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Interview with DCA grad Natalia Leal Delgado

Designer, photographer, and artist extraordinaire Natalia Leal Delgado tells us about her experience in the DCA program:

Tell us about how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I was thinking for a while about expanding my education, and after traveling to visit my cousin in LA for the first time I decided that I wanted to come back. Also I have a background in photography and was messing a lot with creating other types of Art with it, especially mixed media. So I came across UCLA Extension and thought that the Design Communication Arts would give me the tools to expand in the right path. It would give me not only the artistic tools that I was looking for but also help me convey the message that I was trying to communicate. I have always been a fan a good design. And some people would tell you that design and art are two different things but the truth is that it’s everything part of the same. Music, design, photography, and classical arts all intertwine in the contemporary world to create what we know today as ART.

What were your favorite courses and why?

I had the opportunity to take some great courses in the program and meet great people, teachers, and mentors. I would say that my favorites in to the program were Color Methodologies, because it made me think about color in a complete different way, InDesign because its a great tool, also I took it with Michelle Constantine who is an amazing instructor and mentor. She helped not only with how to use the tool but with how you can adapted to whatever it is that you want to create also how to translate what you create in the program to something that becomes a real object. And Typography, because even I could never be the person to tell you what typefaces you are using or know everything about them. Learning to be aware of how the element of typography can change a piece or something that you present and how it can play with peoples perceptions, and even relates to feelings or culture, it’s really interesting to me and pretty much blew my mind.

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream design job, who are they, where do they work, and what’s the job?

It would be a big cultural institution or museum in a major city to design the layout and the experience on a surreal exhibition. Or even better, to make a collaboration with other great artists to bring experiences to people, like David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption. Or it could also be the people from Polaroid Originals, which is relaunching the whole Polaroid world so that way I could combine my design and photography skills in one job, and go to Berlin which also is one of my life long dreams.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

This one is a really hard one, being an international student is complicated to know exactly where your life is going and project your life 5 years into the future. There are rules and circumstances that don’t apply to regular people or students. Also being from Venezuela, which isn’t in its most stable time… I love my country so not being able to know what situation it’s going to be in makes it hard to project your own life. But ideally I would have a job that allows me to travel, independently of where I’m settled. I would have my own artist’s studio to work in and I would be getting calls from different cultural institutions to design for spaces, experiences and show my art still combining new and old technologies, and techniques to create new, exciting and compelling art.

Interview with DCA graduate Summer Wulff

Summer Wulff

Multi-talented DCA graduate Summer Wulff not only has a keen design aesthetic, but also entrepreneurial and branding skills that make her a real standout. As if that weren’t enough, she even plays guitar, piano, and ukulele!

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.
I’ve truly always been drawn to design and art. As a little girl, I wanted to be an animator and throughout high school and college I had interests in interior design, makeup artistry, and set design. Through the DCA program, however, I’ve been able to focus on and explore my deepest professional passion–graphic design. What initially triggered my desire to sign up for my first class with the DCA program was a behind-the-scenes featurette for one of my favorite films, The Grand Budapest Hotel, that delved into the ins and outs of a graphic designer working on a production. The creativity and attention to detail involved throughout the process and the designer’s pride in the finished product appealed to so many of my interests and I was hooked. I had always wanted to go to school at UCLA, so UCLA Extension seemed like a perfect choice to complete my design program.

What were your favorite courses and why?
Many of the courses in the program had so much to offer, but if I had to pick my top three, they would be Branding and Logos (now Design III) with Shirin Raban, Entertainment Design with Jag, and Designing Experiences with Merritt Price. Branding was a lot of fun, and so helpful in learning and practicing the process of researching and refining my designs. Shirin really encouraged stepping away from the computer screen, starting broad, and working your way down to the best options. Entertainment Design was a great course that pushed my Photoshop skills, forced me to think outside the box, and exposed me to a lot of the elements of how freelance designers work. Designing Experiences was the most work I had ever done in a DCA course, but was also one of the most rewarding courses I took in the program. Merritt pushed all of us to think, design, and execute to the absolute best of our ability. The workload and expectations set the bar for what the professional world of design is like, and that was invaluable.

If the phone rang right now and somebody offered you your dream design job, who are they, where
do they work, and what’s the job?
It’s the early 90’s, and a young Tim Burton is calling me to design the props and graphics for Batman Returns.

Much of your work showcases your notable entrepreneurial skills. Have you always been drawn to these types of projects or is this a skill set you’ve cultivated?
I think this profession forces us to be entrepreneurial. There are so many designers competing with one another, trying to come up with great ideas. So to be successful, it’s important to be creative not only with your designs but also with how they are executed. I have a lot of interests and passions and tend to pursue projects that touch on a few of those interests at once, which I find produces the best results.

Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?
To be perfectly honest, I’m open to a lot of different possibilities and I’m excited to see where I end up in five years. As a biology and psychology major, I never knew I’d be pursuing a design career seven years later, so who knows what the next five years will bring. I just hope to continue challenging myself and
pushing myself creatively.

Congrats, Summer!

Student Work Roundup: Summer 2017 Edition

Enjoy this gallery featuring selections of student work from the courses Design III: Branding and Design History and Context, both taught online this summer by instructor Shirin Raban:

Course spotlight: User Experience IV: Capstone

“It is a great class to integrate all the knowledge I’ve learned in past UX classes, from research, pattern library, to testing.”

“Anybody can learn design tools, but design thinking is what makes a UX designer stand out. This course combines design thinking and actual design perfectly.”
— current UX IV students

Capstone courses are pivotal in pulling students’ knowledge together, giving them “real world” practice, and preparing them for the workplace. Instructor Thomas Dillmann tells us more about the culmination of our User Experience certificate, User Experience IV: Capstone.

Why is this course important for my UX education?

UX 4 allows the student to apply their learned UX skills from their UX certificate course work in a self directed manner. The UX 4 class is modeled after real business cases to which the student provides UX strategy and business solutions using the full set of learned UX skills and techniques. UX 4 provides a platform for the UX student to own their new UX Skills and really prove what they know. UX 4 raises your confidence and readies for entry into the professional arena.

Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?

Thomas Dillmann

The UX 4 courses uses Harvard Business Review case studies as the core material for the students to produce a complete end to end UX solution to the presented case issue.  For example, a HBR case may focus on how should newspaper and media companies charge for their products in a near free media environment with falling ad revenue? Should they implement paywalls or donation models or other solutions? And how would a UX designer integrate these solutions across their respective digital platforms? Students are challenged to provide supporting research and UX deliverables to solve the case. These could include business models, service design models, concept maps, user interface and interactive prototypes as well as user research and testing.

What will I take away from this course?

The UX 4 course produces complete case study documentation that are essential for UX portfolios.  UX 4 serves as a capstone course to prove what you have learned and for you to solidify your own personal UX approach and process which is key to being hired as a UX designer.

Enroll in User Experience IV: Capstone today!

Course Spotlights: Photographic Portraiture and The Business of Photography

Instructor Todd Bigelow shares insight on his fall quarter courses, Photographic Portraiture and The Business of Photography:

Why are these courses important for my photography education?

Portrait photography is, without a doubt, the type of work most commonly associated with commercial, corporate and editorial photography. To put it another way, a good photographer will shoot portraits for a wide variety of clients. Although the use may vary, the need for strong portraits is constant. For example, corporations hire photographers to shoot portraits of employees to promote on their website and printed materials, for use in marketing materials and corporate campaigns and even for annual reports. Magazines of all kinds hire photographers to shoot everyone from celebrities to the average citizen for stories and profiles while ad agencies hire portrait photographers to promote a client’s products or services. Now, when you really break this down, you have TWO critical parts: First is the need to learn how to create a variety of portraits to fit specific needs and the second is to learn how to develop those clients and create a business relationship. By combining the Portrait Photography course and The Business of Photography Workshop, students get the full picture that will enable them to pursue a career in photography.

Do you have a sample assignment for each?

The Portrait Photography course is designed with practicality in mind. I’m a working photographer who is bringing 25 years of experience into the classroom, so the assignments reflect what students will typically encounter in the profession. For example, I will assign a variety of portraits to be shot while honing in on key elements such as the use of natural light or control of the background through depth of field and composition. Great portrait work is not the result of secret techniques or super advanced knowledge, it’s really about excelling at the fundamentals of portrait photography which include light, composition and subject rapport. I also assign conceptual work where the students draw on their own interpretation of a concept (such as Love or Power) and develop a portrait that reflect the concept either literally or figuratively. For example, the image here was shot to reflect the concept of “toughness.”

As for The Business of Photography, we go into details on what is required if you truly wish to create a freelance photography career. This course has been taught all over the country and presented at major photography conferences in Florida, New York, Virginia and elsewhere and has been named several times as one of the best photo workshops worldwide by Photoshelter, so it’s value to photographers is real. Photographers must learn how to not only develop a portfolio, but how to leverage that portfolio to develop clients and create licensing revenue. One thing photographers learn immediately when developing an advertising, editorial or corporate client is that you will need to sign a contract. I present a number of real contracts and break the important sections down so my students will know what to expect and how to negotiate. We also discuss at length the need to copyright your work and protect against others using your work without consent or pay, a real problem in the profession. I also provide real, up to date information about creative fees as well as how to structure your business and prepare to pay taxes as a self employed person. For more detailed information as well as student testimonials, please visit www.BusinessOfPhotographyWorkshop.com.

What will I take away from these courses?

Students who enroll in the Portrait Photography course will walk away with a very strong foundation to create a variety of portraits. We incorporate a full day in a well equipped studio where students can play with various lighting set ups, but students will understand upon completion that creating portraits is more about the subject than it is about the equipment. That’s the key difference between Portrait Photography and, say, Studio Lighting. We concentrate on subject first and equipment second. Students who enroll in The Business of Photography Workshop will ingest a wealth of practical knowledge that will help them navigate the world of freelance photography as a career. This course is essential to photographers seeking to earn money using their technical and creative skills.

Thanks, Todd!

Enroll in Photographic Portraiture and/or The Business of Photography today!

Course Spotlight: Michelangelo and the Dawn of Modern Art

Michelangelo’s David

Breaking many of the rules of Renaissance art in his struggle to express his inner experience of the divine, Michelangelo gave artists a new artistic vocabulary that moved past the Renaissance and toward a profoundly relevant style that ultimately is called Modern art.

In the upcoming course, Michelangelo and the Dawn of Modern Art, the artist’s legacy will be explored through three lectures and a field trip to the Getty Villa.

Instructor Rebbeca Ginnings tells us a bit more about it:

Why is this course important for my understanding of art?

In terms of technique, Michelangelo seems to turn stone to flesh. Design-wise, he translates antiquity into a more modern statement, providing a bridge or transition to modern art. A better understanding of Michelangelo and his work leads us to understand how his work has influenced both European and American artists.

What will the course consist of?

We will meet for three lectures on Michelangelo’s work followed by a field trip to the Getty Villa to look at prototypes of Michelangelo’s designs, to see how the originals related to the designs he ended up making.

What will I take away from this course?

Students will gain a better understanding of the influence of antiquity on Western art.

Enroll in Michelangelo and the Dawn of Modern Art today!

Course Spotlight: Design Software Intensive Bootcamp

InDesign project by DCA graduate Adam Weidenbaum

For the first time this fall, we’re thrilled to offer our Adobe software courses – Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign – in an immersive bootcamp format. Instead of the usual 4 units, the bootcamp earns you 8 units of course credit and meets twice as many hours.

Instructor Hakon Engvig

Web and software instructor extraordinaire, Hawk Engvig, tells us more about this new course:

1. Why is the Design Software Intensive Bootcamp important for my design education?

Adobe is THE standard in the design field and there are no programs more prevalent, popular or important than Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign when it comes to graphic design. They lay the foundation for all major work you do on a regular basis and are pretty much a requirement to know in any modern design scenario.

2. What’s the benefit of studying Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign in the bootcamp format instead of one by one?

Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are BEST used together, so you will save a lot of time/money learning them all in one go. Your greatest work will come from how you wield all three and not just relying solely on one. Though the programs can be quite different in what you would use them for, they are actually quite similar in how we interact and actually use them. By learning all three at the same time, you reinforce the knowledge and your comfort with not only the one we are utilizing but all three programs simultaneously.

Illustration by DCA graduate Daniel Sulzberg

3. Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?
Though the classwork will revolve around reinforcing the tools, good habits, etc., the actual assignments will be based on common, fun and real-world standards like branding, image manipulation/correcting, and production in digital and print.

4. What will I take away from this course?

In this one course, you will not only learn the proper way to utilize all three programs, but you will also have no problem creating any creative content needed in the modern design world.

Thanks, Hawk!

Questions? Email dca@uclaextension.edu or call 310-206-1422 to speak with an advisor about this or any other visual arts course.

And enroll in Design Software Intensive Bootcamp today!

Welcome new DCA instructor Grace Magnus!

Grace Magnus

We’re thrilled to welcome Grace Magnus to our instructor flock, though Grace has been a member of the DCA community for years, first as a student, then as a teaching assistant, and now as an instructor. Her own design work is exciting and innovative, and we urge you to check out her portfolio at https://www.gracemagnus.com. Grace will be teaching Photoshop I in our new Woodland Hills center this spring.

What brought you to this field?
I like to joke that I’m a recovering English major, but in reality, I’ve had a wide assortment of jobs that have led me to where I am today. I managed an art gallery, edited copy, sold fine wine, applied makeup, and helped create brands. Along the way I’ve slung drinks, served coffee, worked graveyard shifts, installed roofing…it’s been a long hustle, and I’m proud of it. I succeeded in all these jobs by taking an ecumenical approach to learning–I relish the opportunity to receive new information, digest it, and clearly and concisely help others understand it regardless of the subject matter. It’s no wonder I fell in love with teaching soon after I fell in love with design.
In 2012, I took a Design Fundamentals class at Extension on a whim. I was new to Los Angeles, itching for change, and the public health class I wanted to take was suddenly canceled. Four years later I have an exciting freelance business I love. So many graphic designers fall into the field by accident or, like me, come into it later in life as a second, third, even fourth career. I love that. It means we have this pool of creative people who’ve worked hard and have a huge range of experiences to apply to finding design solutions.

Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.
I’m a big proponent of Design for Good, and I always try to be working on at least one project that has personal meaning. For example, here’s a current project that hits close to home: I used to work very late hours while having two dogs that needed long walks at all hours of the day and night. I learned some time ago that the world can be a terrifying place for women after dark.
So I’ve been challenging my 2D design skills by pushing them into the 3D world, and I’m creating prototypes for personal safety devices, holsters, walking aids, etc. that will make it easier, safer, and more comfortable for women who need to be outside at night. The line is being printed on my 3D printer with the goal to distribute them for free. The entire line is designed with women’s tastes and bodies in mind, which makes it a real design challenge because women’s tastes and bodies are so varied.

Why is your course, Photoshop I, important for my design education?

Today’s emerging designers need to know how to use Photoshop effectively, efficiently, and creatively in order to stand out in an over-saturated market. Although Photoshop is considered by many to be Adobe’s most difficult and counter-intuitive program, it is also the most powerful and incredibly fun. My goal isn’t to drill into your brains every hot key (I wish, we only have 12 weeks!), rather it’s to guide you through the essential tools so that you the designer can find the exact right solutions for your own work. Your interviewer isn’t going to care that you know every single way to pull up the color picker, they care that your work has vision and originality, and that you can efficiently and effectively put to paper what’s in your head. I will guide you into harnessing Photoshop’s power so you can do just that.

Do you have a sample assignment?
Sure! I like to make sure that my assignments are challenging, but also fun and personal. So I’ll give you a little peek into one option for your final. Students will create a series of posters that utilize Photoshop techniques and best practices to morph different living creatures into one, then you’ll will use those images to make a poster series of PSA’s for a social or environmental cause. If you’re not into monsters, don’t worry, I’ve created project variations to suit every taste.

 

Thank you, Grace!

Welcome new DCA instructor Lauren Cullen!

We’re thrilled to welcome Lauren Cullen to our instructor ranks, who will be teaching Illustrator I (online) beginning this spring quarter. Lauren is the graphic designer for UCLA’s Mobile Web Strategy group, where she designs mobile apps and responsive websites for UCLA’s academic and research communities. An illustrator and fine artist, she creates graphics across all media. Lauren received a B.A. from Wesleyan University as well as an Advanced Web and Interaction Design Certificate from UCLA Extension (yes, that’s us!).

Learn more about Lauren, in her own words:

Lauren Cullen

What brought you to this field?

I’ve always loved art and engaging in the experience of creating. I first discovered Photoshop and Illustrator in ninth grade, and there was no looking back. I became deeply immersed in understanding the ways that design can inform, transform, and inspire. Graphic design continues to be my passion, and I feel very fortunate to be in such a fulfilling field.

 

Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.

I find that designing apps for medical research is especially rewarding. For example, at UCLA, I recently worked on an app that helps researchers assess asthma symptoms and related factors in children. The goal of the app is to help detect and prevent asthma attacks.

My contribution to the app included designing the user experience, icons, data graphics, and customized illustrations. It is always satisfying to design for meaningful projects that make a positive impact on people’s lives.

 

Why is your course, Illustrator I, important for my design education?

Illustrator is an essential design tool and the industry-standard vector graphics application. By learning the fundamentals from this course, students will be able to create icons, logos, drawings, typography, infographics, layouts, complex illustrations, and more for any medium. Students will learn more than just the tools that Illustrator has to offer – they will also be intellectually stimulated by learning key concepts and by learning approaches that prepare them for future experiences.

 

Do you have a sample assignment?

All projects will provide students with the opportunity to solve specific challenges by designing unique creations of their own vision. As an example, for the midterm project, students will design an infographic, developing a captivating narrative that visually communicates information or data. Students will use drawing and shape tools to represent trends. I’m excited to see what the students create!

 

Welcome, Lauren!

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