 2015

Princessa: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin

Princessa: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin

Last week, the Humanities and Sciences department played host to Harriet Rubin, Art Center’s first Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow.

Rubin founded Currency, an imprint of Doubleday. She has written for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, was a senior writer and columnist for Fast Company (a “Currency Magazine” prototype became Fast Company), and is the author of Soloing: Realizing Your Life’s Ambition,  Princessa: Machiavelli for Women and Dante in Love: The World’s Greatest Poem and How it Made History.

Rubin spent a week at the College spurring discussions both in and out of classrooms; and on Wednesday she presented an Art Center Dialogues lecture titled “The Secret Life of Leaders,” which included a thought-provoking discussion on the nature of leadership and the powerful role that poet-priests play as societal influencers.

Below are highlights from her lecture:

On the word “leadership”:
“Leadership” is a word we use a lot, but it is sounding increasingly archaic,  like “zoo” or “Triceratops” or “mini-skirts.” The media, Washington, business schools, colleges all talk reverently about leadership, but why? This Monday I heard two wonderful presentations by students in Gerardo Herrera’s class on marketing Coffee-mate to millenials. And it occurred to me that leadership may be just like Coffee-mate. Maybe that’s what we should do with leadership. We need to rebrand it.

On the actual power of “leadership”:
We’re living in a bottom-up world. Social media undermines centralized power. Flash mobs, Kickstarter, sleeper cells, tribal consciousness, shadow governments. The most-watched TV anchor Brian Williams, the leader in TV news, is revealed as no leader at all. I keep wondering if secretly nobody wants to be a leader. Maybe Brian Williams created the circumstances of his own firing. Maybe he really wanted to get out of his soulless role, and the only way he thought he could do it was by kicking it all apart.

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Prominent theorist Ezio Manzini to discuss new book connecting design culture to social change

by March 3rd, 2015

 

Ezio Manzini

Ezio Manzini

Ezio Manzini, a leading force in social impact design and founder of the DESIS (Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability) network of university-based design labs (including Art Center’s Designmatters department), will present a lecture based on ideas addressed within his new book, Design, When Everybody Designs, published by MIT Press. The event, which begins at 7pm in Art Center’s LA Times Media Center, will include an hour-long talk about design culture’s role in driving the future of social change and a book signing at 8pm.

The following excerpt from Manzini’s book, which was originally published as part of Mapping Social Design‘s Expert Workshop, offers an enticing preview of the innovative and deeply-considered ideas Manzini will address in his presentation at Art Center next week:

In the 21st century social innovation will be interwoven with design as both stimulus and objective, indeed it will stimulate design as much as technical innovation did in the 20th century. At the same time, it will be what a growing proportion of design activities will be seeking to achieve. In principle, design has all the potentialities to play a major role in triggering and supporting social change and therefore becoming design for social innovation. Today we are at the beginning of this journey and we still need a better understanding of the possibilities, the limits and the implications of this emerging design mode, but what is already clear is that design for social innovation is not a new discipline: it is simply one of the ways in which contemporary design is appearing. Therefore, what it requires is not so much a specific set of skills and methods, but a new culture, a new way of looking at the world and at what design can do with and for people living in it.

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

by 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.”

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