ArtCenter has a reputation for challenging students to meet and exceed their most formidable professional ambitions, often in record time. Case in point: Graphic Design alum Pearlyn Lii, who didn’t miss a beat translating a stand-out undergraduate portfolio into a coveted job in the New York office of the prestigious design studio, SYPartners. The San Francisco-based firm, which describes itself as a “product-creation engine dedicated to helping individuals, teams, and companies be great” (and counts Apple, Facebook, Nike and Target among its clients), first discovered Lii’s unique talents through the series of Student/Space videos chronicling her creative process as she completed a class assignment— a book project about artist Brian Eno.
Eye on Design recently and rightly hailed LACMA’s vow to incorporate more graphic design exhibitions into its programming. The museum kicked off this new series of shows with Vitality of New Forms: Designs by Alvin Lustig and Elaine Lustig Cohen, an expansive exhibition, on view through July 4, 2016, featuring 56 works by a pair of influential and innovative designers who also happen to be ArtCenter alums.
The move to celebrate and elevate the work of talented designers is just the latest sign that LA’s signature cultural institution has also become its most dynamic and nimble, further fortifying its growing reputation as a world-class museum and one of LA’s most vital cultural resources.
This decision to feature the work of ArtCenter alums in the inaugural show in this series is a huge endorsement for College’s contribution to the field of design. And as Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination continues to draw crowds and critical raves, LACMA is making a strong statement about ArtCenter’s contribution to our creative landscape, both locally and globally.
Ah, the first day of school. It’s an initiation fraught with the anxiety of the unknown and flashbacks to the horrors of middle school cafeteria mishaps. Fortunately, ArtCenter has built in a full schedule of activities to provide a soft landing to incoming students and their families.
Orientation Week’s busy agenda features social mixers and in-depth information sessions on everything from campus sustainability to the infamous ArtCenter critique. Students are also matched with Orientation Leaders, who act as guides, companions and resources for the latest insider information on navigating the academic, social and geographic peculiarities of life at ArtCenter
In the spirit of optimizing the orientation week experience for the incoming class of 2016, we’ve compiled the following authoritative collection of pro tips from our Facebook community of current and former students to help ArtCenter newbies avoid rookie mistakes.
“When guest speakers come into the class, they can spot me in the crowd and instantly tell I’m a veteran,” says ArtCenter student and former mass communication specialist for the U.S. Navy Christopher Stoltz of meeting with experts during this term’s Designmatters course The Healing Trauma Project. “I think they can tell by my cargo shorts,” he adds laughing. “The non-uniform uniform.”
All jokes about conformity aside, one of the main reasons Stoltz signed up for the Graphic Design-hosted transdisciplinary studio is that it dealt with a serious issue—helping veterans learn about a method for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—and he wanted to represent an actual veteran’s viewpoint.
“I think a lot of people assume the military experience is what you see in movies like American Sniper, very extreme war stories” says Stoltz, who grew up in Mount Airy, NC and served in the Navy for 14 years in a number of photography-related roles, including being an aerial photographer aboard the U.S.S. Harry Truman, and covering stories in Iraq from a soldier’s point of view for the Navy’s Stars and Stripes news agency. “Not every military job involves carrying a rifle. Some veterans worked desk jobs. I carried cameras the whole time I served. I also carried a rifle, but telling stories and capturing moments was my first priority.”
Jon Jon Augustavo (MFA 13 Grad Film)
This short is not only something I’m proud of—the tone, the look and the story are all representative of my voice as a filmmaker and it is probably the last time I was able to create something that’s not weighed down by expectation or inundated by other voices. This is something that is truly me. More recently I’m waking up and developing a few independent feature films. Films go much slower than commercials and music videos and the projects start out seeming so far away, like a pipe dream. But in the blink of an eye everything starts to happen and it’s all on top of you.
We have created a virtual sharing space, Untold Stories: Q&As with ArtCenter Alumni, for alumni to talk about their past, present and future projects as well as the ideas and challenges that shape their careers, lives and work.
ArtCenter alumni are some of the most accomplished art and design professionals in the world. We hail their prominent successes in our various digital and print publications, including Dotted Line, Dot magazine, the Viewbook and social media channels.
We are proud to share these triumphant moments. But fame—or even outsize accomplishment—is not the only evidence of success. We believe that inspiration, innovation and authenticity are the true hallmarks of a creative and fulfilling life. So, as we celebrate our 85th anniversary we are embarking on an effort to understand meaningful achievement in all its variations and to share the many untold stories of ArtCenter alumni.
In many ways the site is an anthology of alumni work and will be used as a source for content on all of our communications channels where we will continue to share the ArtCenter story with the world. Alumni have been invited to explore and engage with Untold Stories by answering questions and submitting images to this highly visual and highly personal space. This is the place where designers and artists share their thoughts as well as their work. Here is a small sample of posts already inhabiting the space. We invite you to visit Untold Stories to peruse the rest and keep checking back for new entries.
When a highly regarded graphic design program launches a new website, it’s often received by design community with the heightened levels of scrutiny and anticipation reserved for the latest iPhone unveiling. And those expectations become stratospheric when that academic department happens to have distinguished itself with its pioneering transmedia curriculum.
But all that pressure to dazzle the design world did not deter ArtCenter Graphic Design Chair, Nik Hafermaas, from breaking with convention in both the conception and execution of his department’s newly minted website. Instead, Hafermaas recruited a core group of innovative designers to take a distinctly idiosyncratic approach to developing and building the content of the site around a set of user archetypes known as “psychographics,” based on demographic research of likely visitors. The look and feel of the site was then created based on the written psychographic Q&As that Graphic Design faculty member Guillaume Wolf had assembled as the site’s driving conceit.
Hafermaas’ risk paid off. Artcenter.edu/gx launched to great acclaim earlier this month. As the raves continued to roll in, we seized the opportunity to ask Hafermaas to illuminate the unconventional process that lead him to create a site inspired and inhabited by the presumed end user.
Before Gianfranco Ocampo embarked on his first trip to Europe this fall as a participant in the Berlin Studio study away program, we sat down for a conversation with the upper-term Graphic Design major. Ocampo loves to travel, and over the years his family in Los Angeles has hosted many exchange students, one of whom in turn hosted Ocampo when he visited Japan for his 18th birthday. Already bilingual (English and Spanish), Ocampo learned to speak Japanese and to cook Japanese food. Confident and outgoing, he’s a people-centric person at home in the role of ambassador. As a peer mentor with the Center for the Student Experience (CSE), he welcomes incoming students to ArtCenter and this year was named president of OutNetwork, ArtCenter’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning, Intersex and Allies (GLBTQIA) student club. The group is dedicated to fostering a multidisciplinary, multigenerational community that shares an interest in the intersection between GLBTQIA identity and the creative arts; members include current students and faculty as well as alumni. For Ocampo, advocating for important causes is integral to his calling as a designer.
“The signature is a singular fingerprint, original and distinctive to each person…and it is fast becoming extinct,” says Laura Leiman (BFA 99 Graphics), a graphic artist, student mentor and recent Regional Arts & Culture Council grant recipient, who has observed that most of her students printed their signatures with few distinguishing qualities. In fact, Leiman’s students’ signatures were often so similar, it it was hard to tell them apart.
Leiman noticed students were missing something key to individuality: the ability to communicate a written signature clearly yet uniquely as their own. Leiman’s Portland public school students wanted to learn cursive and calligraphy, neither of which is consistently taught. More importantly, students were eager to create identities uniquely their own—something they could use and develop through life.
“Head to Toe, Berlin” was a study abroad upper term course involving ten students from Product Design, Interaction Design, Graphic Design and Illustration. With nine weeks in Berlin, this immersed students in the design, textile and fashion industries of Berlin. Through field trips to designer studios, museums as well as input from professional guest speakers and studio work sessions, students were empowered to develop their own collection of designs focusing on head to toe wearables: apparel, accessories, soft goods, textiles and/or wearable tech.
The passageway leading into the South Campus gallery is swimming in an alphabet soup of letters and familiar icons and signage, hawking everything from the latest blockbuster to cheap, fast cash loans. It’s an immersive experience in the nuanced codes and messages contained within the various fonts and typefaces that punctuate our modern landscape. This visceral typographic encounter acts as an introduction to the student-produced temporary show, 85_15 TYPOGRAPHY: PAST/PRESENT/FUTURE, which is the first exhibition to be presented by the new Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography (HMCT), due to make its official debut on November 7 with the Symposium and Center opening celebration in its permanent space on the ground floor of ArtCenter’s 950 South Raymond building.