Closer

Featured Students

What kind of student enrolls in ACN courses? That's not an easy question to answer. We have students ranging from recent high school graduates to mid-career professionals to more experienced individuals pursuing new creative passions.

One thing all ACN students have in common is that they have stories to share—stories of what brought them to ACN and stories of how the experience changed them.

Here are just a few of our students who have been kind enough to share with us their stories.

Frederika Roeder

ACN Courses: Collage and Assemblage; Color and Light in Painting

Artist Frederika Roeder is a California native whose work reflects the wide vistas, horizons and expanses of the Golden State. She uses mixed media—including acrylic, gels, resin and molding paste—to explore what she calls “the shimmering luminosity of it all.”

Over the years, she has taken several courses through Art Center at Night (ACN) with instructors Mary Winterfield and the late Franklyn Liegel. “Every second in class with them was great,” she says of her ACN experience. “I looked forward to it all week long.”

Roeder says Liegel being “unbelievably open-minded” when it came to which materials his students could use in his course Collage and Assemblage. “One student came in with door frames,” she laughs, and then remembers how Liegel would ask everybody to lay out their materials in an organized fashion before starting work. “He told us that when we left his class we’d be able to set up our own studio. He constantly reminded us what a ‘studio practice’ really meant.”

Roeder also cites Winterfield’s interpretations of color and light as being influential in her work. “I love color and I think you can never know enough about it,” she says, and recalls how her instructor would lecture on and demonstrate the “infinite qualities of color” in terms of tone, hue and value in her course Color and Light in Painting. “If anybody can take color apart and talk about it in current terms, it’s Mary. I left her classes way more informed than when I entered.”

Roeder’s work was recently included in the exhibition Ink & Clay at the Kellogg Gallery at Cal Poly University, Pomona, and she has also exhibited at Shoshana Wayne Gallery at Bergamont Station in Santa Monica and at both Factory Studio and Offramp Gallery in Pasadena.

Simon Davey

ACN Courses: Introduction to Product and Transportation Design; Creative Sketchbooks, Journals and Altered Books

I’ve heard people describe my work as playful or whimsical, and I don’t really shy away from that. At the heart of my design philosophy is an attempt to truly understand the context in which a problem exists. In other words, I like questioning how and why people are using their stuff. And that means sometimes the work I create borders on the ridiculous—such as Spiteful Table, a side table/rocking chair hybrid. 

I really enjoyed taking Introduction to Product and Transportation Design with Randall Smock. His assignments and critiques were great. One project brief he gave us was to design a fan. I quickly decided I didn’t want to design a traditional desktop fan. Instead I imagined an emergency device that would assist firefighters by clearing smoke out of a building. That project taught me that there’s value in deconstructing the problem you’re trying to solve.

What resonated with me about Randall’s class, especially once I started as a Product Design student at Art Center, was the clarity with which he worked through our projects. I’d say that’s the most important thing I took away from Art Center at Night—an understanding of the foundation and the methodology that encompasses design. As an undergraduate student, I could definitely tell which students had taken Art Center at Night classes—they were the ones who had a better understanding of the design process.

Another Art Center at Night course I really enjoyed was Creative Sketchbooks, Journals and Altered Books with Mary Yanish. In a typical design class you work on one project over multiple weeks. But in Creative Sketchbooks the focus was on filling a sketchbook with several pages of mixed-media work each and every week. Exploration was very much encouraged, and it was in that course that I realized the importance of narrative and crafting a story around a product experience. It really helped me creatively and was a welcome change of pace.

To learn more about Davey and his work, visit his website.

Diego Porqueras

Course: Basics of Film

These days 3D printing is everywhere. Creatives are using this emerging technology to make everything from fashion gowns to gummy replicas of themselves. Even the President mentioned it in his most recent State of the Union address.

One man who’s made quite a name for himself in this burgeoning arena is Diego Porqueras, inventor of the BukoBot 3D printer and the president and founder of Deezmaker, a 3D printer store and hackerspace in Pasadena. Surprisingly enough, the path that led Porqueras into this brave new world began with an Art Center at Night (ACN) film course he took 13 years ago.

“I took Basics of Film with Robert Mehnert and that ended up being a big turning point in my career,” says Porqueras, who said he already had some experience making movies prior to the class but that the course provided him with a better grasp of the basics.

But that wasn’t the turning point. That happened when an ACN classmate who was working as a production assistant told the class he was leaving the country for two weeks and asked if anybody would be interested in taking his place on a few productions. “I was the first guy to raise my hand for that,” says Porqueras with a laugh.

Porqueras’ extensive knowledge of cameras (his father is a photographer) meant he was able to land one job after another in Hollywood, from developing underwater camera rigs to working as a digital imaging technician, for films ranging from the hip hop DJ documentary Scratch (2001) to the Jim Carrey comedy Fun with Dick and Jane (2005) to the Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading (2008).

But Porqueras’ life took another turn when he saw a CNN news segment about 3D printing in the home. “I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” says Porqueras, who immediately imagined how useful a 3D printer could prove in the world of camera technicians. “Camera operators and Steadicam guys always need brackets for shots and they’re always throwing stuff together at the last-minute. I thought that with a 3D printer you could easily make brackets out of plastic that would be durable.”

An interest in learning how to use 3D printers soon developed into an interest in how to make 3D printers. And in April 2012, Porqueras introduced the world to the Bukobot, an easy-to-use open source 3D printer, via Kickstarter. His goal was to raise $42,000 for the project, which he ended up nearly quadrupling. “We’re trying to set ourselves apart from our competitors by making a good quality machine that’s also affordable,” says Porqueras of his Bukobot 3D printers, of which he plans to unveil new models at next month’s MakerFaire in San Mateo, Calif. “They might not have a super fancy cover and a nice logo, but they’ll print really, really good and they’re reliable and consistent.”

His success with the Bukobot on Kickstarter, coupled with opening the first 3D printer store on the West Coast—and only the second in the United States—makes him a natural fit for this Saturday’s Designer Technologies: Is 3D Printing Creating a New Entrepreneurial Ecosystem? event, part of the Caltech Entrepreneur’s Forum, in which he’ll be speaking on a panel along with Thingify’s Brian Arandez, LA Makerspace’s Tara Tiger Brown and Edward C. Tackett, RapidTech Director at University of California Irvine and Saddleback College.

After that, it’ll be time for the afore-mentioned MakerFaire and, if things go well, possibly moving Deezmaker a few doors down to a vacant corner unit. “The store would be twice as big which means we could have some good-sized Arduino and 3D printing classes,” says Porqueras. “Plus, it has windows on two sides. Having more light always feels better.”