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Interview with Recent DCA Graduate Charlotte Potter

Congratulations to recent Design Communication Arts graduate Charlotte Potter! Charlotte began her UCLA career as an undergrad, then came back to UCLAx to earn her DCA certificate. She tells us more about her experience below:

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

After earning a degree in International Development Studies from UCLA, I gravitated instead toward positions that drew on my longtime love of art and design. From assisting in set dressing on television shows, to designing merchandise for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, to creating the brand identity for my own sustainability business; I loved the creative processes involved in each. I started taking classes in graphic design on Skillshare and watching Illustrator and Photoshop tutorials on YouTube and pretty quickly fell in love. I knew it was the direction I wanted to take my career in so I enrolled in the DCA program to get a more structured education.

What were your favorite courses and why?

Typography and Design IV: Capstone. Apart from the excellent teacher I had for Typography (Grace Magnus!), what I loved most was exploring typefaces throughout history and learning all the basic rules when it comes to setting type. I knew very little about grid systems, kerning, leading, or tracking before the course so it was fun to see how much my designs improved after learning some of those basics.

I also really liked Design IV: Capstone (again, in huge part because of such a great instructor, Pash). But also because it was such a good experience getting to work in a group on a single project that spanned the whole quarter. We really learned how to refine both our designs and our presentation skills. I received some of the most helpful advice for my future design career from that final course.

Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?

In five years, I see myself working as an in-house graphic designer collaborating alongside other talented, driven designers, creating innovative assets for a mission-driven brand. As I begin my job search, one of my main goals is to find an inspiring team that I can learn from. Eventually, I see myself moving towards freelance work and focusing on branding.

Congrats again, Charlotte!

Interview with Recent DCA Graduate Kristopher Bicknell

Congratulations to recent DCA graduate Kris Bicknell! You can view his work along with other outstanding DCA graduate portfolios in our gallery. He tells us more about his experience below:

Kris Bicknell

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

My background is in theatre, and I started doing graphic design years ago out of necessity. Working on small theatrical productions, there was always a need for people with extra skills, and I usually ended up volunteering to make a poster for the show. Over the years, more and more people started asking for my help with graphic design for their productions, then their personal brands, then their small businesses etc. And as I did all that work, my passion for graphic design grew. I finally reached a point where a career change to graphic design felt imminent. But I was mostly self-taught and felt like I could use some more formal training. Enter the DCA program, stage left. I had taken some other one-off courses and online bootcamps, etc., but this program fit the bill in terms of course offerings, flexibility (I took all my classes online), and getting to walk away with a certificate.

What were your favorite courses and why?

I took two motion graphics courses with David Dodds that were excellent. David is an engaging and delightful teacher, and prior to the courses I didn’t have much of an interest in motion graphics, but the coursework helped me realize that motion is a completely natural fit for my background in theatre. I got to use storytelling techniques and design together in a whole new way.

The Mentorship course is also an amazing opportunity to focus on an aspect of your work that you want to focus on, and to get one-on-one personalized feedback from an industry professional. I can’t recommend highly enough that folks find a teacher to do that with. I did mine with John Beach, and he helped me grow and find my voice as a designer.

Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?

My goal is to keep exploring the intersection of theatre/storytelling and graphic design, and in five years I’d like to be working full-time as a freelance designer in theatre, film, and TV.

Congratulations, Kris!

DCA Student Work: Jennifer Slogar

Check out the wonderful magazine project below by recent DCA graduate Jennifer Slogar, which she completed in our Mentorship course with Mentor/Instructor Shirin Raban.

Jennifer Slogar

What was your inspiration for this project? What problem were you trying to solve with design?

I’ve been running my own business here in Orlando since 2019. Over the past few years, I’ve become involved in the community at markets and selling wholesale. I came to see what a vibrant and incredible small business community there was in Orlando, so I wanted to design a magazine to spotlight some of these businesses. My main goal was to raise awareness of these small businesses in a saturated market.

What was the research process like?
I spent some time seeing what other similar publications were doing, and how I could add my own twist to it. I met up with several business owners to interview them in person. I got such great material this way.

You used your own photos for this magazine instead of relying on stock images. How did that change the design process and final product?
I used photos that each business provided because I wanted their voice to really be shown.

Congratulations, Jennifer!

Interview with Recent DCA Graduate Krysta Ohle

Congratulations to recent DCA graduate Krysta Ohle! You can view her work along with other outstanding DCA graduate portfolios in our gallery. She tells us more about her experience below:

Krysta Ohle

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I’ve always loved to paint and draw and knew that I wanted to be a part of a community of artists and designers. I took some time to focus my passions and found graphic design to be a unique visual craft that showcased all my skills. In addition, graphic design resonates with my interest in developing a strong visual language and I found this art form to be an outlet to communicate ideas and messages to the public in a creative way. Making this interest a profession allows me to share design that directly impacts and inspires people. I am grateful that this program aligned my passion with practice and allowed me to nurture my creativity in a uniquely professional way.

What were your favorite courses and why?

Package Design, Typography and Media Experimentation were my favorite courses in the program. I absolutely loved Package Design because it showed me there are so many aspects of the product to design and consider. I learned that designing a package is ever-changing and allows the designer to be completely unique and stand out from others. Through the Typography courses, I learned how to set the tone and convey a brand message using imagery and type. In the Media Experimentation course, I was able to experiment with different media variables. This encouraged me to be more adventurous in my designs and it allowed me to explore and experiment with color and composition.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

Professionally in 5 years I’d hope to see myself as a creative consultant/director. I want to take with me the skills I’ve learned through this program and my own individual experiences and style. I think with passion, patience, and determination, I can go far.

We do too, Krysta. Congratulations!

Interview with Recent DCA Graduate So Young Kim

Congratulations to recent DCA graduate So Young Kim! You can view her work along with other outstanding DCA graduate portfolios in our gallery. She tells us more about her experience below:

So Young Kim

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I enjoyed doodling and tracing some of the Disney animations on paper when I was young. I was one of the kids who was fascinated by Bob Ross’s magical drawing skills and flipped through the thick book of 100 Great Paintings. However, as I grew up, I realized that I would not be able to make a living doing fine art. Thus, after finishing my BA degree in Art from CSU Fullerton, I started working as a junior graphic designer in a small design studio.

While working, since graphic design is different from art, I felt the need to build a solid foundation on design principles and learn the design process. So I started searching for a graphic design certificate program and came across UCLA Extension’s DCA program. I wanted to get some credible and legitimate education which would help me land a job in the design industry. The DCA program offered courses that were very suitable for my needs and the curriculum seemed to be well structured with classes I was interested in taking.

What were your favorite courses and why?

Absolutely Design II: Collateral Communication with Mr. John Beach. It was exactly what I needed to get a comprehensive idea and understanding of how a whole design process is done from branding to brand application. The weekly guidance helped me figure out design planning and how to apply it in the actual designing. The feedback from the instructor and the discussions among the classmates guided me to further develop my understanding on design. It is no coincidence that I happened to create two of my favorite projects in my portfolio from this class.

I also really enjoyed Design History and Context. I was surprised how little I knew about the definition of graphic design and graphic design history. It introduced me to some of the greatest graphic designers of all time and I got inspiration from various graphic design movements. One major lesson I have learned in the class is the importance of designing something that is timeless, and I have been trying to practice it when designing.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

Since now I have completed my certification and have the most updated portfolio, I am ready to dive in to the job search. I wish to work in an innovative team environment where we can share and exchange ideas and learn from each other. I hope to be a key member who can make a positive contribution to some meaningful work and have the opportunity to be part of a successful team, achieving more than expected. I will continue to master my skills and learn new things, constantly keeping myself active in the creative world. Later down the road, I would love to learn more about interaction design and get more involved in a fast-changing design industry.

Congratulations So Young!

An Interview with Recent DCA graduate Renee Roos

Renee Roos

Congratulations to Renee on her recent graduation! Hear about her experience and see some of her projects below:

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I was interested in taking the DCA program at UCLA Extension because I wanted to take a more creative route in my career path after completing my undergraduate degree in business and marketing. I thought that learning more about graphic design would compliment my degree while allowing me to do more of what I actually enjoy. 

What were your favorite courses and why?

Design III: Branding and Typography were definitely my favorite courses. I really enjoyed Design III: Branding because it allowed me to see the bigger picture for how a brand’s aesthetic must align with the brand’s identity and goals for it to appropriately communicate who they are and what they offer to their consumer. I also really enjoyed Typography because I didn’t know anything about it prior to taking the course and it made me fall in love with type. I find myself constantly searching for new typefaces and font trends in the design space.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

In 5 years, I see myself working for a very established graphic design agency that works with many CPG brands. I am currently looking for an agency role because I believe that I will learn the most as a designer in that environment. I am really excited to see how I evolve as a designer and where my career path goes from here. 

Congratulations Renee!

An Interview with Recent DCA grad Rachel Hogg

Rachel Hogg

Congratulations to Rachel on her recent graduation! Learn more about her background and experience in the DCA program here:

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I have always had a love for design. Whether it was editing my own photos for social media or laying out blogs on Tumblr, I enjoyed being creative at a young age, but never had an opportunity to really dive into it and learn from professionals. I received my undergraduate degrees from Cal State Long Beach in Dance and Journalism. As a journalism student, I was able to take a media design class, where I learned more about editorial and print design. I enjoyed this side of journalism, as it really allowed my creativity to flow and I was able to narrow my focus in the department to design and multimedia.

After graduating in the midst of COVID, pursuing a career post-college became difficult. I decided to utilize my time and broaden my knowledge in design to other areas. After much research, I found the DCA program and immediately knew it was exactly what I was looking for! The classes allowed me to go back to the basics and really get a grasp on what graphic design was. The program exceeded my expectations and truly prepared me for a career in graphic design.


What were your favorite courses and why?

My favorite courses in the DCA program were Design II: Collateral Communication, and Package Design. These two classes were challenging and helped me really see my true potential. The projects were a lot of fun and the instructors allowed the students the freedom to choose industries they were interested in working in. I was able to create work for my portfolio that really showcased my skills. I learned about the process of branding and gained experience in receiving feedback and pitching my work, and it really prepared me for the real world.


Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

In five years, I would love to be a full-time freelance brand designer. I enjoy working one-on-one with clients and bringing their visions to life. I want to create a name and brand for myself, with the potential of hiring others and being a small agency for local companies.

Congrats, Rachel!

An Interview with Recent DCA grad Tommy Evich

Thomas Evich

Congratulations to Tommy on his recent graduation! Hear about his background and see some of his projects below:

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.

I had already begun teaching myself Photoshop when I met someone at a party who was taking an intro course in the program. We talked about design and she recommended the program. A couple of weeks later, COVID hit and I impulsively registered for three classes to fill up my time. From there I just fell more and more in love with design and ended up completing the entire program.

What were your favorite courses and why?

I really enjoyed Typography taught by Grace Magnus—she was so detailed and really took the time to offer feedback. I also really enjoyed Design History and Context. I found it really inspiring and gave me the freedom to explore different styles and aesthetics in my own design with awareness and knowledge of where those came from.

Please tell us a bit more about these stunning monthly playlist pieces you’ve shared here. What was the assignment and what was your process like, from inspiration to production?

This was actually a personal project that wasn’t assigned in class.

In September of 2019, I went to Paris to teach English and listened to a playlist I had made the entire time I was there. After leaving, I was struck by how easily transported I was back to the emotional state I was in while I was there every time I listened to it—I guess sense memories could be one way of thinking about it. This experience really got me thinking about the relationship between music, time, and emotion and the importance of those things to me.

During the pandemic, when it was easy for the days and months to bleed into each other, I wanted a way to remember everything as vividly as I possibly could, explore stylistically within my design, and share music that inspires me.

So, I decided to curate a playlist and design cover art for each month of 2021 and now also 2022. Through this project, I’ve been able to track my growth, interests, and progress and feel that each month serves as a touchstone for my journey as a designer and creative. I look at it as documentation—almost journal entries even. Each song I add takes me back to a certain place and time. One of the best parts of this is that through sharing these each month it’s led to new friendships and meaningful connections.

In terms of the process, the playlists are reflective, meaning that I make them at the end of each month. Throughout the month I collect bits and pieces—maybe find a new typeface I want to test out, new textures I want to play with, or a new layout idea. It all sort of builds up and I listen to the music and just create. The covers are definitely inspired through the music. Some of them are more planned than others, but I don’t really put any guardrails on it, just sort of do whatever I want to do and follow what inspires/ excites me. After they’re finished I can go back and revisit different moments in time and feelings through all the different playlists and cover art.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

In 5 years I see myself working in design/ art direction in the music industry.

Thank you, Tommy, and congrats again!

Interview with Recent DCA Graduate Frederic Chang

Frederic Chang

We’re grateful to recent DCA graduate Frederic Chang for sharing more about his academic and professional journey with us. You can view his website here and his online portfolio here.

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.
I was firstly interested in fine arts and architecture, but I did not think much about the future until my last year of high school. I saw that my intellectual interests and artistic/crafting hobbies could be linked through design and desired to explore this field further. After discovering my passion for furniture and interior design during my BA in industrial design, I decided to study further in the same field in Europe to see different points of view and how design there differs from East Asia.

My vision was opened greatly while completing my master’s degree in London. Critical and speculative design was a very intriguing topic for me to work on during my degree. It involved multiple design disciplines in order to create an experience of an alternative world. When I became a product designer back in Taiwan, I thought about going further with my interest in creating experiences. Instead of doing another degree, I wanted courses that would have more connection to the professional world. I found the DCA program after my first visit in Los Angeles, which I thought would be a great place to learn more about designing experiences and sharpen my skill in conveying more abstract design concepts to an audience. The opportunity of an internship in the Getty (although the pandemic prevented this), and gaining further knowledge in visual communication were also incentives. So here I am!

What were your favorite courses and why?
Despite the fact that the pandemic lockdown came 5 months after I started the program, I enjoyed many courses and began to realize what I needed and where I wanted to be involved in communication design.

Unity I: 3D Game Design and Game Engines with John Selig was a great experience. As I wanted to obtain a better sense of digital interaction and how game design process works, I chose to learn about Unity. There was a lot for me to learn including all the coding, interactions, and visualization in the software, and John really helped us a lot both technically and conceptually. Seeing my classmates’ diverse project ideas was very inspiring and that kept me thinking what digital experiences do in a physical world.

Designing Experiences with Robert Checchi was another one of my favorite courses. The focus of the class was exactly what I needed and Robert provided lots of information on both technical and methodological details with professional examples, as well as lectures by professionals from the industry. The weekly discussions after each student’s project progress presentation were the most mind-blowing part of the class, because everyone was working on very different projects and we got interesting ideas and inspired each other a lot.

Motion Graphics I with David Dodds was an adventure. We had a lot of freedom to work on our weekly projects and that encouraged great diversity of visual styles. The healthy competitiveness kept you wanting to be better. We learned from each other how to use the software creatively. I gave myself many challenges such as making my own music for most projects and experimenting with other 3D programs, in order to have a more comprehensive sense of video production. This class was also a great practice in creating narrative experiences.

What’s a project that you’re particularly proud of?
If I had to choose one, I would say the museum exhibition experience design project “Age of Imagination” was my most confident and ambitious work in the DCA program. The project was done under the mentorship of Robert Checchi. It contains a tremendous amount of research on English history, decorative arts, exoticism, industrial revolution…etc., as well as planning the message I was trying to deliver to the audience and why it mattered. I attempted to create an experience showing how English people saw foreign cultural influences in 18-19th century and how we see English culture of that period nowadays in popular media such as movies based on Jane Austin novels or the TV show Bridgerton. I kept my own playful design approach while solving technical problems related to the actual Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) site and museum exhibit curation.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
My experience in the program has confirmed my plan to become a multidisciplinary experience designer in the future. There is always more to learn in any field, and gaining solid professional experience will be the most important mission of mine in the next few years. As I already have some experience in product design, working in environmental graphics, installation design, or exhibition design will be my next step, while maturing my applied skills in digital interaction on the side for use in future professional projects.

Congratulations, Frederic!

DCA graduate Lina Beijerstam Publishes a Book!

We’re thrilled to share that DCA graduate Lina Beijerstam’s book, Do You Know Where the English Alphabet Comes From? (And All Its 26 Letters) has been published!

Lina writes:

“I started sketching some vectors of the English alphabet. And then I thought, what’s the background story? I’ve always loved books growing up, so I started sketching for a children’s book. I did my research for the text and, together with a woman who is an educator in history, we managed to create a text about the origins of the English alphabet. I think education is so important in life, and the main goal of the book is that it’s educational for both adults and younger. The adult can read it alone or with a child to learn. I thought this was so fun to do…I found a publisher who liked my idea and the book. Together we made some edits to it based on his experience, and I can now call myself a published author.”

You can learn more about Lina and her experience in the DCA program in this interview.

The book is available here and Lina’s design website is here.

Congratulations, Lina!

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