Multi-talented DCA graduate Summer Wulff not only has a keen design aesthetic, but also entrepreneurial and branding skills that make her a real standout. As if that weren’t enough, she even plays guitar, piano, and ukulele!
Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.
I’ve truly always been drawn to design and art. As a little girl, I wanted to be an animator and throughout high school and college I had interests in interior design, makeup artistry, and set design. Through the DCA program, however, I’ve been able to focus on and explore my deepest professional passion–graphic design. What initially triggered my desire to sign up for my first class with the DCA program was a behind-the-scenes featurette for one of my favorite films, The Grand Budapest Hotel, that delved into the ins and outs of a graphic designer working on a production. The creativity and attention to detail involved throughout the process and the designer’s pride in the finished product appealed to so many of my interests and I was hooked. I had always wanted to go to school at UCLA, so UCLA Extension seemed like a perfect choice to complete my design program.
What were your favorite courses and why?
Many of the courses in the program had so much to offer, but if I had to pick my top three, they would be Branding and Logos (now Design III) with Shirin Raban, Entertainment Design with Jag, and Designing Experiences with Merritt Price. Branding was a lot of fun, and so helpful in learning and practicing the process of researching and refining my designs. Shirin really encouraged stepping away from the computer screen, starting broad, and working your way down to the best options. Entertainment Design was a great course that pushed my Photoshop skills, forced me to think outside the box, and exposed me to a lot of the elements of how freelance designers work. Designing Experiences was the most work I had ever done in a DCA course, but was also one of the most rewarding courses I took in the program. Merritt pushed all of us to think, design, and execute to the absolute best of our ability. The workload and expectations set the bar for what the professional world of design is like, and that was invaluable.
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’s the early 90’s, and a young Tim Burton is calling me to design the props and graphics for Batman Returns.
Much of your work showcases your notable entrepreneurial skills. Have you always been drawn to these types of projects or is this a skill set you’ve cultivated?
I think this profession forces us to be entrepreneurial. There are so many designers competing with one another, trying to come up with great ideas. So to be successful, it’s important to be creative not only with your designs but also with how they are executed. I have a lot of interests and passions and tend to pursue projects that touch on a few of those interests at once, which I find produces the best results.
Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?
To be perfectly honest, I’m open to a lot of different possibilities and I’m excited to see where I end up in five years. As a biology and psychology major, I never knew I’d be pursuing a design career seven years later, so who knows what the next five years will bring. I just hope to continue challenging myself and
pushing myself creatively.