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    Doodling the Whimsical

    Photo May 25, 10 24 18 AM (1)

    2017 Red Bull Doodle Art Contest Region Finalist Sheilla Witanto. Photo courtesy of Sheilla Witanto.

    Sheilla Witanto lives in a world where dragons blow bubbles as astronauts float in space and a train chugs along in the background. At least this is one of the world’s bouncing around inside Witanto’s head that was translated into an illustration that won her the title of Region Finalist of the 2017 Red Bull Doodle Art contest.

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    Honorary Doctorate Recipient: Chuck Pyle

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    Self-portrait courtesy of Chuck Pyle..

    Witty and articulate, it’s hard to imagine Chuck Pyle, director of the School of Illustration at Academy of Art University, ever being a painfully shy child. But that’s how Pyle described himself in a video that paid tribute to his impressive career when he received an honorary doctorate on May 10. After accepting his degree from Academy President Dr. Elisa Stephens at the morning M.F.A. Spring 2017 Commencement ceremony, Pyle—who said his love of coloring and the praise he received for it helped him come out of his shell—gave an eloquent speech infused with passion for teaching and the Academy.

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    Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Maria Korovilas

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    Photo courtesy of AAU Publications.

    Maria Korovilas, Academy of Art University’s 2017 Distinguished M.F.A. Alumni Award recipient, has been making her mark in the fashion industry since she graduated in 2010. Disenchanted by the poorly made, disposable fashion she saw all around her, Korovilas wanted to create timeless, well-crafted garments that would become modern heirlooms for the women who purchased them. She debuted her first ready-to-wear collection of floaty, ethereal dresses—many made from textiles she designed—with an upscale, bohemian vibe under her Korovilas label in 2012.

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    2017 Valedictorian: Akshay Raghuvanshi

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    Photo courtesy of AAU Publications.

    During his passionate speech to his fellow Academy of Art University students, faculty members and guests at this spring’s commencement ceremony, 2017 Master of Fine Arts Valedictorian Akshay Raghuvanshi kept returning to one theme: follow your dream no matter what. Like many boys growing up in India, his parents hoped he would pursue a career in engineering. But Raghuvanshi dreamed of a future designing the online video games he loved. 

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    Honorary Doctorate Recipient: Tom Matano

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    Photo courtesy of AAU Publications.

    Many people might not know how Tom Matano, executive director of the School of Industrial Design at the Academy of Art University and designer of the Mazda Miata, started out at the Academy. Well, his story started out much like that of a student, living in a dorm room. The multi award-winning designer who has held prominent design positions around the world at General Motors, BMW and eventually executive designer at Mazda, lived in an Academy dorm room. Why?

    “I never had a dormitory experience, maybe I should experience the dorm life,” said Matano of his first year at the Academy in 2002.

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    Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Greg Gandy

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    Photo courtesy of AAU Publications.

    When looking at the cityscapes of professional artist Greg Gandy, the smell of mid-afternoon city air fills the room as the warmth of the sun starts to rise and the streets of San Francisco become illuminated. This is the way Gandy’s viewers, instructors and students talk about the realism of his work and his incredible talent. 

    “All of my work, whether it’s cityscape, landscape or still life, everything I paint is really close and personal to me,” Gandy said. “I paint San Francisco because I’ve lived here for over 13 years and have watched it change so much.”

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