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UCLAxOpen free course: Design a Brilliant Career and Find Your Professional Purpose

On Tuesday, June 22 from 3-4:30pm the Visual Arts presents: Design a Brilliant Career and Find Your Professional Purpose.

In this free short course, design education leaders Scott Hutchinson and Vesna Petrovic will teach you how to take your design career goals from lackluster to brilliant.

This opportunity is part of UCLAxOpen, your gateway to no-cost personal enrichment and professional development courses and seminars offered via UCLA Extension.

Vesna Petrovic

Vesna Petrović is the founder and owner of VESNA DE3IGN studio. She is a graphic designer and educator. Vesna served for several years as a board member in AIGA in two separate chapters—Los Angeles and Orange County—and its national center for Cross-Cultural Design. She also participated in design portfolio reviews for AIGA LA, AIGA OC, CSUN, Otis College of Art and Design, and here at UCLAx.

Her work has been published and shown in graphic design publications and exhibitions, and is included in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s permanent graphic design collection. Vesna has organized and curated two graphic design exhibitions—L.A. Design in Belgrade (AIGA) and Everyday Design From Around the World (AIGA), the latter traveling from Los Angeles to New York to Mexico City. She served as a judge at several design competitions including Art Directors Club of America, AIGA LA and AIGA OC. Vesna was trained both as an architect and a graphic designer and holds B.A./M.Arch degrees from the University of Belgrade.

She teaches Design Fundamentals, Design III: Branding, and Portfolio in the DCA program.

Scott Hutchinson

Scott Hutchinson is the Program Director of the Visual Arts at UCLA Extension. Currently he is organizing TEDxUCLA.

More about Scott: I work for the design, studio, photography and art history programs at UCLA Extension, in addition to consulting and teaching in the area of commercial design. My training is as a designer, with a BA and MFA from UCLA’s Design Media Arts program, and I specialize in identity work for a variety of non-profits, mainly in branding, identity systems, social media and web development. Board activity includes National AIGA Design Educators Committee, AIGA Los Angeles Education advisor, United Designs, UCLA Volunteer Center, and sustainability committees on campus, UCLA Extension, and the Green Observers Foundation. Speaker at a variety of conferences on design, visual literacy, semiotics, and social media.

Enroll in Design a Brilliant Career and Find Your Professional Purpose today!

Interview with DCA graduate Laura Ángel

Congrats to Laura Ángel for completing the DCA program!

We previously featured Laura for her packaging project that was published on the influential blog Packaging of the World. She tells us more about her time in the DCA program:

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

After a bachelor’s degree in Audiovisual Communication and two years working as a web designer and QA, I realized I wasn’t really happy. I discovered that design was the only aspect of my job that I really enjoyed, so I decided to steer my professional career in a different direction without knowing exactly where it was going to take me. After a lot of research, I found the DCA program and I remember thinking that there wasn’t a single class that I wouldn’t enjoy, so I made the decision to move to LA and pursue my passion for graphic design.

What were your favorite courses and why?

Typography and Design II: Collateral Communication were my favorite courses, although I really enjoyed the program as a whole. I found that the Typography course really helped me understand and appreciate how letterforms work with each other and with other elements of design and taught me how to think creatively to achieve many iterations on the same subject, which is something that as designers we should excel at.

In Design II: Collateral Communication, I was able to put into practice all of the different aspects of design that I had learned, like typography, color theory, layout, hierarchy, etc. and the importance of the relationships between them in a single piece.

What’s a project (student or professional) that you’re particularly proud of?

530 Craft Beer was a project that I created in Design II: Collateral Communication. It reflects the very first stages of my creative style and vision as a junior designer, and it gave me the confidence and motivation to continue creating and sharing my work with others, which in the beginning is a really hard thing to do.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

I’m currently focused on gathering as much experience and knowledge as I can from other great designers. I think that having in-house experience is incredibly important to understand all of the details that go into producing great design, but long term I would love to create an independent studio where others can also learn, grow and share their creative vision.

Thank you, Laura!

From the DCA program to a Thriving Freelance Career: Interview with DCA graduate Gabrielle Merite

“I am still discovering the bliss, pain and coffee addiction that come with being your own boss!” – Gabrielle Merite 

Designer Gabrielle Merite, who completed the DCA program two years ago, is becoming quite well known for her work in info-design. This is an article/infographic designed, written and produced by Gabrielle. And you can see her Behance here and her website here.

She was kind enough to take the time to catch up with us:

You completed the DCA program in 2019. Where has your career taken you since then?

When leaving the DCA program, I started working as a brand designer: first for a cosmetic company, where I had done my internship, then for a technology startup in the restaurant industry. Parallel to these in-house positions, I developed my focus on information design, working with clients as a freelancer. Last June, I quit my full-time job and started this exciting (but terrifying) adventure that is being a full-time independent designer.

What’s a project that you’re especially proud of?

That is a tough question. I am a harsh critic when it comes to my own work. I’d say that my main pride is becoming a (somewhat) competent designer in the very specific field of data visualization and information design. Coming from a non-design background – I was a scientific journalist before the DCA – it was definitely an ambitious project. This field is very niche. There are no traditional career paths to follow to get there. I am grateful that I was given so many opportunities to develop my design skills and portfolio, despite my atypical profile, while working with people making a positive impact on the world. If I had to pick my most favorite project… I probably would have a hard time choosing between my data illustrations series for WePresent because of how much fun it was to use mixed media, my latest piece in the MIT Technology Review for having the freedom to explore scrollytelling, or my ongoing work with the United Nations (all the above and more).

What’s one positive thing that you’ve learned about the design industry? What’s one thing that’s been more challenging than you expected?

One positive thing: once you find it, among this huge field that is design, your niche community will change your life! In the past two years, I have had the chance to connect and become close friends with talented designers and other creatives. Our exchanges on design, freelance, creativity… and their support have been invaluable. They have truly helped me be a better designer and a better person. I wish this type of support would be accessible to any new designer, including those from underrepresented backgrounds in order to build more inclusive communities. This relates to what has been particularly challenging : finding a place where I can design for people, not for profit. Us designers cannot afford to ignore our role in detrimental systems and processes any longer. Our work is embedded into business models, organizational structures and policies. This is a constraint. It can also be an opportunity to push, from the inside, a change towards a more sustainable future.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

I am not sure yet, I am still discovering the bliss, pain and coffee addiction that come with being your own boss! There are so many options from there. Whether it is to keep growing my solo practice, building an agency with collaborators or, who knows, going back to a 9-5?
Hopefully, then, I will still be creating designs (with data!) that fill my soul and tentatively help build a more compassionate world.

Congrats Gabrielle!

Future of Work Conference: 2 free Visual Arts sessions

Don’t miss either of the two free, upcoming sessions of the Future of Work Conference hosted by UCLAx and presented by members of the Visual Arts department:

Wed. May 19: What’s Your Brand Story? by DCA instructor Shirin RabanClick here for details and to RSVP

Thu. May 20: The Future of Design is Immersive, and Really Fun by Visual Arts program director Scott HutchinsonClick Here for details and to RSVP

These two sessions are open to any Extension Student.

In addition, UCLA Extension certificate students and alumni are welcome to attend the entire conference. See the schedule for the entire series and learn how to enroll here.

Interview with DCA and UX graduate Keita Aoyama

Keita Aoyama

Congratulations to recent graduate Keita Aoyama! He tells us a bit about his experience in both the DCA and UX programs:

Tell us how you got interested in design and user experience and what brought you to our programs.

Prior to coming to The States to study at UCLA Extension, I was a software engineer in Tokyo. I enjoyed writing codes and building products with other people and learned a lot from that experience. The desire to work more closely with the actual users really fueled my interest in design. While working on projects I realized what I really wanted to do was to talk to people and see how products I work on actually improve their lives. At that point I had already heard about UX and product design, and I knew I wanted to pursue my career in that field. I started doing some research to find a program where I can learn both visual design and UX design to help with transitioning my career, and that is how I came across UCLA Extension.

What were your favorite courses and why?

I really enjoyed all the classes I have taken here. Learning with other classmates who are in similar life stages as me was encouraging, and their creativity and passion helped me become a better designer. But if I had to choose, Typography with John Beach and User Experience III: Applied with Adam Fischbach kept me on the edge of my seat.

In Typography class, instructor Beach created a safe environment where students got to experiment with different typographic compositions and styles. This helped me develop an ability to distinguish what works and what does not, as well as establish my own way of approaching design from a typographic perspective. User Experience III: Applied incorporated a full term team project. Throughout the course, instructor Fischbach encouraged us to think about how to approach problems on our own instead of following directions. This sort of strategy cultivated the ability to sense the real-life environment and come up with best solutions in a given situation. Working with other people always comes with pros and cons, and thanks to this experience I was able to learn much more than I would have if I were to work on the project by myself.

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 would like to work in an environment where I would be able to make an impact on a global scale and work collaboratively with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I believe that great products come from multi-disciplinary teams that consist of different kinds of people with a shared goal and passion. Designing products in that kind of environment has always been my goal since the beginning.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

I would like to lead my own design team and make people’s lives better through the power of design. There are a lot of problems as to how we use technology, and I think we designers have contributed to it. With that in mind, I would like to be a designer who can match business objectives and user needs in a sustainable and ethical way. I hope I can design products that make people’s lives better while achieving business goals. Additionally, I would like to contribute to the design community. I learned a lot from designers out there sharing their knowledge and skills and would like to give back to the community by sharing my own experience.

Congratulations, Keita!

UCLAxOpen Free Course: What’s Your Brand Story?

Join us Thursday, May 13th from 2 – 3:30pm PST for What’s Your Brand Story?, a free short-course taught by Design Communication Arts instructor and Outstanding instructor Award winner Shirin Raban.

Have you ever struggled to quickly explain what you do to someone you just met? Did you ever wonder how people come up with short and effective descriptions about their creative careers or activities? Explore examples of professional and student brand stories and learn how to articulate the value and tone of your brand through a message that moves your audience.  

Shirin Raban

I am a brand strategy designer and documentary maker who teaches courses and workshops in branding and visual storytelling. My expertise is articulating the purpose of stories and visually communicating their messages. My passion is helping my clients and students project the authentic voices of their brands and stories.”

Enroll in What’s Your Brand Story? today!

Interview with DCA graduate Maureen Keeney

Congratulations to recent graduate Maureen Keeney! She tells us a bit about her experience in the DCA program:

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

Ever since I could remember, I always loved looking at interesting design. Mostly, I was drawn in by the illustrations, if any. But there were these other elements all working in harmony that made it capture my attention. At the point that I decided to join the DCA program, I had already completed some college for illustration and I was pretty good at choosing typography, but there were other things I didn’t quite understand. I chose the UCLA Extension certificate program because it seemed like a promising opportunity to gain more knowledge in the realm of design without having to make the commitment of an undergrad degree.

What were your favorite courses and why?

My favorite courses in the program were the Design Software Intensive Boot Camp with Hakon Engvig, Design IV: Capstone with John Beach, and Portfolio with Michelle Constantine. These instructors made the classes memorable because they gave us the freedom to experiment while also sticking to the curriculum. The software boot camp was one of the first classes I took in the program so I could brush up on the programs used for design. In Design IV: Capstone, I learned how to properly rebrand and pitch. Then, everything came together in Portfolio, where I worked on my own brand and decided which direction I wanted to go in, career-wise.

If the phone rang right now with your dream job, who’s calling and what’s the job?

My dream job would probably be designing and illustrating movie posters, book covers, or children’s books. I would be satisfied at any job where I could use both of these skills to my advantage. A New Yorker cover would probably be the ultimate dream.

Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?

In five years, I hope to be freelancing full time and making enough money to support myself with my art. The end goal has always been to work for myself and be in place where I can pick and choose which projects work best for me. I’m hoping that, by this point, I will have designed and illustrated at least one children’s book.

Congrats, Maureen!

Interview with DCA graduate Elizabeth Gilmour

Congratulations to recent graduate Elizabeth Gilmour! She tells us a bit about her experience in the DCA program:

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

I came to design indirectly. I have a background in art, languages, teaching, and marketing. My love of the written word was the connecting thread. I decided on taking the DCA program to improve my visual communication skills in my marketing career.

I like to think of the visual shapes of words as graphic elements in and of themselves. In early childhood, I lived in a place where the main language was foreign to me, and before I could understand what was written on store signs and parking lots, I was drawn to the outlines of the words and the emotion they seemed to convey. As soon as I became literate, I became a type nerd, inventing alphabets and secret codes, collecting rubber stamps, scrutinizing international postage stamps, and creating homemade posters and booklets on the history of printing. One of my memorable childhood experiences was visiting a linotype printing press and casting my name in a line of metal type.

I’ve had a lifelong love affair with the visually represented word. For me, a book is the perfect design object because it combines functionality and beauty; it is also a tactile, visual, and a personal object that links one’s past, present, and future.


What were your favorite courses and why?

All my UNEX courses were amazing. I particularly enjoyed Typography, InDesign, and Design History and Context. Typography is foundational, as type is the anchor on which effective design communication lies.

InDesign is a compact yet complete course to improve layout and typography skills. I learned efficient work flows in design software and even tried my hand at book-binding techniques!

Design History and Context helped me further develop professional presentation techniques and helped expand my Eurocentric perception of design into one that is more inclusive and historically aware.

In addition to the DCA certificate, you’ve also pursued certificates in marketing and business at UCLAx. Please tell us about the rationale behind your pursuing the different fields of study, and what you hope to accomplish?

At the beginning of my UCLA Extension certificate in Business Leadership, I had no idea this path would lead me to marketing and design! I took the Business certificate initially to help transition from a teacher mindset to one of a businessperson in my new life in the US.

I took a social media marketing course as an elective in the Business certificate, and soon after opted to pursue the Marketing Certificate with Concentration in Social Media and Web Analytics. The energy of collaborating with teams in these courses was infectious: marketing in the digital era was an exciting channel for verbal/visual communication and creativity. After completing the Marketing certificate, I began my OPT (Optional Practical Training for international students on F1 visa status) as a marketing communications coordinator for a non-profit. I soon realized that I loved the graphic design side of my new job but needed to improve my skills to create original and professional-looking materials. That’s where UCLA Extension’s certificate in Design Communication Arts came in. The very name of the certificate echoed my belief that good design is as much a form of communication as it is an art.

Extension helped me find my true calling as a marketer and designer.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?

I’ve lived in Canada and Germany, and travelled extensively. I think a lot of us who have lived internationally and have been engaged in many different fields find it hard to see how all our experiences tie together at first. UCLA Extension gives students the practical skills and personal connections to help them distill their diverging experiences into something compelling and unique.

I see myself channeling the skills and practices I’ve learned into visual communications that help people and organizations improve their stewardship of the natural world. We are facing a grave climate crisis; we need to learn effective communication techniques to bring conservation awareness to individuals and corporations. Language can empower, give hope and enable positive transformation. Language amplified through beautiful design can spark positive action and change.

Congratulations, Elizabeth!

Interview with DCA graduate Gözde Onaran

Congratulations to recent graduate Gözde Onaran! She tells us a bit about her experience in the program:

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.
I was a writer and editor for a film magazine in Turkey and I had just finished a PhD in Cultural Studies. Which means that I had been mostly reading and writing for several years, and I just had enough. Because I am actually a very visual person, and have always been deeply interested in arts and design. So I decided to reconnect with my visual side and skills (I am also a painter). I did some research on how I could improve and focus these skills. I considered doing an MFA but felt that I didn’t want to go through another full academic program. The DCA program at UCLAx was exactly what I needed in terms of flexibility and quality.

What were your favorite courses and why?
I enjoyed almost every course. I learned as much from the course material as I did from many of the instructors as people, and also from being in a creative environment with many inspiring classmates. But there is one course that I really wish I had taken: Grace Magnus’ Typography course. Still regret having missed that.

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?
There are three (not in this specific order): One would be someone from an independent movie studio (neon rated, A24, etc.) asking me to do posters for their films. The other would be someone from an NGO working on women’s or minority rights and they want me to do their brand identity. Another one would be someone from a publishing house asking me to design book covers/dust jackets.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
I wish to use my skills in meaningful ways – by contributing to the well-being of humans, animals, nature… Or by creating inspiring visuals that may brighten the moment for those who see it. Actually, the ideal for me would be to be able to do both.

Congratulations, Gözde!

UCLAxOpen free course: Character Animation is Your Super Power to Bringing Stories to Life

On Tuesday, March 16th from 2-3:30pm, motion graphics instructor David Dodds presents: Character Animation is Your Super Power to Bringing Stories to Life.

This free workshop is for anyone interested in bringing stories to life with animation. Corporate videos, entertainment, and explainer videos are increasingly using animated characters. Learn the process of creating your first animation, and explore the tools professional animators use on TV shows such as The Simpsons, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Tooning Out the News.

Topics will include:

· Overview of compelling video creations currently being created
· Discuss the demand in the industry and how these skills are needed
· 4 work spaces in Character Animator
· How to start a project
· Rigging basics
· Puppet preflight
· Customizing with Adobe Illustrator
· Backgrounds
· Audio recording and editing
· Face recording and editing
· Exporting video files

Like what you see? David will also be teaching a full 11-week course on Character Animator this spring: Adobe Character Animator: How to Make Your Characters Walk and Talk.

David Dodds is a Los Angeles-based motion graphics designer. His experience spans a decade in motion graphics, special effects, broadcast design, character animation, and infographics. He has worked for studios such as Stardust, Mirada, Logan, and NFL Networks. Author of Hands-On Motion Graphics with Adobe After Effects CC: Develop Your Skills as a Visual Effects and Motion Graphics Artist.

The one-day opportunity is part of UCLAxOpen, your gateway to no-cost personal enrichment and professional development courses and seminars offered via UCLA Extension.

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