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Course Spotlight: Functional Problem Solving in Package Design


Award-winning instructor Henry Mateo has created a new elective this quarter: Functional Problem Solving in Package Design. Here he tells us a bit more:

Why is this course important for my design education?
This course will focus on pushing all your design skills (conceptual thinking, digital skills, production skills, etc…) beyond your current limits. Your projects will potentially be highlights of your portfolio.

What will I take away from this course?
You’ll understand real world processes that will help you be a well-rounded designer, not only in the packaging realm, but in several other design disciplines as well.

Do you have a sample exercise/assignment?
Yes, my Morpha project highlights portions of the process book.

Internship: Clever Creative, Inc.

DCA alumna Francesca Fuges has let us know the design firm she works for is looking for a summer intern. Here are the details:

The Company
Clever Creative, Inc., is a full service creative design agency located in the heart of Venice, California. Our strategic and savvy design team understands the importance of listening to a brand and finding its visual “voice”. Through Brand Identity, Packaging Design, Print Advertising and Promotional/Direct Mail solutions, Clever Creative focuses on how to leverage a brands connection to its audience and provide critical momentum in the fast-paced visual world we experience brands within.

Clever Creative believes….
…in work that is smart, fresh and focused.
…in design solutions that embrace all 5 senses to build human connection.
…in listening to our clients and leaving our egos at the door.
Clever is, as Clever does.

Our clients include Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, The Hub, T-fal, Mattel, Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, Bio Ionic

Gas and Stipend for lunch plus class credit if applicable; Prefer minimum of 2 days a week 9:30-5pm.

Ability in Illustrator, Photoshop, preferably InDesign and Power Point.

To Apply
Contact Francesca Fuges at francesca@clevercreative.net.

Who Are We – Design Communication Arts

Our 1010 Westwood Blvd. facility where DCA courses are held. Our courses are also offered worldwide online.

Design Communication Arts at UCLA Extension comprises three certificate programs: a 16-course core program to prepare you for a transition to a meaningful career in graphic design, and two advanced programs for those who already have design portfolios and want to continue developing their skills: Advanced Print and Graphic Communication and Advanced Web and Interactive Design.

With us, you will not only learn the tools of design, but also how to think strategically and position yourself in a competitive market. While knowing and understanding production is an integral part of design, your unique perspective and critical thinking skills offer even greater value to the process. That’s why we emphasize conceptualizing the idea, not just decorating the product.

If you pay attention and challenge yourself, you will leave the program with confidence in your creative and practical skills, and with a portfolio that reflects your unique lens on the world.

To get a sense of what our students have accomplished, please peruse the “Some Graduates” links at right, as well as the selected sample work 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. All three certificate programs may also be completed online.

Questions about the program? Call (310) 206-1422 to speak with an advisor.

DCA graduate Molly Suber Thorpe and softfirm studios 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winning designs, AIGA ReDesign Awards:




Sample work of DCA graduate Eric Gardner in his new position as Design Associate with the Hammer Museum:


Award-winning pieces by DCA graduate Stacy Kimmel:

Marc Mertens, SESO & TED-Ed

Yesterday, we were excited to learn of the launch of TED’s new educational platform, TED-Ed.  Better still, Seso, the experience design firm founded by UCLA Extension instructor Marc Mertens, was instrumental in bringing this dynamic project to fruition. Marc will share his expertise in our upcoming summer course; User Experience Design.

The TED-Ed platform provides educators access to TED’s growing library of carefully curated educational videos, and the ability to build unique lessons around ideas.  These lessons can then be tracked through unique URLs, allowing educators to individually measure the efficacy of their teaching.  The TED-Ed site is an engaging new component in the educator’s tool box, and represents a forward thinking development in the continually evolving world of education.

TED-Ed has already garnered glowing praise from The Washington Post, The Atlantic, GOOD, and The Chronicle of Higher Education among others.  The Atlantic calls the new platform “Big” and maybe even “revolutionary.”  While The Washington Post remarks that TED-Ed uses “sophisticated animation, professional editing and high-quality production values to produce online lessons that are hard to forget.”

Check out this feedback from Marc’s former UX Design students:

“This was the best class I have ever taken, period. The subject material was really interesting and something that I can use in my career. I felt challenged, yet fully supported by Marc and the class. Out class also felt really cohesive and aligned. Awesome networking!”

“I wish Marc taught more classes! He is a great teacher, 110% knowledgeable, and really engaging. He makes a class in user experience a totally awesome user experience. I can’t thank him enough for all the advice, support and direction.”

“While he was an authority on everything we discussed, I liked that he also embraced other’s knowledge and expertise in the field.”

Apart from his upcoming User Experience Design course, you can also catch Marc at Big City Forum’s Mapping LA: Design Based Thinking, taking place May 2nd at the Armory Center for the Arts.


A Look into Martin Venezky’s Creative Process

Venezky's Studio

“The term “experimental” is often used as a code for unusable, weird, “crazy” or “going wild”. But I think that is a big misunderstanding, and something I try hard to correct in the classroom. When I teach an experimental class, I am quick to explain that experimentation is a methodology.” 

-Martin Venezky

Mr. Venezky put his own methodology to work for our Summer 2012 catalog cover, which you may have noticed popping up lately around the UCLA Extension building and campus.  Just released last week, we were excited to finally see the colorful and intricate design Venezky had created for us.

Martin Venezky is the mastermind behind Appetite Engineers, a small, internationally recognized design firm.  His interest in intricacy, complexity, ornament, and handwork has caused many wary employees to nervously inch their way toward the exit. But before taking flight, they have helped him create some wonderfully entertaining work for the Sundance Film Festival, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Chronicle Books, Princeton Architectural Press, and Blue Note Records, among others. 

Typographic Construction

His work has been featured in Eye, How, émigré, and Graphis.  Martin also was art director of the late, great Speak, a magazine of popular culture, literature, music, and art.  In 1997 he was listed among ID magazine’s “ID40” list of influential designers and, in 2001, an exhibit of his collected design work, Martin Venezky: Selections from the Permanent Collection of Architecture and Design, was held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  A monograph of his work, It Is Beautiful . . . Then Gone, has been published by Princeton Architectural Press.  Mr. Venezky has taught at CCA, California Institute of the Arts, and Art Center College of Design.


Final Catalog Cover design

Venezky shared some snapshots of his studio and the process involved in the creation of our cover image.  From the precise typographic cutouts to the carefully assembled ribbons and orbs, the handiwork involved in constructing the final image is quite impressive.

“I think that decoration, for its pure visual stimulation and wonder, is a fantastic thing. Our response to it is part of being human. Pattern, variation, texture, color, qualities of light and shadow, figure and ground – all of these things produce sensations in us that are based more on biology than rationality. The elevating of engineering to an aesthetic ideal is based on the purity of rational and mathematical thought.”

-Martin Venezky

Course Spotlight: HTML5 and CSS Layout for Designers

New this summer, the intermediate course  HTML5 and CSS Layout for Designers makes the perfect compliment to  Web Design I, II or III.  This course will present a variety of web layout challenges and develop the skills needed to successfully integrate your design across the many user platforms that access the web.  Instructor Mitch Gohman answered some questions for us:

How did the idea for this new course come about?

When students complete the Web Design 1: HTML & CSS course a very common response is “I feel like I really understand the world of Web Design, now I need to develop the muscles that address the common considerations of modern Web Design.” This class was specifically designed to build on the core concepts of the first class and take you deeper into the world of HTML & CSS as it applies to responsive web design (mobile to screen), scalable grid systems, and cross-browser testing.

Why is this course important for my design education? 

Responsive Design is cutting edge for the world of Web. Instead of designing 3 separate websites for mobile, notepad, and screen, Responsive Design, gives you one scalable/flexible solution that adapts to all devices–even devices/dimensions of the future.

 What will I take away from this course?

  • How to develop websites using responsive web design techniques (mobile to screen)
  • Advanced command of HTML5 (mark-up) & CSS3 (presentation)
  • Advanced layout conversion from Photoshop to your website
  • How to design for all browsers, even if you are developing from a Mac

Do you have a sample exercise/assignment?

Yes indeed…  HTML5 What You Should Know, which you can start in a plain text file.

Advanced Package Design Workshop

Coming up in just three weeks, Shirin Raban’s Advanced Package Design: Concept to Completion is an intensive 2-day course that will cover a range of contemporary consumer packaging practices and methods.

This hands-on workshop is open to all design students, and you don’t need previous packaging experience or courses to attend.

Advanced Packaging Design will provide the opportunity to create a branding portfolio piece consisting of three items. The workshop includes a comprehensive overview of the package design process from concept to completion through audio visual lectures, a field trip to Whole Foods, group exercises in defining objectives, critique, individual sketches and computer design that will then be transformed into real, 3D packages through production and mock up processes demonstrated and practiced in class.

Advanced Package Design is taking place over two Saturdays, May 12th & 19th from 9am to 5pm.  Please click here to enroll.

Course Spotlight: HTML5 with Michael Newman

Why is this course important for my design education?

HTML5 is the evolving future of web development and the APIs and technologies available are shaping how designers create visual, interactive solutions. In addition to exciting new functionality, such as Canvas, Offline Storage, and Geo-Location, HTML5 provides semantic elements and attributes which, together with CSS3 and media queries, allow for responsive web design and development.

It is important for designers to have the ability to prototype and experiment with HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript – The more a designer understands the technologies for which they’re creating, the more innovative and creative their solutions will be.

What will I take away from this course?

Students will complete the course with hands-on experience working with HTML5 and CSS3 as well as the ability to design prototypes and build responsive web and mobile experiences.

Do you have a sample exercise/assignment?

Read the O’Reilly “What is HTML5” overview at http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/07/what-is-html5.html

In addition to weekly assignments and projects, students will design and build a portfolio-worthy final project.


HTML5 is currently being offered in the classroom (spring quarter 2012) and, in fall quarter, will be offered online. Don’t hesitate to call the office for more information 310.206.1422 or email dca@uclaextension.edu.

A tour of quotidian English design

As representative and advisor for the Design Communication Arts program, I find myself noticing the good, bad, and ugly of design in the world around me with new appreciation. Never before have I so often paused at a particular design choice and asked myself, Why that typeface? Why that color? And, more importantly, What problem was the designer aiming to solve? What story is he/she aiming to tell?

And, what better than moving oneself 8000 miles to a new place for comparing and contrasting the wonder of workaday design. In my case, this comprised of a ten day trip to southeast England a few weeks ago – I’m not talking about any of the glitsy, high-budget design projects of London – there wasn’t a gherkin or ArcelorMittal Orbit in sight. These are the supermarkets, the florists, the newsagents of a typical, medium-sized English community. And these are the design choices that gave me pause:

Why fill the pound symbol with the Union Jack? In my experience, very few English homes display the Union Jack compared to American homes that display the Stars and Stripes. Is this supposed to foster a sense of patriotism in the customer? Is thriftiness a particularly British quality? I can’t imagine ever seeing a sign in a Los Angeles supermarket with the words, “We’re crunching prices for America.” Why are the letters in “PRICE CRUNCH set as if they’re experiencing an earthquake? (My LA eyes no doubt affect how I interpret this.)

Why is “tea time” in soft italics but “treats” is not? When, exactly, is tea time? I think it’s a late afternoon thing, though some Brits also use “tea” for what we’d call “dinner.” At the least, I felt excluded from whatever audience this was meant to reach.

Well, this sums up why you generally need flowers in life, doesn’t it? Either for smiles or tears — sometimes both. Are the italics meant to soften the name? Why fuschia?

This package design almost defies commentary. Why the rising sun – am I meant to eat it in the morning? How can bread be made of malt? Is “squidgy” a good form of energy? What do the giant grapes along the bottom have to do with anything?

I did slip one photo taken in London in here afterall, but I think it’s worth it. This is for a cafe that billed itself as a “British bakery.” Of course, you’ll recognize the iconic font from the famous wartime “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster. Why use it again here? Is it meant to foster a sense of patriotism? A sense of shared history? Why model the design for a modern business after this particular era?

What design decisions in the world around you have gotten you thinking lately? Let us know by emailing photos, antecdotes, etc. to dca@uclaextension.edu.



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