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Interview with Instructor Chris Becker

DesignThinking 1
Chris Becker will be teaching Design Thinking II this upcoming Summer 2015 quarter. He’ll bring creativity, insight, and develop unique visions with all who join him in this exciting class.

We talked to Chris about his work, his class and his advice for the would-be UX Designers and beyond.

chris becker

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

As a UX Designer / Interaction Designer / Design Researcher / Educator, my practice has been focusing on the interplay between systems (websites, app platforms, software & learning systems) and design / design education. I have been using the design thinking process as a foundation for which all of my work stems. By leaning on the process I have been able to show my clients and my class rooms that design is not only fun but has ability to be innovative and necessary.

I am currently working with early stage startup: a neuroscience based brain mentoring platform called mymntr.com out of San Francisco and have started on a responsive website redesign of a major university in Colorado.

Can you describe your Design Thinking II class that you will be teaching in Summer?

Design Thinking II will take a deeper dive into the design thinking process. We will be exploring and improving our design thinking methodology through 3 distinct design thinking cycles. 1 short cylce, 1 medium cycle, and one long cycle. Since design thinking is a way of approaching problem solving, this course will engage your critical making, out of the box thinking, creativity, and prototyping skills. All along the way we will be improving our ability to develop insights and forage through an iterative innovation cycle with a goal of producing clear and unique solutions at varying levels of finish from sketching to working prototypes.

The DTII course is built on a workshop based interaction which will require highly collaborative discussions, in class testing of ideas, and lively brainstorming / insight gathering & problem definitions. Students will leave with an nuanced knowledge of the design thinking process and 12 weeks of practice and documentation of using the methodology for solving design problems.

Design-is-a-process

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

Design Thinking 2 students will walk away with a growing confidence in using the design thinking methodology as well as 3 projects that illustrate their usefulness and problem solving abilities. Furthermore they will grow their ability to articulate and document the design thinking process and show how they move from insight gathering through problem solving prototyping.

What advice would you have for people who are thinking about pursuing User Experience Design or a related Design field as a profession?

Some advice.
Try not to be defined by deliverables like wireframes or sitemaps. The “oh you make wireframes syndrome” diminishes the vast umbrella of impact a User Experience Designer can think about inside any company or system.

Concentrate on and show how human centered design methodologies can improve business and the impact of experience on your users.

User Experience is a relatively new and growing field of practice and it needs to be internalized by industry from a foundational perspective so be part of showing how and why it matters. Then go out and make awesome stuff.

Enroll in his Summer class Here

Greatest Illustrator I posters ever

How can you not want to take Illustrator I (online) with new instructor Eric Rosner after checking these out:

 

 

Instructor Spotlight: Richard Barkinskiy

hamstervalhallaWe’re thrilled to welcome HTML5 instructor Richard Barkinskiy! An outstanding graduate of our very own Advanced Web & Interaction Design program, Richard is a digital application specialist for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He specializes in WordPress website development with HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, and MySQL.

Richard fields our “big four” questions here:

What brought you to this field?

Web development is in constant flux, always keeping me challenged. It requires patience, planning and determination to execute every web site. Although at times it can be frustrating, it’s never boring.

Today websites are more than just online brochures. They contain videos, interactive images, games and everything in-between. If there was ever a profession for a curious mind, I can’t think of a better one than website development.

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

Working for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has given me many opportunities to further strengthen my web development skills. One such opportunity was creating the Discoveries Magazine website in 2012.

The Discoveries Magazine publication chronicles the latest research conducted at Cedars-Sinai with moving photography, stylistic typography and engaging stories that help bring to life the work undertaken at the medical center. I was tasked to bring the same level of professional and innovation to the web.

I sought to build a website that not only took advantage of HTML5 semantics, but employed responsive website design techniques. At the time, responsive website design was just a concept being discussed by the web community, not as the de facto approach to website development it is today.

Taking a calculated risk, I presented the responsive website design idea to various stakeholders and was entrusted to create a website unlike anything they had ever seen before.

Having no prior experience building a responsive website, I did my best to soak in as much information regarding the technique. With the deadline looming, I tackled the project and launched the website about two months after its conception. The website was one of the first built with responsive website design for Cedars-Sinai and most recently earned a 2013 Eddie award for an online publication.

Why is your course, HTML5, important for my design education?www.zugotruck.com

Understanding key fundamentals of modern website design is paramount in constructing the next generation of websites. The web today is accessible on multitude of devices—from laptops and tablets to smartphones and gaming consoles. It’s now, more than ever, imperative in understanding how to code with accuracy and employ modern best practice techniques effectively in order to engage online visitors on any device that connects to the web.

Do you have sample work?

www.runforher.com

Utilizing HTML5 and CSS3, I constructed responsive landing page for the Run for Her event. The Run for Her event supports ovarian cancer research and awareness and this year has grown to include events in the Bay Area and New York in addition to Los Angeles. The homepage needed to consist of links to the various events, a feed to the event’s photo gallery and video—all while remaining responsive.

www.discoveriesmagazine.org

Incorporating “Art Directed” techniques in bringing the printed publication to the web, I have helped transform stories from print to an engaging online presence utilizing HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery.

www.pink-party.orgwww.zugotruck.com

Building the Zugo Liquitarian website was a fun project where I got to tap into my creative side and build a website for the best juice truck in Los Angeles. I utilized jQuery to help deliver Instagram’s API onto the homepage.

Additional websites: www.pink-party.org, www.hamstervalhalla.com, www.nvenv.com

Welcome, Richard!

Instructor Spotlight: Benjamin Woodlock

Ben WoodlockWe’re thrilled to welcome new Typography (beginning fall 2014) and Advanced Typography (beginning summer 2014) instructor Benjamin Woodlock! A CalArts MFA grad, Benjamin now runs Subtext Office, a Los Angeles-based foundry and graphic design studio specializing in custom and retail typefaces, branding and publication design.

Benjamin fields our “big four” questions here:

What brought you to this field?

My path to design was through music. For a while I recorded and toured with an indie-rock band. We started a little label and did everything ourselves, so one of my jobs was to make posters for every show. When we started out, I had almost no skills or knowledge about design, but little by little I got better at it and started to fall hard for typography. I went back to school to get my masters which is where I started really geeking out by learning typeface design. Now my work is split between more traditional graphic design–mostly focused on branding and editorial work—and custom typeface design. When I can find some free time, I spend it working on a couple of typefaces that I’m developing for retail.

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

Last year, CalArts asked me to create a typeface to expand their branded communications. They wanted a three-style font based on their logo and I was lucky to get the commission right after an intense MFA experience there. Calarts has an amazing, vibrant, and bonkers tradition of typeface design so I was a little terrified at first trying to draw on all of it as inspiration for an institutional typeface. Fortunately, the project moved so quickly I didn’t really have time to freak out—it was a blur of drawing, revising and kerning. It was exciting how fast “McBean” came together and it is really rewarding to see them use it in so many different ways.

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

Designers today need to go beyond just practicing good typography, which is a complicated enough task as is. Great typography needs to solve a complex equation: it has to be clear, inventive, complex, balanced and expressive, among other things. We are lucky to be designers right now because the wealth of typefaces and digital tools at our disposal means that there are endless possibilities for typographic expression. Advanced Typography provides a forum for stretching muscles and taking risks, while confronting the sort of challenging problems that typographers are asked to solve in the real world.

Do you have a sample assignment?

Here’s a teaser: since we’re in LA, the first project will revolve around the branding and marketing of film. All the projects in Advanced Typography will focus on two areas of growth. First, they ask students to experiment and explore the limitless possibilities of typography. That means pushing beyond boundaries to create innovative and unexpected solutions. At the same time, the work focuses on typographic complexity by engaging dynamic systems to handle many layers of information. Most of the projects will be open-ended in terms of format—so students can answer the brief in ways that interest them, whether that be a printed piece, a website, motion graphics, or something completely different. I’m looking forward to surprising ideas and approaches!

A poster for the Calarts Visiting Design Lecture Series. The title treatment is the result of a multi-stage analogue and digital process, reflective of Oh Yeah Studio's unique approach to design.  Screenprint; edition of 15.

A poster for the Calarts Visiting Design Lecture Series. The title treatment is the result of a multi-stage analogue and digital process, reflective of Oh Yeah Studio’s unique approach to design.
Screenprint; edition of 15.

Harsh Patel in Made in L.A. 2014 @ Hammer Museum

Harsh Patel_book design_

Design by Harsh Patel, courtesy of harshpatel.com

Congratulations to Harsh Patel on his inclusion in the upcoming Made in L.A. 2014 Biennial at the Hammer Museum!

The second iteration of Made in L.A. gathers 35 emerging and mid-career artists for a look at groundbreaking new work from across Los Angeles.  Work by Harsh runs the gamut from book and publication designs, to posters and unique typographic constructs.  In addition to his incredible work as a designer, Harsh shares his insight and talent with our students every week as a UCLAx instructor, and our staff and student community are lucky to have him on board.

Made in L.A. 2014 will take place June 15 to September 7, and you can learn more via the Hammer Museum’s website.

If you happen to be in New York during March, be sure to stop by Cleopatra’s in Brooklyn for Harsh Patel’s exhibition New Typography, which opens March 2nd and runs through the 30th.

Handmade Type Poster in CA Annual 2014

Handmade Type_LookingLA_official posterCreated to promote the fantastic Handmade Typographic Poster workshop run by designer and AIGA Fellow John Clark, the poster – assembled by Ali Keenan of Looking LA and photographed by Donald Miller – has been receiving numerous accolades on its own.

Recently featured in Communication Arts Typographic Annual 2014 as a ‘Posters’ category winner, the work is also in the running at the International Centre for Graphic Design Poster Competition in Chaumont and the Warsaw Biennale.

For more of the amazing design work coming out of Looking LA studios, please visit their website.

Feb. 15th | Amanda Keller Konya @ West Gallery

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Amanda Keller Konya, Federal Building, Downtown Los Angeles

Heist, an exhibition of new work by photographer and instructor Amanda Keller Konya opens Saturday, Feb. 15th at the West Gallery, Cal State Northridge.  Taking Millard Sheets’ commissioned mosaics for Southern California banks from 1954 to 1975 as her subject, Heist “offers viewers a selective and cropped view of the subject matter represented within these tiles, such as: depictions of power, labor, manifest destiny, the nuclear family, scientific and technological progress and the California Dream.”

The titles locate each work, positioning the exhibition within the Southern California landscape as well as pointing to the repurposed buildings “prettified by each mosaic.”   As writer Michelle Weiner explains, a viewer “considers the formal attributes, the location, the socio-economical history and significance of the subject matter.  However, it is within this subject matter, specifically its making a spectacle of the other, which leads the viewer to conclude Keller Konya is not only depicting but deconstructing the myth of the Southern California landscape through these various architectural, ornamental mosaics.”  Keller Konya has digitally captured the images, which are then printed at 7″ x 5″ size on fiber based silver gelatin paper.

Heist
February 15 – March 6
Opening Reception | Saturday, Feb. 15th 4 – 7pm

West Gallery
Cal State Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA, 91330-8299

03KellerKonyaHeist

Amanda Keller Konya, Police Department, Culver City, CA

 

For more information, please visit the Cal State Northridge Galleries website.

Business of Photography in Photoshelter’s Top 50

Bigelow_Business of Photography Top 50_Portrait of Basketball Player Shabazz Muhammad for Sports Illustrated

Todd Bigelow, Portrait of Shabazz Muhammad for Sports Illustrated

Photoshelter, a worldwide leader in photography portfolio websites, photo sales, marketing and archiving tools for photographers just listed our very own Todd Bigelow and his Business of Photography course as one of their 50 Awesome Photo Workshops from Around the World.  Judging from student feedback and our insight into Todd’s extensive knowledge and expertise, we couldn’t agree more.  Currently offering the workshop at Otis, it will return to UCLA Extension in our upcoming Summer quarter on July 12th & 13th.

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