For many designers, calligraphy might not be the first thought when it comes to building your skill set. But for the last few years, Carrie Imai has been showing students that learning calligraphy can be a valuable skill, applicable to many design projects and goals.
As one student who recently took the class said:
“I had always been curious about calligraphy but never set out to try to learn it on my own. After hearing how calligraphy had been influential to Steve Jobs, I decided to take this Extension course. After only ten weeks of experience, I can say that this class has helped to improve my skills as a designer and artist. The combination of drawing (rendering letterforms) and typography/layout, as well as the exposure to new materials (inks, papers) is an invaluable experience for all designers.”
This Spring, Carrie will be teaching the Roman Majuscules alphabet. A few examples are included below. For those in the DCA certificate program, the class can be used as an elective.
It’s that time again! Time for “It’s Your Show,” our annual exhibition of student work from the areas of design, fine art and photography. This is a great event that brings together students of all disciplines to share their ideas and show the exciting variety of work created in our courses.
Please read the submission guidelines below carefully. It’s important to properly label your e-mail entries, and remember that it’s limited to three entries per student.
Midnight on Sunday, April 14
Friday, May 3rd, 6:30 – 8:30pm
1010 Westwood Center Gallery, 4th floor
Exhibition runs through May 30th
Open to all original work created in a UCLA Extension Studio Arts, Photography or Design Communication Arts course during the past two years. All genres, formats, and media are eligible. Three submissions maximum per student.
Digital submissions only.
Email design work to email@example.com.
Email photography and fine art work to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Files should be .pdf or .jpeg images no larger than 1MB and named in the format described below. Include your name and phone number in the body of the email.
Digital File Label:
All entrants will be emailed on or before April 19 regarding their submission(s). Students will be asked to bring their original artwork to 1010 Westwood Boulevard in advance of the show and be required to sign a release of liability at that time.
Special recognition will be given by a jury of Los Angeles artists to projects displaying excellence in specific elements of art and design.
In this course, you will discover creative approaches to problem solving while developing your own visual language using photocopies, drawing, found art, photography, matte and gel mediums, and gesso. Transfer techniques and digital output also are covered. You complete 3 portfolio pieces that are critiqued on clarity of communication and aesthetics.
As a former student put it, this course helps with conceptualization skills because it’s not focused on learning one particular technique, rather on taking an idea and tranlating it. And it’s fun.
We knew artist Sophia Allison would be a great fit for our students when she showed us the lucha libre costumes she had sewn from a variety of household and commercial products. She’ll bring that creativity, enthusiasm and unique vision to her class Experiments in Drawing this summer.
We talked to Sophia about her influences, her work, and her advice for the would-be artists out there.
Can you describe your current practice? What projects are you working on or hoping to start soon?
For the past few years, I have been creating work that has to do with the physical and emotional landscape in which I was raised-specifically, the western North Carolina area. I work in a variety of media including sewing, paper-cut installations, cardboard/recycled materials and collage. Much of the work has many small components that make up a larger whole-one could say that there’s a bit of an ocd quality in all of my projects.
One of my on-going preoccupations has been a series of sewn landscape vignettes that reference specific locations on and around my family’s property in Western NC. Placing a printed digital image on fabric, I repetitively sew through the paper, forcing it into the fibers of the fabric, destroying the paper and recreating the image with thread on the opposite side of the material. The effect is two-fold: on one side, the landscape is clearly articulated; on the other, the paper image is obliterated leaving loose threads and uneven textures. The image is simultaneously destroyed and built up; it is recognized as a snapshot of a specific location and at the same time, it becomes fragmented and abstracted like a fading memory. These works are displayed so that both the front and back sides are visible.
Additionally, I have been creating a series of sculptures that are inspired by the Blue Ridge mountains. I cut upseveral hundred pieces of cardboard into rough, small rectangles and glue these together using foam core as a base between each section. The overall effect is an abstracted shape with undulating ridges like a mountain. I leave the cardboard unpainted; the variations in tone and color of the cardboard elevate the material beyond its humble, fragile quality. The works appear to be quite heavy and voluminous when in fact they are hollow and light-weight.
Who are some artists that you admire and how have they influenced your work?
I am drawn to artists that can work fluidly across a variety of media but turn the traditional on its head, like within the work of Pae White or Tim Hawkinson; I am always amazed at how Tim can take almost anything-plastic bags, cardboard, old tubes (to name a few items) and create incredibly elaborate, conceptual works that transcend the sum of their parts. As a bonus, his work is a big draw to people who don’t necessarily like art-I love that! I am a big fan of materials and am attracted to artists’ works that are visually stunning but then have a lot of layers to dig through-work that continues to reveal itself; these works act as a one-two punch–first to your eyes and then to your brain. An artist I recently became familiar with- Elizabeth Higgins O’Connor- uses materials like old sheets, blankets, scrap wood, thread and cut-up furniture to create large assemblage sculptures of strange animal-doll hybrids. I am also influenced by artists who use craft-aesthetics within their works such as Mark Newport. His embroidered comic book covers are beautiful as are his knit super hero costumes.
When teaching art, do you think there are unique experiences to be had in continuing education vs. undergrad or graduate school?
Oh, definitely! Continuing education is wonderful because, in my experience, most folks are coming to class with a very open perspective on things as well as a bit of maturity-in other words, they know themselves well and are ready to try anything and be receptive to new ideas and art experiences. Often times, some of these folks have not had much formal training in art-making or they are getting back into it after taking a break from it – which makes the class (and teaching it) all the more exciting. I’ve found that some of my best students came to my class as “non-art” people or not art majors; they turned out to be the ones that were most adventurous with class projects and had fresh ideas. Undergrad is usually a time for a person to start finding their academic footing and interests in what they want to do professionally-try a bit of everything and see what is appealing. Also, the typical undergrad is usually younger so they don’t necessarily have the same world experiences that many continuing education students have. In graduate school, students are honing in on a specific focus/thesis, so there’s not as much time for experimentation.
What do you hope students walk away from your class with?
I hope students will come away with an enthusiasm for drawing (and art-making in general) and a willingness to be open to new ways of thinking about art and creating work. Drawing has taken on a new life in the past few decades with more non-traditional media and concepts being explored and utilized but many underlying foundation principles still apply. Also, I hope students will learn to trust themselves in their art-making decisions and take chances that they may not have otherwise. Hopefully they’ll see that it’s perfectly OK to take a risk and fail, as long as they learned something from it and can apply this new information to their next art-making experience. One of my teaching goals is to provide students with technical and conceptual tools that they can have at-the-ready—to broaden their “art-toolbox” so they have more choices and approaches to utilize as they create work.
What advice would you have for people who are thinking about pursuing art as a serious hobby or profession?
Make art, make art and then make some more. I think there’s this false notion that in order to do art, one needs to be “gifted” or have a knack for it. What it takes is A LOT of hard work, time and a real love and true dedication to it. If you don’t like and enjoy what you are doing, how will others? There are many ways to pursue art as a profession, but it does require lots of time in the studio-time spent creating and thinking about the work one is making. It’s important too to have people see and talk to you about what you’re doing and not be too isolated in one’s studio practice; as an artist, it’s easy to work in a bubble and forget the world, but having people take a look at your work is a necessity.
Also, I think it’s very important to look at art in the flesh. Looking at images on-line and in books is great, but they aren’t substitutes for seeing art in person. It’s an entirely different experience to spend time with a work of art right in front of your nose and immerse yourself in it, trying to understand it and what the artist was doing/thinking when he made the piece. With a great work of art, this can be an almost spiritual experience!
This summer we’re happy to welcome new instructor Nick Brown. He’ll be teaching Introduction to 2D Materials and Techniques, a great class if you don’t have a background in fine art and are looking to get some helpful fundamental skills in a variety of media. Nick attended School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has had his work shown at The Drawing Center, NY; P.S. 122, NY; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; and The Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL.
By way of introduction, I asked Nick to share some thoughts about art school, his current work, and what he hopes students will accomplish in his class.
Can you describe your current practice? What projects are you working on or hoping to start soon?
Currently, I am working on a series of large-scale oil paintings based on stone chimneys in the snow. They are remnants of a high mountain community. I also have an ongoing series of red pastel drawings. These are predicated on personal imagery and feel dreamlike and foreboding.
Are there other artists who have influenced your style and interests?
There are many artists who have influenced me over the years. The ones I mostly return to worked in the middle to late 1800’s. They are often categorized as Romanticist and Symbolist artists. James Ensor and Gustave Moreau are big favorites. Goya doesn’t fit the former description but is also amazing. Haiku poetry is another source I enjoy especially for its economy and directness. Music that is driven by tone and atmosphere is also very important to me. I’ve reached a point now though where I no longer think of other artists as I work. The knowledge drawn from their work informs subconsciously I think.
You have an MFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. What was the art school experience like for you?
Attending SAIC was great. I actually went twice, for undergrad and grad. I was exposed to so many ideas and ways of working. That combined with a dedicated period of time in which to concentrate solely on art was very important. I think it heightens your technical skills, deepens your thinking and the whole process of learning becomes expedited. I would encourage any student to follow that path. Hopefully we learn our entire lives. Why not be immersed in a pursuit with little distraction.
How are you planning to approach teaching your summer class. Do you think there are unique experiences to be had in continuing education vs. undergrad or graduate school?
The summer course will be structured with demonstrations and critiques. There will be quite a bit of working time in class. The environment should be very sociable with dialog between the students as well as with me. I look forward to a lot of discussion. Continuing education is unique in that many students work full time. They have specifically chosen a particular class rather than say one that just fulfills a requirement like an undergrad student might. I think this engenders an amount of intensity and focus. People are really seeking this knowledge out.
What do you hope students walk away from your class with?
I want students to have the confidence to make work on their own and enjoy the process of discovery inherently involved in making art.
The Visual Arts program offers a range of courses for adult students who want to improve their artistic skills, pursue a hobby, or just have fun in the classroom! Click here to view our spring course offerings in studio arts, art history and photography. Most courses meet in the evening or on weekends, and many are appropriate for students with no previous background in the arts. This spring we’ll be offering courses in Collage and Assemblage, Ikebana, Caravaggio, Photographic Portraiture, and more. Courses are open enrollment, so there is no lengthy application process; students can enroll in any courses that they feel suits their experience level and interests.
Questions? E-mail email@example.com or call (310) 206-1422.
If you’re dropping by this blog but are not familiar with who we are or what we do, here’s a little introduction.
UCLA Extension is the continuing education arm of UCLA. Here in the visual arts program, we offer open enrollment courses in fine art (including drawing, painting, mixed media, etc), art history, and photography. That means that anyone can enroll – you don’t have to be a UCLA student, and there’s no formal application process to go through. We program our own classes, separately from campus (although we do offer courses that carry UC transfer credit), and our instructors are working professionals in their fields.
Most of our courses are offered on weekday evenings, or on weekends, and our students are largly working professionals who have a passion for the arts and want to keep their practice active, or just learn more about figuration, Photoshop, or the masters of the Renaissance.
You can see samples of our students’ work on this blog, and a few instructor images included below. Click here to see what we’re offering this quarter. There are courses appropriate for all experience levels, and we provide a classroom environment that is supportive yet challenging.
Questions about the program? Call (310) 206-1422 to speak with an advisor.
“I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.”
– Steve Jobs, on calligraphy
There are many reasons we think it’s important to offer calligraphy here at UCLA Extension, but one of them is its vital connection to design. A strong understanding of hand-letting and typography are a powerful tool for any designer, and the application of those skills can translate into print pieces, advertising, logos, or even, in the case of Jobs, computer design (many consider Macs the first computers to employ sucessful typography).
Carrie Imai has been leading the class successfully for several quarters, and teaches a new alphabet during each session. This spring she will offer the Italic alphabet (characterized by elegant, fluid letterforms). We encourage design students to consider this elective option, as well as anyone interested in gaining skill and learning more about handlettering.
Some samples of Carrie’s work are below. To enroll in this winter’s class, click here.
Okay, so it’s not free like your local public library, but for $20 you can have library privileges at UCLA. You have to present proof of current enrollment (every quarter) and a photo ID at either Young Research Library or Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library to get a library card. This could be well worth it when you’re enrolled in say, Design History and Context.
Also, in terms of resources, if you haven’t spent a lot of time browsing the back pages of the UCLA Extension catalog (General Information), may I suggest you do so. It’s a good orientation into what resources are available and how to go about certain administrative tasks. It’s a reference I use often!