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Course Spotlight: Design IV: Advanced Design Practice with John Beach

Raw Sugar Hand WashesIn this capstone course, DCA students get a chance to pull everything they’ve learned together to create collaborative design work, very similar to what they will soon experience in the “real world.” Outstanding Instructor award-winner John Beach shares more about it:

What brought you to this field?
In hind sight, after over 25 years in the field, I have discovered there were many things that brought me to the Graphic Design world. Whether it’s problem solving, building a brand for a client, helping someone realize their dreams, or just making something beautiful with image and typography, I get a huge amount of enjoyment doing what I do. I guess it all boils down to passion. Graphic design is a wonderful fusion of story telling and communication with problem solving. Under the best of circumstances, it’s always something new. I never get bored.

bodum_shotTell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.
This sounds a bit cliché, but I try and find reward in all of my projects. A successful project to me is one where I have accomplished something I have never done before. Is it a growing experience? For instance, when Starbucks approached me to design a French Press for Bodum, I had never done anything like that before. The entire process was a learning experience that developed into a great product for both clients (Starbucks and Bodum), and I personally discovered what it takes to source materials, work with metals, and work within strict corporate guidelines, but still create within my own creative process. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I also get a great deal of pleasure discovering ways to make design for the  world around us. When I was starting out, I did a huge amount of nonprofit work. It may not be the best paying sector of the design world, but it is rewarding. Even today, one of my on-going projects is a line of body care products available in Target. The client has built in a feature that gives back to the community. It’s basically called “Buy a Bar, Give a Bar”. For every product they sell from their line, they donate a bar to a family in need. It’s a small gesture, but one that makes you love your job even more.

Why is your course, Design IV: Advanced Design Practice, important for my Design education?
This course is important for a couple of reasons. First of all, we will structure the course to resemble as much as possible a “real world” experience, both as a studio environment, and as you relate to the client. We will work as small groups on problem solving for a real organization in need of “rebranding”. This doesn’t mean just building a new logo, but in fact, looking at an organization (of your choice) and finding a way to build equity in that organization. Does that involve fund raising? Building brand awareness? Probably both, but as we will see, that might just be the tip of the ice burg. Again, problem solving and story telling join together to create a unique experience through the principles of design.

Do you have a sample assignment?Non Profit
Throughout the quarter, each team will be working with the same organization of their choice. Starting with a brand assessment, then building a creative brief and mission statement that describes their goals (as an on-going process), we will look to see how well each team is utilizing their design skills to rebuild the mission of their organization. You will spend the semester assessing and implementing change through real life contact. You will also be building a brand book/style guide for presentation on how to best solve these issues within your organization.

Thanks, John!

Enroll in Design IV: Advanced Design Practice today!

Interview with DCA Graduate Arunima Dhar

What brought you to the DCA program?

Since my childhood I was a very creative cat. I am a kind of person who would like to mess around with little stuffs like colors, paints, glue, etc, and create something new and unique out of it.  I started learning to sketch at a very young age and I kept digging deeper day by day. When I grew up I realized its time for me to go digital and I should create good designs for my living. I love creativity and that’s how I got into this field. I did a post graduation degree in graphic design back in my home country, India. I always wanted to study in an accredited university in the US. DCA program is not where you learn only the tools of graphic design but its a hand on practical training which I really wanted to experience. It helps to think strategically and prepare yourself for a competitive market. That brought me here.

What were your favorite courses and why?f04f3937560483.576f41c6acd05

My favorite courses were Drawing for communication, Design 2, Publication Design and Advanced Typography.I still do remember how Henry used to make us draw a straight line so many times in Drawing for communication class. I love to draw and I enjoyed the class since day 1. Design 2 is  a great course and everyone should take it. After all your hard-work for 12 weeks, the outcome is worth it. You get your own creative freedom and you create something where your both strength and weakness blends. I learned so much in advanced type course that I became interested towards print design I thank my instructor Anya, all the projects she gave us were very interesting I kept improving.

As a designer, what does a potential project need to have for you to feel passionate about it?

I would say a potential project has to be very creative, should have good content, strong ideas and concepts. However I feel its more fun to work on project that you are not aware of. Where there is no idea how to begin or end but you push yourself hard enough to use your strongest skills to create something successfully which you have never done before.

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?


My dream job would be to work as a magazine designer at a renowned fashion magazine company. Responsible for creating everything when it comes to designing a beautiful magazine.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working as a digital graphic designer at a hi end fashion jewelry company.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

I see myself as a senior designer with a lot of experience leading my own team and mentoring aspiring designers.



Interview with DCA graduate Kelly Cobb

In an interview with a Design Communications and Arts graduate Kelly Cobb, she shares with us the skills she attained by taking UCLA Extension courses. Below she shares some of the work that she produced after the certificate program.

What brought you to the DCA program?
I was working at UCLA in event planning and marketing and when my job took on the sudden responsibility of designing brochures and flyers for events which soon became the favorite part of my day. I looked into many continuing education graphic design programs but quickly found that UCLA Extension was one of the best. It had knowledgeable teachers who are currently working in the industry and had classes that fit my work schedule.

What were your favorite courses and why?Kelly.C_3

I loved most of the courses at UCLA Extension but my favorites were Packaging Design, Branding, and Photoshop. I think I got the most out of these classes because they were the most challenging. All of the material was really packed in over the 12 week period and was fun to challenge myself to stay creative and create inspiring projects on top of just merely completing the assignments. I felt like that really prepared me for a real agency setting because there is always going to be a deadline and you need to keep the creative juices flowing.


As a designer, what does a potential project need to have for you to feel passionate about it?df5a1134816821.56e2b8507eddd

For me there needs to be more of a “why” than a “what”. Anyone can create a product and go out and try to sell it but for someone who has passion and drive behind their product/project and truly try to create a community is something that I’m really drawn to and helps get me motivated to be apart of it.


How have the UCLA Extension classes helped improve your work, and or expanded your professional development in the field?

Not only did I learn an immense amount of technical and software skills, I learned the concept of design thinking. I definitely see the progression I made from my first academic quarter to my last just because I started to incorporate the lessons that I was learning in class. Additionally, I not only made great connections with many classmates but also with my teachers, some of whom I still stay in touch with.

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’m incredibly lucky and this has already happened. I came home to Colorado for an internship at Interact, a packaging and branding design agency in Boulder, CO, and I was offered a job at the end of my internship! I love what I do and I wake up excited to go to work. I have loved diving into the world of package design because it is so complex and I am learning new things every single day.

What are you working on right now?


Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

I would love to be in a Senior Designer role in 5 years. I want to try to keep my hands on the projects as long as possible before moving up to a Creative Director position later in the future.

Interview with DCA Grad Katrina Gem Paray

In an interview with a DCA certificate graduate, Katrina Gem Paray shares with us her experience in taking UCLA Extension courses.

What brought you to the DCA program?

I started designing graphics around the 5th grade for fun and continued on and off for several years. It wasn’t until I graduated from college (I took up hospitality Kristina.G_01management) and after designing and selling stationery that I started getting serious about doing graphic design as a career. I wanted to get formal education on graphic design but didn’t want to do a 4-year program. My best friend happened to be enrolled in UCLA Extension around that time and suggested checking to see if there’s an art program – that’s when I learned about the DCA program.

What were your favorite courses and why?

My favorite classes were Packaging Design with John Beach and Design 2 with Henry Mateo. Both were challenging and worked with branding and collateral which is ultimately what I want to get into. 

Kristina.G_01editAs a designer, what does a potential project need to have for you to feel passionate about it?Kristina.G_MassKara

For me, every project have their own challenges, and some that you may not necessarily be into at first can become something fun/interesting down the road. I’d say that anything new and/or has an inspiring story with passionate people behind them is always extra motivating and exciting.




How have the UCLA Extension classes helped improve your work, and or expanded your professional development in the field?

They definitely gave me a better understanding in how and why we choose design elements to successfully communicate visually. The projects I did for the classes, particularly Packaging and Design 2, gave me my best portfolio pieces and helped prepare me for my current job.Krstina.G_11x17blendgreenteabiger

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently freelancing in New York doing packaging work for a healthy food brand.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years? 

Definitely still designing with a whole bunch of work under my belt as well as having more responsibility. I’d like to have a side business, too.





Interview with UX Student Janelle Gatchalian

In an interview with a UX student named Janelle she shared with us about her experience taking UX classes through UCLA Extensions, and her story board planning for a mobile project specifically targeted to a persona.

What was your favorite UCLA Extension class and why?

I’ve only taken two courses at UCLA Extension. Both were about UX–one with Thomas Dillmann and one with Julia Morton. I enjoyed both!

What would be your dream job?

I’ve been thinking a lot about creating immersive reading experiences lately, so a job (like the one I have now) that would let me do that is a dream. There were days when being privy to the author’s world meant curling up to a book or a newspaper in solitude, perhaps under the covers in darkness. Now that we have adopted our mobile phones as quick and superhuman sources of information, our reading experiences have already become much more immersive. Audio, video, and three-dimensional works are now part of our books. Recent discoveries in iris recognition, artificial intelligence, adaptive learning, and animations are also enhancing our ability to take in what we read. So I’m excited about the possibilities of smart reading powered by machines.

What are you working on right now?

One of our projects at the Getty is an ebook mobile app that features musical and performance scores in our collection. These artworks are multi-dimensional and come in audio, video, and 3D formats. The scores require scholarly expertise to understand, which puts the Getty in a position to publish interpretive content about them. For example, a musical score is going to come alive with a tap with a user seeing it annotated and hearing audio playback at the same time. That’s pretty superhuman! I worked on this project while in Julia Morton’s UX II: Mobile First class.

Here is some sample course work:


UX adventures with student Aneesha Bharadwaj

We’re thrilled to have launched our new User Experience certificate! In honor of this momentous occasion, DCA and UX student Aneesha Bharadwaj shares some thoughts on her UX education here at UCLAx and images of her projects:

Aneesha with her sensing project, Carpe Energia

Aneesha with her sensing project, Carpe Energia

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

I have always been interested and curious about what makes good design. Questions like who is the user? what does he/ she like? why am I designing this product for them? why will they use my product? what will they be feeling and experiencing when they will use my product? These are important things I keep in mind and hope to answer with each of my designs.

Having my background in product design and design strategy it was really challenging to create design that engages the user and keeps him/her excited. My prior work experience in India was to get user research for consumer electronics. Find out why the existing product is failing and how our new design could help solve the problems. Then come back to the table after gathering data and map out user journeys. Thats what got me excited and more interested about User Experience because in the end if your user likes your product and continues using it without complains it is successful.

I was fascinated when I saw the variety of courses being offered at UCLA Extension. I am passionate about creating challenging design that enhances user interactions.

2For someone who is new to UX, what should they know about getting started?

They should have an inquisitive mind. Keep questioning themselves why a product/ service/ design out in the market is successful or unsuccessful and how it could be further improved.

Start with ‘Why’. I found Simon Sinek’s TED talk on how leaders inspire actions, starting with a golden circle really good as it states why should always start with “why” we design what we design.

Not feel hesitant about getting feedback for their design. Either from friends/ colleagues or through simple user feedback/ testing. As its important to have several testings done before your product/ service gets launched.

Being updated about new technology and design trends. I get excited with new innovations and how I can possibly use it in my designs.

What was your favorite UCLA Extension class and why?mom's hut

I have taken lot classes at Extension from Visual to UX to Interaction design. The instructors have been inspiring and motivating me to push my limits. I found design with electronics most fun. Playing with Arduino circuit boards and designing user interactions is the most intriguing. To a UX designer you want to hear from your user/s that your design is purposeful and solves the problem what they previously had.

At the end of the day, I want to combine my prior and new skills towards designing a product/ service that keeps my user/s participative and excited with my design.

What would be your dream job?

My dream job would be designing solutions that have long term impact. Be it digital agencies and design studios where I can keep learning and growing as a designer and focus my skills to enhance better user interactions. I am fascinated by the projects design studios like A Hundred Years work towards.

Great work, Aneesha!

Enroll in the User Experience certificate today!

Interview with photography student Donny DeBruno

Donny pic

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.


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.


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.

DeBruno_Donny_Photo II-1

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.

DeBruno_Donny_Photo II-4

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

DeBruno_Donny_Photo II-5


Interview with photography student Fosion Fernando

Fosion Portrait

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.


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!


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!


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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