explore. experience. expand.
Archive | Instructor Interviews RSS feed for this section

Interview on UX with Jeroen Hermkens

This interview between Karen Lauritsen and Jeroen Hermkens originally appeared on thewhiteboards.

Jeroen Hermkens is an award-winning Dutch interaction designer with 15 years of experience making technology transparent and easy to use for a wide variety of consumer, government, and business projects. He is the founder of Het is Simpel (It is Simple), which specifically focuses on interaction, communication, and concept design.

Jeroen has taught User Experience (UX) design online from Rotterdam for the Design Communication Arts Program since 2009. Wonder what kind of experience you’d have in the class? Recently, Jeroen put together a great page of student experiences and sample projects here from the spring 2011 quarter. Check it out!

I also asked him a few questions about the field via email:

When people ask you what you do, how do you explain it?
It can get confusing [very fast] for people if I try to explain them that, depending on the assignment, I do Interaction Design, UX Design, Information Architecture, Communication Design or Conceptual Design. I usually say, ‘I make technology easy to use’. This always sparks a conversation.

When you’re teaching UX Design, what do you consider the most critical principles that students come away with?
To trust their intuition and create an open mindset to WHY users are doing what they are doing. In the end the WHY is always something very basic.

What are companies looking for when they hire a UX Designer, both in terms of skills and portfolio?
Companies who do not understand UX are looking for nice graphics and flashy Flash presentations. Companies understanding UX look for thoughtful concepts and excellent execution.

What have students said they enjoy most about the course? What is the most difficult for them?
The main thing I am teaching is letting go of the judgements of how it should be or students think it should be. When students get this a complete new world opens up in which good UX design becomes much more easy. Students who are not able to make this step struggle a lot inside rather ‘normal’ projects.

What have you learned from teaching UX Design?
I have been involved in Interaction Design since ’94 so a lot of the theory I have discovered myself. It was very interesting to see a lot of formal documentation on topics I had figured out in my own way. Ever since, I enjoy following all kind of expert views.

Any student success stories that you know of, like someone being hired?
In my last course one of my students got his first UX Design job. He applied at a major healthcare company, had interviews, they liked the mindset he created in the course, [along with] his wireframes and the iPad2 app he designed within the course project. Over the last [few] years I have had emails from several students who got into the UX field as a result of the course.

Check out Het is Simple, Jeroen’s company.

Shooting Nudes: Interview with Photographer Roxann Arwen Mills

This spring Roxann Arwen Mills will be leading A Perspective on Nudes: A Short Photographic Workshop. It’s a unique class that involves intensive critique and a full day of shooting models, so I thought I would ask her to share some thought on the topic of nude photography. Images from the last workshop are included throughout. Click here for a previous interview and more thoughts from Roxann.

What are some common misconceptions or assumptions about nude photography?

I think that one of the most common misconceptions is that it’s easy; there’s nothing to it. Another is perhaps the perception that nude images inherently have a sexual intention. For example, the infamous banned nude album cover of John & Yoko was not meant to be a sexual statement, but a human one. This is a distinction with which Western culture still seems to struggle, even with today’s pop-cultured highly erotized cover art, and many critically acclaimed and sometimes equally disdained images of photographers who deal with sex, or have strong sexuality in their work. In many cases the subject isn’t entirely naked, so how does one discern the difference between what many refer to as the artistic nude, and mere nakedness, or the erotic nude, or soft porn? These conversations and many more will be further examined in this 4-week workshop in order to give students a more informed view from which to develop their own concepts in approaching the female nude.


(photo by student Norman Schwartz)

(photo by student Carol Henry)

What are some of the challenges of shooting these kinds of images?

One of the biggest challenges is often overcoming the idea that you can just pick up a camera and take a picture that says something, although this is certainly possible by sheer luck, like the Sunday painter who by accident stumbles upon an interesting process, without any clue as to what they’ve made. And in fact I’m a big fan of accidents, because they can lead us down the most interesting paths by showing us what our imaginations are truly capable of, but I also believe that knowledge is power, and that extends to making informed choices when creating art, otherwise your imagination often just repeats the past, or you cannot adequately express your vision. Just like a painter, you have to develop the skills to translate what your imagination sees. You have to know your equipment well enough to understand what it will do, and to be comfortable with it, and you have to develop the ability so see and utilize light in order to capture the complex and subtle aspects possible in your imagery, to capture something beyond the mundane. Sometimes beginners, as well as seasoned shooters, have happy accidents slip in, and in many cases they’re the best images of the shoot. They can be the most inspiring images to those photographers, as it shows them what they’re really capable of creating, and that kind of discovery can be magical. Yet when you look closer, you find that most seasoned photographers have some kind of framework within which they are working, and the technical skills to execute it, so when those happy accidents drop in they’re not lost as a single image that, no matter how interesting, has no relevance to the rest of the work. Then they can build on that image, or decide to begin a new path of investigation. I always keep a quote of Einstein quote close to my heart as I feel it resonates on many levels: “Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world…” But in reality creative photography, like creative science, demands both.

(photo by student Eleonora Ghioldi)

(photo by student Eleonora Ghioldi)

 

What can students expect if they sign up for the course, and what might they be surprised to learn?

This intensive 4-week class addresses the beginner to intermediate student. Students will become acquainted with a wide variety of approaches to photographing the female nude. They will also receive personal guidance to help them develop their own ideas. The course includes an in-class demo-photoshoot, with a model, before the all day location shoot. Here students will have an opportunity to learn how to give direction, and communicate their ideas effectively to the model, while at the same time learning some of the challenges of working with natural light. There will be a second natural lighting demo on site the day of the location shoot. During that day I will be on hand for personal coaching as well. We also have a guest speaker, who’s printed for some of the most celebrated nude photographers in 20th century. He’s been printing nudes over over 25 years, and has worked with such artists as Nan Goldin, Irving Penn, Sally Mann, Herb Ritts and more. He brings a unique perspective in his discussion on photographing the contemporary nude.

 

Students are often surprised to discover how freeing, and perhaps at the same time a little forbidden, it feels to be out in the grassy mountain landscapes working with nude models.

We ‘re born naked, and perhaps in spite of the inhibitions that are imposed upon us in Western culture, somewhere subconsciously we know that being naked is a natural state of being. Maybe that’s why we continue to be fascinated by the nude in art; even when we find an image distasteful, most of us can’t help but look at it. We all identify with the human body. And through our nakedness there is a common bond. But even in the 21st century there’s still much fear and contempt for the nude in our culture. Because of this, I believe it’s a subject worth continued investigation. I don’t believe we’ve said all there is to say about it, and I’m not sure with the advances in biogenetics and the future of technology we ever really will.

Photography is a powerful form of nonverbal communication. But I think that many students are surprised to realize that even when photographing the world in front of their eyes, it’s the world behind their eyes that is truly communicating their deeper intentions. As artists, we’re all on a quest for a sense of our inner freedom through many forms of communication. The art of photographing the nude is a wonderful and exhilarating place to begin that exploration.

 

Interview with Artist Jay Stuckey

Jay comes to us from a previous teaching position at Brown University. Want to learn more about Jay? Check out our interview below.

Can you describe your own artistic practice – what type of media do you prefer, what themes does your work deal with?

Right now my main focus is on painting and collage. The work has both representational and abstract elements. For me the main goal with these recent pieces is to initiate an idea within the viewer, to have the images ask questions versus posing answers or making statements. It gets tricky because ideally the questions asked are unique to each viewer, as each viewer is indeed unique. I also hope that the images are visually engaging. That they have visual presence when one comes upon them, and, if a viewer feels so moved to sit with a painting or collage for 10-20 minutes, they can actively wind their way in and around throughout the image while subtle nuances and new bits of information reveal themselves.

What advice would you have for beginning art students, or those who are considering making art a part of their lives? Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known when you started?

Wow, a lot, I actually taught a seminar on this subject at Brown. Yes it is difficult to forge a life where the creative act is part of your weekly if not daily existence, but at the same time if I figured it out, and number of my friends have figured it out, it can’t be rocket science. If you really want to make it happen, you’ll make it happen. I would say, perserverance furthers, always make sure you are enjoying, engaged, or challenged with what you’re doing, if not change your approach. It’s so difficult to find/carve out the time to make things, that you want to be stimulated by what you’re doing. Community has always been a high priority to me, surrounding yourself with like minds, so I would suggest getting to know your art community. Luckily for us Los Angeles has an AMAZING, thriving, international art community. We really are lucky, on a global level there are not many places for art that compare to L.A. right now. Oh and don’t walk into a gallery cold asking them if they’re looking at work. Yes this has worked for some artists I know, but it’s like playing the lottery. Sure you could win, but your odds suck, and the experience is a little embarrassing….for everyone.

What benefits and challenges does working with collage and mixed media present?

One of the main benefits I see is being able to take an image and recontextualize it. Perhaps it’s an advertisement familiar to everyone, but by cutting or manipulating it and placing it in a different context, you can take that preconceived association everyone has of that image and amplify it, subvert it, nullify it, you name it. It’s wonderful. On the flip side, I find one of the greatest challenges is the options available within the broad scope of ‘collage’, it can at times be overwhelming there are so many possibilities.

What do you hope your students accomplish by the end of your class?

In general I hope everyone walks away with a love for the creative process and the physical act of making things. Specific to collage I hope that everyone will have a solid foundation with the mechanics and materials behind making a collage (various forms of cutting and gluing, composition of shapes, basic design/layout ideas, etc..), AND, more importantly how these mechanics and materials behind collage are the vocabulary for this non-verbal form of communication which has great seductive powers.

Was there a moment when you officially began to consider yourself “an artist”?

I can’t think of a specific date. However, I do remember walking through Jonathan Borofsky’s retrospective in Washington, D.C. when I was 18 and thinking, “I might have to do this for the rest of my life.”

(paintings by Jay Stuckey, from top to bottom: Forming a Communist Party, The Apartment But It’s Different, Chinese Map of Paris and Chicago)

Interview with Artist Jaime Ursic

I used to get a lot of phone calls asking if we have printmaking classes. At the time, we didn’t, and I would have to dash the hopes of our potential students. The office was desolate, and tumbleweeds rolled by my desk. Then instructor and printmaker extraordinaire Jaime Ursic rode in like John Wayne, there was a swell of music, and now we have Monoprinting.

There are so many great things to say about Jaime, but I picked three:

1. She built the press that she uses in class. With her hands. And a car jack.
2. She has really good handouts.
3. The work that the students produced in her last class was AMAZING. Really, it was fantastic, I am not exaggerating for blog purposes. If you don’t believe me, come to our student show and see some great examples for yourself.

Here is a picture of a happily printing student, and also a shot of the final projects, on display outside the classroom.

After seeing the students’ creations, I thought it would be interesting to learn a bit more about Jaime’s process and background with printmaking.

How did you get started with printmaking, and what draws you to it?

My first experience was an “Introduction to Intaglio Printmaking” class that was required. I dreaded the class before I started because I didn’t want to waste time with anything outside my painting studio and printmaking sounded like so much busy work. In the end, the dread turned into enthusiasm when I scratched into my first hard-ground plate.

The graphic control of the mark making and the complete submission to dropping it into acid hooked me. I fell in love with the entire process—from preparing the plate to drawing on the ground, then dropping it into the acid, inking and running it through a press. So many ways to change one image! The idea of multiples intrigued me and the world of variations I could create by printing the plate in different ways. It was as if I was an alchemist with no idea of what I was about to discover.

What mediums/materials do you enjoy working with? Is there a particular style that you prefer?

I began to play with monoprints as compositional sketches for paintings, using oil paint cut with clove oil. Soon I realized that what I enjoyed in the monoprints was a freshness and serendipity that I couldn’t achieve in a more labor-intensive painting. The light and color I could create with monoprinting was instantly gratifying along with rhythms and patterns that I could quickly adapt and essentially recreate. Color, shape, translucence, rhythm, and figure-ground relationships– all took on new meaning. And that was before I began experimenting with different papers, plate surfaces and inks.

My style is grounded in traditional observation but I pull from and abstract my visual influences on a daily basis. I was still interested in line and mark-making, but with monoprinting I could draw with anything I found (string, floss, beads, shards, hair, pompoms, jelly bracelets, etc.) Also, I could now push into the paper and even emboss forms to create a composition that was active in all directions, not just across the picture plane, but actually into it.

For students that are new to printmaking, what kinds of assignments do you start them off with in class?

Students experiment with a variety of techniques creating monoprints with a special emphasis on using line, tone and texture. In my monoprinting class, I begin students with technical examinations of the process and we discuss successful formal strategies for composition. Students experiment with the process and use the plate as a drawing surface, practice additive and reductive inking techniques, create collographs, chine collé, etc. Along with in class demonstrations, I cover the historical context of monoprinting, a bit of connoisseurship, and the role it can play in an artist’s studio practice.

What artists or other work in this genre inspires you?

The inspiration in monoprinting for me is its spontaneity, color translucence, and how it’s a hybrid combination of printmaking, painting, and drawing mediums.
Everything I see inspires my work in some way or another.

Whether it is in the mark, touch, tone, inking, or composition, the following artists provide continual inspiration: Rembrandt, Seghers, Castiglione, Blake, Goya, Degas, Cassatt, Gaugin, Prendergast, Morandi, Picasso, Bonnard, Chagall, Miró, Matisse and Kollowitz. Contemporary artists I look to for inspiration are: Maurico Lasansky, Terry Winters, Kiki Smith, Peter Milton, Donald Sultan, Jim Dine, and Chuck Close.

The work below is by Jaime – to see more examples, visit her excellent website, jaimeursic.com.

windows-10-key windows-10-iso windows-10-product-key windows-10-activation-key windows-10-pro-key windows-10-education-key windows-10-enterprise-key windows-10-home-key windows-7-key-sale windows-10-key windows-7-key office-2016-key office-2013-key office-2010-key