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Introducing Photo Instructor Parker Steele

Parker Steele bio imageThis upcoming spring quarter, we’re excited to welcome Parker Steele as our new instructor for Shoot & Critique.  From his work as a photojournalist and writer with the Ohio Army National Guard to his assignments for clients such as Bicycling Magazine, L’Officiel, Lucky Brand Clothing, Marie Claire, and Nordstrom’s HauteLook, Steele brings a diverse range of experience to the classroom.  We took a moment to ask him a few questions about his work, career, and what students can expect from his Spring course.

What drew you to photography and how did you get started?

I took a few photography classes in high school and was fortunate enough to have a teacher who was extremely supportive. At first, I was drawn by the technical aspects and how that could be translated into a meaningful image. My teacher encouraged me to apply for a scholarship to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design, to study commercial photography. Around the same time, I also decided to enlist in the National Guard as a photojournalist and writer. Luckily, both worked out and I was able to study and work as a photographer at the same time.

Bicycing in LA

Image courtesy of Parker Steele

Certain aspects of what I learned as a photojournalist have been translated into my commercial work. However, one of the best lessons I’ve learned is that as a photographer there is an innate feeling to project yourself into your work. It becomes more of an internalized projection than simply a documentation.  That’s why a photographer’s approach or process is considered somewhat sacred — it’s revealing and says a lot about what they value.

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

portrait with old painting in dark room

Image courtesy of Parker Steele

It was October ’11, I was living in NYC at the time. A photographer friend of mine invited me to the Navajo Nation while he was working on a long-term project. I took some basic stuff, my camera equipment and an audio recorder.  There was no internet, so I ended up having to post flyers around town in order to find people to photograph.  The entire project was about documenting the people of Tuba City, AZ.  As an outsider, being dropped into a somewhat marginalized culture left me with some larger questions to explore. My subjects included a young high school couple, a boy who had dreams of becoming a male model, a single mother and her child, one of the last remaining Navajo Code talkers of WWII, a children’s Navajo rodeo, a Navajo language teacher who was out of a job because they’re not teaching the Navajo Language to students anymore, plus various landscapes. There’s actually a behind the scenes video, which gives you a sense of what went into the making of the project. It was by far, the most rewarding project I’ve worked on. It was a project that I was truly passionate about and it refueled my desire to create, explore and it reminded me why I fell in love with photography in the first place.

What can students expect from your approach to Shoot & Critique this spring?

My goal for the class is to improve students’ understanding of photography and to explore their own creative process. Through talks, practical exercises, planned shoots and critiques I ultimately want them to have the tools to become stronger photographers in whatever field they’re interested.

woman and daughter

Image courtesy of Parker Steele

Any advice for budding photographers just starting out?

Be persistent, build your visual language, perfect your craft, and learn from mistakes. In a handful of cases, careers have started over night, but most successful photographers have worked really hard for at least 10 years to get where the are now. Figure out a way to support your photography. The experiences you have outside of photography will influence your perspective and you’ll become a better photographer for it.

Instructor Spotlight: Michelle Constantine

Michelle Constantine

Michelle Constantine

Many Visual Arts students already know the multi-talented instructor Michelle Constantine from the Mac lab where she teaches InDesign. This fall, we’re excited for her to bring her artistic passion (check out the gallery below!) to the online realm with Mixed Media and Collage for Designers and Artists (Online).  Read on to learn more about her and see samples of her own work:

What brought you to this field?

There wasn’t any specific thing that brought me into the arts, it just came together.
I have always been a maker—I collect things for future projects and meticulously organize until it’s needed. Fabric, glitter, paint, paper, thread, dye, maps, photo gels, books… Collage is about bringing things together that sometimes shouldn’t be. My work is a mix of materials; I use whatever is best for the project.

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

Early in my career, I was asked to make a mapquilt for a gallery in London. When I arrived for the opening, I was thrilled that my piece had been hung in the window. It was perfectly lit and looked fabulous. Being able to see my work in a presented state is always rewarding.

Why is your course, Mixed Media and Collage for Artists and Designers (online) important for my design education?

Learning how to make things by hand is important and valued in the digital age we live in. In a return to the handmade, understanding how to use a variety of tools and techniques properly makes you more valuable as a designer. There’s a playfulness that comes out when media is mixed.

Do you have a sample assignment?

For the class, you will work on weekly mini projects that serve as explorations of media. You will explore the techniques and mediums shown in the video demo each week. You will also work on personal portfolio pieces throughout the quarter that will grow and evolve as you learn and grow creatively.

Enroll in Mixed Media and Collage for Designers and Artists (Online) today!

Meet Advertising Design Instructor Albert Ocampo

DCA instructor Albert Ocampo

DCA instructor Albert Ocampo

We’re thrilled to welcome Albert Ocampo, Brand Experience Director at the prestigious advertising firm RPA, to our team of instructors! Albert will be teaching Advertising Design this summer.

What makes you passionate about advertising design?

Advertising is a dynamic industry that affords you the opportunity to apply design processes and skills to many different types of media: broadcast, print, digital, or experiential—sometimes all of the above in one assignment.

What brought you to this field?

I never actually considered advertising as a career, but a serendipitous opportunity came up at an ad agency, so I thought I’d try it out. It’s been infinitely more challenging and rewarding than I could have ever imagined.

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

Too many to list! The types of projects that I enjoy the most tend to integrate both traditional and digital media seamlessly.

Why is your course, Advertising Design, important for my design education?

If you are considering advertising as a career, you’d do well to understand how agencies work and the type of projects that you’ll be expected to work on. This class will give you both theoretical and practical knowledge that will help you, should you want to pursue it as a career.

Do you have a sample assignment?

Over the course of the term, students will be working on projects in print, tv, digital, as well as a campaign that integrates them all.

Thanks, Albert!

Enroll in Advertising Design today.

Course Spotlight: Advanced Typography with Steve Child

graphic design by Steve Child

Highly accomplished designer, fine artist, and instructor Steve Child will be teaching Advanced Typography this spring. (Check out the cool poster he created for us above). Learn more about him and the course:

What makes you passionate about design?

I’m a person who needs to create. I love to brew a cup of coffee, put on my music, and get working on a project. I really enjoy the process and I derive great pleasure from bringing an idea to life. It is fun to take a problem and work through its solution. It isn’t always easy. It can be fraught with difficulties. But if I embrace those obstacles and see them as part of the process, I can learn and benefit from them as well.

I think the work gets really interesting for me when I can bring my fine arts sensibilities and mix it in with my design skills. This is an area I’m further exploring in my own work. When I can mix genres and styles together to create something fresh and surprising. Design, like any other discipline, can allow you to dig deeply into the nature of life. If you can approach the process with both your “big” mind and your “practical” mind, usually something interesting happens.

What brought you to this field?

I was trained as a fine artist. My degrees are in painting and drawing and I spent a lot of time in the studio. I was a very dedicated artist, but I had no way to make a living after I graduated. My roommates were designers and illustrators and through their help I began to work in design to pay the rent. As much as I had a grasp of art history and contemporary art and an understanding of the visual language, I had no education or practical experience in design, so I began at the very bottom and learned everything on the job. After 4 years I became an art director in a health care agency and learned a lot about the advertising industry and the design process.

After graduate school, I moved to Los Angeles. In just a few short years all the tools and processes for creating design had changed, so it was necessary for me to learn the software tools. I went to Art Center College of Design to gain my digital expertise and shortly after that I got a job at the in-house agency 5555 at Paramount Pictures. I spent the next 10 years creating entertainment advertising. I’ve been teaching, freelancing and creating my own work since then.

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

I was recently asked to design street banners for the city of Long Beach. They wanted me to create a lot of different solutions for 3 different neighborhoods: 4th Street Arts District downtown, North Village and Virginia Village. I was given quite a lot of freedom to search for an appropriate answer that would inspire and enliven the neighborhood. Once the 8 pieces were chosen and produced, politicians were there to officially put them up at a ceremony. I genuinely felt a great sense of satisfaction that I was able to use my skills to create something meaningful for the community in these neighborhoods.

Why is your course, Advanced Typography, important for my design education?

Almost everything you create in design will have some typography in it. Type drives most messages and knowing how to organize and express meaning through typography is a fundamental skill that you must acquire if you are to succeed. Design firms look for good typographic thinkers in their hires. They want designers who understand the history and style of their type choices and use them with skill and thoughtfulness. We’ll discuss both the theoretical as well as the nuts and bolts of typography.

Should I be intimidated by the 6 meeting/6 hour format?

We’ll make it fun! I hope it is a class that you look forward to and that the things you learn will stay with you for your life as a designer. We’ll use the format as a workshop and will include time to critique our work in-depth. Having that much time together will allow us to really concentrate and get deeply involved in the process. It will also allow us to work one on one and as a group to share ideas. This class should catapult your growth as a designer. We’ll make sure to take breaks and refresh.

Do you have a sample assignment?

One project will involve creating an exhibition foldout announcement. Each step of the process will be thoroughly studied. Students will first go through a rigorous process of developing many different greyscale layouts based on typographic structural systems. These systems are organizational ideas that allow a designer to strengthen their compositional skills and push their preconceived notions of what type can do. The devices are a platform for studying hierarchy, alignment, proximity and other fundamental elements and lead to beautiful and effective layouts. Students then carefully choose appropriate type, develop a cohesive greyscale composition, create a color palette and refine the final solution.

Enroll in Advanced Typography today!

 

Introducing UX instructor Thomas Dillmann

Our UX team of instructors just keeps getting bigger, better, and more dynamic: We’re thrilled to welcome Thomas Dillmann, a user experience architect with fifteen years practical application in user experience and information architecture. Thomas will be teaching the introductory level User Experience Design course this winter. Here’s more about him:

What makes you passionate about user experience design?
It allows you to communicate that potential of new solutions and enables design and development teams to deliver a product that delights, helps and enables the end user.

What brought you to this field?
I entered the information architecture field by working at an early video search engine during the dot com days. I was very lucky to work with an amazing information scientist who taught me how to create an ontology for classifying video and inter-video search.  Still some the greatest video interface technology I have every encountered.  It was  a great time. The field of user experience barely existed, we were making it up as we went along. It is very validating to see how integral and deeply important thinking about and caring about the user has become to product development.

Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.
I was able to work on an early generation Android Mobile interface that provided a management interface for a wireless hospital bed. The proof of concept work allowed the wireless hospital bed to be brought to market benefiting patient wellness while in the hospital.

Why is your User Experience Design course important for my design education?
The course will equip you with the skills and tools to engage in the full life cycle for defining a software product. It will provide you with a learning matrix by which you can understand the User Experience discipline and provide you the structure off of which to hang skills as you develop your craft.

Enroll in User Experience Design today.

Introducing UX Online Instructor Alard Weisscher

We’re thrilled to welcome lauded user experience researcher and designer Alard Weisscher to the DCA team! Alard will be teaching User Experience Design (online) this fall. Get to know him and his course better:

What makes you passionate about design? What brought you to this field?

Computer technology is sheer magic to me. I believe that future people will look back at our present time as one with the most exciting technological advancements, a digital renaissance if you like. I feel privileged being part of and in a position to help shape that magic. I find the process of creating a relevant and pleasant digital experience by balancing user requirements with business goals and technical constraints extremely satisfying.

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

While I was working at Vodafone, one of the largest mobile operators on our planet, I was part of a small but dedicated team that was dreaming of an open alternative for social networks. We were intrigued that social networks were walled gardens, and wondered why we could not use an approach similar to email that allows you to ‘share’ with anyone with a unique email address. In this project called OneSocialWeb, we created a working implementation to illustrate that it can be done technically whilst respecting performance, privacy and the browser and mobile experiences people are familiar with in the big social networks like Facebook and Google+. The point was not to develop a new social network but to trigger discussions on how social networks could eventually be opened up. It was simply amazing to work with state of the art technology and contribute, if only just a little bit, to the thinking of a social experience that touches the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Why is your course, User Experience Design (online), important for my design education?

Design today is a team sport that is becoming more and more popular. You will be playing alongside marketeers, strategists, customer care representatives, developers, other specialist designers and of course your users. It is essential to understand how the game is played and what tactics you have at your disposal to create winning experiences.

Do you have a sample assignment?

I treat my course as my own design assignment, using several techniques along the way to try and make sure the course fits my users (students) needs. I for instance use a Cultural Probe assignent in the first week, and ask my students to fill out a little booklet to explain about there expectations of the course. Eating your own dogfood is what they call this at startups, and no worries: it tastes great.

You are from the Netherlands. Will we earn extra credit if we support the Dutch football team?

We sure could use a little extra support. In the European Championships we did not even make it to the second round – quite a drop from being second in the World Cup of 2010. With a new coach lined up we are preparing for a comeback!

Meet New DCA Instructor Pete Hawkes

We’re thrilled to welcome new instructor and UCLA Design Media Arts graduate, Pete Hawkes, to the UCLAx DCA family! Pete will be teaching the advanced course: HTML5 this fall. Learn more both about Pete and the course here:

What makes you passionate about design? What brought you to this field?
I was raised in a creative environment. A large family with little money provided a fortunate upbringing where rocks, trees, dirt and irrigation water were my preferred building blocks. Today I find myself back in the rich, complex and interactive experiences of my youth, but the media are different. Instead of rocks and dirt, I jumble pixels and lines of code. I work to mimic my greatest mentor–Nature–to create my own organic, living, interactive worlds.

Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.
As part of my MFA research at UCLA, I created a series of math-based learning tools for children. These interactive games combined digital interfaces, simple electronics, and dance to teach kids the fundamentals of binary. It was challenging and fun to work across different kinds of media, but most rewarding to take the ideas into local elementary schools and see how children reacted to the tools. The process taught me much about how we learn and how new kinds of interfaces can augment education.

What will I take away from your course: HTML5?
My ultimate goal is to get you excited about creating and making with code. HTML5 is relatively new, but incredibly powerful. You will leave with a clear idea of its potential for designing rich, interactive experiences across diverse digital environments. If you push yourself, the skills you learn will take you places.

Do you have a sample assignment?
This is a fun one that will teach you a lot about animation and interaction. Design a monster using HTML5. Your monster must have two “skins” that can be toggled by a button click or key press: one using images and another drawn with shapes. Give your creature a unique personality by adding animation and deciding how it will react to user input (mouse or otherwise).

Instructor Interview: Sophia Allison

We knew artist Sophia Allison would be a great fit for our students when she showed us the lucha libre costumes she had sewn from a variety of household and commercial products. She’ll bring that creativity, enthusiasm and unique vision to her class Experiments in Drawing this summer.

We talked to Sophia about her influences, her work, and her advice for the would-be artists out there.

01_SAllison_Blue Ridge III (front view)

Can you describe your current practice? What projects are you working on or hoping to start soon?

For the past few years, I have been creating work that has to do with the physical and emotional landscape in which I was raised-specifically, the western North Carolina area. I work in a variety of media including sewing, paper-cut installations, cardboard/recycled materials and collage. Much of the work has many small components that make up a larger whole-one could say that there’s a bit of an ocd quality in all of my projects.

One of my on-going preoccupations has been a series of sewn landscape vignettes that reference specific locations on and around my family’s property in Western NC. Placing a printed digital image on fabric, I repetitively sew through the paper, forcing it into the fibers of the fabric, destroying the paper and recreating the image with thread on the opposite side of the material. The effect is two-fold: on one side, the landscape is clearly articulated; on the other, the paper image is obliterated leaving loose threads and uneven textures. The image is simultaneously destroyed and built up; it is recognized as a snapshot of a specific location and at the same time, it becomes fragmented and abstracted like a fading memory. These works are displayed so that both the front and back sides are visible.

Additionally, I have been creating a series of sculptures that are inspired by the Blue Ridge mountains. I cut up several hundred pieces of cardboard into rough, small rectangles and glue these together using foam core as a base between each section. The overall effect is an abstracted shape with undulating ridges like a mountain. I leave the cardboard unpainted; the variations in tone and color of the cardboard elevate the material beyond its humble, fragile quality. The works appear to be quite heavy and voluminous when in fact they are hollow and light-weight.

Untitled (Redgates skyview) back

Who are some artists that you admire and how have they influenced your work?

I am drawn to artists that can work fluidly across a variety of media but turn the traditional on its head, like within the work of Pae White or Tim Hawkinson; I am always amazed at how Tim can take almost anything-plastic bags, cardboard, old tubes (to name a few items) and create incredibly elaborate, conceptual works that transcend the sum of their parts. As a bonus, his work is a big draw to people who don’t necessarily like art-I love that! I am a big fan of materials and am attracted to artists’ works that are visually stunning but then have a lot of layers to dig through-work that continues to reveal itself; these works act as a one-two punch–first to your eyes and then to your brain. An artist I recently became familiar with- Elizabeth Higgins O’Connor- uses materials like old sheets, blankets, scrap wood, thread and cut-up furniture to create large assemblage sculptures of strange animal-doll hybrids. I am also influenced by artists who use craft-aesthetics within their works such as Mark Newport. His embroidered comic book covers are beautiful as are his knit super hero costumes.

When teaching art, do you think there are unique experiences to be had in continuing education vs. undergrad or graduate school?

Oh, definitely! Continuing education is wonderful because, in my experience, most folks are coming to class with a very open perspective on things as well as a bit of maturity-in other words, they know themselves well and are ready to try anything and be receptive to new ideas and art experiences. Often times, some of these folks have not had much formal training in art-making or they are getting back into it after taking a break from it – which makes the class (and teaching it) all the more exciting. I’ve found that some of my best students came to my class as “non-art” people or not art majors; they turned out to be the ones that were most adventurous with class projects and had fresh ideas. Undergrad is usually a time for a person to start finding their academic footing and interests in what they want to do professionally-try a bit of everything and see what is appealing. Also, the typical undergrad is usually younger so they don’t necessarily have the same world experiences that many continuing education students have. In graduate school, students are honing in on a specific focus/thesis, so there’s not as much time for experimentation.

What do you hope students walk away from your class with?

I hope students will come away with an enthusiasm for drawing (and art-making in general) and a willingness to be open to new ways of thinking about art and creating work. Drawing has taken on a new life in the past few decades with more non-traditional media and concepts being explored and utilized but many underlying foundation principles still apply. Also, I hope students will learn to trust themselves in their art-making decisions and take chances that they may not have otherwise. Hopefully they’ll see that it’s perfectly OK to take a risk and fail, as long as they learned something from it and can apply this new information to their next art-making experience. One of my teaching goals is to provide students with technical and conceptual tools that they can have at-the-ready—to broaden their “art-toolbox” so they have more choices and approaches to utilize as they create work.

 

landscape

What advice would you have for people who are thinking about pursuing art as a serious hobby or profession?

Make art, make art and then make some more. I think there’s this false notion that in order to do art, one needs to be “gifted” or have a knack for it. What it takes is A LOT of hard work, time and a real love and true dedication to it. If you don’t like and enjoy what you are doing, how will others? There are many ways to pursue art as a profession, but it does require lots of time in the studio-time spent creating and thinking about the work one is making. It’s important too to have people see and talk to you about what you’re doing and not be too isolated in one’s studio practice; as an artist, it’s easy to work in a bubble and forget the world, but having people take a look at your work is a necessity.

Also, I think it’s very important to look at art in the flesh. Looking at images on-line and in books is great, but they aren’t substitutes for seeing art in person. It’s an entirely different experience to spend time with a work of art right in front of your nose and immerse yourself in it, trying to understand it and what the artist was doing/thinking when he made the piece. With a great work of art, this can be an almost spiritual experience!

 

Instructor Interview: Nick Brown

eye browThis summer we’re happy to welcome new instructor Nick Brown. He’ll be teaching Introduction to 2D Materials and Techniques, a great class if you don’t have a background in fine art and are looking to get some helpful fundamental skills in a variety of media. Nick attended School of the Art Institute of Chicago,  and has had his work shown at The Drawing Center, NY; P.S. 122, NY; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; and The Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL.

By way of introduction, I asked Nick to share some thoughts about art school, his current work, and what he hopes students will accomplish in his class.

Can you describe your current practice? What projects are you working on or hoping to start soon?

Currently, I am working on a series of large-scale oil paintings based on stone chimneys in the snow. They are remnants of a high mountain community. I also have an ongoing series of red pastel drawings. These are predicated on personal imagery and feel dreamlike and foreboding.

Are there other artists who have influenced your style and interests?

There are many artists who have influenced me over the years. The ones I mostly return to worked in the middle to late 1800’s. They are often categorized as Romanticist and Symbolist artists. James Ensor and Gustave Moreau are big favorites. Goya doesn’t fit the former description but is also amazing. Haiku poetry is another source I enjoy especially for its economy and directness. Music that is driven by tone and atmosphere is also very important to me. I’ve reached a point now though where I no longer think of other artists as I work. The knowledge drawn from their work informs subconsciously I think.
 

You have an MFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. What was the art school experience like for you?

Attending SAIC was great. I actually went twice, for undergrad and grad. I was exposed to so many ideas and ways of working. That combined with a dedicated period of time in which to concentrate solely on art was very important. I think it heightens your technical skills, deepens your thinking and the whole process of learning becomes expedited. I would encourage any student to follow that path. Hopefully we learn our entire lives. Why not be immersed in a pursuit with little distraction.

How are you planning to approach teaching your summer class. Do you think there are unique experiences to be had in continuing education vs. undergrad or graduate school?

The summer course will be structured with demonstrations and critiques. There will be quite a bit of working time in class. The environment should be very sociable with dialog between the students as well as with me. I look forward to a lot of discussion. Continuing education is unique in that many students work full time. They have specifically chosen a particular class rather than say one that just fulfills a requirement like an undergrad student might. I think this engenders an amount of intensity and focus. People are really seeking this knowledge out.

 

What do you hope students walk away from your class with?

I want students to have the confidence to make work on their own and enjoy the process of discovery inherently involved in making art.

 

 

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