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Interview with recent DCA graduate Jonas Lin

Congrats to designer Jonas Lin, who recently completed the DCA program! He shares more about his experiences here:

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

It is my belief that design is one of the fastest and most direct forms of communication. A good design can even break the boundaries of nationality and language. In my past experience with clients, when I come up with a design that successfully communicates their message to their target audience, I get a sense of utmost fulfillment, and this fulfillment is what drives my passion for design.

I had already been working in the design industry for several years before coming to America, and my designs were heavily influenced by Asian philosophy and aesthetics. But as time passed, I wanted to explore and experience with Western design elements, so I came to the US to learn more about this area that I am unfamiliar with. Because LA is known for its diverse cultural environment, and because UCLA Extension offers a variety of courses as well as instructors with real-world experience, I chose the DCA program to enrich my design skills.

What were your favorite courses and why?

Actually, I enjoyed a lot of the courses. When you pretend that each and every assignment is a real case, you will naturally find the fun in the courses (of course, this also comes with more pressure). I did learn the most from the courses that involves typography, for example, Typography and Publication Design, and the reason is simple: that was the field I was most unfamiliar with, and was the most challenging for me as a designer who mainly worked with Chinese characters and not Roman letters. The relationship between individual letters, between words, and even between lines and paragraphs all play an important role in determining the final look of the design piece, and a small change in these relationships can result in drastic differences in the outcome. Furthermore, you also need to understand the historical backgrounds and characteristics of the different types in order to legitimize your design. That is why I find typography so interesting.

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?

To be honest, I don’t have an answer to this question. Or more precisely, I am open to all possibilities. I am the type of person who likes to compete with myself, and for every task that I take on, I like to push my own limits and think outside the box. I dislike being told that there’s something I can’t do, and when people ask what kind of jobs I’m good at, I often tell them “I don’t know,” because I like a lot of things and I can do a decent job no matter what I do. I certainly enjoy being a problem-solver, and being a designer, one is constantly solving problems with branding, merchandising, packaging, and marketing. If the phone rang right now, I would probably just ask, “What is the case that we need to work on?”

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

My goal is to become a creative director. I want to have the opportunity to interact directly with clients, to understand the story behind their brands, and to solve client’s problems using the design process while focusing on the big picture. I’ve always liked team work, and it is an exciting thing to be able to assign roles in a team based on each team member’s skill set in order to complete a project. This means that I will need to take on the role of a navigator, as opposed to being a designer that sits in front of the computer all day making graphics look perfect.

I know that I still have a lot of weaknesses to overcome, but I believe some of these weaknesses can be transformed into advantages. Being a foreigner, I expect myself to one day break the cultural boundaries of design, as this may be where the demand is in the global market we are in.

 

Congrats, Jonas!

Course spotlight: AR/MR/VR for Immersive Content: Experience, Game & Media

We’re thrilled to be offering coursework this spring in Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality/Mixed Reality as we ramp up our game design course offerings. Instructor Jason Yim tells us all about what students can expect in this exciting course:

Why is this course important for my design education?

AR/MR will become the next computing paradigm. Just like smart-phones and apps changed human behavior and our connection to technology in a matter of years, AR/MR will have the same global effect. Secondly, designing for AR/MR/VR is very different from print or normal design for screen space. The user experience is played out over 3D space and blends with the physical environment, resulting in its own design language and best practices. And lastly, the case studies and guest speakers in this course will offer access and visibility into some of the world’s biggest brands and clients.

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

Students will develop and present a concept for a real-world client and brief in mind. During this process they will create a prototype for user-testing in order to validate their concept. The prototype format will depend on the skill set of the student:
• Non-design students can create a paper mock up
• Digital Designers can create a click-through prototype
• 3D artists can produce a POV video
• Coders can create a working UNITY prototype
We will have a dedicated “user-testing” day for students and guests to review each other’s work and to capture results and insights.

What will I take away from this course?

You’ll feel like you spent 11 weeks IN the industry and not just learning about it from the outside.

Day one will start by giving you hands on access to several AR/VR/MR devices. By the end of the course, you will leave with an appreciation of the real-world challenges and opportunities from case-studies and guest speakers as well as your own personal experience developing, prototyping and testing a concept.

Thanks so much, Jason!

Enroll in AR/MR/VR for Immersive Content: Experience, Game & Media today!

 

Course Spotlight: Graphic Design Career Launchpad

The one-and-only Pash shares more about his elective, Graphic Design Career Launchpad:

Why is this course important for my design education?
I like to say that this class picks up—or even “wraps up”—where everything else leaves off. I created this course because after so many years of watching students make their way through the DCA program I found that they were really nicely prepared in terms of learning the fundamentals of design, how to use the various tools and software that we designers employ, and how to solve problems and think like a designer. And they usually had good solid portfolios or at least the start of one. But when I asked them what their plan was from here I would get mostly blank stares. Or awkward, unfocused answers. I felt it was time to remedy this!

Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?
Overall this class is definitely homework-light. We will spend a little bit of time working on the basic elements of a designer’s materials toolkit (think business cards, resume, etc). But the main class project relates to the students’ interview of one of our guests. We will have a guest in the class each week from Week 2 through Week 10—a great designer who will be joining us to talk specifically about their career path. They will be interviewed by the students (in groups of two or three). Then the students will transcribe the interviews and create a double page spread summarizing the interview. A few examples from previous years are below.

What will I take away from this course?
At the very least a much better sense of what life in this profession is really like. Answers to a LOT of questions. A better idea of what you want and can expect in your career. Hopefully a renewed sense of confidence. And finally—if we do this right—some semblance of a game plan!

Thanks, Pash!

Enroll in Graphic Design Career Launchpad today!

Course Spotlight: Web Coding Intensive Bootcamp

DCA instructor Mitch Gohman

This winter, we’re thrilled to debut an intensive web coding bootcamp course with veteran DCA instructor Mitch Gohman. Mitch tells us a bit more about what students can expect from this new course:

  1. Why is this course important for my design education?

    The modern website requires the ability to wield engaging, interactive applications. Even the most basic brochure websites require the ability to wield content (HTML), visual (CSS), and behavior (JavaScript). The demand for these technologies continues to increase, as each becomes more and more robust. Understanding these three technologies and how they work together as a team is an essential toolkit for any designer looking to take their skillsets to the next level.

  2. What’s the benefit of studying HTML, CSS, jQuery/JavaScript, frameworks, and responsive layouts in the bootcamp format instead of one by one?

    The ability to see how all of these technologies work together as a team gives the student a more comprehensive understanding of what is possible in the world of Web Design and Development. It also simulates the real-world in the sense that you would never only utilize one technology at a time. While learning one at a time can bring focus, it isn’t always easy to see how it fits into the whole.

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

    All of the work we do in class is project based. Rather than just lecturing theory, we learn the concepts through application. For example, learning HTML/CSS/JavaScript is easier to see when we apply it to a slideshow or form validator.

    Here are a couple of example lesson/projects we will be building.

  4. What will I take away from this course?
    • A strong understanding of HTML & CSS (content and appearance)
    • An intermediate understanding of jQuery/JavaScript (interactivity)
    • A clear understaning of Frameworks, Responsive Layouts and when to use them
    • Modern Web Design and Development trends and concepts (e.g. development process, constraints, optimization)
    • See these real-world skills applied to actual projects via guest professionals.

    Thanks, Mitch!

    Questions? Contact Kate Reeves for advising at dca@unex.ucla.edu.

    Enroll in Web Coding Intensive Bootcamp today!

    web design by DCA graduate Ena de Guzman

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:

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