Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Instructor Interview: Hacob Khodaverdian

This summer, we're pleased to welcome back veteran instructor Hacob Khodaverian. Hacob will be taking advantage of our downtown classrooms at Figueroa Courtyard to present Advanced Photographic Lighting Techniques. The class also includes two action-packed Saturdays at McCadden Space studios in Hollywood. It's a great chance to get some hands-on time with lights and equipment, which I've heard many students say is a valuable learning experience.

I asked Hacob some hard-hitting questions about photography, and here's what he had to say:

What do you think are the most important qualities for a photographer to have?

Embrace rather than reject. By that I mean a photographer should embrace new ideas, new technologies, new techniques, and of course new ways of doing business.

What are the challenges of studio photography?

I can't think of another profession, or even hobby for that matter, where things change as rapidly as they do in photography. Keeping up with these changes is the biggest challenge we face in photography, and it is only through sharing of our experiences that we can learn and further our knowledge.
Another major challenge is the need to reinvent yourself as a photographer and an artist.

What is a tip or trick that you have learned to make the studio process run more smoothly?

Rather than thinking of myself as the "photographer," and the chairman of the board, I carry myself as just one of the crew members and run the shoot as a collective process. I stay open to new directions when the one at hand is not working. Also, pre-planing is a major part of the photo shoot process. You could be the most disorganized person on earth, but somehow the seriousness of these photo shoots (once you realize it) makes you very prepared.

Do you remember your first professional assignment?

My first professional assignment was for Westway Magazine. It was a one day shoot, but took me a week to complete. It turned out well, but made me realize I have so much to learn.

(images by Hacob Khodaverdian)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ain't No Party Like An "It's Your Show" Party

Friday was the opening reception for "It's Your Show," our annual student art show. It was great to see artists, instructors and friends all gathered together to appreciate the great work that our students have done.

The show will be up on the 4th floor of our 1010 Westwood Building through July 17 (open 9am - 9pm Monday - Thursday, 9am - 5pm Friday and Saturday, closed Sundays). I encourage everyone interested to go take a look, as the work is a beautiful sampling of pieces from the genres of photography, painting, drawing and design.

Congratulations to all the students who were exhibited! Click play on the movie below to watch a slideshow of pictures from the show.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Printmaking Comes to Town

I used to get a lot of phone calls asking if we have printmaking classes. At the time, we didn't, and I would have to dash the hopes of our potential students. The office was desolate, and tumbleweeds rolled by my desk. Then instructor and printmaker extraordinaire Jaime Ursic rode in like John Wayne, there was a swell of music, and now we have Printmaking: Monoprints.

There are so many great things to say about Jaime, but I picked three:

1. She built the press that she uses in class. With her hands. And a car jack.
2. She has really good handouts.
3. The work that the students produced in her last class was AMAZING. Really, it was fantastic, I am not exaggerating for blog purposes. If you don't believe me, come to our student show and see some great examples for yourself.

Here is a picture of a happily printing student, and also a shot of the final projects, on display outside the classroom.

After seeing the students' creations, I thought it would be interesting to learn a bit more about Jaime's process and background with printmaking.

How did you get started with printmaking, and what draws you to it?

My first experience was an “Introduction to Intaglio Printmaking” class that was required. I dreaded the class before I started because I didn’t want to waste time with anything outside my painting studio and printmaking sounded like so much busy work. In the end, the dread turned into enthusiasm when I scratched into my first hard-ground plate.

The graphic control of the mark making and the complete submission to dropping it into acid hooked me. I fell in love with the entire process—from preparing the plate to drawing on the ground, then dropping it into the acid, inking and running it through a press. So many ways to change one image! The idea of multiples intrigued me and the world of variations I could create by printing the plate in different ways. It was as if I was an alchemist with no idea of what I was about to discover.

What mediums/materials do you enjoy working with? Is there a particular style that you prefer?

I began to play with monoprints as compositional sketches for paintings, using oil paint cut with clove oil. Soon I realized that what I enjoyed in the monoprints was a freshness and serendipity that I couldn’t achieve in a more labor-intensive painting. The light and color I could create with monoprinting was instantly gratifying along with rhythms and patterns that I could quickly adapt and essentially recreate. Color, shape, translucence, rhythm, and figure-ground relationships-- all took on new meaning. And that was before I began experimenting with different papers, plate surfaces and inks.

My style is grounded in traditional observation but I pull from and abstract my visual influences on a daily basis. I was still interested in line and mark-making, but with monoprinting I could draw with anything I found (string, floss, beads, shards, hair, pompoms, jelly bracelets, etc.) Also, I could now push into the paper and even emboss forms to create a composition that was active in all directions, not just across the picture plane, but actually into it.

For students that are new to printmaking, what kinds of assignments do you start them off with in class?

Students experiment with a variety of techniques creating monoprints with a special emphasis on using line, tone and texture. In my monoprinting class, I begin students with technical examinations of the process and we discuss successful formal strategies for composition. Students experiment with the process and use the plate as a drawing surface, practice additive and reductive inking techniques, create collographs, chine collé, etc. Along with in class demonstrations, I cover the historical context of monoprinting, a bit of connoisseurship, and the role it can play in an artist’s studio practice.

What artists or other work in this genre inspires you?

The inspiration in monoprinting for me is its spontaneity, color translucence, and how it’s a hybrid combination of printmaking, painting, and drawing mediums.
Everything I see inspires my work in some way or another.

Whether it is in the mark, touch, tone, inking, or composition, the following artists provide continual inspiration: Rembrandt, Seghers, Castiglione, Blake, Goya, Degas, Cassatt, Gaugin, Prendergast, Morandi, Picasso, Bonnard, Chagall, Miró, Matisse and Kollowitz. Contemporary artists I look to for inspiration are: Maurico Lasansky, Terry Winters, Kiki Smith, Peter Milton, Donald Sultan, Jim Dine, and Chuck Close.

The work below is by Jaime - to see more examples, visit her excellent website, jaimeursic.com. Class starts again this Saturday, and I can't wait to see what her students produce this time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Student Art Show: Reception This Friday!

Who has two thumbs and hasn't blogged all week? This guy!

Over here in the Visual Arts we've been wrapped up in our upcoming student show "It's Your Show." Students dropped off their selected work last week and we've been putting together the show in the gallery and halls of the 4th floor of 1010 Westwood. We're all really excited, and the work looks wonderful - I'm always amazed by our students' artistic accomplishments.

Everyone is invited to visit the opening reception this Friday. Here are the details:

What: Design Communication Arts/Visual Arts Student Show
When: Friday, June 26, 6:30 - 9pm
Where: 1010 Westwood Blvd, 4th floor gallery
Who: Students showcase their work, friends and family ooh and ahh
Why: Because it will be awesome

There will be wine, cheese and various other goodies, and we expect a nice crowd. And speaking of crowds, the Los Angeles Film Festival has been going on all week, which is great if you love hoards of people camped out waiting for the Transformers premier, but hard if you like to be able to move around or park. So, give yourself plenty of time to navigate the throngs.

Hope to see you there! Below are some pictures from last year's show.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Let Us Not Judge Jill Greenberg

Jill Greenberg is one of the few photographers whose work I can usually recognize on sight, because of the distinctive way she lights her subjects. She is a popular and well respected portrait, editorial and advertising photographer. A few covers that I looked at and thought "I bet Jill Greenberg shot that" include this one:

And this one:

Also, this one:

I love you Paul Rudd!

Anyway, I have always admired her work. However, her name is also synonymous with the controversy that surrounded a 2006 series of portraits called "End Days." The portraits, which I think are supposed to express Greenberg's frustration at the Bush Administration, are of crying babies. Maybe it doesn't sound that transgressive, but these babies are really crying, faces red, snotty, contorted and streaked with tears, and the direct, angelic lighting makes for some pretty arresting portraits.

I first saw these portraits up close and personal at Photo LA some years back. They were up on a wall larger than life, and I thought they looked amazing. However, I was with my mother, and she could not handle them. She was deeply disturbed by the children, saying that they looked like they were in anguish and she wanted to comfort them. I reminded her that kids cry because they don't like your face, or Sesame Street is over, but she was actually very affected by the portraits and had to leave the room they were in.

Apparently my Mom was not the only person who had a problem with this work, because there was a huge outcry against Greenberg's use of children in these photos. People basically accused her of child abuse, saying that it was unethical to knowingly make children cry for the purposes of photography. The blog post that sounded the trumpet on this wave of protest was call "Jill Greenberg Is A Sick Woman Who Should Be Arrested and Charged With Child Abuse."

Let's take a look at these images together, shall we?

Now, I will be the first to admit that these kids look super duper miserable. There is something very visceral about a crying child, and these pictures definitely hit that human nerve. Greenberg has explained that her method of eliciting tears was to give the kids a lollipop and then take it away for 30 seconds, a time-honored tradition employed by Hollywood and television crews for ages. In fact, when she had gotten the shot, she would give the lollipop back. The parents of the children were always present during shooting. That's better than Richard Avedon's reported technique of telling his young subjects that their dog had just died, then shooting away.

Personally, I don't think Greenberg hurt these children. I think she created a momentarily frustrating situation, then captured it in a way that highlighted the emotional response of her subjects. I think that the public's vocal outcry and condemnation speaks to the power of her concept. Even my Mom, who has raised two kids and knows that they burst into tears when the wind blows, felt the pain that these portraits communicate, and in my mind, that speaks to their success.

People will have their own feelings about whether or not this is OK, but I think the whole episode says a lot about our sometimes conflicting attitudes toward children, and our mistrust of artist's intentions and methods.

The Manipulator - Jill Greenberg's Website

Monday, June 15, 2009

From the OMG Files

I keep a file of art that makes me say "Oh my god" when I see it. Not really. But if I did, this would be in the file.

Artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster create piles of metal and garbage that look random and haphazard. Then a light is shone on the piles, and the shadows on the wall form incredibly detailed images of the artists.

Insanity. This is so cool it looks fake, but I'm pretty sure it's not fake.

Via Urlesque

Where Can I Buy My Ticket for "American Artifact"

I am so excited for the movie "American Artifact: The Rise of American Rock Poster Art."

Like any good hipster/loner/nerd/music lover, gig posters wallpapered my college dorm room, and only very recently have I moved away from them to what I consider to be more mature decore. The movie, by Merle Becker, includes interviews with the beloved rock posters artists who shaped this growing artistic movement, as well as fans, collectors, etc. It also includes one of my favorite poster artists, Tara McPherson. I am the proud owner of a few of her posters, and have the ones below hanging up in my room:

I don't even like Death Cab for Cutie or Apples in Stereo, but I bought them because the posters were so awesome.

Long story short, this movie looks great and we should all see it, the end. Also, how mindblowing is the poster:

Via LaughingSquid

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Adventures of Ickle and Lardee

You might think the cutest thing on the internet is cats hiding in sofas, or baby pandas, or the Shibu Inu puppy cam, but you would be wrong, because the cutest thing on the internet is a blog called My Milk Toof.

My Milk Toof chronicles the adventures of two baby teeth named Ickle and Lardee. They have adventures around what I'm pretty sure is the Bay Area. The photography is beautiful and looks like stills from a fantasy movie (about teeth).

Here is the story, according to the creator of the blog:

"When I was young, I placed my baby teeth under my pillow and when i woke up I'd find a shiny new quarter. But whatever happened to those little teeth? Where did they go? Would I ever see them again?

Many years later, a little tooth was standing at my door. It looked familiar. It's name was ickle. Welcome home, my milk toof!"

As the kids would say, adorbs.

Via Jezebel

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Exploring Perception with Dave Deany

I'm always excited when we have new classes, because they give our instructors and students a chance to strech and experiment with their art. This summer I think it'll be really interesting to see the work that comes out of Understanding Perception: Right and Left Brain Consciousness with instructor Dave Deany (photo by Slobodan Dimitrov).

According to Dave, his wife, who is a biology and pathology instructor, has inspired him to explore the link between the left ("rational") and right ("intuitive") brains, and how perception and consciousness factor into the creative process. The class will involve lecture, research, and drawing and sculptural exercises designed to nagivate creative impulses. It sounds really fun, and like a pretty unique way to think about and experience creativity.

Dave has a fascinating portfolio of work, including an installation for a show called FR8 at the Angeles Gate Culture Center, in which artists built pieces in empty freight boxes. Dave's piece, titled "Black Hole Paradox," deals with "a scientific quandary regarding either the loss or re-animation of 'information' upon the evaporation of a black hole." Here's how it looked:

Awesome! Here are some more samples of Dave's work. You too can be this playful and creative with your art.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Horrible Logos

I think we can all agree that the Internet is a pretty mean place. There is a lot of snark and sarcasm and judgement. People are just trying to do their thing, and who are we to mock them? I ask you.

So when I first heard about the website Your Logo Makes Me Barf, I thought "That's sad. Leave the poorly designed logos alone." But then I saw the logos, and they are so bad. I mean eye-blisteringly bad. Haunt-your-dreams bad. Close-up-on-a-screaming-woman's-face bad.

Here's what the creators of the website have to say about their goals:

"YourLogoMakesMeBarf.com is intended to be a humorous look at what can go wrong when an unskilled person designs a logo. Good logos require time and involve great forethought. A good logo should be a financial investment but also something that will benefit the long term growth of a company."

True! They also have some words of consolation for folks who may see their own logos on the site:

"If you designed a logo on this site, try not to take it personally. Accepting criticism is part of design. If you have a passion for design, then we encourage you to pursue professional training - namely a 4 year degree from a school with a reputable design program. We also recommend finding a really great designer who can work with you and possibly mentor you."

Sound advice! There's always the DCA program...

And now, let's let the logos speak for themselves. The rest is silence.

Monday, June 8, 2009

You Can't Get Much Crazier Than This T-Shirt

Are you a hipster looking for a way to take your T-shirt game to the next level? Look no farther than this insane T-shirt by Dan Hillier. This T-shirt says "Check me out - I have a plaid Victorian antler cyclops thing going."

See more of artist Dan Hillier's work here. A theme emerges.

Via Boingboing.

Best Party Ever

The picture above may look tiny, but it contains multitudes. Artists Dai Dudu, Li Tiezi, and Zhang An created an oil painting in which many various figures from history hang out next to each other. And while it's highly improbable that Joseph Stalin and Elvis Presley would ever have a reason to get together, it makes a kind of sense.

Even more awsomely, each historical figure's face is tagged with an alt-text pop-up of their name (in case you forgot what Charles De Gaulle looks like), and when you click on the face, it takes you to that person's Wikipedia page.

This is the perfect interactive painting for history wonks who love to get lost in Wikipedia or, like my boyfriend, will stoop to using it to settle arguments. Click here to see the painting in all its linky glory.

Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante via Urlesque

Please Stand By...

UCLA Extension is experiencing some technical difficulties this morning. If you are a student trying to access Blackboard, or are waiting to hear back regarding our student show, please bear with us as we try to get up and running as soon as possible.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One Giant Leap for Art

Allison, the creator of the blog Jumping in Art Museums, says "I am an avid Art Jumper. Sometimes, while visiting art museums and galleries, I am so excited by what I see that I have to jump for joy."

Personally, when I am excited or moved by museum pieces, I wring my hands with joy, but maybe now I'll start jumping! Art Jumpers from all over the world have sent pictures in to this blog, and it fun to see the different museums and the variety of work that has inspired the jumping.

Via Urlesque