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Interview with DCA instructor Masaki Koike

We’re delighted that our award-winning instructor, Masaki Koike, sat down with us to share more about his design life. His answers to our questions and a gallery of his work are below, but first, his official bio:

Masaki Koike is the principal of Phyx Design founded in 2007. His work in the music industry has earned him a Grammy Award and multiple Grammy nominations – this year for The Grateful Dead – Get Shown the Light box set! His work has been published in various design books and magazines. Over the last decade Masaki has worked at various companies such as Rhino Records, Smog Design, Nokia Design Center and Saatchi&Saatchi. He is a native to Los Angeles and currently works and lives in the beautiful city of Pasadena. He also teaches at UCLA Extension’s DCA program.

What brought you to the field of design?
As a kid, I enjoyed making things so working in the creative field should’ve been obvious. My focus in college was initially Psychology ’cause it seemed more legitimate as a major. I came to the realization that it wasn’t what I wanted to do so I dropped it with 2 classes left to fulfill my degree. I switched my major to art and never looked back!

Please tell us about an especially rewarding project you have worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.
I think the enjoyment of what I do IS the reward. It sounds idealistic but I hope that everything I work on is rewarding in some way. It can be creatively or financially rewarding and it rarely goes hand in hand!

The Recording Academy has recognized your outstanding work many times. How does a love of music inform your visual designs?
I’m not sure that it does. Of course it helps if I’m familiar with the artist but doing research is always a good starting point weather I know the artist or not. Every project is different in that the information comes from many sources. Sometimes it’s the title or the concept of the album. Sometimes the band wants me to use a piece of artwork or photo. Some artists, especially an established act, have their own brand assets. Sometimes, it’s a culmination of all these things and I just run with it. When the information comes from data and strategic marketing, it can be very unrewarding!

What will students take away from your course, Design Fundamentals?
Since it’s a beginners’ course, I firmly believe in teaching the prose of design. How to best communicate an idea by distilling the information so that it is concise and direct. How to think, analyze, and problem solve. To heighten your visual awareness. Developing good work habits and understanding the importance of trying, failing, and trying again.

Final thoughts?
I’ll leave you with a quote from designer Lou Danziger: “Work. Think. Feel. Work: No matter how brilliant, talented, exceptional, and wonderful the student may be, without work there is nothing but potential and talk. Think: Design is a problem-solving activity. Thinking is the application of intelligence to arrive at the appropriate solution to the problem. Feel: Work without feeling, intuition, and spontaneity is devoid of humanity.”

Thank you, Masaki!

#phyxdesign

Course Spotlight: Game-Based Learning

It’s always exciting to offer new elective courses, especially in the burgeoning field of game design and learning. This summer, we’re offering the new 2-unit online course Game-Based Learning. Instructor Randall Fujimoto tell us more about it:

Why is this course important for my design education?

This course is important for design students because of two main reasons: 1) To become familiar with game design in relation to learning, and 2) To understand the design implications of designing for the gameful mindset generation.

Game Design
With approximately 2.2 billion active gamers worldwide, games are fast becoming the most important media of our time. Therefore, any good design education needs to include the study of game design. Game designers are typically interested in designing all aspects of a game, including gameplay, art and animation, environment design, sound and music, and user interfaces, in order to make games engaging and fun. In this course, we look at the design of games not only as it relates to engagement but also, and more importantly for educators, how it relates to learning.

Gameful Mindset
In the U.S., the average 21-year-old person has played an estimated 10,000 hours of video games. The sheer amount of gameplay hours has undoubtedly had an effect on the way that today’s “gamer generation” thinks and learns. They have developed what we call a “gameful mindset,” which describes the unique ways in which gamers think, learn, and live their lives. Anyone who is designing anything for the gamer generation needs to understand how a gameful mindset affects the way these people learn how to use what they are designing. This course can help future designers become familiar with the characteristics of a gameful mindset and how they relate to learning.

Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?

One assignment will have teams working on designing a lesson plan or learning activity centered around using an existing video game to help students learn. In order to design such a lesson plan or learning activity, teams will have to identify one or more learning outcomes and objectives, conduct research on existing video games that can be used for these outcomes and objectives, and then create a design plan that details the entire learning process. Teams will share their completed design plans with the entire class to get feedback and improvement ideas.

What will I take away from this course?

This course will give you a solid knowledge base about the various aspects of game-based learning and how to design various learning activities that utilize games and game-like thinking. The course will cover video games, educational games, game design projects, gamification of courses, and other topics related to game-based learning, including the intrinsic motivations inherent in game-based learning activities.

Thank you, Randall!

Enroll in Game-Based Learning today.

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!

Course spotlight: AR/MR/VR for Immersive Content: Experience, Game & Media

We’re thrilled to be offering coursework this spring in Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality/Mixed Reality as we ramp up our game design course offerings. Instructor Jason Yim tells us all about what students can expect in this exciting course:

Why is this course important for my design education?

AR/MR will become the next computing paradigm. Just like smart-phones and apps changed human behavior and our connection to technology in a matter of years, AR/MR will have the same global effect. Secondly, designing for AR/MR/VR is very different from print or normal design for screen space. The user experience is played out over 3D space and blends with the physical environment, resulting in its own design language and best practices. And lastly, the case studies and guest speakers in this course will offer access and visibility into some of the world’s biggest brands and clients.

Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?

Students will develop and present a concept for a real-world client and brief in mind. During this process they will create a prototype for user-testing in order to validate their concept. The prototype format will depend on the skill set of the student:
• Non-design students can create a paper mock up
• Digital Designers can create a click-through prototype
• 3D artists can produce a POV video
• Coders can create a working UNITY prototype
We will have a dedicated “user-testing” day for students and guests to review each other’s work and to capture results and insights.

What will I take away from this course?

You’ll feel like you spent 11 weeks IN the industry and not just learning about it from the outside.

Day one will start by giving you hands on access to several AR/VR/MR devices. By the end of the course, you will leave with an appreciation of the real-world challenges and opportunities from case-studies and guest speakers as well as your own personal experience developing, prototyping and testing a concept.

Thanks so much, Jason!

Enroll in AR/MR/VR for Immersive Content: Experience, Game & Media today!

 

Course Spotlight: Eye to Eye: Capturing the Face

There are few things more powerful than a beautifully rendered portrait. Photography instructor Scott Stulberg shares with us what students can expect in his upcoming one-day course Eye to Eye: Capturing the Face:

Why is this one-day course important for my photography education?

Photographing people…. and in particular faces for so many years now, the insights that you capture through so many different kinds of shoots, locations, weather conditions and the interactions of all kinds of different people, well, it all adds up to a great deal of knowledge. For a good majority of the people out there with cameras, point-and-shoot is really what they have become used to. The reason I love teaching how to capture people in different ways is because you can become so intimate with your subject. You can see and feel how to best capture them for your final outcome. You might realize they look better with a red dress than with blue jeans. That for their particular look, a unique hat completely changes your vision. Lying on their back, looking straight up at you while you were shooting straight down on them from above, might give you the perfect look and feel on that particular day.

There is so much to think about when shooting portraits from lighting, from equipment, working with people you hardly know and trying to capture the essence of who they are and so much more. In this class, I want to share my knowledge of years and years of working with people from not just the United States but from all over the world. And not just adults but also how to capture children which is one of my favorite subjects.

Exploring methods to push yourself out of your comfort zone can lead to a whole new world of self discovery with your photography. This course will help you discover and develop your own personal vision and individual style and push yourself to get images you’ve always imagined but were not really sure where to start.

Capturing people is a huge part of photography and probably the number one thing that people photograph. There are so many ways to create amazing images of people and we will cover so many different methods and ideas and hopefully spark curiosity and creativity among many of us.

What will we spend the day exploring? 

Hopefully, we will have a model for some part of the class with whom I will be working to show everyone what it’s like to capture using different ideas and techniques. We will also probably have time to go outdoors, close by on the UCLA campus and try some different lighting equipment to see how easily you can control and work with the light outside to get beautiful results that can mimic studio lighting indoors.

I will be bringing different kinds of camera and lighting gear to show what might be worthwhile to purchase… to achieve different results whether indoors or out. And although we won’t be shooting as a class, with all of the demonstrations by the instructor, much will be learned. We will also look at many photographs and discuss what makes them work.

What will I take away from this course?

One of the most important aspects of this course is learning how to feel and see light differently and understand the impact of light in your photographs. My goal is for everyone to realize the importance of light in your images as the definition of photography really is “painting with light”. It is absolutely the most crucial part of anyone’s photography but especially with portrait photography. Even the new iPhone 8 and X has some new portrait lighting methods…. and when you can start to understand the importance of what light can do….. and how you can work with that light to give you what you envision, you will have hopefully opened up a whole new world for your photography. There is so much to know about shooting people and especially the face and by the end of the class, hopefully everyone will have a much better understanding of what it takes to push your portrait photography in a new direction and give your images “Stopping Power “.

There’s nothing like a great portrait, no matter who is the subject. It’s been the most photographed subject of all time and the more you play…. the more you experiment… the easier it gets. We will be playing a lot in class!

Thanks, Scott!

Enroll in Eye to Eye: Capturing the Face today!

*Photography courtesy of Scott Stulberg

Course Spotlight: Web Coding Intensive Bootcamp

DCA instructor Mitch Gohman

This winter, we’re thrilled to debut an intensive web coding bootcamp course with veteran DCA instructor Mitch Gohman. Mitch tells us a bit more about what students can expect from this new course:

  1. Why is this course important for my design education?

    The modern website requires the ability to wield engaging, interactive applications. Even the most basic brochure websites require the ability to wield content (HTML), visual (CSS), and behavior (JavaScript). The demand for these technologies continues to increase, as each becomes more and more robust. Understanding these three technologies and how they work together as a team is an essential toolkit for any designer looking to take their skillsets to the next level.

  2. What’s the benefit of studying HTML, CSS, jQuery/JavaScript, frameworks, and responsive layouts in the bootcamp format instead of one by one?

    The ability to see how all of these technologies work together as a team gives the student a more comprehensive understanding of what is possible in the world of Web Design and Development. It also simulates the real-world in the sense that you would never only utilize one technology at a time. While learning one at a time can bring focus, it isn’t always easy to see how it fits into the whole.

  3. Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?

    All of the work we do in class is project based. Rather than just lecturing theory, we learn the concepts through application. For example, learning HTML/CSS/JavaScript is easier to see when we apply it to a slideshow or form validator.

    Here are a couple of example lesson/projects we will be building.

  4. What will I take away from this course?
    • A strong understanding of HTML & CSS (content and appearance)
    • An intermediate understanding of jQuery/JavaScript (interactivity)
    • A clear understaning of Frameworks, Responsive Layouts and when to use them
    • Modern Web Design and Development trends and concepts (e.g. development process, constraints, optimization)
    • See these real-world skills applied to actual projects via guest professionals.

    Thanks, Mitch!

    Questions? Contact Kate Reeves for advising at dca@unex.ucla.edu.

    Enroll in Web Coding Intensive Bootcamp today!

    web design by DCA graduate Ena de Guzman

Course Spotlights: Photographic Portraiture and The Business of Photography

Instructor Todd Bigelow shares insight on his fall quarter courses, Photographic Portraiture and The Business of Photography:

Why are these courses important for my photography education?

Portrait photography is, without a doubt, the type of work most commonly associated with commercial, corporate and editorial photography. To put it another way, a good photographer will shoot portraits for a wide variety of clients. Although the use may vary, the need for strong portraits is constant. For example, corporations hire photographers to shoot portraits of employees to promote on their website and printed materials, for use in marketing materials and corporate campaigns and even for annual reports. Magazines of all kinds hire photographers to shoot everyone from celebrities to the average citizen for stories and profiles while ad agencies hire portrait photographers to promote a client’s products or services. Now, when you really break this down, you have TWO critical parts: First is the need to learn how to create a variety of portraits to fit specific needs and the second is to learn how to develop those clients and create a business relationship. By combining the Portrait Photography course and The Business of Photography Workshop, students get the full picture that will enable them to pursue a career in photography.

Do you have a sample assignment for each?

The Portrait Photography course is designed with practicality in mind. I’m a working photographer who is bringing 25 years of experience into the classroom, so the assignments reflect what students will typically encounter in the profession. For example, I will assign a variety of portraits to be shot while honing in on key elements such as the use of natural light or control of the background through depth of field and composition. Great portrait work is not the result of secret techniques or super advanced knowledge, it’s really about excelling at the fundamentals of portrait photography which include light, composition and subject rapport. I also assign conceptual work where the students draw on their own interpretation of a concept (such as Love or Power) and develop a portrait that reflect the concept either literally or figuratively. For example, the image here was shot to reflect the concept of “toughness.”

As for The Business of Photography, we go into details on what is required if you truly wish to create a freelance photography career. This course has been taught all over the country and presented at major photography conferences in Florida, New York, Virginia and elsewhere and has been named several times as one of the best photo workshops worldwide by Photoshelter, so it’s value to photographers is real. Photographers must learn how to not only develop a portfolio, but how to leverage that portfolio to develop clients and create licensing revenue. One thing photographers learn immediately when developing an advertising, editorial or corporate client is that you will need to sign a contract. I present a number of real contracts and break the important sections down so my students will know what to expect and how to negotiate. We also discuss at length the need to copyright your work and protect against others using your work without consent or pay, a real problem in the profession. I also provide real, up to date information about creative fees as well as how to structure your business and prepare to pay taxes as a self employed person. For more detailed information as well as student testimonials, please visit www.BusinessOfPhotographyWorkshop.com.

What will I take away from these courses?

Students who enroll in the Portrait Photography course will walk away with a very strong foundation to create a variety of portraits. We incorporate a full day in a well equipped studio where students can play with various lighting set ups, but students will understand upon completion that creating portraits is more about the subject than it is about the equipment. That’s the key difference between Portrait Photography and, say, Studio Lighting. We concentrate on subject first and equipment second. Students who enroll in The Business of Photography Workshop will ingest a wealth of practical knowledge that will help them navigate the world of freelance photography as a career. This course is essential to photographers seeking to earn money using their technical and creative skills.

Thanks, Todd!

Enroll in Photographic Portraiture and/or The Business of Photography today!

Course Spotlight: Michelangelo and the Dawn of Modern Art

Michelangelo’s David

Breaking many of the rules of Renaissance art in his struggle to express his inner experience of the divine, Michelangelo gave artists a new artistic vocabulary that moved past the Renaissance and toward a profoundly relevant style that ultimately is called Modern art.

In the upcoming course, Michelangelo and the Dawn of Modern Art, the artist’s legacy will be explored through three lectures and a field trip to the Getty Villa.

Instructor Rebbeca Ginnings tells us a bit more about it:

Why is this course important for my understanding of art?

In terms of technique, Michelangelo seems to turn stone to flesh. Design-wise, he translates antiquity into a more modern statement, providing a bridge or transition to modern art. A better understanding of Michelangelo and his work leads us to understand how his work has influenced both European and American artists.

What will the course consist of?

We will meet for three lectures on Michelangelo’s work followed by a field trip to the Getty Villa to look at prototypes of Michelangelo’s designs, to see how the originals related to the designs he ended up making.

What will I take away from this course?

Students will gain a better understanding of the influence of antiquity on Western art.

Enroll in Michelangelo and the Dawn of Modern Art today!

Course Spotlight: Design Software Intensive Bootcamp

InDesign project by DCA graduate Adam Weidenbaum

For the first time this fall, we’re thrilled to offer our Adobe software courses – Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign – in an immersive bootcamp format. Instead of the usual 4 units, the bootcamp earns you 8 units of course credit and meets twice as many hours.

Instructor Hakon Engvig

Web and software instructor extraordinaire, Hawk Engvig, tells us more about this new course:

1. Why is the Design Software Intensive Bootcamp important for my design education?

Adobe is THE standard in the design field and there are no programs more prevalent, popular or important than Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign when it comes to graphic design. They lay the foundation for all major work you do on a regular basis and are pretty much a requirement to know in any modern design scenario.

2. What’s the benefit of studying Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign in the bootcamp format instead of one by one?

Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are BEST used together, so you will save a lot of time/money learning them all in one go. Your greatest work will come from how you wield all three and not just relying solely on one. Though the programs can be quite different in what you would use them for, they are actually quite similar in how we interact and actually use them. By learning all three at the same time, you reinforce the knowledge and your comfort with not only the one we are utilizing but all three programs simultaneously.

Illustration by DCA graduate Daniel Sulzberg

3. Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?
Though the classwork will revolve around reinforcing the tools, good habits, etc., the actual assignments will be based on common, fun and real-world standards like branding, image manipulation/correcting, and production in digital and print.

4. What will I take away from this course?

In this one course, you will not only learn the proper way to utilize all three programs, but you will also have no problem creating any creative content needed in the modern design world.

Thanks, Hawk!

Questions? Email dca@uclaextension.edu or call 310-206-1422 to speak with an advisor about this or any other visual arts course.

And enroll in Design Software Intensive Bootcamp today!

Welcome new DCA instructor Grace Magnus!

Grace Magnus

We’re thrilled to welcome Grace Magnus to our instructor flock, though Grace has been a member of the DCA community for years, first as a student, then as a teaching assistant, and now as an instructor. Her own design work is exciting and innovative, and we urge you to check out her portfolio at https://www.gracemagnus.com. Grace will be teaching Photoshop I in our new Woodland Hills center this spring.

What brought you to this field?
I like to joke that I’m a recovering English major, but in reality, I’ve had a wide assortment of jobs that have led me to where I am today. I managed an art gallery, edited copy, sold fine wine, applied makeup, and helped create brands. Along the way I’ve slung drinks, served coffee, worked graveyard shifts, installed roofing…it’s been a long hustle, and I’m proud of it. I succeeded in all these jobs by taking an ecumenical approach to learning–I relish the opportunity to receive new information, digest it, and clearly and concisely help others understand it regardless of the subject matter. It’s no wonder I fell in love with teaching soon after I fell in love with design.
In 2012, I took a Design Fundamentals class at Extension on a whim. I was new to Los Angeles, itching for change, and the public health class I wanted to take was suddenly canceled. Four years later I have an exciting freelance business I love. So many graphic designers fall into the field by accident or, like me, come into it later in life as a second, third, even fourth career. I love that. It means we have this pool of creative people who’ve worked hard and have a huge range of experiences to apply to finding design solutions.

Tell us about an especially rewarding project you’ve worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.
I’m a big proponent of Design for Good, and I always try to be working on at least one project that has personal meaning. For example, here’s a current project that hits close to home: I used to work very late hours while having two dogs that needed long walks at all hours of the day and night. I learned some time ago that the world can be a terrifying place for women after dark.
So I’ve been challenging my 2D design skills by pushing them into the 3D world, and I’m creating prototypes for personal safety devices, holsters, walking aids, etc. that will make it easier, safer, and more comfortable for women who need to be outside at night. The line is being printed on my 3D printer with the goal to distribute them for free. The entire line is designed with women’s tastes and bodies in mind, which makes it a real design challenge because women’s tastes and bodies are so varied.

Why is your course, Photoshop I, important for my design education?

Today’s emerging designers need to know how to use Photoshop effectively, efficiently, and creatively in order to stand out in an over-saturated market. Although Photoshop is considered by many to be Adobe’s most difficult and counter-intuitive program, it is also the most powerful and incredibly fun. My goal isn’t to drill into your brains every hot key (I wish, we only have 12 weeks!), rather it’s to guide you through the essential tools so that you the designer can find the exact right solutions for your own work. Your interviewer isn’t going to care that you know every single way to pull up the color picker, they care that your work has vision and originality, and that you can efficiently and effectively put to paper what’s in your head. I will guide you into harnessing Photoshop’s power so you can do just that.

Do you have a sample assignment?
Sure! I like to make sure that my assignments are challenging, but also fun and personal. So I’ll give you a little peek into one option for your final. Students will create a series of posters that utilize Photoshop techniques and best practices to morph different living creatures into one, then you’ll will use those images to make a poster series of PSA’s for a social or environmental cause. If you’re not into monsters, don’t worry, I’ve created project variations to suit every taste.

 

Thank you, Grace!

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