We found a great article about the seven key traits the best UX design leaders share — Check it out at the link below!
Originally hailing from Johannesburg, South Africa, Hope Ndlovu is a UI/UX designer based here in Los Angeles. Below, she talks about her experience taking UX classes in UCLA Extension’s Design Communication Arts program and shares some of her work.
I became interested in UX after working at a startup and learning about creating user-centred products. I had just completed my Bachelors Degree in Psychology and I was in search of a discipline that would allow me to use my knowledge and fascination with human behaviour in a technical but also creative way. User Experience was the perfect marriage of both of those things. I chose UCLA Extension because of the great reputation the program has and the calibre of graduates they produce. I was also impressed to know that each and every instructor there was a working designer with great accomplishments. To me, that was important. I wanted to be learn from people who knew what they were talking about and cared about what they were teaching.
For someone who is new to UX, what should they know about getting started?
1. Spend time on your portfolio. A good portfolio represents your process and being able to articulate this in your different projects is important.
2. UX has many facets. Figure out where you fit in under that umbrella and work at becoming great at it.
3. Last but certainly not least- NETWORK! The UX community in Los Angeles is small and tight-knit. Going to different events will help you meet people, keep up with new trends in the field, and hopefully land some awesome gigs.
There were SO many! If I had to choose just one, it would have to be UX: Mobile First. I was taught by Julia Morton. Again, I loved the passion she had for what she was teaching but also how knowledgeable I found every class to be. I learnt things I thought I already knew!
My dream job would be to work at an agency that values good UX, within a collaborative design team.
I know that there are things I don’t know, so I’m constantly seeking opportunities to learn and share ideas and ways of thinking. My philosophy is, if you find yourself not “Googling” anything anymore at your job, it’s time to move on.
It’s always a joy to spotlight recent DCA graduates who’ve grown immensely as designers through the course of the program. Rodrigo Trabbold answered our “big 5” questions and shared some of his work with us:
I decided to be a part of the Extension program at UCLA because I was looking for a way into the entertainment design industry, which is very strong here in LA, and because I wanted to build a stronger portfolio, with more pieces related to entertainment design.
What were your favorite courses and why?
As a designer, what does a potential project need to have for you to feel passionate about it?
In order for me to feel passionate about a project, the project needs to be creative and have a very strong concept and idea. A good project always leaves you thinking about it, or gives you a different perspective over a certain subject. In other words, in a way, it changes you.
My dream job would be to work as a designer for Ignition or Art Machine, some of the biggest entertainment design agencies here in LA. I want to be part of this world, to create the key art for movies and video games, their Title Treatments, and posters.
Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
Five years from now I would love to be a creative director of a good design studio or advertising agency.
The Getty Design Studio placement is an incredible opportunity for our DCA students to gain real world experience in one of Los Angeles’ top creative environments. This spring, Alyssa Sugimoto was chosen for this special opportunity. She shares about her experience, including images of projects she created, below:
What projects did you work on during your placement?
My main project I worked on was the Getty’s 2017 Cats & Dogs Calendar. I had lots of fun designing the title and putting everything together, it’s a really cute calendar and I enjoyed working on it. Other projects I did were designing a letterhead for an upcoming show called The Nude in Europe during the Renaissance, creating new sticker designs for the Education Department, putting together images for signs for an upcoming Remembering Antiquities show, and another fun one I did was design a logo and title for the Getty’s Free Family Fun page.
What did you find rewarding about them?
I found it very rewarding knowing that I helped out and contributed to the Getty’s design studio. This is my first time being in a design setting beyond the classroom so being able to see what it’s like outside the classroom and working with other designers was a great learning experience for me. It’s also exciting to know that your work is going to be seen by the public and I can’t wait to see the Cats & Dogs calendars in the Getty store. I also found it rewarding to be able to sit in on meetings and interact with other people beyond the design department, such as the curators and the museum store, and discuss my work with them.
It was a little intimidating at first. As mentioned before, this was my first design work experience beyond the classroom but everyone was very supportive and helpful and it helped me become more confident in my work and my own abilities. In the classroom, a lot of times it’s just me and my own work but in the design studio, it was very collaborative; everyone’s working together on various projects. It was neat seeing the different steps it takes to finish a project and be able to hear what is discussed in the meetings. I learned from this experience that there is so much more to design than I originally thought and it’s something I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t do the Getty Design Studio program.
This experience showed me that the possibilities with design are endless; there’s so much you can do with it and the experience made me even more excited about going into the design world. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work in and with the people in the Getty’s design studio. I feel more confident in my work and prepared for what lies ahead after I finish the DCA program.
Shaina, or just Shane, is a UX designer here in Los Angeles. Below, she talks about her experience taking classes in UCLA Extension’s UX program.
- Tell us about how you got interested in UX, and why you chose UCLA Extension.
I guess in order to tell you how I got interested in UX I’ll have to start from the beginning. I graduated university with a degree in Journalism/Media Studies thinking I would become the next Barbara Walters. I was able to land a job as an obituary writer in San Diego and soon realized I was starving, literally. Sharing half a room with four other people in a two-bedroom apartment, barely able to afford rent and/or food was.. eye-opening. I taught myself how to code (thanks MySpace) and landed a gig as a back-end engineer (coding in PERL and Regular Expression). After about a year and a half I knew I wanted to transfer into Front-End Development. Being able to create websites and not stuck in Terminal’s Homebrew all day sounded like a dream come true. With a lot of late night studying and really pushing myself I was able to land my dream job at NBCUniversal/Fandango as a front-end developer. I worked there for around two-and-half years, and while I was there I was able to interact with our UX/UI Team. Immersing myself and asking millions of questions I knew UX/UI was really the career I wanted to shift into. I was fortunate enough to take UX 1: Introduction to UX Design with Thomas at UCLA Extension. While taking his course I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Easier said than done, no one wants to hire a front-end developer for a UX/UI position. I bit the bullet, took a pretty heft pay-cut, moved to the Bay Area and became a Product Designer. The year I spent up there gaining my UX knowledge and soaking up every single interaction, layout, design, feature, cat .gif was probably the hardest year I’ve endured in my life. I left the Bay Area and relocated back down to sunny So Cal and now work as a full-time UX/UI designer for a tech start-up company called Laurel & Wolf. Recently, my company sent me back to UCLA Extension to start training in native mobile app design which I took with the ever-talented, Julia. I have never been happier in my life and I really have UCLA Extension, Thomas, and Julia to thank.
- For someone who is new to UX, what should they know about getting started?
Think lazy. I read somewhere that the best designers are the laziest people (metaphorically, of course). And I couldn’t agree more. The best designs come from those who want to make a service/platform more intuitive, easy, and accessible for others to understand and use.
Also, do not take anything personal. When I first became a product designer I remember being told this nugget of information, not yet understanding, and my first client meeting I was ripped to shreds. I cried quite a bit when I first started out. But I picked myself up and immersed myself in the UX/UI world: signing up for daily newsletters, reading, going to meet-ups, collaborating with other designers from different industries, participating in UX challenges, and working with multiple client projects… you grow a thick skin. Clients/stakeholders aren’t here to coddle you with how “ok” your designs are. They’ve come to YOU because YOU ARE THE EXPERT. If your user flows don’t make sense or your layout doesn’t work responsively it’s not a ding to your ego it’s a challenge to your skills. And that’s the beauty of skills.. they’re ever evolving!
- What was your favorite UCLA Extension class and why?
All of them! The professors (I’ve had Thomas and Julia) are the most passionate individuals you’ll ever meet. They truly love what they do and further love sharing their knowledge. This is what makes the UX/UI Community amazing. Between their amazing personalities, Thomas’ vast knowledge and Julia’s understanding of the industry and users’ psychological process, this power-house team is an unstoppable force at the UCLA Extension! Both are so humble and genuine one can not help but to become just as excited as they are about learning User Experiences and User Interfaces!
- What would be your dream job?
No need to dream it when I’m living it! Is it really a “job” when you love what you do?
- What are you working on right now?
I had the honor of redesigning our homepage which we just launched with our new company rebrand a few weeks ago. I can not be more proud of our Product and Dev Team for being able to launch such a wonderful product together!
Check out her final project for her UX: Mobile class below!
Designer Andrew Byrom’s turned his unique and inspiring eye for Typography toward the UCLA Extension cover this summer, with excellent results! Set against the background of a northern British sky:
The Getty Design Studio placement is an incredible opportunity for our DCA students to gain real world experience in one of Los Angeles’ top creative environments. This winter, Mindi LaRose was chosen for this special opportunity. She shares about her experience, including images of projects she created, below:
What projects did you work on during your placement?
A favorite project I worked on involved posters and social media designs for College Night at the Getty. I was given free reign to design the poster, which would set the tone for the theme of this year’s campaign. Permission to use actual exhibited art was limited, so I incorporated my own photography. It is exciting to know the posters are up all over campuses in Los Angeles. Another favorite project involved creating a new logo for a blog piece called “Connecting Cultures”. I worked closely with curators of the Getty Iris blog to create an icon withinin their logo with a nod toward a “cintamani” pattern. This pattern can be found in many pieces of art and textiles throughout history. Other projects included a 2017 upcoming exhibition tram poster and table card, and the Getty 2017 calendar of 19th Century Masterpieces.
What did you find rewarding about them?
It was very rewarding to work side by side with designers in the beautiful Getty setting, to receive feedback on my work, watch and learn on the bigger projects they were assigned, and to sit in on meetings with curators, designers and donors. I enjoyed the independence and trust they had in me, as well, after being assigned a project. It was very rewarding to see the projects from beginning to completion, and the steps needed.
I love real assignments vs. homework: the excitement and urgency of a real problem that needs to be solved. There is so much value in on-the-job training and in learning the ways of each studio. My skills were put to the test and improved upon, my speed finishing projects increased, and just learning processes associated with printers (and having other resources available) was so valuable. I feel more confident that I can acclimate to real world design situations, after working in the Getty Design Studio.
The Getty experience reinforced my love for design and collaboration, and every bit of advice, feedback and hands-on experience will be used to help me move forward in my career. I am grateful for the experience, and thank you to the Getty staff and the UCLAx DCA program for this opportunity.
We’re extremely excited to share our inaugural Design Dialogues podcast! Design dialogues is a new series of interviews with local designers, makers, and artists presented by your UCLA Extension AIGA group.
In this edition, AIGAx president Michelle Quach introduces DCA student Aneesha Bharadwaj, who visited Oblong Industries downtown and interviewed Pete Hawkes, Director of Interaction Design.
Click on the image:
Intro and outro magic by our very own Allison Tan!
Episode image designed by Ayushee Aithal.
Here’s a gallery of photos from Oblong:
Click here or on the image below for details:
In this installment of our series on DCA students who have combined their design skills with their entrepreneurial spirit, it’s a great pleasure to introduce DCA student Luis Antonio Pichardo, founder of the non-profit organization DSTL Arts.
What is the mission of DSTL Arts?
DSTL Arts is a nonprofit arts mentorship organization that teaches, inspires, and hires creative, at-risk youth, ages 16–21 years old. The name of the organization, DSTL Arts, is a type of acronym for our overall ideology: Develop Skills and Transcend Limits through the Arts.
DSTL Arts was founded in 2012 and is the culmination of all my experiences, both professional and personal, coming together after having had a terrible mentorship experience while I was in grad school. Having entered CalArts’ MFA program in creative writing with more than 8 years of experience working in the nonprofit field, I had grown tired of the arts being devalued by organizations that primarily serve low-income communities: communities that are typically communities of color. As a self-identified artist and poet, I felt a need to change the perception of the economic and individual impact the arts have on the most underrepresented of communities.
I started my nonprofit career when I was 18 years old as a tutor for at-risk youth, and as I moved up in the nonprofit world of San Diego County, I came to be the director of a work-readiness program for “at-risk” youth. In my eyes, the 16–21 year olds I worked with were actually “high-potential” youth. Their home and family circumstances didn’t stop them from aspiring to more in their lives. And having grown up in the same way as many of my students, I knew what the challenges were. They faced, much like me, a cultural stigma that surrounds careers in the arts: a stigma that results in dreams of being a working creative mocked as unreachable, unattainable, or just plain ludicrous.
After spending two years in the MFA in Critical Studies (Writing) program at CalArts, I felt even more disenfranchised than I had ever felt. My mentorship experience didn’t provide me with anything; my academic experience taught me nothing in the way of improving my skills as a writer, much less how to enter the publishing or arts world. I felt angry. But that anger became fuel for what eventually came to be a realization that mentorships, when executed properly, can have a profound and lasting impact on an individual’s life.
My disenfranchisement, as a person of color from a low-income family with aspirations of being a working artist, turned into a drive for life-long learning. I took it upon myself to learn how to establish an artistic practice that would be profitable. I took it upon myself to acquire skills that would make me self-sufficient as a creative entrepreneur. I took it upon myself to share that knowledge with the youth and adults I serve today through the programming we offer through DSTL Arts.
DSTL Arts serves creative, at-risk youth ages 16–21 years old through our flagship Arts Mentorship Program. To-date, we have served more than 10 youth at any given time, with me being their primary mentor. I founded DSTL Arts with my fiancé, Jennifer Fuentes, who also helps me provide mentorships, recruitment, and other workshops in our community. In total, as of 12/31/15, we have provided a total of nearly 3,000 hours of mentorship with some incredible stories to share about our students.
Our original three students, who started our then-pilot program in February of 2013, have gone on to be leaders and artists in their own right. One such student, Erick, has become a service member in the US Marine Corps, providing leadership and artistic services within his duties as a Marine. Brian, a poet and aspiring journalist, has published multiple volumes of poetry and short stories, both through our Arts Mentorship Program, and through local anthologies, and also become a teaching artist, teaching poetry to high schoolers. Ana, our original photography and visual arts student, has probably had the biggest success so far. With our guidance, Ana has gone on to establish her own freelance fine art wedding photography business and is successfully on her way to making it a sustainable business in the next year. But that is not all. Other students in our Arts Mentorship Program have also had great success, such as Laura, who was first runner-up during the inaugural LA County Youth Poet Laureate competition in 2014, with a sizable public reading record for a 21 year old.
My experience developing our programs and our image in the community would not be complete without the skills I learned through the Design Communication Arts program at UCLA Extension. From branding, to re-branding, to having the ability to create marketing materials and merchandise for our programs has been all thanks to the skill building I did through the DCA program. The most effective use of my skills as a designer has actually been in the legitimizing of the artwork and concepts our students have as it relates to publication and logo design. As an organization that nurtures and develops business skills in our youth, it is important that I work alongside our students to help them develop a product that they feel proud of. My design skills have helped them sell chapbooks, fine art prints, and more. My skills and feedback have helped them feel confident in their portfolios and business plan development, while also helping them develop a language for working with designers and photographers in their future artistic endeavors. There’s a lot that I gained from being a DCA student at UCLA Extension that I am now able to transfer to our next generation of creatives.
To learn more about DSTL Arts, our programs, and our students, visit http://DSTLArts.org. There you’ll find our web store, as well, where our Arts Mentorship Program students’ artwork is for sale, with 50% of the sale price going directly to the pockets of our youth, helping us further teach them important business and financial skills.
To learn more about my personal artwork, feel free to visit my personal website at http://smileyfaze.com, where you’ll be able to view and purchase my own fine art, photography, and poetry chapbooks as well. A portion of my personal sales will always benefit DSTL Arts.
Thank you, Luis!