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AIGAx Design Dialogues podcast: Pete Hawkes of Oblong

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:

DCA Entrepreneurs: Luis Antonio Pichardo

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.

luis 2What was your inspiration for founding it?

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.

Who dluis 3oes it serve?

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.

luis 1How have your studies in the DCA program contributed to your work at DSTL Arts?

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!

Meet new DCA instructor Christina Webb

We’re thrilled to welcome Christina Webb to the UCLAx Visual Arts community! Christina brings a wealth of experience from her MFA work at the Rhode Island School of Design and her client work in web design, screen design, photography and custom typography. She has also worked on teams at Local Projects and the J. Paul Getty Museum Design Studio where she focused on exhibitions, way-finding, and identity systems for environments and print.

Christina Webb

Christina Webb

Her own practice explores social constructs and dialog in public spaces, with a focus on language and intervention.

Christina is teaching Typography this winter quarter.

What brought you to this field?

I stumbled into graphics in high school, when my infatuation with music, alternative fashion and drawing took new form on t-shirts, faux album art and small local ads. I was part of an expressive punk D.I.Y. culture, and I’ve always loved being hands on and experimental. I became a hair designer and designed my own ads using single-color xerox printers. Later on a new love for digital tools and fine art would lead me into formal training  in a B.F.A. program in Seattle. I was reluctant to take 4(!) lettering and typography courses, but the right professor brought the expressive, irreverent and hands-on love into it and the rest is history. I have since designed commissioned logotypes, print campaigns, exhibition campaigns, interactive type and environmental type installations. I continued to take advanced typography workshops while working as a designer, and focused on it it much of my recent graduate education.

perifix-IMG_0751-770x578Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.

There are several, but one of my recent projects that I undertook during my graduate studies was particularly fun. I work in multiple disciplines and “Perifix” is an online project that can generate typographic content usable in other formats, such as print. Users can use a touchpad to scroll the content of different frames within the web page, or press the spacebar to instigate chance arrangements like a slot-machine, remixing word segments across frames to build something new and unexpected. By zooming in, it becomes a typographic form experiment. I love the sense of discovery how the framework can work with varying degrees of source content to generate everything from poetic abstractions to juxtaposed meaning—such as remixing marketing terms as social commentary. This project was selected for a Triennial Exhibition at RISD this fall.

IMG_3468-770x513Why is your course, Typography, important for my design education?

Typography is a necessary part of graphic design, but it is also a rich area of creativity and form-making in itself. To understand this, become savvy with the technical aspects of type and find one’s own inventive, expressive way of working with typography adds depth to your work as well as your way of looking at the visual world. It is also critical to a higher standard of design practice to be able to offer well-skilled, bespoke solutions to clients.

Kennedey-IMG_5209-770x770Do you have a sample assignment?

Assignments in this course will be focusing on the fundamentals of typography such as form, composition, history and context in graphic design. Students will also be researching the rich public space of Los Angeles and doing hands-on experiments that will bring out the unexpected potential of working with type. Both digital and hand crafting skills will be explored. Later assignments will focus on form and its relationship to conceptual content by designing a multi-faceted print project that addresses a contemporary issue, so students will get to merge new making skills with social engagement. I am super excited to see how we can work together to develop engaging work!

Welcome, Christina!

Aneesha Bharadwaj shares about her Getty Studio Placement experience

The Getty Design Studio placement that we oversee each quarter is an incredible opportunity for our DCA students to gain real world experience in one of Los Angeles’ top creative environments. This fall, Aneesha Bharadwaj was chosen for this special opportunity. She shares about her experience, including images of two of the projects she created, below:

Postcard design 1 for the exhibition Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV (front)

Postcard design 1 for the exhibition Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV (front)

What projects did you work on during your placement? What did you find rewarding about them?

I worked on real and ongoing projects with most of the designers at the Getty design studio.
I was involved in various projects including work for the Getty Education, Getty user surveys and research which was more user experience design related, Product sketches and CAD for monitor displays to be placed at the galleries. I was also glad to be a part of the recently opened exhibition Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV.
The most rewarding experience was that I got to work on projects with various skills like visual design & typography, product design and user experience design. Having my prior background in product design and now focusing on visual design and user experience was good for various type of projects.

Postcard design 1 for the exhibition Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV (back)

Postcard design 1 for the exhibition Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV (back)

What was it like being in a real design studio after being in the classroom for your DCA training?

It was the best experience for me to work outside the classroom in a real design studio as I got into the real world with real projects and deadlines. This training is required as it helped me to not only work on good design but also to make presentations, to collaborate with others, and to generate visitor/ user feedback on how well the finished product or project has evolved.
I was also grateful to be part of the Getty Toastmasters which is a monthly event on how one can improve their presentation and communication skills. This I feel is very essential as a designer–we have to sell and get other people excited about our concept.

Postcard design 2 for the exhibition Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV (front)

Postcard design 2 for the exhibition Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV (front)

What will you take away from this experience that will serve you in your future design career?

This experience has taught me to be more professional, dedicated, and passionate about the art and design industry. As a student you work for your portfolio but working at the Getty you work so that more visitors come who are curious and excited. It was also invaluable to work in a team, generating ideas, and presenting in front of clients. Showing your enthusiasm by not just delivering what is needed but doing much more that gives it the extra edge.
Having worked at the Getty has given me the direction I want my career to head towards. I am truly grateful to have been given this opportunity.

Postcard design 2 for the exhibition Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV (back)

Postcard design 2 for the exhibition Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV (back)

Congrats, Aneesha!

Interested in the Getty Design Studio placement? Be sure to like us on Facebook to keep up to date with application announcements. Also, email Kate at dca@uclaextension.edu anytime for more info.



DCA Entrepreneurs! The Journey from Classroom to Marketplace

This is the first in a series on our inspiring DCA community members who have made the leap from student to businessperson.

Today, we’re focusing on DCA student & AIGA UCLAx group president Michelle Quach and teaching assistant & recent DCA graduate Dainise Meissner, both of whom chose Etsy as the platform for their online shops.

We asked both women what inspired them to create their shops and how they like having their own businesses.

design by Michelle Quach

design by Michelle Quach

Michelle: I was inspired to start my shop, Euclid Street (tagline: Greeting Cards That Hug You Back), because I thought it would be a way to do something creative right away. At the time, I had just decided to pursue design, and I was inspired by a speech by the journalist Robert Krulwich, who said “There are some people who don’t wait.” An Etsy shop allowed me to start creating art without waiting for permission. It was also liberating to feel that I could make money (even if it wasn’t a lot) without necessarily having to rely on being employed by someone else.

design by Michelle Quach

design by Michelle Quach

So far, it’s been a really positive experience. I’ve learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of running a small business. My favorite part, though, is knowing that something I created can hold meaning for someone else. Being in the greeting card business means that I often get invited into people’s lives in small ways–I’ll sometimes be asked to write a message on behalf of a customer, or they’ll tell me that their significant other loved the card so much that they got it framed. Once, a customer told me that one of my cards perfectly expressed what he wanted to say to his first love–whom he had remained friends with for decades, though they were both happily married to other people. I never imagined, when I first started this humble shop, that I would have the privilege of helping others this way!

design by Dainise Meissner

design by Dainise Meissner

Dainise: I was inspired to create my shop, FourBirdDesigns, after being in the DCA program for several quarters and not really knowing in what direction I wanted to go with my career. I had taken Mixed Media and Collage for Designers with Michelle Constantine and I really enjoyed making the collages by hand after taking several computer classes. I then went on to do a mentorship with Michelle to further explore mixed media and collage because I had the seed of an idea to create custom collages based around personal photos and their history.

design by Dainise Meissner

design by Dainise Meissner

I recruited a beta customer and created a test collage for her just so I could understand how the process might work in terms of getting her images, communicating about her family’s history, and fulfilling her needs for the finished product. It was a huge success and in fact, she asked me to make a second one a few months later! That success gave me the confidence to start the Etsy shop. It’s still quite new, and I’ve only sold one collage so far, but I’m loving it. Even though I’ve now graduated from the DCA program, I decided to get further inspiration this summer by taking Mixed Media and Collage again but with Todd Smith this time.


Congratulations to both of you and wishing you every success!

Interview with recent DCA grad Danielle Danaher

“The DCA program has truly been life changing for me as I hope it is for others.”ssr5
Danielle Danaher 

Danielle did the entirety of her DCA coursework online from her home in upstate New York. It’s a pleasure to see how her work is influenced by her community. She sat down to field a few questions for us about her experience:

What brought you to the DCA program?
I’ve always loved to be creative and to build different things, I was the kid picking up the scrap pieces of material from my father’s construction sites to see what I could build with it.  Although my love of digging in the dirt has diminished somewhat as I’ve aged, my love of being creative is stronger than ever.  I went to college and majored in what was expected, and took a job doing again what was expected; it made sense at the time. A few years ago it stopped making sense, and I began looking for online design programs from respected, accredited universities.

What were your favorite courses and why?
I’d have to say that Logos & Branding and Design II were my favorite courses.  I enjoyed the creative freedom they offered. Although the other courses in the program aided as well, it was these two courses that I think installed in me the confidence and trust in my design, and design decisions.

persp3As a designer, what does a potential project need to have for you to feel passionate about it?
For me it’s a moral voice or message of philanthropy in projects.

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?
I’d find my dream job working as a designer or on a design team for a cause like Stand Up to Cancer; an organization fighting a disease responsible for so much devastation.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
As a designer who’s helped to make a difference through an organization or charity.  One with creative freedom and choice to take on new challenges.unite4


Great work, Danielle!

Check Out Aneesha Bharadwaj’s Innovative Sensing Design

When Aneesha stopped by the office and shared her latest design from Henry Mateo’s Design II: Collateral Communication course, our director said, “You have to put that on the blog!” I’ve seen many final projects from this course and this, without a doubt, is the most innovative I’ve ever seen. We especially love how Aneesha boldly embraces the emerging sensing technology.

Aneesha writes:

Carpe Energia is a fictional event with the concept, ‘seize the energy’. Active and engaging for its audience, I made it interactive by using motion sensors with LED’s.

The LED’s respond in a gentle fashion to stimulus provided by human interaction. They light up as I wave my hand in front of the sensors- a slight twinkling ripple that spreads out to other areas as it dissipates. The effect is a like touching a pool of water into an overall gentle rippling, and eventually settles down.
The poster is powered with a 24V power supply. I have covered the LED’s with Duralar paper and cut out holes for the senors.

The Type Treatment- event information on the left is screen printed (white ink) directly on the black board.

Excellent work!

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