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Otis: Creative Capital at Work SPRING 2012 This issue of OMAG makes abundantly clear that creativity is serious business. Otis talents not only adeptly navigate but also inventively drive this economy. Now in its fifth edition, the annual Otis Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region has put real numbers to creativity (see pg. 10). Since its inception in 2007, it has firmly established that the creative economy is powerful in Southern California as a revenue generator (with more than $200 billion in sales and receipts), and as a major employment force (supporting one in eight jobs in the region). The profiles of alumni entrepreneurs (see pgs. 2 - 9) portray how a diverse group of creative thinkers and makers meet both the challenges and opportunities of the creative economy in Los Angeles and throughout the nation, and how they enrich our society with their skill and their vision. Their paths and passions differ, but their comments echo a common point, well articulated by alumni Daniel Phillips (’08) and Kim Karlsrud (’07): “No school can completely prepare you for what everyone faces after graduation, but it was at Otis that we learned to combine our creative instincts with the ability to act upon them in strategic ways.”

The creative economy — big business as it is — is only one dimension of the creative capital that Otis and its community deploy to make a difference. The impact of creative capital extends beyond measurable economic indicators. Consider the fact that, every year, through Otis’ unique Integrated Learning program, nearly 1,000 students and faculty partner with 35 community sites to create social solutions through art and design. Most significantly, many Otis students are the first in their families to attend college to become high-skilled professionals, and through their socioeconomic transformation, their families also advance. This March, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation awarded Otis a major gift of $600,000 to support scholarship grants and the Integrated Learning program. This May, the Annual Otis Scholarship Benefit will raise $1 million in scholarship funds. Such generous support acknowledges Otis’ effectiveness in nurturing human capital through art and design education. The return on investment is that Otis alumni are great resources to social, intellectual and economic development. That is creative capital at work.


President Hoi at the 2011 Otis Report on the Creative Economy Event with Olga Garay, Executive Director, City of L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs (left); and Ruth Eliel, Executive Director, The Colburn Foundation (right)

Samuel Hoi, President

Start Ups

Enterprising Alumni - a sampling of alumni who made the decision to strike out and start their own enterprises

College News

Alumni Around the World

Class Notes




2011 Otis Report on the Creative Economy Teaching English with iPads My PST: Rethink Art in L.A. 1945-1980 Ecuador is for the Birds: Rose Brantley Howdy, Folks: Gary Geraths A Writer’s Life: Sarah Shun-lien Bynum Downsizing Photography: Soo Kim Unleashing Creativity with Mixel Ad Man, Art Man: Peter Goulds

Matt Carter (’10 MFA) in China Bita Rad (’08) in Singapore

Getting Real: Lola Thompson (’10) and Paula Little (’11) N.Y event Greg Wilken (’04) at CUE Campus Updates

Founded in 1918, Otis is L.A.’s first independent professional school of visual arts. Otis’ 1200 students pursue BFA degrees in

on White on Doorway, Enamel and acrylic on canvas,

advertising design, architecture/landscape/interiors, digital media, fashion design, graphic design, illustration, interactive product

Publication of material does not necessarily

84 x 63 inches, 2011

design, painting, photography, sculpture/new genres, and toy design. MFA degrees are offered in fine arts, graphic design, public

indicate endorsement of the author’s viewpoint

Photography: Kristina Campbell, John Eder, Mark Iantosca, Byron LiCausi, Jeff McLane, Bill Orcutt

practice, and writing. Otis has trained generations of artists who have been in the vanguard of the cultural and entrepreneurial

by Otis College of Art and Design

Creative/Design: Mark Caneso (’04)

culture and the significant impact of identity, politics, and social policy at the intersection of art and society.

Alumni Relations Coordinator: Shefali Mistry

Contributors: Faculty members Debra Ballard, Rose Brantley, Siel Ju, Karri Paul, Katie Phillips, and Kerri Steinberg; Freelance writer George Wolfe; Alumni Matt Carter (’10 MFA), Paula Little (’11), Bita Rad (’08), and Lola Thompson (’10)

through their creativity, their skill, and their vision.

Back cover: Tofer Chin, 2700 Fluorescent Red Squares

Co-editor: Laura Daroca (’03 MFA Fine Arts), Director of Alumni Relations



Otis prepares diverse students of art and design to enrich our world Otis College of Art and Design

Editor: Margi Reeve, Communications Director


life of the city. Nurtured by Los Angeles’ forward-thinking spirit, these artists and designers explore the landscape of popular

© Otis College of Art and Design




Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine

start ups/////////////////////// ///////////////////// /////////////////// ///////////// /////////////////// ////////////////////// ////////////// //////////////// //////// ////////////// //////////////// /////////// /////////// ///////////////// ///////////////// //////// /////////// /////////////// //////////////// //////////////////// //////////////// ///////////////////// The alumni whose work is shown in the following pages are a sampling of those who made the decision to strike out and start their own enterprises, which range from body painting art and headwear design to an art gallery to seed bomb dispensers. Some of them responded to the downturn in the economy by developing their own projects, finding opportunities for new ventures.

Building on their creativity, commitment, connections and professional skills, they share the late Steve Jobs’ belief that “staying hungry and staying foolish” is the key to success. Their studies prepared them well, as they explain, “At Otis, we learned to combine our creative instincts with the ability to act upon them in strategic ways, and that's made the difference.”

In another alumna’s words, “At the end of the day, money or fame do not inspire me but the freedom to express my own thoughts and philosophies is essential.” Learn more about these alumni: their breakthrough moments, the most rewarding and challenging aspects of their work, and how Otis prepared them to stike out on their own, at

Spring 2012



Apollo Crowe SnapLNX I’m an inventor/problem solver, and my friend had a problem: how could a bartender keep his sleeves rolled up, and out of the sink, while handling the rigors of furious martini shaking? The answer: an “all-in-one-clip” that holds your tie, sleeves, cuffs, or cash.


Jody Rollins Yellow 108

Our lifestyle brand specializes in accessories made from salvaged and eco textiles: hats, bags, scarves and sunglasses that are simple, fun and easy to wear every day. I suprised myself when one day I found beauty in an Excel spreadsheet. Moments like this crush the shell of who you think you are; opening up all the possibilities of who you could become.


Daniel Phillips & Kim Karlsrud ’07 PRODUCT DESIGN


Seedbombs, the weapons of choice, are small nuggets of clay, compost and native seeds that can be thrown into and grown in neglected corners of the urban landscape. We’ve distributed 75 million seeds into the world.

Greenaid started as a means of realizing a design idea in the face of a recession. After experiencing the frustration and lack of opportunities within our fields, we stayed proactive and engaged through collaborating. We've found that when you start with local issues and needs, rather than clients, the projects are more relevant, meaningful, impact-oriented and fun. The down economy allows new types of creative and responsible industries to emerge, and if you're willing to take a risk for something you believe in, there's always a way to make it happen. 




Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine

Spring 2012



Lisa Sirlin Hall

No Roses Gallery

When we collaborated with supermodel Amber Valletta, and saw the great response to our designs, we knew we were on our way.


Michelle Wenke & Megan George Monrow

After two decades of producing creative projects for other people and companies, I took a look at my own work and realized I’d neglected my own point of view for too long. I began a multi-year journey to create and market a cohesive body of work, and launch an artisan jewelry gallery.

Launched in 2007 as a basics label, Monrow has quickly risen to the top. The ever-growing brand produces eleven collections a year: In addition to the women’s collection collaboration with Amber Valletta, we recently introduced men’s, mini, and classics (tees, sweatshirts, sweats) in an array of sixteen colors. We design quintessential wardrobe staples with attention to fit, fabric, technique, and innovative prints.


Mark Caneso


I wanted to be able to create in the way that I envisioned, with full creative control.

ps.Type, the typographic lab of my firm, ppprwrk studio, offers bespoke type design, lettering collaboration and a growing library of retail typefaces (42 fonts, 6 families). I had the advantage of studying under Greg Lindy of Lux Typographics while at Otis. This gave me handson knowledge about what it takes to run an independent type foundry.


Jacob Rhodes Field Projects


Olivier Chatard Oli + Joe I worked at Yahoo for two years, and had some freelance opportunities. I liked working with different teams and projects, and spent two years learning how to manage a business and contractors. With my own agency, I work crazy hours but I deal directly with our clients, build relationships with them, and have the flexibility to do creative projects.

As a working artist, co-founder and director of Field Projects, an artist-run gallery in Chelsea, N.Y., I balance my time between my studio and the gallery. As director, I curate shows, handle PR, head new projects, do studio visits, and make sales. I’ve learned how simple professionalism can make a huge difference.

I dreamed about starting my own company during my studies at Otis.

My escapades thus far have included studying music at USC and graphic design at Otis, pursuing a career as a singer/ songwriter, delving into hard processes such as pattern design and sewing, and launching my design studio.


Satsuki Shibuya Shibuya Designs




Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine

Spring 2012



Rose (Brantley) never allowed us to do second-best; she was constantly pushing us to the limits. To rise to the top in a challenging industry, this was the push I needed. I always felt that if I had made it through Rose’s program, I could certainly make it through anything.

I have a particular affinity for art as it relates to architecture and design, and I wanted to create a space that reflected those ideas. Helping my clients find something they love while supporting local artists and designers who often become my friends is very rewarding.


Kirstie Kelly Bridal Couture

Curating shows has helped me stay inspired and connected to other artists and curators. I am constantly doing studio visits, and after each visit, I always feel the need to create my own work. At Otis I had a tight-knit group of friends and colleagues who made work that I admired. One passed away in 2009, and I wanted to produce a group show rather than a memorial show. I used a gallery space, and hand-picked some artists from Otis. From there, Gallery 3209 was born.

Denni Zelikowsky Gallery 3209


Robert Apodaca

My book got picked up on the front page of Reddit, a really important social news aggregate website. From one little email to a humor website, the floodgates opened. Within the week, I had over 200,000 visitors to my website, and by the end of the month I had offers from a handful of great publishers. I went with Harper Collins.

Fifth Floor Gallery

As trends and technology change, my ability to think creatively and communicate my ideas with clarity allows me to adapt.

My studio focuses on design that reflects human nature, provoking a dialogue about behavior, psychology, and technology. The work ranges from products and spaces to interactive experiences and systems, always questioning the essence of our daily surroundings and their semantics.


Cole Moss Unicorn Industries / Grey Rainbow


Joong Han Lee Studio Homunculus


Abigail Cosio Bedford Falls Headwear Bedford Falls Headwear makes vintageinspired headwear and accessories in a variety of materials including leather, feathers, fabric, lace, applique, buttons and beads. We have a retail base in New Orleans but enjoy the traveling carnival aspect of music festivals where our product fits well into the scenery or celebration. Our product harkens back to a time when ladies dressed ornately and decadently.

New Orleans is a city that held dear the same principles that I had chosen for my company: celebration, revelry, self-expression and decadence.




Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine


Spring 2012



Justine Serebrin

Creating airbrush tattoos of band logos and other designs for people and fans nationally is one of the most fun jobs on the planet! We travel to festivals, shows, and all kinds of events. Painting on a living being is unlike working on any other canvas. The fact that the work we do is so labor-intensive and yet so temporary really creates a sense of appreciation for the moment and the work. Seeing our work come to life is truly magical, whether in a music video, film, photograph or performance.


& Samitra Borhanpour

Jenny McLean Tula Pink

I focus on the thought process that goes into design. The ability to think creatively and communicate my ideas with clarity is crucial to being able to adapt as trends and technology change. Using social media, I jumped into direct contact with consumers who want to know where their products come from, and what the story is behind the brand.


Inspired by a handful of diamond beads purchased at a gem show, I began making long flowing chains for myself and for a few friends. These necklaces caught the eye of the jewelry buyer at Barneys New York, and I was summoned to a meeting. Through her encouragement, my hobby became a business. Using my background in fashion, I began to create, manufacture, and market my debut jewelry collection within a year.

Nancy Newberg Nancy Newberg Jewelry

Fever Paint Studios

There was no way in hell that I wanted a 9-5 job working for someone else. I had a ton of ideas and needed the time to develop them and share them with the world.

Without Otis, we would be quite lost! Otis connected us to Warner Bros., which led us to Metallica and the Foo Fighters.

A friend in N.Y. introduced me to an actor who was starring on the popular TV show Glee, and in just two short weeks I designed him a suit that he wore to the Grammy Awards. The exposure I got from that event gave my business the attention and press it needed to get off the ground, and opened my eyes to all that I am capable of. 


Debbie Sabet District Homme


Ashkahn Shahparnia ASHKAHN Studio + Company


Ingred Sidie Design Ranch

Growing the business and getting national attention for our work has been very rewarding. Most recently, Design Ranch was featured in Communication Arts magazine, the “bible” of advertising and design.

My company, ASHKAHN, specializes in art direction, design, illustration and products like greeting cards, prints, accessories and t-shirts.



College News

Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine

Invest in the Region’s Creative Capital: A Collective Call to Action

Teaching an English Class with iPads: Is There Really an App for That?

L.A. is unique because of its place, resources, and openness to new ideas

At the annual launch event for the fifth of Otis’ Reports on the Creative Economy, leaders from business, philanthropy, nonprofits and government came together to share ideas about using the data to produce a collective impact. President Hoi spoke about how Otis enriches the Region’s cultural capital as well as its social, intellectual and economic capital, through community engagement programs such as Integrated Leaning, in which more than a thousand students and faculty members work with more than 40 community partners each year to propose solutions to social issues; the Artists, Community, and Teaching Program, which trains students to act as interns in K-12 schools, museums and community centers; and Continuing Education, in which creative professionals develop their skills, enriching the Region. He also spoke of the many Otis students who are the first in their family to attend college, and how their professional success helps the whole family to advance socioeconomically. Hoi cited many examples of the increased evidence that the creative sector is connecting with government, philanthropic, and corporate organizations to address the Region’s needs and potential. The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time provides strong evidence that a group of more than 80 arts partners can cooperate to attract new audiences, and drive cultural tourism. Panel moderator Jim Canales, President and CEO of the James Irvine Foundation, broadened the conversation from creative economy to creative capital, which includes the social, cultural and political impacts of the creative class. He attributed L.A.’s uniqueness to its place, resources, and, most important, openness to new ideas. This attitude results in a more robust economy that attracts more creative professionals. Canales also spoke of the transcendent social and political values that underlie creative expression, and the need to bring the economic and the intrinsic value of the arts together. The Getty Foundation’s Joan Weinstein characterized Pacific Standard Time as “The Era that Continues to Inspire the World,” exemplifying creative capital in action. According to Weinstein, L.A. has always looked toward the future and often forgotten its past, but this initiative has brought to the fore the Region’s unique art movements: Feminism, Chicano, Light and Space, and modernist design (lifestyle). PST’s goals were to rewrite the history of modern art from a “left coast perspective;” to bring the Region’s rich history to local, national, and international audiences; and to develop new audiences. This unprecedented collaboration among 82 partner institutions has produced a measurable increase in cultural tourism. As Chair of the L.A. Coalition for Economy and Jobs and Chairman and CEO of City National Bank, Russell Goldsmith often speaks about the need for advocacy for and understanding of the importance of an educated workforce. “Creativity is the heart and soul of L.A.,” he stated, describing California industries (entertainment, design, technology) as the future of the U.S. He asked,”What are the key engines of SoCA? How do we strengthen them? How can political leaders help? Why doesn’t LAX have PST info for tourists in their own languages or an MTA cultural bus loop that links the PST sites?” He advocated for shared goals among nonprofit and for-profit institutions, stating that together we can build on the power of creativity to create a thriving 21st century economy. Sponsors this year included the James Irvine Foundation, Mattel, Getty Foundation, NEA Art Works, California Community Foundation, Dept of Cultural Affairs, Nike, Sony, Boeing, City National Bank and CAbi.

Debra Ballard, Chair, Liberal Arts and Sciences


Most English classes tend to drag but the iPad class was definitely a refreshing new way to learn with a wonderful, entertaining instructor.

Spring 2012

Last fall I was curious about what would happen if we gave a class of creative Foundation (first-year) students, born around 1993 and surrounded by technology, the two-years-new and stillevolving iPad. What would they do with it? How could I teach with it? Specifically, I was interested in its impact on collaboration, consumption, community, and creation. Otis prepares students to be adaptable in a world characterized by dislocating change, where many of the jobs they will have don’t yet exist. I thought I’d practice this since higher education is experiencing its own paradigm shift. I was particularly excited since everything is evolving, and there are no ready

“ Creativity is the heart and soul of L.A.

answers to the questions and ideas we are exploring in class. I asked the students to consider emerging patterns, trends, and applications, and what impact technology is having on the world socially, culturally, and artistically. So far I’ve discovered that iPads are just the right size (with no vertical screen) — they seem to — encourage community and collaboration, allowing face-to-face and online interactions simultaneously. Since many of our readings are online, it reduces student costs and allows work to be easily archived and accessed in places like Dropbox and Evernote. It certainly is great going paperless, and apps like iAnnotate make responding to work a colorful snap. However, tablets are limited in what they can produce, and not particularly good for longer writing assignments. Something about this class (beyond the delightful students) has made this a distinct teaching experience for me and, I hope, an effective learning experience for them. One thing that hasn’t changed is the need to disconnect from my own tantalizing digital companion and, free from its constant and alluring distractions, reflect on what the experience means for future classes.

Top: President Hoi addresses audience; Bottom left to right: Board Chair Thom Miller, and City National Bank CEO and Chairman Russell Goldsmith; members of Student Government Association


Traffic to the Otis’ Report on the Creative Economy ( site has doubled in the last year. Visitors who speak 36 different languages have come from 598 cities. Read blog comments by arts leaders, learn more about regional and national resources, and share the facts.



I loved taking our weekly quizzes on our iPad, and simply e-mailing them to Debra right after we were done. The cool apps that we found on our iPads made interaction easy. I never enjoyed writing project proposal essays and taking quizzes until this class.


The casual atmosphere of the class helped me get to know my fellow students, and prompted us to take an active role in each other’s learning as well as our own. At first we were all exploring this new technology together, and that curiosity and interest gave us a common ground.



College News

Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine

My PST: Students Reflect on Art in L.A, 1945-80

Spring 2012


Our city — unanchored, unmoored, peripatetic, far-flung, ever-expanding — roves, wanders, unites and divides, raises up and suppresses, diversifies, segregates, binds and sets free.

In several Liberal Arts and Sciences classes this year, students engaged in a broader community discussion about L.A. art, connecting directly with the exhibitions in 68 different institutions that were part of the Getty’s “Pacific Standard Time: Art In L.A. 1945-1980.” As viewers and observers, they researched and commentated, exploring “the era that continues to inspire the world.” Three faculty members (below) who taught these courses and five students (right)

Lex Drewinski, silkscreen, 1997 Berlin

share their insights.

from “Doin It In The Library,” courtesy of Center for Study of Political Graphics

Kerri Steinberg, “Designing the Political”

Siel Ju, “Tidal Shift: Surfing Pacific Standard Time”

Karri Paul, “Art in the City of Angels”

Steve Conklin

This fall, eleven sophomores took to the hallways and

When do art history students become cultural critics,

Our city — unanchored, unmoored, peripatetic, far-flung,

library. Their mission? — to open a dialogue with the

first-hand researchers, and art historians themselves?

ever-expanding — roves, wanders, unites and divides,

“Doin’ It In Public” PST show at the Ben Maltz Gallery,

Ideally, every student engages with the community

raises up and suppresses, diversifies, segregates, binds

I love Weegee’s dark witticism. Many of the prints that

and confront the struggles still faced by women in the

beyond the classroom walls, but such broader

and sets free. How, then, does it fit into a classroom?

I viewed at the “Naked Hollywood” exhibition were

contemporary world. Using a selection of posters from

engagement was de rigeur for participants in “Tidal

Fortunately, in this case, it doesn’t have to. "Art and the

unflattering or comical photographs of poor souls

the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG)—

Shift: Surfing Pacific Standard Time.” Students in this

City of Angels" (ACA), a hybrid class, combined traditional

captured by Weegee’s mocking lens. For example, in his

an archive of over 80,000 political posters — the students

junior-level art history elective blogged about their

classroom activities such as lecture and discussion with

series of a fan being denied an autograph at a premiere,

researched and then annotated more than 30 posters.

experiences and findings, through conversations and

independent fieldwork and online interaction. Through

within four snapshots the seeker’s face goes from enthu-

They collaborated on themes and statements to address

interactions with the blogosphere and beyond. They

regular blog posts, students researched, discovered and

siasm to abject despair and disappointment. You have

issues that were not highlighted in the Ben Maltz show,

took on broad political, historical, and aesthetic

articulated the complex relationships between cultural

to applaud Weegee for doing such a fine job of capturing

including transgender identity, women and war, body

questions, from critiquing the scarcity of lesbian artists

identity and visual production. They analyzed the

true emotion, while simultaneously pitying the poor fan.

issues, and women and diversity. The posters, along with

featured in the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives

imagery of Hollywood glamour and the idealized

Throughout my visit to the gallery, I chuckled and smirked

the annotations and group statements, were featured in

exhibit to discussing the unique “Californian” aspects

California body (Muscle Beach, Venice) from feminist or

at Weegee’s snapshots of Hollywood reality, and his

their curated show, “Doin’ It In The Library.”

of Helen Lundeberg’s “Blue Planet.” Their blog entries

gay/lesbian/queer points of view. They studied creative

disfigured portraits. Weegee would probably derive humor

started conversations with curators, educators, artists,

uses of non-traditional art materials, ranging from

from my discomfort.

and the wider L.A. art community.

industrial resins and automotive enamel to detritus and

“Naked Hollywood: Weegee in Los Angeles”

From Asia to the Americas, and from Africa to Australia, the exhibition amplified the focus from the Woman’s


I found myself more interested in Weegee’s captures

Building to examine the concerns of feminism from an

human hair. They confronted non-traditional visual

of awkward moments than his visual distortions of

international perspective. Indeed, students learned that

media and practices, ranging from performance and video

celebrities’ faces. His images of drunk tanks full of men

the feminist struggle lives on, and that even in the digital

art to Earthworks and the Light and Space movement.

sleeping off the previous night’s excess were something to

age, the political poster continues to function as a voice

They explored the influences of Southern California’s

behold. These photos document the lesser-known side of

for those whose oppression otherwise keeps them silent.

geography on its art and design, and examined the ways in

Louis Alvarado

Amber Sanders

Iven Park

Evelyn Plascencia

L.A. Men are stacked on top of men in an almost intimate

which suburbanization, car culture, teenage consumer-

“Cross Currents”

“Under the Big Black Sun”

“Under the Big Black Sun”

“Mapping Another L.A.:

way. No one is fighting for space. They almost look peace-

ism, leisure activities, entertainment, national politics,

Getty Museum



The Chicano Art Move-

ful. In truth, these men are a sorry bunch, and I wonder if

ment,” Fowler Museum,

Weegee felt humor or sympathy at their plight.

and popular media have shaped the L.A. art scene. And of course, they celebrated the significant contributions of Otis faculty and alumni.

Blue Wall (1959) by John Ma-

I found Suzanne Lacy’s

If you object to illegal street


Maybe Weegee took the photos because he knew that

son was the most memorable

“Three Weeks in May” utterly

art, what about the artist

‘Mexican’ Modernism(s)

other people would want to see these things for them-

piece that I encountered. It

horrifying. I had never real-

who uses illegal drugs? Legal-

in Los Angeles, 1930-1985”

selves. Holland Cotter got it right in The New York Times

own identities, histories, socio-political responsibilities,

looked so similar to denim

ized that rape was such a

ity is such a complicated


when he said “Weegee was fascinated by our fascination.”

and creative practices while exercising their unique

jeans that it made me wonder

silent problem. Later I read

question that in the realm

interpretive processes and written voices. Through

if Mason intended that it

that it only became illegal

of art, it is often ignored or

Why do the majority of

the arrival of their favorite actors. Why else would he snap

collaboration with their classmates (via weekly blog posts

resemble an icon of American

for a spouse to rape his wife

forgiven. Would you favor

Chicano artists use elements

so many pictures of funny scenarios and embarrassments?

and peer commentary) and with L.A.’s leading artists,

culture. Additionally, this

in 1970. It gave me a real

street art if it becomes legal?

of Mexican culture rather

Most importantly, ACA students reflected on their

This is the reason that he took photos of crowds gasping at

As the MOCA gallery guide put it “Weegee variously

designers, scholars, and institutions (via PST), these

piece means a lot to me be-

perspective on how lucky we

I personally do not have a

than drawing from their new

promoted himself as an expert technician, a mentor to am-

students built a thoughtful and thought-provoking online

cause Mason attended Otis!

are as women to have laws

problem with illegal street

identity as Chicanos? I be-

ateur photographers, a documentarian of Hollywood star-

record of their progress — one that I was privileged to

Although it sounds generic,

that protect us because of

art as long as it is part of the

lieve in categorizing all work

dom, and a shameless lecher.” He attracted an audience

facilitate. I believe that these excerpts from their posts

it really does inspire me and

performance protests like

content that the artist pro-

by artists who have Mexican

for his mockery of society, and fed off their hunger for

attest to the richness of our endeavors to educate and to

gives me hope that one day


poses. Also, how would you

descendants as Mexican

more. Our desire for amusement fueled him as he found

become educated; to enlighten and to become enlightened.

my work can be displayed

define subtleness? Can art be

art. I’m not a Chicano; I’m

more of what he and we love to see. A photo of Cheeta the

in museums and viewed by

subtle? Should it always be

Mexican. My work might

chimp eating at a fancy restaurant perhaps?

thousands of people from all

universal? Should it always

be realism, impressionism,

over the world.

address the mainstream?

abstract or romantic in style.

Students visit LACMA’s “California Design, 1930– 1965: Living in a Modern Way” exhibition with

Understanding Chicano and

Jo Lauria (’90 MFA) and faculty member

Mexican art is like trying to

Joan Takayama-Ogawa (second and third from left)

understand a Bible.



College News

Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine

Spring 2012


Fall semester 2011 meant a sabbatical for Fashion Design Chair Rosemary Brantley, who has

Ecuador is for the Birds (and other Living Creatures)

run the department for the past three decades. As she imagined her time away from Otis, Brantley identified two main goals: integrating sustainability into her own professional fash-

Rose Brantley Learns from a Sabbatical

pagos taxi cabs), and finally arrived at our

I had imagined the Galapagos as the last

process of living and working and learning

expected to see local artisans creating

first island, Santa Cruz. I quickly adapted

pure, clean place on earth but found it

together. Uplifted and inspired, I returned

hand-woven and dyed textiles. But what I

to stepping over iguanas!

contaminated by the huge growth in tour-

to teaching with a renewed commitment

ism, and the problems brought by man

to sustainable fashion design.

one of those white Toyotas dropped me off

(including pigs, rats, dogs) that upset the

tiles, religious ornaments, painted walls

at an undisclosed location on the remote

ecosystems. Unfortunately, most flora and

time on my own professional fashion

and pavements—on the streets, and in

Isle of Isabella. The driver simply pointed,

fauna across the islands are endangered.

design practice, I came to the realiza-

courtyards and cathedrals. Urban street

saying “go that way.” I walked down into

But what inspired Darwin’s theories about

tion that the retail world is not ready for

art combined with colonial artistry took

a deep lagoon, and looked around. In the

the interconnectedness of species and the

sustainable design that requires too much

on a special meaning for me as now, far

far distance, up in the blue sky, I spotted

balance of nature remained there for me

explanation. We are teaching our students

away from my Otis life, I had time to

two large indistinguishable shapes (air-

to see. Centuries later, finches still eat the

that fashion design must change in order

really look and discover. After 32 years of

planes?) headed right toward me. Alone

fungus off turtles, and red crabs continue

to sustain our planet. But I recognize that

teaching and managing a department,

and more than a little wary, I was relieved

to “groom” iguanas.

there is still a lack of understanding in the

when my inner “Otis clock” woke me up

to finally recognize them as huge birds

in Quito (Ecuador's capital), I would think

with massive wingspans. They were pink

Back on the Job:

both need to be taught the sustainable

subconsciously about what my students

flamingos. Who knew flamingos were

I brought these Darwinian concepts back

principles. To be truly successful at fash-

and faculty were doing at that moment

black under their gorgeous pink wings? In

to Otis to encourage the collaboration

ion now and in the future, education will

back in L.A. But I forced myself to lose

unison, the two flew majestically overhead

that comes from the interconnectedness

need to be a part of the design process.

those thoughts in order to truly soak up

while I sat on the white sand beach as

among faculty and students — the

the inspiration around me.

dusk approached.

After a 3 1/2-hour flight over nothing but water, I saw the islands approaching like

hidden inside pockets for smart phones and other handheld devices

One day, in the heat of the afternoon,

diversity of geometric patterns—mosaic

Musings and moments in the Galapagos:

button reversible jacket with

on earth. She found both, and shared her thoughts on what she learned from her sabbatical.

When I planned my trip to Ecuador, I

found most remarkable was the incredible

Brantley designed this single-

ion design work, and finding inspiration through travel to one of the most primitive places left

broken-up pieces scattered across the sea. Indeed, three million years ago, the Galapagos formed from one “hot spot” in the ocean, and mounds of black lava flowed in starts and stops, drifting from as far away as 30 miles. Landing in Baltra, we found nothing but an airstrip surrounded by tall, tree-like cacti (Puntia) with their flat and rounded cladodes (cactus pads). When these pads fall to the ground, tortoises bite through their 2-3"-long thorns to get to the juicy green pulp inside — an example of adaptive radiation. The cactus provides the habitat and food source for many of the island's species. After collecting our luggage, we boarded a bus to a water taxi to another small port where we were loaded into white, two-seater Toyota pick-ups (Gala-

During my sabbatical, while spending

industry and among consumers. They



College News

Howdy, Folks An interview with Gary Geraths

Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine

Spring 2012


Every student at Otis knows Gary Geraths. A Foundation faculty member for twenty years, he teaches Life Drawing in Foundation, and Drawing in Digital Media. Gary wrote a text for animal drawing, and created three extremely popular “how to” videos on drawing the figure on Otis’ YouTube Channel ( His popular videos have put him in touch with artists all over the world. A fourth video will be released this spring. The following are excerpts are from a dialogue between Gary and Katie Phillips, chair of Foundation

K - I’m interested in your approach to life

K - What feeds all that?

Left: demonstration drawing of muscle

K - Gary, that was a good experience,

K - I love the way you teach students to

drawing, both in the classroom and in

G - I am constantly drawing. If I stop

groupings of the back and arm

but you’ve had some hairy experiences—

move through mistakes. I know that your

your videos. Life drawing is generally con-

drawing, I lose facility. I’m addicted to

Right: American Family ( for Todd), charcoal on

hanging off cliffs is an odd way to sketch.

demonstrations are the result of thorough

sidered a very traditional and academic

drawing. I draw within the confines of the

G - I’ve always liked solitude. I’ve always


aspect of the arts, and yet you begin your

classroom, but a large part of my practice

liked to go to a place and to deal with the

G - When you’re going out to a wilderness

videos with “Howdy, Folks.” How do you

is drawing in the natural environment.

physical and spiritual elements of the

place, you’ve got to “gear up.” I prepare for

world. There’s nothing more uplifting

the classroom in the same way. I don’t get

reconcile your casual approach with your

Drawing in the natural environment

paper, 8 x 26' (detail) Below: Student Reese Charchol sketching at the zoo in “Animal Drawing” class

subject matter?

allows me to see the wonderment of every-

than being in nature. Ever since I was very

lost in the wild or in the classroom. I iden-

G - Well, life drawing can be intimidating,

thing. It’s a leisurely examination of the

young – 7 or 8 – I’ve been going out to the

tify the goal/destination and prepare for

starting with the disrobed human stand-

world. Whether I’m sitting on the edge of

“wild places.” I speculate on the formation

not one solution, but for many situations.

ing in front of you. The model is another

a cliff or drawing for a class, it’s an amaz-

of the geological and physical elements,

I want to teach the students a variety of

human, not a still life. I want to break

ing opportunity to be able to have that

and lose myself in it. And it’s not just my

solutions. It makes for much more satisfy-

down barriers for my students; create

expansive time to take something apart

addiction to drawing in the notebooks; the

ing and fulfilling outcomes.

access and a safety zone. There is a duality

and put it back together again (through

practice of being in the wild informs my

involved in teaching life drawing. It is

drawing). You can transcend the moment,

studio practice.

in the classroom. In climbing, you trust

both intuitive and analytical – an angel on

and then look back at it. A photograph

K - But back to the notebooks. Are you

your partner with your life. I’m always en-

one shoulder and the devil on the other.

won’t do that.

looking for any special type of event?

couraging students to rely on each other.

In drawing from the figure, you can screw

K - You must have tons of sketchbooks.

G - I’m just sort of a voyeur, like in the

I think that’s the power of Otis – not just

up an elbow and no one ever knows, but

G - It’s up to about 140, give or take a few.

O.J. Simpson trial (as an independent

with students, but among faculty. I think

you drop an eye a quarter of an inch and

I’ve lost count over the years. One of my

media sketch artist). It was very much

of the faculty as my rope-mates.

you’ve documented a science experiment.

favorite trips was to Tibet for two months

about watching the participants’ emotions

As I said, it’s intimidating. If you approach

in the summer of 2010 with George Fuen-

—swings from extreme joy to extreme

teries. It allows me to be who I am in the

it in a casual but focused way, you can let

tes (’06). We were both drawing constantly.

anguish. It was a different type of artistic

classroom. Being in the wild is magical.

out steam and avoid implosion.

I planned a pilgrim’s journey, not a tourist

expression than going out in the wild. I

I try to get the students to get lost in the

K - You’re well known for your teaching but

route, and we visited many monasteries.

was a neutral observer, a college professor

classroom experience in the same way.

you also have an unusual studio practice.

We sketched everywhere, and everywhere

there to draw people and observe events.

There’s a wonderment to it.

G - At the moment I’m working on large-

we went, we drew huge crowds — 20 to

K - Where else have you been with your

scale works for several shows. There are

30 people — which is very strange when


opened up a life magazine when I was ten

elements in the drawings that deal with

you are sitting on the edge of a 2,000' cliff,

G - Throughout the West, from Baja to Mt.

or so, and saw a list that a famous explorer

shape, form and scale only, but within the

17,000' up in the Himalayas. We asked our

McKinley, Alaska, the seashore, deserts

made of places he wanted to visit. I’m still

same drawing there may be more natural-

guide why people were so interested. He

and mountains. I’ve traveled throughout

checking off this list …

istic passages that describe the movement

told us that portrait drawing astonished

Europe, Tibet, Nepal and Singapore and

that is always present in nature, but less

Tibetans because it is not part of their


Last summer, after being lost in the Grand

visible. Last year, I completed an 8’ x 26’

culture. We gave drawing lessons, since it

K - You’re also a rock climber. How does

Gulch Primitive Area of Utah for three days,

drawing for the Claremont Museum.

is a friendly and universal thing. The emo-

that tie into your work and teaching?

Gary was lucky enough to flag down a U.S.

When I develop one of those über-large

tions created by our interactions really

G - It’s chance-taking. The ability to be

Army Chinook helicopter that deposited

drawings, it’s usually about the collision

brought home to me the power

able to try, fail, and give it another shot.

him safe and sound, but 350 miles from

of elements; the evolution, decay and

of images. Half way across the world,

There’s always another route, trail or path-

where he had left his car. Fortunately for

re-growth in nature.

we were communicating, connecting

way to get you up and over an obstacle.

Otis, he was able to make his way home, to

without language.

After you take an 80’ plunge down a cliff,

begin another year of teaching.

I’m also a big believer in teamwork

Being in the wild recharges my bat-

If you want to know why I do this: I

failing at a drawing doesn’t really seem like such a big deal.

More at



College News

A Writer’s Life By George Wolfe

Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine

Born in South Korea, moved to

(A long pause), 2011, hand-cut

Los Angeles in 1980 / B.A. University

chromogenic print with acrylic paint,

of California, Riverside / M.F.A.

62.5 x 61.5," 2011,

California Institute of the Arts,

Collection of Albright Knox Art

Valencia (Critical Studies) / Exhibited

Gallery, N.Y.

Spring 2012


nationally and internationally at:

“Hush, Mother says. Madeleine is sleeping. She is so beautiful when she sleeps, I do not want to wake her. The small sisters and brothers creep about the bed, their gestures of silence becoming magnified and languorous, fingers floating to pursed lips, tip toes rising and descending as if weightless. Circling about her bed, their frantic activity slows; they are like tiny insects suspended in sap, kicking dreamingly before they crystallize into amber. Together they inhale softly and the room fills with one endless exhalation of breath: Shhhhhhhhhhhh.”

The J. Paul Getty Museum; LACMA; the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, Copenhagen; the California Museum of Photograpy; Angles Gallery; Gwangju Biennale, Korea; Whitney Museum, N.Y., among others.

— Madeleine is Sleeping

“Sarah Shun-lien Bynum’s writing writing is characterized by compelling poetic language and fairy tale-tinged content.”

ate an iPhone app as well. In a few weeks, Paul and I will be taking accepted MFA students on a walking/driving tour through literary L.A., starting at Union Station and making our way through Hollywood and up to Griffith Observatory, seeing the

Downshifting in Photography By George Wolfe

homes and stopping by the favorite watering holes of Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Joan Didion, Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and Nathanael West, to name a few. We can show students the size and complexity of L.A. while exploring its incredibly rich but often unsung literary

The principle that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction embodies the art, processes and teachings of artist and Director of Otis’ Fine Arts Photography Program, Soo Kim. Except, perhaps, that Soo's reactions are more opposite than equal.

history.” Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, recently

and I was really struck by the students’

appointed Assistant Chair of Graduate

engagement and energy. So I’d been a fan

Sarah tells of working under the same roof

Writing, was born in Houston, grew up in

of Otis long before I started teaching here,

as her husband, Dana. Having shared an

Boston, and most recently hails from the

and knew and admired the work of several

office for years — with his desk in one cor-

University of San Diego, where she taught

of the faculty writers and artists.”

ner and hers in the other — they recently

writing and literature. She graduated from

Graduate Writing’s emphasis on trans-

Regarding her dual-writer abode,

moved into separate workspaces. “I needed

Brown University and the University of

lation was of interest to Sarah, as well as

more room for my books and knickknacks,”

Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 2010, The New

the diverse books that Seismicity Editions

she admits, “and he needed more room for

Yorker magazine dubbed her one of the top

publishes. “It’s great to be able to offer stu-

a good-sized screen to watch movies and

“20 Under 40” writers for her two novels

dents a truly hands-on experience working

T.V. I miss his presence! Not that we would

(Madeleine is Sleeping and Ms. Hempel

with publications that are so thoughtfully

interact a lot while we were working but

Chronicles) and notable short stories.

edited and elegantly designed. I’m also

it was comforting having another writer

She’s been a finalist for the National Book

looking forward to exploring the possibil-

nearby, engaged in the same struggle to

Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and

ity of cross-disciplinary conversation and

get images and ideas and emotions onto

is widely published in various reviews and

collaboration with Otis’s other graduate

the page.”

journals. Her writing is characterized by


compelling poetic language and fairy tale-

Activities that the writing program is

And when it comes to working across artistic disciplines, and being affected

pursuing this spring include a literary tour

and inspired by the breadth of creativity

of L.A., stemming from L.A. Exile, Chair

that defines Otis, Sarah speaks to why she

her husband (a television writer) in 2005

Paul Vangelisti’s book about L.A. writ-

became a writer: “If I could be a photogra-

“for all the age-old reasons: seeking artistic

ing, which offers a wide sampling of the

pher, a dancer, a bass player in a rock’n’roll

opportunity, looking for a good place to

literature produced in and about the city,

band — I would! I’ve tried and fantasized

raise a family, craving natural light and

and includes a guide to the physical spaces

and fallen short. I spend my days hunched

better weather! Some of our first friends in

that various writers called home while they

over a keyboard because writing is the only

L.A. were Otis alums, which is how I first

lived here.

art form for which I’ve shown any aptitude.

tinged content. She moved from Brooklyn to L.A. with

became interested in the school. And then

“We’re making this guide available to

Graduate Writing Chair Peter Gadol invited

everyone online through the Grad Writing

me to read in the Visiting Writers Series,

website,” adds Sarah, “and we hope to cre-

I love my medium, but I also love so many others.”

With increasingly sophisticated cameras

Soo came to photography toward the very

having taught at a lot of different colleges

photography, especially considering that

on cell phones, suddenly everyone is

end of her graduate schooling, prior to

these past 17 years, she considers Otis her

the conditions in which we see photo-

a “photographer.” The speed at which

which she had been working mainly with

home base. “I admire my colleagues in the

graphic images have changed so radically

people can now take, manipulate and print

installation and film. Since that time she’s

department and across the college,” she

in the digital era.”

pictures — often applying sophisticated

been focused on how photographs index,

notes, “the faculty who teach the photog-

stylistic filters with the push of a button,

circulate, and inform the viewer about

raphy courses with me, and the students

in roles of both critiquing and making

and even assembling whole albums in min-

the world. She explains that, since around

with whom we get to work are wonderful

art, does she run into problems that pit

utes — makes for a whole new world.

2002, “I primarily make work where I cut

and inspiring.”

one side of the brain against the other? “I

“It’s an interesting time to be a photogra-

and excise pieces from the photograph to

pher,” Soo observes. “Online, you see so

consider the materiality of the medium.

tography Program in 2006, she has been

tions,” she says. “When I was writing more,

many more images than we used to see

I include absence and voids as part of the

working on a track in Editorial Photog-

the space of writing allowed me to access

in the printed realm. As a reaction to the

vocabulary of my work, in both content

raphy. “My idea for the track is to teach

interests that didn’t find their way into my

ubiquity and velocity of digital photogra-

and form.”

young artists to think about their practice

artwork – I used the connections between

in a broader scope, where the worlds of

writing and art-making to both address

phy and its dissemination, especially on-

She refers to her process as “idea-driv-

Since she started running the Pho-

As a photographer who is constantly

believe art is based in philosophy, in ques-

line, I concentrate on reading and making

en but mistake-loaded. Once I’ve decided

Fine Art and Editorial Photography could

and raise questions. At different points in

photographs slowly, and in the possibility

on a concept, I research related subject

meet. There are many artists whose ap-

my life, I’ve approached these questions in

of uniqueness. [My] work asks the viewer to

matter, and I consider ways to work with

proach to photography has complicated

different ways — through writing, making

slow down and engage—to become aware

the image after it has been printed. Some

the once adamantly-defined boundaries

work, curating, teaching. I try to be open

of both time and materiality.

photographs remain in my studio for years

between art and editorial — Roe Ether-

to different ways of thinking, so that my

before I work with them. Or I may spend

idge, Wolfgang Tillmans, Juergen Teller,

thought-process does not automatically

with one’s work is not a new condition

months cutting a print before having to

Taryn Simon, Adam Broomberg and Oliver

come through making work, but perhaps

brought on by digital photographic tech-

start over. Mistakes are frustrating but

Chanarin, Philip Lorca di Corcia — even

through teaching, or writing, or curating.”

nology. I’m interested in thinking about

an important part of my process, which

Stephen Shore, to name a few. My goal is

how photography lives in the world, and

operates outside of the perfection of digital

not to extend the site of one’s photographs

be set at, artist and instructor Soo Kim

my work examines the ubiquity of the

photography, slowing both its conception

to occupy more than one place, but rather,

will inevitably stick to her principles and

photographic form, about the depiction of

and production.”

to question the vocabulary, use, and

practices until she can get enough of us to

subversive qualities of contemporary

slow down and truly see.

“The desire to have the viewer engage

cities and landscapes, of dimensionality and materiality.”

Otis was one of Soo’s first teaching jobs right out of graduate school, and

No matter what speed the world may



College News

Unleashing Creativity with Mixel By George Wolfe

Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine

Although his decision raised a few eyebrows, he followed his heart. After parting on good terms with The New York Times and donning his entrepreneurial hat, he and his partner raised $700,000 in start-up funding, allowing them to quickly move forward with their flagship iPad app, Mixel, that launched in November 2011. Mixel’s stated mission is “to empower creative self-expression for new audiences and users everywhere, [combining] the transformative power of social networks and multi-touch tablets to let people from all walks of life make art — and

Taking his cue from the setting of the famous cave paintings in France, alumnus Khoi Vinh (’93, Communication Arts) co-founded the company Lascaux in 2011 to address “the innate impulse that we humans have to express ourselves visually.”

have fun doing it — in a wholly new way.” What that means is that it’s the world’s first social art els,” using images from the Web, Mixel’s library, or their own photos. Any Mixel image can be quickly cropped, rotated, scaled or combined with other images using simple, intuitive touch gestures familiar to iPad owners. “Most art apps,” he says, “translate the analog art experience into digital form and stop there. They overlook the transformative power of a user’s social graph, which can turn an “expert” activity like art-making into something

painted cave walls, but in some ways the basic urge of

casual, accessible and even addictive. Mixel is a true

this fundamental activity remains very much the same.

social experience, which is why it’s so much more fun

According to Khoi, as a suburban Maryland high schooler,

and engaging.”

he spent most of his time in the art room, working along-

Once users post their collages, or mixels, others can Thinking about his Otis background, he recalls:

side his fellow students in an atmosphere that was both

reuse or re-crop the component pieces, creating a unique

individual and social. Today he finds himself re-creating

creative dynamic. They can also remix any other user’s

“I thought I’d be an illustrator, but halfway through my

that same environment, among the skyscrapers of

mixels, creating derivative works organized into engross-

junior year, I got turned on to graphic design. In part, I

Manhattan — and instead of students and teachers,

ing visual conversations (‘threads’), with the power to

was influenced by the emergence of Macs. I realized that

he now deals with investors, business associates and

quickly go viral. “Mixel’s goal is to unleash the creativity

everything I’d been interested in was fundamentally a

his fellow designers.

that lies dormant in non-artists everywhere,” notes Khoi.

graphic design problem. My illustration work was collage-

“We want the doodlers, the photo-book-makers —anyone

like, so the idea much later on for an app like ours seemed

company after working as design director for

who loved making art as a kid but, along the way, lost the

perfect. I was glad to be able to reach back and tap into

from 2006 to 2010. “I just got the itch to develop and own

social context that encouraged them to keep creating.

that earlier work, which I always loved.

a product, to bring it to life,” he says. “I never set out to

Mixel is incredibly easy to use and unintimidating, yet

“I guess the main thing that Otis taught me was to

work in journalism. I’m a designer at heart, and what I’m

at the same time it sparks the creative urge that many

think critically, to really look at events, opportunities and

best suited for is the challenge of designing user experi-

people haven’t tapped since childhood.”

problems, and come up with creative solutions.”

Khoi took a soul-searching big leap to start his own

ences — superb user experiences.”

Mixel’s goal is to unleash the creativity that lies dormant in non-artists everywhere


Ad Man, Art Man

On a Southern Californian winter day in the late ’70s, two men— one an ad man, the other an art man—met at LA Louver, a new gallery in Venice. that would grow into L.A.’s biggest ad firm, TBWA\

nect — intentionally and otherwise — over the

By George Wolfe

Chiat\Day (representing clients such as Apple,

years. The gallery represents Otis alums Ken Price

Pepsi and Nissan), stopped in a gallery to inquire

('57), Alison Saar (’81 MFA) and Gaijin Fujita (’97).

about a print by Jasper Johns. Peter Goulds,

Otis gallery director Meg Linton also collaborated

the gallery’s founding director, responded that

on a phenomenal catalogue that accompanied a

the piece, on consignment, was listed at $3,500.

show of Louver-repped artist Don Suggs, at the

The man thanked him and went away. Later, he

Ben Maltz Gallery in 2007.

Jay Chiat, a few years into a business partnership

returned, once again asked the price, and was

app. Users create and share digital collages, called “mix-

A lot has changed since our cave-dwelling ancestors

Spring 2012

LA Louver and Otis have continued to con-

Goulds remembers his own years at art

told it was now $4,500. The man went away again,

schools in London, Coventry and Manchester,

eventually returned, and was informed that the

England, and explains how dramatically the art

price had risen to $7,500, to which, exasperated,

world has changed over the last four decades. “It’s

the man finally declared, “Well, I guess I’d better

a fabulously exciting world up ahead — certainly

buy this thing!”

with more change than when I was in school.

Thus went one of the first art transactions

There are digital forms, social media, websites,

for the man who would go on to become one of

etc., and how all those new disciplines become

the most prominent art collectors in the U.S., and

integrated tools to affect how we think and with

later donated work to the Whitney, the Museum

which to develop our ideas. Tim Berners-Lee,

of Modern Art and many other institutions. The

credited with the invention of the World Wide

friendship developed between Jay Chiat and Peter

Web, says that right now we’re only using 5% of

Goulds lasted the next 30 years, and ended with

the web’s potential (roughly the same percent-

Chiat’s passing in 2003.

age as our own brain usage). That’ll have a huge

Cut to the year 2000, with Goulds in the midst

effect on the art school education. I don’t believe

of his ten-year Otis trustee tenure, as the chair of

that digital media is ever going to replace analog

the Education Committee. Goulds proposed that

completely; things come and go; there are ways to

Jay’s very generous contributions to American

use both. We take the best from every form, and

art merited receipt of an honorary degree from

find ways to do more with it. And art education

the school. As Goulds recalls, “He was grateful

will be one of the central places where the evolv-

for the recognition. Sadly, for personal reasons,

ing drama of the new world, in large measure,

I wasn’t able to attend the commencement, but

is reconciled within the art school system. After

a fellow trustee reported that Jay’s speech went

all, to design is to make, shape, organize and put

well. I was quite surprised, however, to hear

information together. I’m confident that it isn’t

that he used my working life as an example for

going to be in the political realm that these huge

students as he spoke of how they might navigate

shifts are going to be decided.

their way through life. Not only that, but at the

“And personally, where I’m headed… You

end he announced his creation of a ‘Peter Goulds

know, I’ve never harbored a specific, set ambi-

Scholarship Fund,’ and his initial contribution of

tion — that is, I’ve always simply followed my

$100,000. The name has since been changed to

curiosity. While I am representing artists, I have

include my wife, Elizabeth, and we continue to

remained an information designer. That’s my

contribute to that fund. I know from being a trust-

main skill, and what I’ve always used to run my

ee and participating on that particular committee

gallery. Now, perhaps for the first time, I have

how critical scholarships are to Otis’ health. It’s

an ambition: To live to be 100. That’s another 40

make or break for many students, with 86% of the

years, more or less. The next 40 will be fabulous!

enrollment receiving some form of financial aid.”

The body can go to hell as long as the mind is still there. Yes, I remain insatiably curious to see what the world will look like then.”

LA Louver Director Peter Goulds, 2012 Frederick Hammersley exhibition (insert) Goulds, 1978 Hammersley exhibition



Alumni Around the World

Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine

CHINA In May 2011, I participated in BASEbeijing, a program es-

and comfort. This pillow, made out of a recycled pair of

tablished by L.A.-based architects Robert Mangurian and

pants, became an icon and generator of place. Building on their traditions, we imagined that intro-

China, and provide alternatives and possibilities for new

ducing more pillows could help to create a gathering and

and sustainable environments.

communal space. We produced 40 pillows from images

The association with BASE provided an opportunity to become part of an authentic, little-seen part of China for eight weeks, where we could build on already-estab-

we had taken, printed them on canvas, and stuffed them with peppercorn seeds and recycled plastic bags. We presented the pillows to the residents on our last

lished foundations. A tourist who happened on these

trip, along with a slideshow of images and videos of the

rural villages two hours north of the city would likely be

village, for them to gain insight of their home through

met with an air of hostility and intrigue.

our alien eyes. The pillows represented our collaborative

With two students from Tulane University, I exam-

Matt Warren | (’06 MFA Fine Arts)

Alumni Around the World

Spring 2012


SINGAPORE Mary-Ann Ray, to document the changing face of rural

Space Cowboy Howling at Chinese Moon


time spent in the village as a souvenir, but not in the form

Life has a twisted sense of urgency when it presents you

Striking Out for Singapore

with opportunities. In May of 2009, I made my way to N.Y. for a two-month stint as Associate Designer for DKNY Jeans International. As my time with the company was coming to an end, the Creative Director asked me to move with the company to Singapore as a full-time Associate Designer. At first I declined the offer, as the thought of permanently moving to N.Y. was already frightening enough. There were three weeks between the day that I got the offer to the day that they needed me to start. Without

Bita Rad | (’03 Fashion Design)

thinking anything through, I changed my mind and decided to try it out. I moved to Singapore with the inten-

ined the public spaces in the village in terms of their

of an intrusive construct that would ultimately become

social routines and interactions. The village resembled a

unwanted and unused. Some images were specific to

ghost town for much of the day, as it consisted of elderly

particular locations, others were portraits of individuals

pier than ever. Living on this side of the world has opened

residents whose children live and work in the city, and

or transcripts of a conversation. Ultimately, they were of-

my eyes to completely different cultures, customs, and

grandchildren who board at school during the week.

ferings of thanks for allowing us to share their village life.

value systems than those to which I was exposed while

Although this lack of energy added to the tranquil setting,

tion of staying only six months. Two and a half years later, I live in Asia and am hap-

The BASE experience also offered an insight into

growing up in Beverly Hills. Known as Asia’s most “tran-

it also reflected its social environment. Residents worked

rapid urban development and an opportunity to be part

sient” city, Singapore is home to many different cultures.

in the fields from dawn until dusk and, with no commu-

of the Beijing art scene, through meetings with such

It is not even visible on most world maps, but it serves as

nal spaces in which to mingle after dark, returned to their

well-known artists as Ai Weiwei, Wang Quingsong, and

the connective tissue between the Eastern and Western

respective homes. The prospect of entertaining friends

He Yungchang. Our studio was based in Caochangdi,

Worlds. Sub-cities within Singapore, such as Little India,

and neighbours did not seem to be culturally significant.

a prominent arts district, and despite the demanding

Chinatown, and Arab Street are cultural experiences unto

The idea of isolation was prominent, both in geographical

schedule there was time to explore Forbidden Cities

themselves. Moving overseas has allowed me to travel

location and social interaction.

and climb Great Walls. My favorite souvenir is my

and immerse myself in cultures throughout Asia. My route

Chinese name that translates, depending on whom

to work takes me through a colorful variety of fashion,

followed the shade, traversing the alleyways and streets to

you ask, as ‘Space cowboy, riding on the open plain

culture, and food as I traverse a crowded Chinese street

accommodate the seldom-seen residents during intervals

howling at moon.’

market with fresh seafood, a Hindu Temple with decorative

During our visits, we observed a solitary pillow that

of relaxation. Public space grew out of simple necessity

golden shrines, a famous Mosque, and a 57-story national monument, all within a ten-minute cab drive. Weekends tend to be extremely surreal. With Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia all an hour flight away, I explore exotic beaches and authentic flea markets. The inspiration is infinite!   The opportunities in Singapore with my career and in my personal life are immeasurable. I can work directly with factories and vendors that I would otherwise be communicating with via email. My co-workers are all international designers, and we are continuously learning from each other’s backgrounds in fashion and culture. It has been fascinating to learn about everyone else’s design experiences in different parts of the world. Looking back at my time at Otis, I realize that even more than honing my craft, I learned the valuable lesson of an efficient work ethic. Otis pushed my limits and boundaries much farther than I thought possible. It prepared me for the long hours and stamina that are crucial to working in a foreign country with professionals who have different skill-sets. Somehow the dots connected in a way I did not expect, and the long hours I spent working

The pillows represented our collaborative time spent in the village as a souvenir, but not in the form of an intrusive construct that would ultimately become unwanted and unused.

I explore exotic beaches and authentic flea markets. The inspiration is infinite!

through the wee hours of the night prepared me to work far more effectively in the “real world.” On trips around the world, I see major department stores carrying my collections, and people in the street wearing my designs. I am extremely grateful to the fundamental tools that Otis provided me so that I can contend in the global market. From here, the possibilities and opportunities are endless, and I look forward to my future.



Class Notes

Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine


Class Notes


Spring 2012

ALUMNAE ALUMNUS ALUMNI ALUMNA Laura Daroca (’03 MFA Fine Arts) Director of Alumni Relations

The listings below are a sampling of recent alumni achievements. Share your latest news on The Otis Times blog, and keep in touch with each other and Otis on our alumni Facebook page. Go to for links to both of these sites or contact us at

Jeffrey Vallance

Gajin Fujita

’81 MFA Fine Arts

’97 Fine Arts

Martin Luther, from The Vallance Bible; “The Word

Roof Top, 2010, spray paint, paint marker, Mean Streak paint stick, gold, white gold and platinum

of God,” The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

leaf on wood panel; “Made in L.A.,” LA Louver Gallery, Venice Image courtesy of LA Louver

Sandow Birk

Tofer Chin

’89 Fine Arts

’02 Fine Arts

“American Qu’ran”


Koplin del Rio Gallery, Culver City

Lu Magnus, N.Y.

“The Chosen Ones” San Luis Obispo Museum of Art

Jade Lai (’02), Ashkahn Shahparnia (‘10), and Andrew Lewicki (‘07)

Hilde Overbergh

“Come In! 2: Surf. Skate. Bike.”

’90 MFA Fine Arts

A & D Museum, L.A.

“Repositioning Basics” CB1 Gallery, L.A.

Sabine Dehnel ’03 MFA Fine Arts

Chad Robertson

“The Things of Life”

’91 Fine Arts

Morgen Contemporary, Berlin

“Disparate Collectives” Western Project, L.A. Camille Rose Garcia

Michelle (Mia) Araujo ’07 Communication Arts

Noelle Raffy

Corey Helford Gallery, Culver City

’03 Fashion Design

’92 Fine Arts

Costume designs, Tennessee Williams’

“Snow White: The Complete Works on

Lorenzo Hurtado

“Baby Doll,” Lillian Theatre, Hollywood


’07 MFA Fine Arts

Michael Kohn Gallery, L.A.

“Papel Tejido”

Caroline Wilson

CB1 Gallery, L.A.

’08 Fashion Design Senior Designer, Fashion and Apparel

Trine Wejp-Olsen

Julianne Eckert ’09 Digital Media Goodnight Molly, awarded Silver Monkey Award (Jury Selection) at 2011 Stop Motion Magazine Film Festival

SOLOISTS Ernest Lacy ’60 Fine Arts “Dance, the kinetic figure” Shannon Center Gallery, Whittier College Malcom Lubliner ’62 MFA Fine Arts “The Anxious Landscape” Richmond Art Center, Richmond, VA Peter Liashkov ’67 Fine Arts “Paper Cowboy” Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, NV

John M. White

Bonita Helmer

’69 MFA Fine Arts

’79 MFA Fine Arts

“Recent Works”

“The Four Worlds”

Offramp Gallery, Pasadena

Ohr Hatorah Synagogue, Mar Vista

Bruce Edelstein

Coleen Sterritt

’77 MFA Fine Arts

’79 MFA Fine Arts

“Unpredictable: New Ceramic Sculpture”


Hillwood Art Museum, Brookville, NY

L.A. Harbor College Fine Arts Gallery, Wilmington

Karla Klarin ’78 MFA Fine Arts

Patssi Valdez


’85 Fine Arts

Schomburg Gallery, Santa Monica

“80s Portraits” Thomas Paul Fine Art, L.A. “See the Women Who Shook Up the Art World in 2011,”

’94 Fine Arts

Flora Kao

at Nickelodeon, for Dora the Explorer,

“Psychopomp Symphonies”

’08 Fine Arts

Victorious, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,

Hübner + Hübner, Frankfurt

MFA thesis exhibition: Breath

How to Rock, and iCarly

UC Irvine University Art Gallery Nate Mitchell

Yong Sin ’95 Fine Arts

Alex Kroll

’04 Toy Design

“Happy Day”

’08 MFA Fine Arts

Started company Squid Kids Ink,

Terminal 2, LAX


CB1 Gallery, LA. Jessica Hoffhines

Juan Capistran ’99 Fine Arts

’05 Fashion Design

12th Istanbul Biennial


Gershom (Rob Spruijt)

Consuelo Asper

Designs for bebe featured in ad cam-

’01 Fine Art

’01 Fashion Design

paigns including Nylon, InStyle, and


Designed Wings Flying Hoodie for air-

Marie Claire magazines and bus stop

Lora Schlesinger Gallery, Santa Monica

plane travel,


Karen Yi ’07 Fashion Design

Rebecca Chamlee ’85 Communication Arts Further Apocrypha, poems by Ray DiPalma, a letterpress printed, hand-bound book won the 2011 Tampa Book Arts Studio Letterpress Excellence Award



Class Notes

Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine

Jacob Melchi

while also expanding orthodox defini-

’03 MFA Fine Arts

tions of American and European sculp-

“Seven Young L.A. Painters I Like,”

ture since the 1960s, died at his home

Culture Monster,, Leah

and studio in Taos, N.M. He was 77. In the

Ollman, March 2011

decades following World War II, Price was


Class Notes

New York, New York

Spring 2012


Alumni Get Real

among the first generation of iconoclastic Becky Koblick

L.A. artists to attain international stature.

’04 Fine Arts “Curator Corral: Five Curators,”

At the time of his death Price (below) had, September 2011

completed preparations for a 50-year retrospective, scheduled to open at LACMA

Danny Phillips (’08 Architecture/

in the fall in an exhibition designed by ar-

Landscape/Interiors) and

chitect Frank Gehry. “Price’s practice has

Kim Karlsrud (’07 Product Design)

remained resolutely original, challenging

Greenaid seedbombs included as one of

categorization and redefining contempo-

“10 Hot Startup Sectors for New Business

rary sculpture,” said Stephanie Barron,

Ideas in 2012,” Entrepreneur magazine,

senior curator of modern art at LACMA.

November 2011

AWARD WINNERS Joe Sola (‘99 MFA Fine Arts) Police Pyramid 2011, oil on canvas, 23 7/8” x 19 3/4” courtesy of the artist and Blackston, New York

IN THE NEWS Khoi Vinh ’93 Communication Arts Cited by Fast Company in its October issue as one of the 50 most influential designers in America, and profiled in The Atlantic magazine Ruben Ochoa ’97, Fine Arts Elton John purchased a major work from an exhibition at the Pinchuk Foundation, Venice, Italy Joe Sola ’99 MFA Fine Arts Solo show “The Senior Discount” at Blackston Gallery, N.Y., reviewed by Brian Boucher, Art in America, January 2012, and Anne Doran, Time Out New York, November 2011. Included in ARTnews, “Biting the Hand that Feeds Them,” December 2011

Raymond Zibach (‘90) at the 2012 Academy Awards ceremony

Barbara Maloutas ’02 MFA Writing New chapbook, Of Which Anything Consists, published by New Michigan Press, 2011

Raymond Zibach ’90 Communication Arts Academy Award Nomination, Animated Feature, DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda 2 Production Design. Also included work by Soo King (’92 Communication Arts) in the Surfacing Department

Lola Thompson (’10 Fine Arts) was a finalist in Bravo’s

2011 Annie Award for Production Design

Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, and Paula Little

in an Animated Feature

(’11 Communication Arts) acted as Design Producer for CW’s Remodeled.

Mark Caneso

Franklyn Liegel

’04 Communication Arts

’77 MFA Fine Arts

Awarded Certificate of Typographic

Exhibiting fine artist and beloved Otis

Excellence by the Type Directors Club

Continuing Education instructor passed

for the book design The Great Picture:

away in February. His work was exhibited

Making the World’s Largest Photograph

nationally and internationally, and he

Ashkahn Shahparnia

1: Alumna Jade Lai (’02) welcomed 60 alumni and friends into her Manhattan boutique, Creatures of Comfort, on March 22

Paula Little:

Lola Thompson:

“Twelve-Hour Makeovers”

“Making Art was my Only Job”

was awarded artist fellowships in Taos,

2: Justin Gooding (’90 Fashion Design), Fashion

New Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Design Chair Rosemary Brantley, and Randy Hild

After graduating as valedictorian with honors, I embarked

It was so much fun I would almost do it again. Sure, it

(Hild Consulting, Quiksilver marketing consultant)

on an exciting journey, transitioning my skills for reality

was odd to be followed around by strange men holding

‘10 Communication Arts One of 150 illustrators from 30 countries

Jason Phillips

television. I earned the role of Design Producer for

very large cameras mere inches from one’s face. And

selected for Taschen’s Illustration Now:

’96 Fashion Design

Remodeled, currently airing on The CW Network. Nate

yes, being scorned by strangers and having every aspect

Volume 4

NIKE Senior designer (2001-2007) and

Galui, formerly of Extreme Home Makeover, led our art

of my personality and choices critiqued by anonymous

department of two. Otis prepared me for the sleepless

strangers was frustrating and sometimes hurtful. But the

nights we endured, working 48 hours around the clock

fact is: How many times in one’s life does the opportunity

to makeover office spaces within a twelve-hour window,

come along to make art 24 hours a day, seven days a

2002 Otis fashion design mentor, Jason

Greg Wilken at CUE Foundation, N.Y.

Jonathan Stofenmacher (Bottom Left)

passed away on March 25, 2012. His fam-

’10 Fine Arts

ily asks that donations in his honor be

City of Pasadena Department of Cultural

made to the Gentiva Hospice Foundation

Faculty member Tucker Neel (’07 MFA) was selected

transforming them from blank canvases into high-

week? For the month I spent in N.Y. filming season two of

Affairs grant for create mural on Side

in support of Odyssey Hospice

by New York’s CUE Foundation’s Young Critic Mentoring

styled New York modeling agencies. The experience was

Work Of Art, The Next Great Artist, I did just that.

program to write the catalogue essay for Greg Wilken

phenomenal, as I developed my skills and learned every

Ever imagine what it would be like to live thinking solely

Vincent Rascon

(’04)’s The Road of a Thousand Wonders exhibition,

day. I now have a love for interior design, set design,

about art, free of the usual worries of daily life, with no

’57 MFA Fine Arts

curated by photographer and filmmaker Sharon Lockhart.

construction and production. The intensity of production

bills to pay, no errands to run, no cell phone to answer,

Street Projects’ new mobile trailer classroom Sang Youb Shin

Internationally recognized printmaker

meant that high-quality craftsmanship and design was

no family to nag you, no e-mailing, no Internet, no news

’11 Digital Media

and teacher, Ranscon passed away

created in minimal timeframes. I rebranded six modeling

of the chaos unfolding over the world? The only catch is

First place, Promax Broadcast Designers

January 2, 2012 at his home in Oaxaca,

agencies around the U.S., in addition to recreating two

that about 30 seconds after you are gently prodded from

Association Competition, Student

Mexico. The Coastal Arts League

brands for functionality of use and design concepts. As

slumber, camera and sound guys will begin filming your

Animation and Design - Motion Category

Museum in Half Moon Bay held a 40-year

Design Producer, I experienced various forms of design

every move for the rest of the day until you fall into bed.

retrospective of his work in fall 2011. In

and execution, including trade outs, wallpaper design,

The weirdest part about being on reality TV was that it

Mexico, Rascon’s work is displayed at the

large- and small-scale vinyl graphics, window graphics,

rarely felt like we were making a TV show. Instead it felt

Office of the Governor of Oaxaca, and in

modeling portfolios, logos, 3D signage, CNC metal signs,

like we were collaborators in a surreal experiment, and

Spain at the Sala Provincia de Leon and

business cards and much more. I gained such respect

everyone had a part to play. The critique process was

the National Library.

that at the last minute I was flown to St. Louis to do a

terrifying at first, but as we went along the conversations

’57 Fine Arts

makeover on my own. Recently, I was Art Director for a

got more interesting and the judges got more involved

Excerpted from L.A. Times obit by

new MTV show. I have also been designing illustrations

and invested, resulting in some really great discussions.

Christopher Knight, Visiting Critic in

and artwork for various shows and pilots.


Fine Arts, 2010-11 Kenneth Price, a prolific Los Angeles artist whose work with glazed and painted clay transformed traditional ceramics



Class Notes

Otis College of Art and Design Alumni Magazine


Visited the Campus Recently?





Kathleen Ahmanson Hall

The A/L/I Class of 2011

scape/Interiors Chair

and the Bronya and Andy

designed and built “Otis

Linda Pollari redesigned

Galef Center for Fine

Social Space: Landscape

the Ahmanson lobby,

Arts have been joined by

Extrusion,” a full-scale

adding a reception desk

Otis’ North Building. The

spatial environment

and display cabinets for

former Bank of America,

under a canopy of trees

student work.

now part of the Otis cam-

adjacent to the Galef

pus, houses Architecture/

Center, which won a

Landscape/Interiors and

SPARK PRO Gold Award.

For the remodeled

Graduate Public Practice

The continuous and

Ahmanson student

studio spaces. The next

varied profiles of decks,

lounge, Troy James

time you head north on

seats, lounges, chaises,

(‘08 Product Design) (aka

Lincoln Boulevard toward benches and tables are

Tiki Jay), designed and

LAX, take a look at the

fabricated from steel

painted a custom mural.

new Otis signage.

tubes, wood decking and


pillows that can accommodate up to 110 people.

HELP THE O FUND GROW! Our students need your help to launch their careers. Please make a 100% tax-deductible gift that is meaningful to you by visiting our secure site at Contact Andre Khachtourians, Director of Annual Giving, with questions on the options for annual giving. (310) 665-6869 or Thank you!




Darren Waterston ’88 Communication Arts

310. 665. 6869 givenow

Throat, 2011, Oil on wood panel, 16 x 16”: “Forest Eater,” Haines Gallery, San Francisco

OMAG 12  

OMAG 12 2012

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