Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sign of the Times

Today this notice was hanging up in our office bathroom:

I love a good graphic. How nice and clean do those hands look? So nice and clean. This sign gets an A+ for making me want to wash my hands over and over again with a fresh bar of Irish Spring.

Offices are hotbeds of note-leaving - there must be something about the work environment that makes people feel that they must express themselves via written, public communiques.

Which is why I love the website Passive Aggressive Notes. It's a collection of the exasperated, preachy notes that are left by the roommates, office mates and fed up people in our lives. I collected a few of my favorite office-related entries (the main themes are "Don't eat my food!" "Clean the microwave" and "If you're sick, go home!"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Instructor Interview: Felipe Dupouy

Felipe is a gifted commercial and fine art photographer who we feel very lucky to have teaching with us. His enthusiasm for photography is contagious and inspiring, and his beautiful images have a depth and resonance that stick with you (I have one of his images of Boyle Heights set as my desktop, and people often comment on it). You can view his commercial work at, and his fine art work at

Since he'll be teaching his course Photographing Places at our Figueroa Courtyard downtown center this summer, I thought it would be fun to ask him a few questions about his practice and background.

What kind of formal arts education do you have, and how did it prepare you for the world of professional photography? Do you feel that classes or real-world experience is more valuable for developing photographers?

I graduated from Art Center College of Design with a BFA in photography. The program, when I went there, was incredible. It aimed to prepare photographers for all kind of circumstances, still lives, portraiture, architecture, product etc. So after leaving, I felt ready for anything - I felt I had the basis to figure anything out. I think that you need to have both ideas and inspiration, and an impeccable knowledge of the technical aspects of photography, to be able to carry those ideas out.

Do you remember your first professional photography assignment? Did you feel prepared, or were you winging it?

I was definitely prepared for my first professional assignment. It was for the LA Times Magazine, shooting a couple of hotels in Santa Barbara. The problem was that the magazine did not have permission to shoot on the grounds of these places, so I had to shoot them from across the street. I wanted so badly to make something incredible and blow everyone away at the magazine, but sometimes commercial photography is making the best of an OK or a bad situation. That's why, if you have spent the time to understand your craft and gotten the technical side down, you can make something out of nothing.

What projects are you working on now, and what is inspiring you?

I am going to South America for a month to shoot some stuff for Getty Images and do some personal work there. I have an ongoing series of this city that I am trying to get published. The book is titled “Portrait Los Angeles,” and it's about 10 years of me roaming around mostly downtown with my 4 x 5 camera. The prints are heavily manipulated black and whites as well as color.

Who are some photographers whose work you admire?

I don’t look at photography that much, but as far as art inspiring me, I would have to say that street art and stencils are my favorite. Free for everyone to see, and usually some pointed social commentary as well.

What advice would you have for someone who is looking to become a professional in the field?

Follow your dreams and create work from your heart. Then try to figure out where the work fits in.

Images by Felipe Dupouy

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Who Among Us Would Not Commision an Oil Painting, If We Could?

My friend Stacey went to see the Michael Jackson auction at the Beverly Hilton. Or, as they are calling it, King of Pop: A Once in a Lifetime Public Exhibition Featuring Property From the Life and Career of Michael Jackson and Neverland Ranch.

I asked her how it was, and she said "Exactly as insane as you would expect." I was sorry to have missed it, so luckily I ran across this Flickr photo set from comedian Paul Scheer.

I think the pictures speak for themselves, but before we go around pointing the crazy finger, let's all think long and hard about what we would do if we had 32 kerjillion dollars and lots of free time.

Michael Jackson Auction - My Favorite Items (Flickr Photo Set by Paul Scheer)
Via Boingboing

Monday, April 27, 2009

Catalogs of Glory

The summer catalog is out, and it's a good one. Aside from the fact that we're offering some really fun summer classes, the cover is by genius graphic designer Paula Scher.

The summer cover is part of the UCLA Extension Masters of Graphic Design series. It's pretty awesome that these giants in their field contribute their work to our little nonprofit, and we have been graced with some beautiful covers over the years. There's a section on our website where you can view a hit parade of past covers (click here). My favorites are the ones that are puns on the word Extension, like this one by Woody Pertl:

Or this one by Dana Arnett, which is an even more blatant and (I think) satisfying pun:

Paula Scher is a favorite here in the office, and we're lucky enough to have a poster of one of her covers hanging in the hall. Check it out!

We snagged it at a free-for-all poster giveaway in our marketing department, and now we are greeted by a big colorful head every morning, which is a fun and bracing way to start the day.

If you'd like your very own copy of the summer catalog, just call our office at (310) 206-1422 or e-mail

Friday, April 24, 2009

I Blame the Economy

The New York Times has a great slideshow of images from the Milan Furniture Fair (which I've been following for years. Just kidding! I've never heard of it).

Apparently this year's furniture designs were "spartan" and "minimalist". My theory is that we're slowly moving away from the gaudy excess of yesteryear (ie. 2007) and will come back around to embracing modest, well-made products that offer good value. And as always, our furniture leads the way.

Also, one of the designers is named Nacho.

Utilitarianism at Milan's Furniture Fair - NY Times

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Disney Recyles Animation, I Don't Care

This video, edited together by a Swedish teenager, proves something that I've suspected for a while - Disney recycles scenes, pasting old animation sequences into new movies. This cutting of corners is also called "video referencing," and I noticed it for the first time when watching Robin Hood. The way the hen squeezed that elephant's trunk seemed very familiar. Eventually, I realized that Baloo and Little John are doing a lot of the same moves.

Apparently this kind of sampling was rampant during the 70s and 80s, and I'm sure is not something Disney engages in today. More importantly, I so do not care. Who cares if Maid Marian is doing the same dance as Snow White? It's still entertaining and magical. Also, Robin Hood (1973) is my favorite Disney movie ever, even though no one else likes it, and even though I re-watched it recently and it was SO. BORING. And has no plot. I still love it so much, and I love Robin Hood and Maid Marian and Roger Miller as the voice of the rooster, and I love the songs, and I have the songs on my iTunes, and they make me cry a little bit.

So I don't care that Robin Hood is considered the cheapest of all of Disney's animated features, and I don't care that it is the feature most riddled with video referencing. To the child me and now the grown-up me, it's perfect.

Disney's Double Takes on's YouTube Brandwatch feature (via Consumerist).

Student Work: Gilbert Yu

Another student in Roxann Arwen Mills' Master Photographer Series, Gilbert Yu produced some wonderful work, a few samples of which are included below (along with his commentary). Gilbert also does fantastic wedding and portrait photography, which you can view on his website, or by visiting his blog at

"This image was part of a digital diaries assignment. I have two young children and this image represents some of the chaos but also beauty in a household with children. Most people would not find beauty or poetry in a paper airplane on the floor, but I like how it conveys a moment and feeling in life with children."

"This was also part of my digital diary. I enjoy capturing moments that are not necessarily usual or typical, and this is an image of my daughter playing around with a piece of string and being silly."

"This is part of an ongoing personal project that I started in the class. The series is called 'Child's Play' and in the series I try to capture images of toys from a child's whimsical perspective - that they are alive, have personality, and are 'real'. The rest of the series can be found here."

Covers, Covered

Copying characters from comic books is a formative part of many a young life. Even though I wasn't particularly artistic, I remember bringing in pages from Sandman: Season of Mist to a high school sketching class, and spending hours lovingly getting Dream's stubble just right, because I was obsessed, because I was 15.

So I was excited to find the blog Covered, in which artists from all over the world create their own interpretations of various comic book covers. Some are detailed copies that don't take many creative liberities, and some are reinterpretations based on the artist's own sensibility and vision. Also, I'd never heard of a lot of the comics, and some of them look awesome (Rocket Racoon?)

Covered, via LaughingSquid

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

xkcd Publishes Book, Nerds Cheer

If you a) are a nerd or b) have friends who are nerds, it's likely that you've been forwarded an xkcd comic strip, with some kind of commentary like "OMG check out this comic about CSS!" or "Ha, look at this comic about Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales!" Basically, it's a crudely drawn webcomic that explores the humorous potential of coding, social networking, science, mathematics and various other modern concerns. I don't remember when I discovered it, but I love it. I don't understand about 20% of the strips (especially the ones that have to do with coding terms and languages that I'm not familiar with), and every so often there will be a really tender one about love and relationships that makes me go "awww."

Anyway, I read today in the NY Times that the strip's author, Randall Munroe, is putting together a book. An actual paper book, on paper, that people will physically hold and read. This may seem like a strange direction to take a creative endeavor so focused on internet technology, but Monroe explains "I have this urge. You want to print them out and put them up on places. There is something good about collecting them together."

I agree, and I am excited for this to be published. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite strips. I've arranged them in order of nerd factor, from "Ha ha, cute!" to "Ooooooh man, that is so nerdy."

When Pixels Find New Life on Real Paper - NY Times

(Image by Jodi Hilton for The New York Times)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Since we're an office of font geeks, I was super excited to introduce everyone to YourFonts, a website that lets you create a font from your very own handwriting.

My handwriting is ok, but my problem is that whenever I try to write anything lengthy (like, more than three lines) by hand, it degrades exponentially to the point where it's sloping off the page by the time it's time for me to sign off. So I was VERY EXCITED when I discovered this fun, easy-to-use program.

Basically you print out a PDF with guides on it that you'll use to hand-write in the letters and symbols that will build your font. When you're done, you scan the form, and upload it to the website. And voila! A font of your handwriting.

It was only when I got to the end that I realized it costs $10 to actually download and write with this font. That is $10 I am currently unwilling to spend, but maybe you will feel differently! At any rate, here's a screenshot of my font, should I ever want to give it a home on my computer. The order of the symbols at the end makes it look like I'm font cursing.

Via Lifehacker.

Tonky Up Your Pad

Decorating an apartment (or house, if you're lucky and I hate you) can be hard. You want your place to be inviting, but also unique and to reflect some of your personality and sensibility.

That's why I was so excited to find Tonky Designs when I was moving into my apartment (a year and a half ago, though it seems like only yesterday). They make giant, adhesive stickers in amusing shapes and colors that you can use to decorate your walls, ceiling, closet, etc. I bought a large, turquoise giant squid, which measures 43" by 23" and sits in a place of honor on the wall above my bookshelf. They've added some new designs to their site since I last visited including a majestic Great Horned Owl and an Exploded Camcorder. The great thing about the stickers is that they're not covered in traditional, sticky adhesive, so you can peel them off when you move (they also include an applicator squeegee in the package, and shipping is free).

Their website has a gallery of customer photos that show off Tonky stickers in their new environments. I've included a few of my favorites below.

E-mail, Explained

The first thing I thought when I saw this vintage ad explaining "Electronic Mail" was "That's exactly how e-mail must seem to my Dad." My Dad struggles with the internet, I think because he can't make the conceptual leap that he needs to understand how the desktop, icons and mouse function. He is just a paper and pencil kind of guy, smart and capable when it comes to most things that don't involve browser windows.

I also like that the guy in this picture is freaking out, because clearly this e-mail came from Dimension X and is going to destroy him. It's funny to think of a time when e-mail was mysterious and frightening, since it's such a basic and necessary part of all our lives, and something that, without, I would surely perish.

Although I do love how they're like "No more mountains of paperwork!" but make no mention of the mountains of messages in your inbox. Also, I don't see anything about Nigerian princes who need your help collecting their inheritance, but maybe that's just an oversight.

Honeywell email ad from the dawn of time -- Boing Boing Gadgets

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's Your Show!

Get your submissions ready for our annual student and instructor show! Here are show and submission details:

Exhibit Dates: June 26-July 17, 2009

Submission Deadline: June 3, 2009

Winning entries announced June 8, 2009. All entrants will be notified by email. Winners will be asked to submit their original artwork for display between June 9-16, 2009.


Open to all original work presented in a UCLA Extension Studio Arts, Photography or Design Communication Arts class as part of an assignment. All genres, formats, and media are eligible. Three submissions maximum per student.

Submission Guidelines:

Digital submissions only. Email .pdf or .jpeg images no larger than 1MB to by June 3, 2009. Include your name and phone number. Three submissions maximum per student.

Digital File Label: lastname_firstname_classname.filetype

Examples: Bruin_Joe_DrawingforCommunication.jpg, Bruin_Josephine_DesignII.pdf

Special Recognition:

Special recognition will be given by a jury of Los Angeles artists to projects displaying excellence in specific elements of art and design.

2009 It’s Your Show will open on Friday, June 26, 6:30-9 pm, at UCLA Extension’s 1010 Westwood Center Gallery.

For information contact Visual Arts at or (310) 206-1422.

Stop Motion Piggie

This charming and adorable stop-motion film was created by taking probably 14 million pictures, printing them out, and then re-photographing them in arrangements that form a narrative. I love that the conceit, which is cute and clever in its own right, is explored and expanded (buildings rise up on apartment walls, a wolf takes a swim through a sink, and at one point the photographs are lined up and fall like dominos).

Stop Motion Animation: Wolf and Pig (via BoingBoing)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In the Art Tank

Here in the Visual Arts, I program the photography, art history and studio arts courses. Karen, who sits across a desk six feet away from me (hi Karen!) handles the Design Communication Arts program, which includes a bevy of graphic design courses.

There's often overlap in our programs, and many students study in both areas (who doesn't need to know Photoshop? The answer is everyone needs to know Photoshop). One of the courses that attracts students from both areas is Mixed Media and Collage with James Fish.

I am going to go on record here and say that James Fish is the coolest. While I don't work with him personally, I've met him, seen his work, and had a pleasure of attending a show he was featured in at Giant Robot 2 where all of the work was done on Post-Its. I highly recommend visiting his website,, to see some inspiring examples of design, collage and illustration that are lively, creative, and have a fun sense of humor.

Perhaps best of all, James created the poster for Karen's documentary, My Name is Teacher. Check it out:

Love it. There is a luchador, and the lady in the mortarboard looks startlingly like Karen.

If you'd like to see James' work up close and personal, you could attend The Art Tank's Music/Art opening on May 2nd at the Lacy Street Lofts downtown. Details on their Facebook page - it looks like a great organization and artist community.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Same Place, Different Times

Photographer Peter Funch visits the same street corner in New York every day for a number of weeks, taking pictures each time of the people who pass by. He then uses Photoshop to combine the resulting photographs into collages, layering the people who passed by at different times into the same image.

This is a beautiful, simple exploration of time and space that I wish I had thought of. Also, toward the bottom of collection there is an image of the USS Enterprise. I don't know why it's there, but it's awesome.

Artist Peter Funch (via BoingBoing).

Monday, April 13, 2009

iPhoto Faces

What do a dog's nose, cookie dough, and a plate of corned beef hash have in common?

A) Smelliness
B) Deliciousness
C) They are things that iPhoto '09 recognizes as faces

If you guessed C, maybe you've seen the "Things iPhoto Thinks Are Faces" Flickr pool. iPhoto's new facial recognition feature, while fun and a great boon to social networking, is not without its quirks. The parameters that the program uses to define and target faces can result in the tagging of random collections of shadow and light as your friend Steve.

Some of the mistakenly tagged images are cute (cookies, baby's shirt), some are just weird (gecko fingers) and some are haunting. The two images that I posted here are slightly creepy and have a "they're watching us" quality to them. True examples of simulacra, they highlight the human instinct to see familiar and anthropomorphic shapes in inanimate objects. Just like us, iPhoto seems to be programed to see faces in the trees.

Images by Flickr user modernglow.

Bad Design on Purpose

Every Monday, I decide that it's time to start being healthy and mindful for the first time in my life. I come in to work excited to begin, and then someone has brought donuts. Or a pie. And the circle of life continues.

But this morning I was excited to start things off right, in large part because during Sunday's Easter lunch, the pie-to-person ration was roughly 2:1. So I sat at my desk and innocently poured a nice bowl of raisin bran.

Scott was behind me and noticed the cereal box. He said "You know, they use bad package design on those boxes on purpose. That way you feel like you're getting a good deal, because clearly they didn't pour a lot of money into design for the brand."

At first, I was angry. I thought "How dare my cereal manipulate me like that!" But then I realized that I kind of like the design. I think it's homey and comforting. The box is purple, and features a big bowl of raisin bran with some milk being poured in. Sure, maybe it's not "good design" - it's pretty blocky and kind of looks like something I could make in Photoshop (I am not very good at Photoshop). But it's simple and unpretentious. There are no exclamation points or cartoon letters or a rooster wearing an iPod.

Does this mean their mind-control design "worked?" Or that I have bad taste? Either way, raisin bran is delicious.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Just in Time for Easter

Hello Kitty is all over the place these days. Here she is on an LED Easter egg! The flashing heart in the middle is so cute.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Student Work: Dionne Harmon

So much great work came out of this class! Here are some images from another student in Roxann Arwen Mills' class Master Photographer Series: Developing Personal Vision. Dionne's commentary is included below the images.

"This was one of my abstract pieces. The purpose of this assignment was to capture an object in clear focus that was non-representational. I came across this bright red neon arrow behind a clear plastic barrier, put my camera against the wall, and shot from behind the barrier so that i could capture not only the neon tubes but also their reflection on the plastic."

"The photos above and below were part of my digital diary assignment. Roxann asked us to document our lives over the course of one week and to really try and give the viewer a glimpse into our day-to-day routines. I took these two photos of my fiance Walt early one morning when we were getting out of bed."

Student Work: Louis Davidson

Another winter class that wrapped up last month was Master Photographer Series with Roxann Arwen Mills: Developing Personal Vision. The students produced some wonderful work, so I wanted to include a bit of it here.

Featured below is the work of student Louis Davidson, who has also provided some commentary which appears below the images. You can view more of his work at

"This piece is a triptych (three photographic images intended to be shown together). They were prepared in response to our first assignment, which was to take photographs in a crowd without using the camera’s viewfinder. When capturing the images I slowed down the shutter so as to create a bit of blurring and sense of motion. Without actually seeing a full person, the viewer senses the activity and sense of purpose as people stride along busy urban sidewalks."

"This is one image from an assignment to create a digital diary of photographs. My diary showed images of scenes plucked from my everyday routine. This particular image shows a door and light switch at an office that I frequent almost daily. The photo’s layout may be likened to that of a Mondrian painting. There are approximately a dozen photos in the series, illustrating scenes from my daily life as well as the compositional and aesthetic interest of the commonplace things that surround us."

"This was part of a series of 10 photos. The assignment was to take photographs at the South Coast Botanic Garden. Rather than taking the expected photos of plants and landscape I thought it would be interesting to make a series of photos which create a story, “Love Blooms at the Botanic Garden”. The image above shows the beginning of the encounter between boy and girl. The one below shows the end of the story. The entire love story can be seen on my web site."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Linomation! (Linoleum Animation)

This animation, created with 296 (!) individual hand-carved linoleum prints, is beautiful, and reminds me of the work that students have done in our monoprinting classes (led by monoprint master Jaime Ursic). The artist says:

"This project is all about words in the English language and artists' interpretations of words that are not used so much anymore, and there are some pretty strange ones. I chose the word "dehisce", which means 'release of material by splitting open of an organ or tissue; the natural bursting open at maturity of a fruit or other reproductive body to release seeds or spores or the bursting open of a surgically closed wound.'"

Via BoingBoing.

Wear Your Type on Your Sleeve

I am a nerd, and I like T-shirts. Hence, I love nerdy T-shirts. So I squealed with joy when I came across "The 10 Shirts Every Type Nerd Must Own." We've got many a type nerd teaching here, and a few in the office as well (Scott is always talking about Kerning and Leading, I think they might be old friends from his designer days).

My favorite is Helbotica. Check them all out at thedesigncubical. And Karen has some more type shirt fun over on The White Boards.