The day Max Knecht pulled a squid, a walrus, a deer and a bunny out of a bright green vintage suitcase is the day he landed his first big deal as a designer.
“It was a formal meeting in [Knock Knock company founder and CEO] Jen Bilik’s office,” recalls Knecht PROD 11, who was still a student at the time. “But bringing all those animal body parts in a suitcase broke the seriousness.”
These were no ordinary plush toys. An imaginative take on swapping identities, Knecht’s bright-colored animals had a clever postmodern flair. Each one separated into three segments, and he demonstrated for Bilik how these “lumps” could be zipped together in any combination. She loved the crisscross-creature concept and offered Knecht a buyout on the spot. Today six different Clump-O-Lumps are available on Knock Knock’s website.
It’s tempting to call moments like this magic, the proverbial rabbit pulled out of a hat. Or a lucky break, all about who you know.
Michael Freund directs an actor in Sony: Change the World
Struck by a single image of a community organizer using a handheld camera to document the plight of low-income workers in Los Angeles, alumni Michael Freund and John Savedra took it upon themselves to create a Sony Electronics spec film, to honor mobile media’s power to create positive change.
SciArt in America
October issue featuring ACCD faculty Lita Albuquerque's Stellar Suspension (from OBSERVE, Williamson Gallery, 2008) on the cover and a 4-page interview with Williamson Gallery director Stephen Nowlin.
Alumnus Jim Root, art director at Cramer-Kasselt, was featured in the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
From fuel efficiency standards changing the look of your car to top ranked film schools, from Gibson Guitartown to backyard beehive designs – here’s where you can catch up on any Art Center news you may have missed with our latest media roundup.
Automobile enthusiasts from around the globe are gathering in Switzerland for the 83rd International Geneva Motor Show March 7–17, 2013 and Art Center faculty, alumni and staff are circulating among them.
Alumni and friends are invited to meet up at an informal reception in conjunction with the show. Geoff Wardle, executive director of Graduate Transportation Design, and Cathy Karry, director of the College’s Career and Professional Development office, will be among the faculty and staff in town to connect with alumni who live in, or near Geneva as well as those visiting for the auto show. For more info, please contact Alumni Relations at email@example.com.
Wardle will be meeting with industry and media representatives to discuss Art Center’s new Grad Trans program that offers two tracks for students to pursue:
Geoff Wardle, executive director of Graduate Transportation Design
The Vehicles Track is for those who are intent on entering or returning to the vehicle manufacturing industry who have strong strategic thinking skills and the ability to focus on the bigger issues facing the field relating to its customers and its future business models.
The Systems Track is geared to individuals who have a more varied background plus are interested in a more holistic, systems-thinking approach to innovative transportation solutions from personal mobility in the urban environment through to more sustainable freight transportation, for example.
Wardle will also discuss the development of automated road vehicles, future business models for the industry and generally what the outlook is for the future of the automobile—which, in his opinion, is positive!
– Teri Bond
For more information on the graduate program, visit
Congratulations to all the talented professionals who worked on Emmy-nominated shows including Alumna Ellen Freund for her work on “Mad Men”
Art Center Alumna Ellen Freund FILM 79 is prop master on the hit AMC show “Mad Men.” The show tied with “American Horror Story” for the most Emmy nominations with 17 each. Among the many accolades, the steamy period drama series about Madison Avenue was honored for outstanding art direction.
Freund’s credits include “Twilight,” “Night at the Museum” and “Vanilla Sky.” To learn more about her career, check out this profile that recently ran on Huffington Post.
In the story, she says “Mad Men” is definitely the biggest challenge of her career. “It is my first time on a television series and the combination of a compressed time frame, limited budget and relentless schedules are very demanding. ‘Mad Men’ requires massive amounts of research to attain the level of accuracy that creator Matthew Weiner seeks and the entire crew strives for every day. The period is fascinating and visually stimulating, making it a real pleasure to work on.”
UPDATE: You’re invited to the closing party Thursday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m.
Last chance to see exhibition honoring Helmut Newton
Join the photographers, models and friends for a celebration of this critically praised exhibition featuring the photography of three Art Center alumni who were mentored by Helmut Newton. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 626.396.2368 for more information.
On June 14, a packed house celebrated the Williamson Gallery’s opening reception for Three Boys from Pasadena, an exhibition of work by Art Center photography alums Mark Arbeit, George Holz, and Just Loomis. The exhibit is accompanied by a tribute to famed fashion photographer Helmut Newton, with whom Mark, George, and Just each maintained a close and lifelong friendship after working for him early in their careers. In June 2010, Three Boys from Pasadena premiered at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. The companion book, with a foreword by June Newton, was published in France and is available in the Art Center student store. The Williamson Gallery exhibit is an expanded version of the original show, featuring an additional seventy prints, and will continue through August 26, 2012.
This exhibition is a homecoming, arriving back at the site of the first meeting between the Boys and Helmut. The exhibit consists of each photographer’s individual work, as well as several vitrines of memorabilia, consisting of snapshots, handwritten notes, journal pages, contact sheets, and other souvenirs. In the sensual, striking fashion editorial and portraiture by Mark, George and Just, a direct line of influence can be traced from Newton to his apprentices, while at the same time each of the three photographers’ body of work shows a departure from Newton’s strong influence and the development of a unique and independent voice.
The cover of the new Edward Weston monograph, published by AMMO Books.
On campus, Gloria Fowler ‘87 may be best known as a beloved Environmental Design instructor who has taught at the College for the last 20 years, helping students explore their creative potential. But equally impressive is her work off-campus, where she runs the thriving boutique art-house publishing company AMMO Books with her photographer-turned-publisher husband, Steve Crist, and business partner Paul Norton.
Launching a specialty book business is a risky venture, even more so in today’s age of declining book sales. But AMMO, which is based in Pasadena and Santa Barbara, Calif., has succeeded where others haven’t, publishing a number of coveted titles including the limited edition monographs Gonzo and Charley Harper, mid-priced options like Locals Only and Spike Lee: Do the Right Thing and a children’s line of board books, puzzles and more. Enviable press coverage and robust sales have followed.
The Dotted Line recently sat down with Fowler to discuss several new AMMO releases just in time for the holidays, as well as her experience running AMMO and working with emerging talent straight from the studios of Art Center.
Is there a story behind the name, AMMO?
When Steve and I decided to break out on our own and launch a new publishing house [he previously worked as a photo editor at Taschen], we realized that there weren’t that many visual-arts publishers based in the U.S. We also wanted to celebrate American artists and designers. So we came up with AMMO, which is short for American Modern Books. But we do publish international artists/designers as well.
What’s new at AMMO this holiday season?
We recently published a limited edition, coffee-table size monograph on the photographer Edward Weston in celebration of his 125th birthday. Weston is a hero of Steve’s and one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. Steve worked with the Center for Creative Photography in Arizona, which manages Weston’s archive, to choose 125 of Weston’s most iconic photographs. The book was beautifully printed in Italy and comes in an exquisite European gold cloth slipcase. Then we have Alexander Girard, edited by Todd Oldham. Girard was a seminal and prolific midcentury designer who produced work in so many disciplines—textiles, typography, graphics, illustration, furniture and architecture. He was a contemporary of Eames who, for whatever reason, hasn’t received the same recognition. We hope this book will change that. It’s massive—672 pages and 15 lbs(!)—and it’s at the level of Charley Harper in that the book is a very comprehensive overview of Girard. And in conjunction, we’ve released some children’s products featuring Girard’s designs—a memory game, giant floor puzzles, a board book and more on the way.
This super-cool product was designed by Bryce along with Graphic Design alums Karabachian and Annie Gonzalez, so this product is a real Art Center success story. Bryce tells us that the product is just beginning to hit store shelves.
“The Pancake Creator scores a perfect trifecta for me: it’s a kitchen gadget, it made me laugh, and it was designed by a former student of mine,” says Product Design faculty member and alumna Wendee Lee, who tipped us off about last week’s giveaway.