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Interview with DCA student Alyssa Sugimoto about her Getty Design Studio placement

The Getty Design Studio placement is an incredible opportunity for our DCA students to gain real world experience in one of Los Angeles’ top creative environments. This spring, Alyssa Sugimoto was chosen for this special opportunity. She shares about her experience, including images of projects she created, below:

A FREE calendar template for use in commercial or non-commerciall purposes. The calendar template MAY NOT be sold as a template, it can only be used by designers to create a template.

What projects did you work on during your placement?

My main project I worked on was the Getty’s 2017 Cats & Dogs Calendar. I had lots of fun designing the title and putting everything together, it’s a really cute calendar and I enjoyed working on it. Other projects I did were designing a letterhead for an upcoming show called  The Nude in Europe during the Renaissance, creating new sticker designs for the Education Department, putting together images for signs for an upcoming Remembering Antiquities show, and another fun one I did was design a logo and title for the Getty’s Free Family Fun page.

What did you find rewarding about them?

I found it very rewarding knowing that I helped out and contributed to the Getty’s design studio. This is my first time being in a design setting beyond the classroom so being able to see what it’s like outside the classroom and working with other designers was a great learning experience for me. It’s also exciting to know that your work is going to be seen by the public and I can’t wait to see the Cats & Dogs calendars in the Getty store. I also found it rewarding to be able to sit in on meetings and interact with other people beyond the design department, such as the curators and the museum store, and discuss my work with them.

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

It was a little intimidating at first. As mentioned before, this was my first design work experience beyond the classroom but everyone was very supportive and helpful and it helped me become more confident in my work and my own abilities. In the classroom, a lot of times it’s just me and my own work but in the design studio, it was very collaborative; everyone’s working together on various projects. It was neat seeing the different steps it takes to finish a project and be able to hear what is discussed in the meetings. I learned from this experience that there is so much more to design than I originally thought and it’s something I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t do the Getty Design Studio program.

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

This experience showed me that the possibilities with design are endless; there’s so much you can do with it and the experience made me even more excited about going into the design world. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work in and with the people in the Getty’s design studio. I feel more confident in my work and prepared for what lies ahead after I finish the DCA program.

 

Congrats, Alyssa!

Interview with UX Student: Shane Silver

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Shaina, or just Shane, is a UX designer here in Los Angeles. Below, she talks about her experience taking classes in UCLA Extension’s UX program.

  1. Tell us about how you got interested in UX, and why you chose UCLA Extension.

I guess in order to tell you how I got interested in UX I’ll have to start from the beginning. I graduated university with a degree in Journalism/Media Studies thinking I would become the next Barbara Walters. I was able to land a job as an obituary writer in San Diego and soon realized I was starving, literally. Sharing half a room with four other people in a two-bedroom apartment, barely able to afford rent and/or food was.. eye-opening. I taught myself how to code (thanks MySpace) and landed a gig as a back-end engineer (coding in PERL and Regular Expression). After about a year and a half I knew I wanted to transfer into Front-End Development. Being able to create websites and not stuck in Terminal’s Homebrew all day sounded like a dream come true. With a lot of late night studying and really pushing myself I was able to land my dream job at NBCUniversal/Fandango as a front-end developer. I worked there for around two-and-half years, and while I was there I was able to interact with our UX/UI Team. Immersing myself and asking millions of questions I knew UX/UI was really the career I wanted to shift into. I was fortunate enough to take UX 1: Introduction to UX Design with Thomas at UCLA Extension. While taking his course I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Easier said than done, no one wants to hire a front-end developer for a UX/UI position. I bit the bullet, took a pretty heft pay-cut, moved to the Bay Area and became a Product Designer. The year I spent up there gaining my UX knowledge and soaking up every single interaction, layout, design, feature, cat .gif was probably the hardest year I’ve endured in my life. I left the Bay Area and relocated back down to sunny So Cal and now work as a full-time UX/UI designer for a tech start-up company called Laurel & Wolf. Recently, my company sent me back to UCLA Extension to start training in native mobile app design which I took with the ever-talented, Julia. I have never been happier in my life and I really have UCLA Extension, Thomas, and Julia to thank.

  1. For someone who is new to UX, what should they know about getting started?

Think lazy. I read somewhere that the best designers are the laziest people (metaphorically, of course). And I couldn’t agree more. The best designs come from those who want to make a service/platform more intuitive, easy, and accessible for others to understand and use.

Also, do not take anything personal. When I first became a product designer I remember being told this nugget of information, not yet understanding, and my first client meeting I was ripped to shreds. I cried quite a bit when I first started out. But I picked myself up and immersed myself in the UX/UI world: signing up for daily newsletters, reading, going to meet-ups, collaborating with other designers from different industries, participating in UX challenges, and working with multiple client projects… you grow a thick skin. Clients/stakeholders aren’t here to coddle you with how “ok” your designs are. They’ve come to YOU because YOU ARE THE EXPERT. If your user flows don’t make sense or your layout doesn’t work responsively it’s not a ding to your ego it’s a challenge to your skills. And that’s the beauty of skills.. they’re ever evolving!

  1. What was your favorite UCLA Extension class and why?

All of them! The professors (I’ve had Thomas and Julia) are the most passionate individuals you’ll ever meet. They truly love what they do and further love sharing their knowledge. This is what makes the UX/UI Community amazing. Between their amazing personalities, Thomas’ vast knowledge and Julia’s understanding of the industry and users’ psychological process, this power-house team is an unstoppable force at the UCLA Extension! Both are so humble and genuine one can not help but to become just as excited as they are about learning User Experiences and User Interfaces!

  1. What would be your dream job?

No need to dream it when I’m living it! Is it really a “job” when you love what you do?

  1. What are you working on right now?

I had the honor of redesigning our homepage which we just launched with our new company rebrand a few weeks ago. I can not be more proud of our Product and Dev Team for being able to launch such a wonderful product together!

Check out her final project for her UX: Mobile class below!

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Interview with photography student Donny DeBruno

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Portrait by Arturo Gonzalez

We met Donny at our annual student show, where he had several beautiful pieces on display. Below, he talks about his experience in the Photography Certificate, and his goals for the future.

Tell us about how you got interested in photography, and why you chose the UCLA Extension Photography Certificate.

On an outdoor field trip in elementary school, I was handed a camcorder. The permanence and novelty of the recorded image captivated me and propelled me to a still camera.  Years later, after photographing a bird in flight next to the beach, I realized the pedestrian could be filled with anxious moments and the mundane often contained hidden potential that could be captured with a release of a shutter.  It was at this time that I began using a digital camera to interact with my environment instead of just observing it.

As I accumulated images, I sought a better way to evaluate and critique my work.  I discovered UCLA Extension which provided a path for technical and creative growth with the flexibility of online classes.  Although my fist classes were Photoshop 1 and Illustrator 1, with the intent of pursuing graphic and industrial design, I quickly gravitated to photography after signing up for the Portfolio Workshop class on whim.  It was this class that gave me structure to begin assembling photographs as a body of work and gave me the chance to present and have my photographs critiqued in front of a group.

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For someone who is new to photography, what should they know about getting started?

Everyone’s path into photography varies, however, for me I was seeking a way to effectively express and communicate my work. It was through the UCLA Extension certificate program that I was able to find my voice and the confidence to clearly critique my own work.

Those new to photography should know when getting started its not critical to have the latest and greatest cameras and lenses. I quickly learned when presenting my work in class or in a professional setting, that my work would be selected over others due to the quality and strength of the photograph and not what equipment was used.

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What was your favorite UCLA Extension class and why? 

Architectural Photography with Douglas Hill, Photography II with David Daigle and Lighting I and II with Kevin Merrill were some of my top classes, but History of Photography with Richard Langendorf was by far my favorite.  Don’t let the title of the class fool you, History of Photography was probably the hardest and most time-intensive class I have ever taken.  Throughout weekly assignments, Richard asks students to recreate famous photographs starting from the earliest known surviving photograph taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 to modern works taken by the likes of Andreas Gursky and Jeff Wall.  Finally, Richard has students present their work via PowerPoint presentations that reflect the original work, your interpretation of it, including before and after images of your edits in Photoshop.

What separated this class from the rest was it forced me to think about a photograph that I was going to take before taking it, and how I was going to present it in class.  In the end, this class made me a better photographer and was well worth the effort I put into it.

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Where do you hope to take your practice in the future?

 I aspire to be a full time photographer displaying my work in galleries, and also creating books and wearable art such as clothing. As I near the end of the UCLA Extension program, I have begun seeking opportunities with my current employer that would make photography my main focus.

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What are you working on right now.

 My web site, www.donnydebruno.com.

An illustrated book based on a poem I wrote in the 6th grade that relates to a  photograph I took last year.

Currently redesigning the next generation of point of purchase Skateboard racks that should come out later this year for the Arbor Collective. www.arborcollective.com

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Interview with photography student Fosion Fernando

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Portrait by William Ortwin

We met with Fosion for a final portfolio review after he had finished his Photography Certificate. We loved hearing about his life and work, so asked if he would share some thoughts. Read more to hear his advice to new photographers, and his dream assignment!

Tell us about yourself and how you began your photography practice.

I grew up locally here living in Los Angeles. My ethnic background stemming from Peruvian parents gave me the opportunity to live in Lima, Peru a year after high school. It broadened my understanding of the culture and furthered my desire to learn more about different cultures. I had a passionate interest in sports and played for a few different soccer teams in my teens. My attention span grew shorter as I got older – my college years were short lived as I entered the corporate world at a young age. Fast forward a decade to the present with my recent certificate in photography from UCLA Extension. What propelled me to start a photography practice was the desire to do something I was completely passionate about and connect with people through the art of photography. The thought of combining something I enjoy doing and creating an income from it is a life goal for me. Photography appealed to me several years back as I really enjoyed capturing candid moments and the way an image can make you feel by composition and other factors. I’ve always enjoyed reminiscing over old images and getting a certain feeling come back to me as if time never passed.

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For someone who is new to photography, what should they know about getting started?

Photography is an art. It is there to create a reaction. Learn all the rules and technical aspects of shooting but at the end it will always be about what you are trying to express. Also, lighting is extremely important!

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What was your favorite UCLA Extension class and why?

I had really great classes and teachers. Very happy with several of those classes. If I had to choose a favorite it would be Portfolio with David Daigle. I enjoyed this class because it really challenged me to think about what I was trying to capture and why I was shooting it. It was about really observing the details of the images and seeing how the image was interpreted by others. A thick skin was good for this class and I enjoyed that!

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What would be your dream job in photography?

My dream job would be either entail traveling all over the world and capturing amazing work like Steven McCurry captures or getting the opportunity to enjoy the world of fashion as Mario Testino currently does through his work and campaigns.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on creating a Photo Blog that captures my recent works. As a freelancer it is also hard to express one type of work as your eye is on several things. My current interests are set on Food, Portraiture , Fashion and Stock photograph

To see more of Fosion’s work, visit www.FosionFernando.com.

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Mindi LaRose shares about her Getty Studio placement experience

The Getty Design Studio placement is an incredible opportunity for our DCA students to gain real world experience in one of Los Angeles’ top creative environments. This winter, Mindi LaRose was chosen for this special opportunity. She shares about her experience, including images of projects she created, below:

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What projects did you work on during your placement? 

A favorite project I worked on involved posters and social media designs for College Night at the Getty.  I was given free reign to design the poster, which would set the tone for the theme of this year’s campaign. Permission to use actual exhibited art was limited, so I incorporated my own photography. It is exciting to know the posters are up all over campuses in Los Angeles.  Another favorite project involved creating a new logo for a blog piece called “Connecting Cultures”. I worked closely with curators of the Getty Iris blog to create an icon withinin their logo with a nod toward a “cintamani” pattern. This pattern can be found in many pieces of art and textiles throughout history.  Other projects included a 2017 upcoming exhibition tram poster and table card, and the Getty 2017 calendar of 19th Century Masterpieces.

Design by Mindi LaRose

Design by Mindi LaRose

What did you find rewarding about them?

It was very rewarding to work side by side with designers in the beautiful Getty setting, to receive feedback on my work, watch and learn on the bigger projects they were assigned, and to sit in on meetings with curators, designers and donors. I enjoyed the independence and trust they had in me, as well, after being assigned a project. It was very rewarding to see the projects from beginning to completion, and the steps needed.

Getty Calendar Mindi LaRoseWhat was it like being in a real design studio after being in the classroom for your DCA training?

I love real assignments vs. homework: the excitement and urgency of a real problem that needs to be solved. There is so much value in on-the-job training and in learning the ways of each studio. My skills were put to the test and improved upon, my speed finishing projects increased, and just learning processes associated with printers (and having other resources available) was so valuable. I feel more confident that I can acclimate to real world design situations, after working in the Getty Design Studio.

FINAL Version 2 Connecting Cultures LOGOWhat will you take away from this experience that will serve you in your future design career?

The Getty experience reinforced my love for design and collaboration, and every bit of advice, feedback and hands-on experience will be used to help me move forward in my career.  I am grateful for the experience, and thank you to the Getty staff and the UCLAx DCA program for this opportunity.

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.

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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.

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Thank you, Luis!

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.

 

 

Interview with Photography Student Elena Petrova

 

Elena Petrova

Photo by Kamil Mrouah

We met with Elena for a final portfolio review after she had finished her Photography Certificate. We loved hearing about her life and work, so asked if she would share some thoughts. Read more to hear her advice to new photographers, and her dream assignment!

Tell us about yourself and how you began your photography practice.

I was born in the historical and cultural city of Leningrad in USSR, now called Saint Petersburg in Russia, so I was surrounded by beauty and artistic inspiration since I was a child: ballet performances in Mariinsky Theater, lectures on Ancient China in Hermitage, photo exhibitions in galleries, theatrical plays, late night summer walks when the sky is still bright…I was always interested in the arts, especially painting, writing, and photography. I remember that I had a camera before that I took with me everywhere. Later I studied journalism in Saint Petersburg State University where not only we learned about writing, but also about how to take photos and develop our film in the dark room.

In 2009 I traveled to Los Angeles and later realized that I’d love to stay here and keep enjoying my life by the ocean and where everyday is full of sunshine. I thought about what could I do here, and photography came to my mind as I really love that art form and communicating with people through it. I found the UCLA Extension Program and it sounded really interesting. That’s how my professional photography practice began. I met many talented and inspiring people at UCLA Extension among my classmates and teachers. I started to study photography in 2013 and there are still many things I need to learn and practice. It’s great to do what you love.

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For someone who is new to photography, what should they know about getting started?

Since I feel pretty new in this industry myself, I’d love to wish everyone and myself to be persistent and believe in yourself, be a better photographer than you were yesterday, keep improving your technique, get out of your comfort zone and explore things that you never thought you might like, smile more, be the light and then every door will be opened.

Know your camera and learn more about lighting. Educate yourself. Watch good movies, read good books, and look at classic paintings. Look at works of other photographers; the masters of back and white days and current notable photographers. That way, you will have a better taste and understand being a photographer.

What was your favorite UCLA Extension class and why.

I really enjoyed every class from Photography 1, taught by George Simian, to the amazing portraiture classes and mentorship taught by the incredible Michael Powers, to Portfolio Workshop with David Daigle and super informative event photography class with Jenna Schoenefeld. My favorite class was the mentorship class. Michael Powers is a very artistic and skilled photographer and in his studio in Pasadena he taught me many things about lighting, using strobes, vision, and shared interesting information on photography books and websites. I have to mention the Event Photography class too, which was the last class I took. It really gave me an understanding of event photography and beyond, and inspired me to start shooting events. I always liked the photojournalism style, and now I’m developing myself as an event photographer with a journalistic approach, focusing on candid moments.

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What would be your dream job in photography?

I really like the amazing Russian actress and director, Renata Litvinova. She is very inspiring. I literally had a dream where she asked me “why you don’t take pictures of me?!” That probably would be my dream job. Also, I would love to meet photographer Paolo Roversi and work with him on a fashion assignment for the W Magazine.

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What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on my personal project, “Viva La Vita,” about seniors 85 years and older who are still full of life — they travel, work, have hobbies, very active, and enjoys themselves. I shoot it with my grandpa’s old medium format film camera, which gives a special feeling and energy to the images. Also, I just launched my event photography business called Happy Vibes Only (www.happyvibesonly.com), where I shoot small parties to big weddings.

Last year one of my portrait photos won an award in Popular Photography Magazine for “Best Shot” 2014. The photo will be published in a book called “Manual for Portrait Photographers” in January of 2016. Also, recently two of my photos were nominated in ‘Fashion’ and one in the ‘People’ category for the 10th Annual Black and White Spider Awards contest (2015) out of  “7,686 entries received from 74 countries.” The Nominees Issue will be released in January 2016.

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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!

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