Dot Magazine - FALL 2015 ABOUT / ARCHIVE

around the world

Smart products, books, exhibitions, projects and ventures by Art Center alumni and faculty

Kim Jongdeok, Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Film alumnus Kim Jongdeok, Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Get Ready for the Next Wave

Kim Jongdeok BFA 1987 / MFA 1989

Whether it’s K-pop star Psy’s “Gangnam Style” music video blowing up YouTube records or the global popularity of television dramas like Boys Over Flowers, these days Korean culture is impossible to ignore. The rapid spread of Korean culture beyond its country’s borders has been dubbed Hallyu, or the Korean wave, and if Film alumnus Kim Jongdeok, South Korea’s newly appointed Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, has anything to say about it, this current wave is only the first of many to come.

During his first press conference, Jongdeok said that, lest the world lose interest, the next Hallyu needs to move beyond overseas idol sensations and shift towards cultural exchanges and diversity. No small task, but Jongdeok should be up for the challenge—his impressive resume includes earning a PhD in communication from Seoul National University, working as dean of Hongik University’s Graduate School of Film and Digital Media in Seoul, and serving as president of the Korean Society of Design Science. And yes, let’s not forget he graduated from Art Center. — MW

Image Reversal

Karen Beard BFA 1997

“Girls today are inundated daily with imagery that is overtly or covertly sexist,” says Photography alumna Karen Beard. “They have not developed the skills to question the visual language that surrounds them. I wanted to do something about that as a mother, and I realized that I could.” In 2012 Beard founded Shestock, a stock photography agency that offers compelling and visceral female-centric images created exclusively by professional women photographers. Early on in her career, Beard was drawn to the freedom that stock photography made possible. “Stock allowed me this open free space to create, to make mistakes, to evolve as a photographer—it gave me an outlet for that and a place to put the images. If they sold, that was great. If people passed, that was fine too.” Now she dedicates her time to mentoring women photographers and curating images for Shestock. Her goal is to get women to look at their own lives and document them, sharing how they want to look and how they want to feel. Shestock’s latest project: building its industry-leading collection of women and girls portrayed in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) environments to counter the persistent domination of male images in this realm. — AM

Watch video: Girls on Film: Gendered STEM Imagery

Outstanding in His Fieldwork


As UNICEF’s Innovation Lab Lead for Indonesia, alumnus Jeffrey Hall has developed a simple standard for his projects: to use design to improve the quality of people’s daily lives. “I collaborate with some amazing people, both in the U.N. and the creative community, to see how innovative approaches can be applied to improving their programs, technology, process or partnerships,” says Hall. His current position evolved out of his Media Design Practices (MDP) field research in Uganda with UNICEF’s Global Innovation team. Now his work is centered around three programs: the Global Design for UNICEF Challenge in Indonesia; U-Report Indonesia, a social media polling platform for engaging young people in development; and an emergency kit focused on empowering youth to actively contribute during the country’s frequent emergencies, like urban flooding in Jakarta. Hall credits MDP with equipping him with the tools to navigate his nontraditional career path. “The MDP field research—in contexts that are uncertain, challenging and confusing—really forces you to learn by doing,” Hall says. “Frankly it’s a lot more comfortable to find a place where you can do design that you’re already skilled at. But a nontraditional context for your design can force you to grow beyond your own conceptions of what design can do and discover something that matters not just for yourself, but for others.” — CS

Sketchy Crowd

Bob Kato BFA 1987

You may not have heard of The Drawing Club, but for anyone who is serious about the art and craft of character drawing, this enduring Los Angeles institution is both a hands-on weekly workshop and a creative community hub. Launched in 2002 by Illustration alumnus and faculty member Bob Kato, it’s a place where story and character can be observed and interpreted from life. Inspired by his popular drawing workshops for artists at places such as Disney and Universal Studios Creative, The Drawing Club brings master artists together with students who are fresh out of school. A new book, The Drawing Club: Master the Art of Drawing Characters from Life (Quarry Books),
celebrates the workshop’s storied history and approach: The Club provides characters in custom-built sets accompanied by a themed soundtrack specific to that character. The richly illustrated book delivers instruction on what makes a good drawing, ways to translate the world from 3D to 2D, how to tell a story and more. Many of the book’s contributors are Art Center-affiliated, including alumni Justine Limpus Parish, Mike Bertino BFA 07, Ronald Llanos BFA 03, Jeffrey Smith BFA 80 and Cameron Tiede BFA 01, each of whom has also taught at the College. The Drawing Club always welcomes new members and continues to meet every Thursday evening and one Sunday morning each month at its new location, Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra. — AM

A Polished Performance

Nolen Niu BS 1999

When a casting agent called Product Design alumnus Nolen Niu asking if he would be interested in participating as a judge on a Spike TV show, Niu didn’t hesitate. “Hell yeah!” Those two words landed him a stint as one of three judges on Framework, Spike’s newest reality show, where contestants vie to be named best furniture maker—and win a $100,000 prize. Joining Niu on each weekly episode are hip-hop artist and actor Common, and Hard Goods’ founder Brandon Gore. “Common is the tastemaker and represents the everyday consumer, and Brandon is the build expert,” says Niu. “Both give insightful critiques without the design lingo.” As the only formally trained designer on the judging team, Niu is often reminded of the intensity of his time at Art Center. “The demands on these competitors, designing, building and finishing an entire piece of furniture in 24 hours, with back-to-back-to-back challenges, was really impressive to watch.” In tune with the current maker movement, the show offers a glimpse into the process of creating handcrafted goods. “This has been one of the best experiences I’ve had during my career as a designer,” says Niu. “The opportunity to judge a competition and hold a position of authority related to design was an absolute honor.” On one episode, Niu’s fellow alum Richard Holbrook BS 81 Transportation shared that honor, as a guest judge. — AM

Hear, Hear!

Neeti Kailas MS 2013

Neeti Kailas has always been passionate about healthcare. While in the Industrial Design graduate program at Art Center, her pregnancy risk-assessment kit, Aadhya, was exhibited in the Student Gallery. Today, inspired by a childhood friend in India who was born deaf, Kailas is working to address another critical yet largely ignored healthcare need in resource-poor communities worldwide—routine hearing screening of newborns, crucial to their future language development. An inexpensive, easy-to-use, portable diagnostic device that she designed with engineer Nitin Sisodia has been turning heads. In 2014, as one of five visionary Young Laureates, Kailas received the prestigious Rolex Award for Enterprise; and this year Forbes India included her on its “30 Under 30” list. The ensuing international press attention, says Kailas, has been great for the startup Sohum Innovation Lab that she and Sisodia co-founded. “To me, design is about problem solving, and thinking about how I can have maximum impact on society. Some of the problems we are trying to solve are systemic—they cannot be solved in isolation, but need more than one type of innovation to be effective and sustainable.” Using Rolex Award funds to conduct a clinical evaluation of the prototype device, the duo have been setting up a network of healthcare professionals in India who can diagnose or treat deafness. Now it’s up to investors and other supporters to help bring the project to scale. — AM

Watch Video: Neeti Kailas, 2014 Rolex Young Laureate

Monster Maven

Dahlia Schweitzer MA 2008

Peripatetic is one sure way to describe Dahlia Schweitzer. The Baton Rouge-born novelist, chanteuse and performance artist studied at Wesleyan University, lived and worked in New York and Berlin, and landed in Los Angeles some eight years ago to begin her studies at Art Center. “I was traveling around Europe doing a Dietrich-inspired punk rock cabaret show, but decided I wanted to focus more on my writing,” she recalls. “I was having a very tough time finding a graduate program that felt like a good fit. But Art Center faculty definitely understood and appreciated my interdisciplinary approach.” As a graduate student in Criticism and Theory, Schweitzer produced a master’s thesis that eventually became Cindy Sherman’s Office Killer: Another Kind of Monster—her 2014 book and first work of nonfiction. Sherman’s only feature film achieved instant cult status when it premiered in 1997, but never got the critical attention it deserved. Now pursuing a PhD in cinema and media studies at UCLA (while teaching writing in the Humanities and Sciences Department at Art Center), Schweitzer is exploring “outbreak narratives” in American film and television from the mid-1990s to the present. “Despite the seemingly disparate nature of my work—music, fiction, performance, and now contagion—you’ll see a consistent focus on issues of gender, sexuality and identity in it all,” she says. — CGA

Ich Bin Ein Berliner

Michael Sans BS 1997

“Inspiring and helping each other goes both ways,” says Product Design alumnus Michael Sans of his engagement with students at Art Center Bikini Berlin, the College’s satellite studio where he is managing director. Sans’ own education began at the workbench of his woodworker grandfather in a small German town on the Rhine. He apprenticed as a cabinetmaker, briefly studied architecture in Florence, and turned to product design when he entered the program at Art Center Europe in Switzerland—emerging forever shaped by its “professional approach, intense schedule, small classes and perfect facilities.” Sans works across media and industries, from fashion and architecture to automotive, designing, for example, the interface graphics and hardware of the control unit in all Volkswagen police cars in Germany. He opened his own studio in 2003, pursuing an eclectic range of projects. Inspired by the original Swiss army bag, he designed a line of sturdy but extremely fine handmade leather goods; created the DIY-inspired Lida Street Collection of furniture for Art Center Bikini Berlin; and transformed a historic Berlin butcher shop into a high-end café. “It’s always felt natural to me to construct things,” he says, “to develop new ideas and solve problems through experimenting and trying them out in 3D.” — CGA


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