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Happy Earth Day! (from Keith Haring)

First observed on March 21, 1970 in San Francisco, Earth Day is now a globally coordinated event celebrated in more than 175 countries.  This year, Earth Day occurs on Sunday, April 22nd, and UCLA Extension Visual Arts is taking the week to increase our awareness of the natural environment, and implement further sustainability efforts as part of the UCLA-wide initiative to reduce waste and save energy.

We’re also celebrating with a little help from Keith Haring!  Featured above is a doodle from one of his journals, recently made available by the Keith Haring Foundation and the Brooklyn Museum.  They’ve started an insightful tumblr that will be posting one journal page a day, for the duration of Haring’s exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum; Keith Haring: 1978–1982The exhibition runs through July 8th.

DIY: Physical Computing at Play

 

Last month, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo hosted the latest event in their Science Cafe series of talks and workshops.  Using the Kennedy Library stairwell as their gameboard, co-presenters Michael Newman and Scott Hutchinson guided participants through the design and construction of a game using open source electronics and circuits.   Check out more video from the event below.

Course Spotlight: Designing for Humans: Culture and AnthroDesign (Online)

Looking to get a jump on an elective for our upcoming User Experience Design certificate? This quarter, enroll in Designing for Humans: Culture and AnthroDesign (Online). Instructor Zelda Harrison was kind enough to tell us more:

Why is this course important for my design education?

Most of us understand the immediate benefit of living and working in a global economy. A significant number of us will collaborate with colleagues and clients in another country, and even locally, we will be called upon to develop products and communication for people who either speak a different language and/or live very differently from us.

The good news is that technology has provided us with the tools to communicate and work effectively across time zones and geographical locations. The trick is in managing the “soft skills” by developing a toolkit that takes into account the audience’s culture and values. It should be noted that when we speak of “culture,” we are talking about generational and lifestyle differences too, not just ethnic differences.

Anthrodesign is not “politically-correct” design or “designing to appeal to everyone.” The Anthrodesigner is like a detective, using anthropological observation techniques to develop an awareness of the end user, and inform herself about appropriate design choices.

When people ask you what you do, how do you explain it?

I work primarily as a designer in visual communications. I also explain that I specialise in anthrodesign, which means I have developed tools that allow me to discern the audience’s values and priorities, and therefore communicate more effectively with them.

What will I take away from this course?

In addition to honing your skills as a designer, you will have a better grasp of the research methods and how to apply them. Many designers are pretty happy with applying their skills, coming up with concepts and then perfecting the visual product.

But there are important industry changes for the designer : in a service-based economy, the “communication” and “functional” aspect of our work is informing more and more the “visual” aspect, so our primary vocation is engaging people by appealing to their values and environment, not just their taste. To do this effectively, you must “walk in the user’s shoes.”

In addition to this, many designers are now working “in-house” which means they are obliged to work on multi-disciplinary teams with non-designers. It also means that designers must understand the business and marketing aspects of the projects, ie., the audience’s needs, and participate in defining the message and product to the audience.

In my opinion, this role enhances the value of design, but it also means increased commitment and responsibility from the designer, beyond concept and design execution.

What are companies looking for when they hire an “AnthroDesigner” both in terms of skills and portfolio?

There are very few hiring companies who will reject a designer with a portfolio that demonstrates an acute understanding of the target audience and with the research and working papers to back it up. Naturally, the design and messaging need to be consistent with findings and definition of the target audience. This is something we will explore thoroughly in the class.

In the “real world,” selling/being paid the time to conduct research or dissect the target audience is very difficult, especially to small and medium sized businesses. The purpose of this class to give participants the space and time to develop analytical tools that will make them efficient and persuasive. I believe these tools will carry them for the rest of their careers.

What could be a challenge for students this class?

I can’t argue enough in support of the time honoured matra that “form follows function.” A colleague of mine, Mr. Peji, takes it a step further by asserting “form follows culture.” Students will be encouraged to use their skills and talent to define a creative brief and concepts based not on their own experiences, but on the audience’s.

Students who are unable to “walk in the shoes of the user” will find this challenge, hopefully one worth taking on.

Do you have a sample exercise/assignment?

Yes, my group, the Center for CrossCultural Design, has been compiling examples of great design inspired by anthropological investigation and crosscultural awareness.

We organised a competition to explore the application of design and culture and gave the first prize to Beth Shirrell from Kentucky. Here’s what she had to say about her work :

“Kalakari translates from Hindi to English to mean ornamentation. I explored typographic expression by creating a display font that captures and reflects the ornate culture of India. Specifically taking impetus from the countries architecture, the ancient art of henna painting, and Hindu iconography. The font is a collection of 26 majuscule forms that make up the English alphabet. The collection is entitled Kalakari Display.”

Design Researchers can be the designer’s closest collaborator and partner. For those interested in understanding the landscape of design research, check out this article by Uday Dandavate of SonicRim.

You are also welcome to explore the Center’s activity on our blog and facebook. You’ll find a smagasbord of topics ranging from geopolitics and economics to design and culture. I believe this reflects a reality of most skilled anthrodesingers : polymath approach to audiences is critical.

Karen Brings News of Life-Size Computer Games

 

Karen Lauritsen, your former DCA advisor, has organized an exciting event at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this Friday featuring the work of UCLAx’s own Scott Hutchinson and Michael Newman.

Here’s the press release:

Cal Poly Science Café Presents Life-Size Computer Game Workshop on Feb. 10

SAN LUIS OBISPO – Cal Poly’s Kennedy Library will host DIY: Physical Computing at Play, a workshop to create a large-scale, computer-based, interactive game. The workshop will run from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Kennedy Library’s second-floor lounge. The event is free and open to all skill levels.

Participants will learn how to design and build a game using an Arduinos (an open-source electronics platform) and breadboards (reusable electronic test boards analogous to circuit boards). Participants will also determine the strategy and layout of the physical game board.

The event will culminate with a tennis ball target competition in the stairwell. Scoring monitors will broadcast the players’ success electronically.

The hands-on event is designed to blend the virtual world with physical play and encourage participants to experiment with Arduinos. It will be led by art designers and digital media specialists Scott Hutchinson and Michael J. Newman.

The event is part of the Science Café series and co-sponsored by the Cal Poly Robotics Club. For more information about DIY: Physical Computing at Play and the Science Café series, click here.

Be sure to let any design-minded friends in the SLO area know about what promises to be a memorable event. And for those of you who weren’t able to witness Michael Newman’s TedxUCLA talk in June, you can check it out here.

Sneak peak: Luba Lukova’s spring catalog cover

This just in! Acclaimed artist Luba Lukova has shared some of her sketches with us from her upcoming spring catalog cover. Luba’s artwork, known for its economy of line, color, and text as well as its succinct social commentary, has won many international awards and is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; and Bibliotheque nationale de France. She was also kind enough to tell us a bit more about the process behind the piece.

What can we look forward to in the design you’ve chosen? Did you have a particular inspiration for it?

Here in New York it’s very cold and gray now and just thinking about the spring made me feel good. I wanted to capture that feeling in my design. I love the little garden in the backyard of my studio and every spring I enjoy planting there small flower seedlings. It’s always fascinating to watch how they become strong plants. I thought this would be a good metaphor for an educational institution like UCLA Extension.

In my drawing I transformed the gardener into this small tool, called a widger, that’s used for replanting seedlings. I think this brings another dimension to the design, that man is connected with nature.

I guess my image can also be read in different ways. Gardening, like education, is sometimes a messy, dirty job but the end results justify the means. Also, to plant something new, you need to dig deep. I showed to Scott (Hutchinson) several drawings (shown here) and we decided to go with this particular rendition. Scott mentioned that the Dean was a gardener too, and she immediately understood the image which made me happy.

Did you have a particular message in mind with this piece?

Very often, when I design posters and covers I look for a single, bold image. I think this particular cover design is a bit different as a graphic approach. The drawing is lighter and more spread, so to say, and the type treatment is very simple and unpretentious. I did that on purpose, to express that feeling of openness and clarity that the spring brings each year.

You’ll be able to see the final product when the spring quarter UCLA Extension catalog, featuring Luba’s cover artwork, launches on Monday, February 13th.

Online enrollment for spring quarter begins Monday, February 6th.

Adobe Illustrator User’s Group: Workflow with Adobe Ideas

January 18, 2012 06:45 – 08:30 PM
MacMall Retail Store
1505 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90403
310-394-7779

Chevon Hicks will present workflow for Adobe Ideas and Adobe Illustrator.

Chevon has spent over 20 years in both the traditional and digital agency worlds, combining art and technology to bring digitally driven experiences to life. His career began in high school as an art department intern at ad agency Kresser/Craig, just as the agency world began to shift from creating ads by hand to doing everything on computers. This experience proved unique in that Chevon was steeped in the values of traditional design and advertising, an increasingly lost art these days, before being thrust headfirst into digital.

As a teenager he was old enough to master the old practices and young enough absorb the new technology that was rapidly taking over the industry. An eventual Fine Arts major at Otis/Parsons, Chevon applied his knowledge of technology to his artwork. Technology manifested itself as part of the creative process of traditional media and sometimes the execution of the work itself in the form of installations, paintings, sculptures and CD-ROM experiences. He felt that it was important to major in Fine Arts, not Advertising or Design, in order to give himself the broadest possible perspective on visual communication. Besides, he was learning advertising the real way — on the job, while putting himself through school.

In art school, Chevon became most well known for city-wide poster campaigns where the artist promoted himself. These “campaigns” expressed themselves as wheat pasted posters, uninvited lecture series and impromptu autograph sessions. The experiment was Warholian — the idea that putting something on a pedestal makes it great, ala the way Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans were able to transcend the banal by being immortalized on canvas and viewed in a gallery setting. People would show up to Chevon’s lectures and autograph signings simply because it was “advertised”. These were the methods used to promote his work — the secret being that the campaign was the work itself. It was clear that he found it hard to escape his advertising industry influence, even within the incubator of a world-class fine arts program.

Chevon founded Heavenspot in 1997, two years out of college and has been creating amazing interactive ever since. Chevon’s expertise in interactive design has been recognized by The Webby’s, Communication Arts, HOW Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, The FWA, Variety and BusinessWeek.

In addition to his duties at Heavenspot, Chevon teaches an undergraduate course at the USC School of Cinematic Arts entitled, “Interface Design for Games” in the Robert Zemeckis Center. His other passion is soccer, the beautiful game, which led him to the creation of a thriving adult’s league complete with corporate sponsorship.

Chevon lives in the Silverlake district of Los Angeles with his wife Stephanie and their son Ziggy.

Click here for more information. 

The event is free! Please RSVP on the Adobe Illustrator User’s Group Facebook page.

Parking is free in the lot behind the store!

End of year closure

UCLA Extension will be closed beginning Thursday, December 22nd and will reopen on Tuesday, January 3, 2012. You can still register for courses anytime, as online enrollment will remain open 24/7.

Additional info about Visual Arts programs is available on this blog (look around!) as well as at:

https://www.uclaextension.edu/visualArts

and

https://www.uclaextension.edu/dca

If you have any questions, we’ll be happy to answer them once we’re back.

Winter quarter starts Monday, January 9, 2012.

La Guerre des Post-It

Vive la office supply? One of my oldest friends works in the Parisian office of liquid natural gas utility GDF-Suez. Serious business, right? Making decisions that affect energy consumption on a global scale? More like making innovative design decisions on a very local scale, using those ubiquitous blocks of color with the sticky edges, Post-Its.

Here’s a rendition of Marilyn Monroe:

 Here’s Smurfette:

 

And Gromit, of Wallace & Gromit fame:

 

The building’s facade gives you a better sense of the scale of the time wasting-ahem-project:

 

But it doesn’t end there. Neighboring office buildings weren’t going to stand around with stacks of perfectly good Post-Its behaving on their supply closet shelves. Fifty employees of Societe Generale, the bank, stuck 9,000 notes in eight different colors to create a huge six storey representation of Asterix and Obelix:

  

The take away? The next time you visit your French banker or utilities representative, for a festive and well-received gift, consider preseting him or her with a stack of Post-Its.

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