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Interview with recent DCA grad Elizabeth Melnitzky

Elizabeth Melnitzky

Big thanks to recent DCA graduate Elizabeth Melnitzky, who shares her thoughts on the DCA program and some of her outstanding projects below:

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I grew up loving art and enjoyed going to museums with my dad who worked as a painting conservator. I studied Art History in college and contextualized how artists effected change in society; I also gained a visual reference library that is crucial in my design work. After working in Public Relations in New York for a few years, I consistently saw the need for good design that could contribute to better communication and results.

I absorbed everything possible about the design industry but felt I needed to gain a fundamental skill set to break into the industry. I moved to Los Angeles for a bit of freedom, space and light to study design after falling in love with the landscape: the vintage signs, the bright colors, and what felt to me like an abundance of nature after living in New York. The location along with the ability to work while learning new skills attracted me to the DCA program. To bring things full circle, learning about Design History at the DCA program brought new life to my art history background, designers were behind so many of the technical and cultural advances that made many of the great art movements possible.

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?

As a designer, I embrace the opportunity to work across multiple industries, mediums and platforms. The most important element in my dream job is being part of a team that uses design as a tool for a change and helps clients tell their story to make a positive impact. In the current climate, it is no longer acceptable or financially effective to ignore issues of sustainability. My dream design job would involve developing identities and products for brands and communities that are working towards a better and more efficient way of doing things. I’m attracted to companies that are looking to disrupt industries and agencies that are providing the creative work to help achieve their goals. I want to work closely with other designers and team members who are using analytics, goals, and strategies to define how their designs will help solve a problem.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

In 5 years I’d love to be working as a designer at an agency that is using their wide reach to effect tangible change in the world, or in-house at a company that is solving issues that will determine the course of the next generation. I want to have measured successes in building brands and helping communities through design and be surrounded by team members that are as passionate about effecting change as I am. I want to have built on all of the skills I’ve gained at the UCLA program and to never remain stagnate in my pursuit of good design.

What were your favorite DCA courses and why?

The wide array of course offerings was another element that drew me to the DCA program. While picking up the basic tools of the trade, Adobe Creative Suite, Photography, Drawing for Communication I loved the opportunity to focus on niche areas of expertise throughout this program. Learning the fundamentals of UX thinking and design along with practical skills such as HTML and Java allow me to better understand the channels a consumer will connect with my graphics on. Having the ability to communicate with other designers in this area on projects is invaluable and the teachers at the UCLA made complex subject more approachable.

Congrats, Elizabeth!

Final projects – Design II: Collateral Communication

Thank you to Henry Mateo and the students of his winter 2018 quarter Design II: Collateral Communication course for sharing their final project presentations! In this advanced course, students create a brand “from soup to nuts” including concept, target audience, brand drivers, logo, letterhead, packaging, and any other collateral the student imagines.

Check out the gallery below:

 

Congrats to these students on some amazing final projects!

Design IV Student Project Spotlight: Aviva Family and Children’s Services

We’re highlight three of the outstanding group projects created by students of John Beach’s fall Design IV: Advanced Design Practice course.

Next up: Aviva Family and Children’s Services by Jonas Lin, Yuling Liang, Flora Zhuang.

First John gives us an overview of the course:

Students get the opportunity to choose a real life non-profit organization to rebrand, refresh and reorganize the public’s perception of its value. We start with branding, and through web presence, social media and virtually any other method such as (but not limited to) pop up events, exhibitions, advertising, curated exhibitions (all of which the teams design), we look at ways to build awareness, extend and develop funding possibilities, or change social perceptions. The teams leave with an extraordinary brand/look book for their portfolios that chronicles the process.

Check out the students’ work below:

Great work, team!

Design IV Student Project Spotlight: Days For Girls

We’re highlight three of the outstanding group projects created by students of John Beach’s fall Design IV: Advanced Design Practice course.

Next up: Days for Girls by Carla Pera and Man Ting Kong.

First John gives us an overview of the course:

Students get the opportunity to choose a real life non-profit organization to rebrand, refresh and reorganize the public’s perception of its value. We start with branding, and through web presence, social media and virtually any other method such as (but not limited to) pop up events, exhibitions, advertising, curated exhibitions (all of which the teams design), we look at ways to build awareness, extend and develop funding possibilities, or change social perceptions. The teams leave with an extraordinary brand/look book for their portfolios that chronicles the process.

Check out the students’ work below:

Excellent work, Carla Pera and Man Ting Kong!

Design IV Student Project Spotlight: LA Makerspace

It’s our pleasure to highlight some of the outstanding group projects created by students of John Beach’s fall Design IV: Advanced Design Practice course!

First John gives us an overview of the course:

Students get the opportunity to choose a real life non-profit organization to rebrand, refresh and reorganize the public’s perception of its value. We start with branding, and through web presence, social media and virtually any other method such as (but not limited to) pop up events, exhibitions, advertising, curated exhibitions (all of which the teams design), we look at ways to build awareness, extend and develop funding possibilities, or change social perceptions. The teams leave with an extraordinary brand/look book for their portfolios that chronicles the process.

We begin with the team comprised of Shadalene Adamos and Natalie Mizrahi. The name of the non-profit organization the group rebranded is LA Makerspace:

Excellent work, Shadalene and Natalie!

Interview with recent DCA graduate Jonas Lin

Congrats to designer Jonas Lin, who recently completed the DCA program! He shares more about his experiences here:

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

It is my belief that design is one of the fastest and most direct forms of communication. A good design can even break the boundaries of nationality and language. In my past experience with clients, when I come up with a design that successfully communicates their message to their target audience, I get a sense of utmost fulfillment, and this fulfillment is what drives my passion for design.

I had already been working in the design industry for several years before coming to America, and my designs were heavily influenced by Asian philosophy and aesthetics. But as time passed, I wanted to explore and experience with Western design elements, so I came to the US to learn more about this area that I am unfamiliar with. Because LA is known for its diverse cultural environment, and because UCLA Extension offers a variety of courses as well as instructors with real-world experience, I chose the DCA program to enrich my design skills.

What were your favorite courses and why?

Actually, I enjoyed a lot of the courses. When you pretend that each and every assignment is a real case, you will naturally find the fun in the courses (of course, this also comes with more pressure). I did learn the most from the courses that involves typography, for example, Typography and Publication Design, and the reason is simple: that was the field I was most unfamiliar with, and was the most challenging for me as a designer who mainly worked with Chinese characters and not Roman letters. The relationship between individual letters, between words, and even between lines and paragraphs all play an important role in determining the final look of the design piece, and a small change in these relationships can result in drastic differences in the outcome. Furthermore, you also need to understand the historical backgrounds and characteristics of the different types in order to legitimize your design. That is why I find typography so interesting.

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?

To be honest, I don’t have an answer to this question. Or more precisely, I am open to all possibilities. I am the type of person who likes to compete with myself, and for every task that I take on, I like to push my own limits and think outside the box. I dislike being told that there’s something I can’t do, and when people ask what kind of jobs I’m good at, I often tell them “I don’t know,” because I like a lot of things and I can do a decent job no matter what I do. I certainly enjoy being a problem-solver, and being a designer, one is constantly solving problems with branding, merchandising, packaging, and marketing. If the phone rang right now, I would probably just ask, “What is the case that we need to work on?”

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

My goal is to become a creative director. I want to have the opportunity to interact directly with clients, to understand the story behind their brands, and to solve client’s problems using the design process while focusing on the big picture. I’ve always liked team work, and it is an exciting thing to be able to assign roles in a team based on each team member’s skill set in order to complete a project. This means that I will need to take on the role of a navigator, as opposed to being a designer that sits in front of the computer all day making graphics look perfect.

I know that I still have a lot of weaknesses to overcome, but I believe some of these weaknesses can be transformed into advantages. Being a foreigner, I expect myself to one day break the cultural boundaries of design, as this may be where the demand is in the global market we are in.

 

Congrats, Jonas!

Interview with DCA grad Natalia Leal Delgado

Designer, photographer, and artist extraordinaire Natalia Leal Delgado tells us about her experience in the DCA program:

Tell us about how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I was thinking for a while about expanding my education, and after traveling to visit my cousin in LA for the first time I decided that I wanted to come back. Also I have a background in photography and was messing a lot with creating other types of Art with it, especially mixed media. So I came across UCLA Extension and thought that the Design Communication Arts would give me the tools to expand in the right path. It would give me not only the artistic tools that I was looking for but also help me convey the message that I was trying to communicate. I have always been a fan a good design. And some people would tell you that design and art are two different things but the truth is that it’s everything part of the same. Music, design, photography, and classical arts all intertwine in the contemporary world to create what we know today as ART.

What were your favorite courses and why?

I had the opportunity to take some great courses in the program and meet great people, teachers, and mentors. I would say that my favorites in to the program were Color Methodologies, because it made me think about color in a complete different way, InDesign because its a great tool, also I took it with Michelle Constantine who is an amazing instructor and mentor. She helped not only with how to use the tool but with how you can adapted to whatever it is that you want to create also how to translate what you create in the program to something that becomes a real object. And Typography, because even I could never be the person to tell you what typefaces you are using or know everything about them. Learning to be aware of how the element of typography can change a piece or something that you present and how it can play with peoples perceptions, and even relates to feelings or culture, it’s really interesting to me and pretty much blew my mind.

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?

It would be a big cultural institution or museum in a major city to design the layout and the experience on a surreal exhibition. Or even better, to make a collaboration with other great artists to bring experiences to people, like David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption. Or it could also be the people from Polaroid Originals, which is relaunching the whole Polaroid world so that way I could combine my design and photography skills in one job, and go to Berlin which also is one of my life long dreams.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

This one is a really hard one, being an international student is complicated to know exactly where your life is going and project your life 5 years into the future. There are rules and circumstances that don’t apply to regular people or students. Also being from Venezuela, which isn’t in its most stable time… I love my country so not being able to know what situation it’s going to be in makes it hard to project your own life. But ideally I would have a job that allows me to travel, independently of where I’m settled. I would have my own artist’s studio to work in and I would be getting calls from different cultural institutions to design for spaces, experiences and show my art still combining new and old technologies, and techniques to create new, exciting and compelling art.

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