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Interview with Photography Student Elena Petrova


Elena Petrova

Photo by Kamil Mrouah

We met with Elena for a final portfolio review after she had finished her Photography Certificate. We loved hearing about her life and work, so asked if she would share some thoughts. Read more to hear her advice to new photographers, and her dream assignment!

Tell us about yourself and how you began your photography practice.

I was born in the historical and cultural city of Leningrad in USSR, now called Saint Petersburg in Russia, so I was surrounded by beauty and artistic inspiration since I was a child: ballet performances in Mariinsky Theater, lectures on Ancient China in Hermitage, photo exhibitions in galleries, theatrical plays, late night summer walks when the sky is still bright…I was always interested in the arts, especially painting, writing, and photography. I remember that I had a camera before that I took with me everywhere. Later I studied journalism in Saint Petersburg State University where not only we learned about writing, but also about how to take photos and develop our film in the dark room.

In 2009 I traveled to Los Angeles and later realized that I’d love to stay here and keep enjoying my life by the ocean and where everyday is full of sunshine. I thought about what could I do here, and photography came to my mind as I really love that art form and communicating with people through it. I found the UCLA Extension Program and it sounded really interesting. That’s how my professional photography practice began. I met many talented and inspiring people at UCLA Extension among my classmates and teachers. I started to study photography in 2013 and there are still many things I need to learn and practice. It’s great to do what you love.

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For someone who is new to photography, what should they know about getting started?

Since I feel pretty new in this industry myself, I’d love to wish everyone and myself to be persistent and believe in yourself, be a better photographer than you were yesterday, keep improving your technique, get out of your comfort zone and explore things that you never thought you might like, smile more, be the light and then every door will be opened.

Know your camera and learn more about lighting. Educate yourself. Watch good movies, read good books, and look at classic paintings. Look at works of other photographers; the masters of back and white days and current notable photographers. That way, you will have a better taste and understand being a photographer.

What was your favorite UCLA Extension class and why.

I really enjoyed every class from Photography 1, taught by George Simian, to the amazing portraiture classes and mentorship taught by the incredible Michael Powers, to Portfolio Workshop with David Daigle and super informative event photography class with Jenna Schoenefeld. My favorite class was the mentorship class. Michael Powers is a very artistic and skilled photographer and in his studio in Pasadena he taught me many things about lighting, using strobes, vision, and shared interesting information on photography books and websites. I have to mention the Event Photography class too, which was the last class I took. It really gave me an understanding of event photography and beyond, and inspired me to start shooting events. I always liked the photojournalism style, and now I’m developing myself as an event photographer with a journalistic approach, focusing on candid moments.

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What would be your dream job in photography?

I really like the amazing Russian actress and director, Renata Litvinova. She is very inspiring. I literally had a dream where she asked me “why you don’t take pictures of me?!” That probably would be my dream job. Also, I would love to meet photographer Paolo Roversi and work with him on a fashion assignment for the W Magazine.

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What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on my personal project, “Viva La Vita,” about seniors 85 years and older who are still full of life — they travel, work, have hobbies, very active, and enjoys themselves. I shoot it with my grandpa’s old medium format film camera, which gives a special feeling and energy to the images. Also, I just launched my event photography business called Happy Vibes Only (, where I shoot small parties to big weddings.

Last year one of my portrait photos won an award in Popular Photography Magazine for “Best Shot” 2014. The photo will be published in a book called “Manual for Portrait Photographers” in January of 2016. Also, recently two of my photos were nominated in ‘Fashion’ and one in the ‘People’ category for the 10th Annual Black and White Spider Awards contest (2015) out of  “7,686 entries received from 74 countries.” The Nominees Issue will be released in January 2016.

Elena 1 Elena 2


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DCA Entrepreneurs! The Journey from Classroom to Marketplace

This is the first in a series on our inspiring DCA community members who have made the leap from student to businessperson.

Today, we’re focusing on DCA student & AIGA UCLAx group president Michelle Quach and teaching assistant & recent DCA graduate Dainise Meissner, both of whom chose Etsy as the platform for their online shops.

We asked both women what inspired them to create their shops and how they like having their own businesses.

design by Michelle Quach

design by Michelle Quach

Michelle: I was inspired to start my shop, Euclid Street (tagline: Greeting Cards That Hug You Back), because I thought it would be a way to do something creative right away. At the time, I had just decided to pursue design, and I was inspired by a speech by the journalist Robert Krulwich, who said “There are some people who don’t wait.” An Etsy shop allowed me to start creating art without waiting for permission. It was also liberating to feel that I could make money (even if it wasn’t a lot) without necessarily having to rely on being employed by someone else.

design by Michelle Quach

design by Michelle Quach

So far, it’s been a really positive experience. I’ve learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of running a small business. My favorite part, though, is knowing that something I created can hold meaning for someone else. Being in the greeting card business means that I often get invited into people’s lives in small ways–I’ll sometimes be asked to write a message on behalf of a customer, or they’ll tell me that their significant other loved the card so much that they got it framed. Once, a customer told me that one of my cards perfectly expressed what he wanted to say to his first love–whom he had remained friends with for decades, though they were both happily married to other people. I never imagined, when I first started this humble shop, that I would have the privilege of helping others this way!

design by Dainise Meissner

design by Dainise Meissner

Dainise: I was inspired to create my shop, FourBirdDesigns, after being in the DCA program for several quarters and not really knowing in what direction I wanted to go with my career. I had taken Mixed Media and Collage for Designers with Michelle Constantine and I really enjoyed making the collages by hand after taking several computer classes. I then went on to do a mentorship with Michelle to further explore mixed media and collage because I had the seed of an idea to create custom collages based around personal photos and their history.

design by Dainise Meissner

design by Dainise Meissner

I recruited a beta customer and created a test collage for her just so I could understand how the process might work in terms of getting her images, communicating about her family’s history, and fulfilling her needs for the finished product. It was a huge success and in fact, she asked me to make a second one a few months later! That success gave me the confidence to start the Etsy shop. It’s still quite new, and I’ve only sold one collage so far, but I’m loving it. Even though I’ve now graduated from the DCA program, I decided to get further inspiration this summer by taking Mixed Media and Collage again but with Todd Smith this time.


Congratulations to both of you and wishing you every success!

Interview with recent DCA grad Danielle Danaher

“The DCA program has truly been life changing for me as I hope it is for others.”ssr5
Danielle Danaher 

Danielle did the entirety of her DCA coursework online from her home in upstate New York. It’s a pleasure to see how her work is influenced by her community. She sat down to field a few questions for us about her experience:

What brought you to the DCA program?
I’ve always loved to be creative and to build different things, I was the kid picking up the scrap pieces of material from my father’s construction sites to see what I could build with it.  Although my love of digging in the dirt has diminished somewhat as I’ve aged, my love of being creative is stronger than ever.  I went to college and majored in what was expected, and took a job doing again what was expected; it made sense at the time. A few years ago it stopped making sense, and I began looking for online design programs from respected, accredited universities.

What were your favorite courses and why?
I’d have to say that Logos & Branding and Design II were my favorite courses.  I enjoyed the creative freedom they offered. Although the other courses in the program aided as well, it was these two courses that I think installed in me the confidence and trust in my design, and design decisions.

persp3As a designer, what does a potential project need to have for you to feel passionate about it?
For me it’s a moral voice or message of philanthropy in projects.

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?
I’d find my dream job working as a designer or on a design team for a cause like Stand Up to Cancer; an organization fighting a disease responsible for so much devastation.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
As a designer who’s helped to make a difference through an organization or charity.  One with creative freedom and choice to take on new challenges.unite4


Great work, Danielle!

Interview with Felix Ossa on his photography practice


Since he began the Photography Certificate program, Felix’s work has always stood out. The strong concepts and thoughtful commentary behind his images make for a powerful portfolio. We are thrilled to know that his time here has helped him grow as an artist, and appreciate his many contributions to the program, including several pieces in our 2015 Student Show. We spoke to Felix about his artistic development, his future goals, and why photography excites him.

Please tell us a little about yourself, and how you began your photography practice.

I lived in Colombia until I was 21 years old, when I obtained a 7 month student visa to go to the United Kingdom. After just a few months I realized I had fallen in love with the country and its multicultural and diverse people. In spite of the hard and low-paid work and the fact that I could not afford to continue with my higher education, I had found a new place to call home, where my sexual orientation was not a burden and I decided to stay. Almost ten years later and with a husband, I had the opportunity to come to Los Angeles, California. I started taking photography classes from the Certificate Program at UCLA Extension as a way to meet people and make new friends.

I was lucky to have Gareth Walsh as my first teacher in Photo I. He set my imagination free helping me understand that photography is the means by which I can express myself, but he also made very clear that it was not the only way. For him, the tools we used were not important, he was more interested in the idea behind each photograph. After Gareth, I took Photo II with George Simian, with whom I learnt the technical side of photography, his vast knowledge gave me great foundations. Then I took “History of Photography” with Richard Langendorf, where I got hooked into YouTube Photoshop tutorials to be able to render self-portraits that looked like the photographs taken by the masters. My imagination went wild and I realized I really enjoy the creative process.

I only have one class left to finish my Photography Certificate; however I will be taking more classes as UCLA develops the program. I have learnt many tools from each teacher I have had and I am grateful to each one of them. I am also thinking of taking a few classes for a second time as I am sure new teachers will give me more ideas. Most recently, I had an electronics class with Pete Hawkes; which although it is not featured as part of the program, it is accepted as part of the necessary credits for graduation. I also took Mentorship with Scott Hutchinson, the Program Director of the Visual Arts. Scott and Pete have helped me reshape my portfolio and have a clearer vision of what I would like my future to be.

Felix and participants interact with his installation piece at It's Your Show 2015

Felix and participants interact with his installation piece at It’s Your Show 2015


Where does the inspiration for your projects come from?

What inspires me to produce work is a strange mixture between personal experiences and the social perception of popular issues. While talking about a topic or following news on social media outlets, an idea or question comes to mind. Getting ideas is not difficult, I am quite sociable by nature (thanks to my being Colombian), so I am in constant contact with people from many different places and backgrounds, who fill me with lots of questions and ideas. My challenge always is how to articulate those ideas, how to answer a question or interpret an argument visually. My advantage (if you can call it that) is that I do not have any formal art training, apart from the “Fine Art Photography” class I took from the certificate program. The execution of every idea is a possibility to learn something new; to explore identity; a way to create a performance to understand, for instance, why we act selfishly; to tell my relatives where I come from and a chance to acknowledge basic human shame and acceptance feelings.

For someone who is new to photography, what should they know about getting started?

I did not know much about any technical or artistic aspects of photography when I took my first class. I would not even say I had a passion for photography, but I had an open mind and the disposition to learn and work hard… I would suggest you take your first photography class with the same spirit. You will probably feel as lost as I did, but fear not as the program is structured to help you find your way, either commercial or artistic.

Is it important for you to have your work seen and shared by others? If so, how do you manage that?

It is very important indeed! My goal from very early in the program is to exhibit, to show my photographs, videos and installations to people. My website was crucial, although I only have a mobile version at the moment. It acts as my portfolio, thanks to it I can get in touch with people from different countries and try to arrange shows.

What are you working on now, and what are your long-term goals as an artist?

I am currently working on a three piece project exploring shame called “Hypersexuality”. It is a series of performances and installations that I am taking back to the city I was born in, Medellin, in Colombia. It is very personal but at the same time it is kind of universal since we all deal with shame at some point in our lives.

  • The series start with a performance called “Closeness” which I created in “Wearable Computing”, the electronics class I took with Pete Hawkes.
  • The second part. “Hypersexuality”, will be presented as an installation some months later. It was inspired by the “Portraiture” class I took with Van Ditthavong.
  • The series will finish some time later with “Let Go!”, a performance inspired by the electronics class with Pete Hawkes.

It might sound ambitious, but my long term goal is to create pieces for galleries and public spaces, works that people can interact with.

FelixOssa-NewsFeed (1)

Felix Ossa ‘Newsfeed’

View on Felix’s site

View on Felix’s site

View on Felix’s site

View on Felix’s site

Advanced DCA student Ana Khachatrian on preparing for the workplace

*Update March 13: Ana just accepted an internship with A Hundred Years!

Our director, Scott Hutchinson, likes to ask one question to DCA students who are almost finished with the program: If your phone rang right now and someone offered you a job, who are they, what firm do they work at, and what’s the job?

Many students don’t have an answer.

Just as research is an essential part of good design, it’s also part of the process of finding work after the DCA program. Apart from preparing your portfolio to be as strong as it can be (we’re here to help! Call 310-206-1422 to schedule a pre-portfolio review anytime) you’ll also need to do homework on which companies or freelance opportunities you most want to pursue.

We’re thankful to advanced DCA student Ana Khachatrian who has shared her thoughts on the process of getting ready to work. She also shares a list of companies and agencies she’s accumulated over the last two years. (They are listed, in no particular order, below.)

You are nearing the end of your DCA studies and it’s time to get serious about taking the skills you’ve learned and transitioning to the workplace. What has that process been like for you?

Throughout the program, I had been developing a long list of companies and agencies in LA that hire designers. As I started to approach the end of the program, I began to do more research on all of them to determine which ones I’d be most interested in potentially pursuing. I also got a head start on putting my portfolio together so that it’s ready once I’m done with school. I’m hoping to eventually code my own site, but until then, I worked on creating a PDF version so that the content is solid and I have something to share, should the need arise. I also put up some of my work on Coroflot to start building more of an online presence until my website is done. Lastly, I’ve been attending meetups and various events to network and meet people in the industry. The community is really friendly and inviting so it’s been a mostly positive experience thus far.
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What advice would you give other students who have not reached this point yet?  

Figure out what you want to do and where you want to work and then get yourself out there. Send emails, attend events, ask for help; do whatever it takes, even if it’s hard. It’s always better to try and fail than to not try for fear of failure or rejection. It’s really helped me to figure out where I want to be and what truly excites me as a designer so I have a clear target in mind.

Ana’s list of companies:

Pivotal Labs
Sensing Places
SPINX Digital
Deluxe Media
Rovi Corp
Two Bit Circus
Riot Games
Nasty Gal
DEFY Media
Iteration Group
Saatchi LA
A Hundred Years
Big Buddha Baba
Get Some Glue
Oculus VR
The Uprising Creative
The Refinery Creative
Signature Creative
CPB Group
Ignition Creative
Brighter Collective
Joystick Interactive
Section Studios
Art+Science Labs
The Noun Project
Critical Mass
Blitz Agency
Cartoon Network
Use All Five
frog design

CP+B (Crispin Porter + Bogusky)
Possible (formerly Schematic)
Ogilvy & Mather
RPA: Rubin Postaer and Associates

Interview with recent DCA grad Paola Itikawa

paola 4

It’s always exciting to see what area of design our DCA certificate students focus on once they’ve completed the foundational coursework, and what excellent portfolio pieces result when they follow their passion. Recent graduate Paola Itikawa shares her thoughts on the DCA program, as well as some of her outstanding work:

What brought you to the DCA program?

Design was always something I thought of doing. I remember considering applying to design school for my undergrad, but I went to architecture school instead, following in my father’s footsteps who was a civil engineer.  He always had architecture blueprints all around the house that inspired me growing up. I remember in my second year of undergrad, one of my professors congratulated me on how I laid out and designed the presentation of my project.  I think that was a sign of the future path I was gonna take.

After a few years working in the architecture field, I realized I wanted something new, something that would excite me again and let me be more creative. That’s when I heard from another fellow Brazilian about UCLAx and the DCA Program.

What were yourpaola 2 favorite courses and why?

It’s good you ask what courses because it would be so hard to pick only one. I really enjoyed all the classes that John Beach taught: Surface Design for Consumer Products, Publication Design, and Package Design. I started by taking Surface Design in my third quarter and I had no idea what we would really be doing. I began with a very conservative feather sketch, but John was able to to teach us through and build our confidence as designers and enabled us to create amazing patterns. Publication and Packaging had great impact in what I work with today and they  incorporated many aspects of the design.

Another great course for me was Advanced Typography with Allison Bloss, she really stretched us in our designs and taught me so much about typography. Typography is still a constant exercise for me, that I hope to be able to master one day.paola 3

As a designer, what does a potential project need to have for you to feel passionate about it?

Each project can be different. Of course there are certain fields of the design that I enjoy working more than others, but that doesn’t necessarily make me feel more passionate about a project. The design is a process of problem solving. Many times the projects that I feel stuck in the beginning are the ones that excites me the most in the end, and the have the best results. That’s why it’s important to understand the design brief, do your research, understand your ‘competition’ and know your target audience and stay in track with what do you want to accomplish with it. Each project is a new challenge and that always excites me.

What are youpaola 1 working on now?

I am a graphic designer at The Creative Pack, an exciting little studio in Manhattan Beach. We work with branding with a focus on packaging design. We develop a lot of private label work. In Southern California, there aren’t many companies that do this kind of work, most of them are in NorCal, the East Coast, or in the UK, so i feel very privileged to be part of it. This job has taught me a lot about packaging design, about retail and marketing. I’ve been able to see my design in stores already, which is great! My initial desire in becoming a graphic designer is that my work could reach a large number of people and with this job I’ve been able to accomplish that.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

In 5 years… I hope to develop my skills and be able to look around and recognize a bunch of products that I have designed!

Matheus Spinelli on His Getty Design Studio Placement

What’s it like to do a studio placement at the Getty Museum Design Studio? UCLA Extension DCA certificate students have the unique privilege of being able to apply for this opportunity on a quarterly basis. Fall 2014 appointee Matheus Spinelli chats with us about his experience:


Studio placement work by Matheus Spinelli

What projects did you work on during your placement? What did you find rewarding about them?

I worked on real projects with all 10 designers at the studio. I collaborated on typesetting labels (including the new 65 million dollars Manet – simple, but exciting); created a new option for the Van Gogh’s irises poster; improved the standards for self guides educational sheets; all communication assets for the Getty Villa’s College Night event; helped improve the visitor experience map creating icons and tracing visitors path through the Getty Center and collaborated in the digital user experience creating user interface.  All under supervision and support of amazing, well established designers. It is fulfilling to be trusted with certain jobs in a highly respected institution such as the Getty.

What was it like being in a real design studio after being in the classroom for your DCA training?

It was an essential part of my training. I got to know a lot of tricks, methods, practices that I could only learn because of this period at the studio. The DCA program gave me the knowledge that made me feel confident around the studio, understand what I was being asked to do and, best of all, I was capable of developing every project that was put on my plate.

What will you take away from this experience that will serve you in your future design career?

Serious deadlines, simplified creative process, working as a team, respecting everyone, not being afraid to say “I can do it”, asking for feedback. Cutting, gluing, Mac and Adobe tricks and shortcuts, good ideas and conversations.3

I believe that being part of a place like the Getty, being around amazing professionals, having feedback from them on my work, and collaborating on their work is irreplaceable. And I need to give credit to the place itself! What an inspiring place to work with design, surrounded by art, architecture and amazing views of Los Angeles! All this will influence my career a lot and be in my memories.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Matheus! Best of luck.

Recent DCA Grad Daniel Coutinho lands a job with Buck


design by Daniel Coutinho

It’s always rewarding for us to see a student hone their skills in the DCA program, graduate with a strong portfolio, and land a job they are really excited about. Recent graduate Daniel Coutinho has done just that! He’s landed a full time job in a great motion graphics studio called Buck and, as he put it, “It’s been amazing, everything working out perfectly for me.”

We recently caught up with him via email to learn more about his journey from student to working design professional:

1) What was your job search like? 

As an international student I knew I had the chance to apply for an OPT after finishing the Program, and so I did. My search wouldn’t be the the same without the Internet, that’s for sure. Motion Graphics is the Design area that I like the most, and for quite some time I had had a list of LA-based Motion Graphics studios I’d love to work for if I ever had the chance, as well as their contact information I got from their websites. So I updated my online portfolio, included some favorite pieces of work I had created during the Certificate Program and e-mailed the producers of all those companies, letting them know I was looking for freelance work as a Designer/Animator. The reason why I was specifically looking for freelance work is because my plan was to get to know some companies during my Practical Training time, learn from their professionals, understand their process and feel out the environment. I had experienced friends that helped me a lot during this time; I would send out many e-mails every day and slowly started to get a few answers—it is true that you have to be persistent and patient. Freelancing at different places was incredibly rewarding, I’m thankful for everyone I crossed paths with during this period, I learned a lot about the craft and met outstanding artists, until I eventually decided to settle down when Buck, a great studio in Downtown LA where I freelanced for a few months before, offered me a position.

2) Please tell us about your new company and your new position. What are you most excited about? What are the major challenges? 

Buck is a 10-year-old company filled with fun, hard-working creative people that produces a style of work I really like seeing and making. What they do is basically Motion Graphics and Animation for TV and Internet commercials, and in my opinion they differentiate themselves by really thinking outside the box when it comes to converting the client’s needs into beautiful imagery and by being pioneers when it comes to visual and animation style. This is a company that’s always ahead of the curve, constantly creating trends in the industry, and I think they achieve that by having friendly creative high-level professionals working in a casual, lively environment. It’s really exciting to be a part of this, even more so when I remember myself browsing their website looking for inspiration years ago, still in Brazil having no idea what would happen to my career in the future. It’s true that I did plan my steps well in advance when I decided to have this work experience in the US, but I’m still surprised to look back and see the way it all happened.

I’m part of a team of animators, using mostly Adobe software such as Photoshop and After Effects. Our job is to give movement and life to the characters and graphics created by the Design team. Of course it was key for me to learn the Animation Fundamentals, but I consider having a Bachelor in Graphic Design as well as the UCLA Extension Certificate a huge asset for me even when I’m not actually designing, since as animators we always try to apply the fundamentals of Design to the frames we create when moving elements around the canvas through time.

As far as challenges, I constantly see myself surrounded by top-notch designers and animators from all over the globe, creating videos for major national and international companies; basically every day I submit my animations to the approval of some of the best creative directors of our industry—which by the way is ever evolving and reinventing itself; so keeping up with all that is a big challenge for me.

Congratulations, Daniel!

Check out this gallery of Daniel’s work:

Meet AIGA Student Pres. Michelle Quach!

Design by Michelle Quach

Design by Michelle Quach

A new academic year is upon us and we’re thrilled that DCA certificate candidate Michelle Quach will be serving as AIGA student group president through next summer quarter. Be sure to “Like” the group on Facebook to keep up to date with the events that Michelle, with faculty advisor, Pash, will be planning this year.

What brought you to the DCA program?

After graduating from college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I thought about law school for awhile, and even worked as a paralegal–but the truth is, I’ve always wanted to be in a creative field. After some extended soul-searching and career exploration, I realized design might be a good fit. I’d heard great things about the DCA program, so I decided to take the plunge and sign up for a few classes. Four quarters later, I’m very glad I did.

What’s been your favorite course so far, and why?

Pumkey and Leland

Pumkey and Leland

It’s so hard to pick one! I think my favorite courses have been the ones that changed the way I looked at the world–the ones that really opened my eyes to what it means to think like a designer. I’d say my top three contenders would be Design Fundamentals, Branding: Icons, Logos, and Identity Systems, and User Experience.

We hear you have an Etsy shop. What inspired that?

Around the time I started thinking about pursuing a creative career (and having doubts about where to start), I stumbled across this line from a commencement speech by the journalist Robert Krulwich: “There are some people who don’t wait.” He was basically saying that if you really want to do something, then you should just do it. Don’t wait to be offered a job; don’t wait to be validated. Despite not being an aspiring journalist, I found this incredibly inspiring. Opening a greeting card shop on Etsy was a way for me to apply this advice to my own life–to start doing something creative right away.


What’s in store for the AIGA student group this academic year? What type of events might we see?

Based on what I’ve heard from other DCA students, I know there’s interest in general career development topics, as well as more specific ones like user experience and wayfinding. So we’ll definitely look into those types of events. I’d also encourage anyone with other suggestions to reach out as well!

Welcome, Michelle!

Interview with Recent DCA Grad Ashley Chan

It’s that time of year again when many DCA students begin wrapping up their studies and we have the privilege of reviewing some very strong portfolio work. Ashley Chan dazzled us with her passion and talent for entertainment design. Don’t be suprised if some of those movie billboards you drive past on Santa Monica Boulevard are soon designed by her! She shares her thoughts on the DCA program and beyond:

Prop design by Ashley Chan

Prop design by Ashley Chan


What brought you to the DCA program?

Graphic design was in the back of my mind as a potential career since I taught myself Photoshop as a teenager, but it was always something I was unsure of. I went back and forth about it for a while, and ended up studying economics as an undergraduate at UCI. I spent nearly a year after school working as a publicist’s assistant and realized I wanted a more creative job. I still wanted to learn more about design and improve my skill set. When I began looking for classes, I found the DCA program and was drawn to its long list of course offerings. After I signed up for Design Fundamentals to test the waters, I jumped in and never looked back!

Entertainment design by Ashley Chan

Design by Ashley Chan

What were your favorite courses and why?

Design Fundamentals with Jag was great because it pulled me into the DCA program. I really learned about having a strong concept to back up a design, which is something I’ll never forget. I also built confidence in myself as a designer in that class. Graphic Design for Film and Television with Geoff Mandel is also at the top of my list because it was exactly the type of work I was interested in, and is the type of work I’m mostly doing now. I was able to create graphics that were actually used on a television production, and it was very exciting to see my work used outside of the classroom.

As a designer, what does a potential project need to have for you to feel passionate about it?

When I’m creating graphics for film and television, such as props and set decoration, I get excited about the variety and range of graphics needed. I love when I get to try new techniques and adapt to different styles to suit the look or setting of the show. I also have fun trying to create purposely bad design for the sake of the story. In general, I’m passionate about projects when there’s a challenge. The projects that really push me and force me to problem solve and try different approaches are the truly exciting ones.

"Atonement" poster design by Ashley Chan

“Atonement” poster design by Ashley Chan

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

If all goes well, I’ll be designing graphics for film and television productions with a long list of credits under my belt!

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