Archive for 'January 2015'

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    Catching up with Manjia Zhao, M.F.A. Graphic Design 2013

    Manjia Zhao recently won Red Dot Design’s prestigious “Best of the Best” award for her prototype game app, Airnergy. The app, which was part of Zhao’s M.F.A. graphic design thesis project at Academy of Art University, encourages players to take stock of their energy use and make minor, real life changes—each of which enhances the game’s colorful, whimsical “virtual garden.” Red Dot received more than 16,500 submissions from nearly 70 countries.

    We recently caught up with Zhao, 26, a native of Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China. A self-described “gamer,” Zhao was happy that her app was singled out by Red Dot, but hasn’t had much time to bask in the glory of her award—she’s too busy dreaming up ideas for San Francisco start-up Rip van Wafels, which makes individually packaged Amsterdam-style sweet snack wafels.


    Manjia Zhao. Courtesy of Manjia Zhao.

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    Celebrating a lifelong artist

    When beloved still life painting instructor Frank Lanza announced his retirement recently, it was hard for many to swallow. At 84, he deserves to take a break—yet in many ways, it’s unthinkable. He’s been affiliated with Academy of Art University since 1949, when he enrolled in founder Richard “Pappy” Stephens’ life drawing class.

    Nearly seven decades later, Lanza’s legacy is that of a lifelong artist, one who has never stopped learning, taking classes and sharing his methods with students in the School of Advertising, and later, the School of Fine Art. And though he doesn’t readily bring it up, he’s also tremendously philanthropic. The Lanza Awards, introduced 10 years ago at the annual Spring Show, have been funded by thousands of dollars of his own money.  

    Lanza, a San Francisco native, never had a chance to consider a path other than art.



    Frank Lanza. Photo by Bob Toy.

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    From Police Officer to Fashion Writer

    Raised in Denver, Colorado in a family dedicated to public service, it seemed natural for Tracie Keesee to join the Denver Police Department when she finished college. Though she had a passion for fashion, her father told her “it’s all well and fine, but being a fashion designer doesn’t pay your bills.”

    Twenty-five years later Keesee is retiring from law enforcement an accomplished veteran and pursuing her childhood dream in fashion at Academy of Art University.

    “I didn’t want to do a traditional classroom setting again,” said Keesee, who also has a Ph.D. in communications from University of Denver. “But being older, I was suspect about online education. I reached out to several schools and found AAU. I was very impressed so I enrolled.”

    Keesee will be the first to admit that cops are “notoriously bad dressers.”

    “You can’t spice up a uniform,” she said. “It is what it is.” Yet she has never been afraid to think outside the box on plain-clothes days.



    Tracie Keesee. Courtesy of Tracie Keesee.

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    Art Education Student Puts Skills to use at Newly Renovated MoAD

    Academy of Art University senior Traka Lopez has been interning at the Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD), putting the skills she acquired during her art education class to use.

    MoAD, which is located in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Arts District, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring African heritage and the migration of people from their homeland. The museum aims to connect people from all backgrounds, creating an inspirational, educational community. Not only does it help preserve art, culture and stories, it is committed to sharing these findings with people all over the world.

    Lopez first became involved with MoAD after she submitted her resume and portfolio to the education department, asking if she could do a series of fieldwork observations for her art education class. “My goal during this mission was to show the director that I’m passionate about art education and how I could be an assistant to her and the MoAD,” said Lopez.

    After asking to be more hands on instead of simply observing, Lopez was accepted in a voluntary capacity. “Along this time period, I became eager to learn about museum education. And then I became an intern (assistant museum educator coordinator) instead of a volunteer before the semester was over,” said Lopez.


    Traka in MOAD

    Lopez went from volunteer to intern and then found her niche as a museum educator. Photo by Bob Toy.

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    Turning Stone into Art

    Barry Baldwin's  Studio 1.S1jpg

    Barry Baldwin’s studio. Courtesy of Barry Baldwin.

    With his lilting English accent, dramatic brows and deep-set eyes and a poetic, almost scripted, delivery of extraordinary—and often, uncomfortably personal stories, one can’t help but wonder: is sculptor Barry Baldwin for real?

    He’s served in the Israeli Army—but most of his injuries are from his art. He’s had full security clearance at Buckingham Palace and was asked by Prince Charles to contribute to a show at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He owns a massive stone yard in England and once had a team of 15 assistants. He’s carved countless faces in limestone, created towering centaurs from bronze—and makes life-size nude sculptures that would make the average person blush.

    In his latest incarnation as instructor of stone carving and life size sculpture at Academy of Art University, Baldwin brings to the school an unparalleled generosity and movie-worthy past.

    Long before he became a well-known stone carver, restorer of architectural treasures and connoisseur of the female form, he was a self-described poor kid in a mining town in the middle of England.


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    Skip Allums Publishes Book on Best Practices for Mobile Payment Design

    One morning last December, Skip Allums tapped his phone to a payment reader at Peet’s to purchase a cup of coffee. Another customer tried it too, but it didn’t go as smoothly and he ended up reaching for his wallet. Americans are starting to wrap their heads around the idea of using their phones to buy things, and with new technology making mobile payments a viable option, Allums wants to make sure it’s being implemented properly. His book, Designing Mobile Payment Experiences (O’Reilly Media, 2014) is a step toward getting developers on the same page.



    Skip Allums. Photo by Sarah Deragon, Portraits To The People.

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    2-D Animation Instructor Finds Unexpected Success at Fine Art Auction


    Sin created this painting amid a turmoil of emotions, without thinking of its potential for success. Courtesy of Oliver Sin.

    When Oliver Sin graduated from the Academy of Art University’s School of Illustration in 1996, he didn’t know that years later he would be working as an instructor alongside many of his former teachers. After working for George Lucas at LucasArt from 1996 to 1999, Sin began teaching for the Academy’s School of Animation & Visual Effects in 2001. However it is his love of painting that has truly allowed him to explore another side of himself and find success where he did not expect it.

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    Students “elated” with State-of-the-art Technology


    Students within the Academy’s School of Jewelry and Metal Arts can now bring their wearable art to life; they can create entire works using the laser cutters. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Two state-of-the-art Epilog Fusion laser cutters are the newest additions to Academy of Art University’s Schools of Industrial Design and Jewelry and Metal Arts. Now students can expertly design and create laser engraved hard models, to show off both in class and in their portfolios.

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    Web Design + New Media Students Meet Potential Employers at Fall 2014 Winter Portfolio Review


    L–R) Liz Lantz, Tiwah Griffith (Gap Inc./Old Navy), Ryan Medeiros, Andrea Pimentel, Becky Barton (ROI DNA) and Colin Sebestyen. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Convivial conversation filled Suite 301 at The Cannery on Thursday, December 18, 2014, when the School of Web Design + New Media held their third and largest Winter Portfolio Review—an event both Academy of Art University students and faculty likened to speed dating.

    Taking their places along one side of a series of tables, 26 graduating and 15 midpoint M.F.A. and B.F.A. students displayed their work on laptops and tablets, while representatives from companies like Google, PayPal and Old Navy bounced from station to station to see if a match might be made.


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    St. Brigid Honors Academy Mural Class Artists

    On Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, St. Brigid School hosted a dedication ceremony for Animal Race, a new mural created by Academy of Art University’s mural class that now adorns the school’s playground.

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    IAD Senior Receives Honorable Mention at Steelcase NEXT 2nd Annual Design Competition

    Bliss Next University 2

    Bliss’ 3-D renderings from his Steelcase NEXT submission. Courtesy of Jake Bliss.

    Interior architecture and design student Jake Bliss recently brought home an honorable mention for Academy of Art University from the Steelcase NEXT 2nd Annual Design Competition. Entering the competition was a part of the IAD Senior Commercial Studio Course. Two students from each school are selected and out of over 800 participants, five students place as semi-finalists and five earn honorable mentions.


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    Nike visits School of Fashion’s SHOP657

    On Tuesday, December 16, staff from one of the world’s most well-known brands, Nike, came to visit SHOP657.

    Since it was a Tuesday, the store was not open for business as usual, but that didn’t stop a few wanderers off the street from coming in to browse the wares. Since opening earlier this month, the shop has attracted a lot of foot traffic. The store is marked with a small Academy of Art University logo on the front door, but apart from that, the store looks just like any other retail store in Union Square.

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    School of Fashion Merchandising and Fashion Design Students Win YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund

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    Courtesy of the School of Fashion.

    On Wednesday, Jan. 7, four School of Fashion Merchandising students were honored at the annual YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship Awards Dinner at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. Academy of Art University fashion merchandising B.F.A. students Martin Evensen, Michelle Hendrawan and Celina Enriquez along with fashion design B.F.A. student Busara Boussard were each selected by the YMA FSF Scholarship Committee to receive $5,000 scholarships.


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    What I Learned During My First Semester at Academy of Art University – Part 1

    • Definitely get a good pair of headphones and some earplugs. You and your roommate may have very conflicting musical tastes.

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    A Hard Day’s Night: The Fear and Wonder of College


    I’ve learned so much about myself and I’ve learned so much more that I can be capable of in the coming years. It’s hard to believe I’ve changed so much in one semester; I can’t even fathom what I could do in four years!

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    For the Love of Classic Movies


    Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies.

    This past October, Academy of Art University’s Executive Director of The School of Acting Diane Baker was invited to speak with 1,800 film fans at the Turner Classic Movies Cruise. She screened two of her films, Mirage and The Diary of Anne Frank.

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    Saudi Arabian Film Industry “A matter of time” says Alumnus Hashem Ainousa

    There are no cinemas in Saudi Arabia. They were closed in the 1980s. But Hashem Ainousa, who completed his master’s degree at Academy of Art University last semester, is working on establishing a television and film industry there, one project at a time.

    Ainousa planned to finish his degree last summer, but a call from Mohammed Makki, the director of a popular YouTube series brought him back to Jeddah, his hometown. Makki was getting ready to film the second season of Takki, a groundbreaking web series that depicts the lives of young Saudis, and he wanted Ainousa as his director of photography.

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    Film Review: ‘American Sniper’ – The Demands of Love and Country


    Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ drama American Sniper, distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

    Chris Kyle, known as the deadliest sniper in U.S. history, credited with over 160 kills, is the subject of director Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated film, American Sniper. Adapted from Kyle’s memoir by screenwriter and executive producer Jason Hall, the film covers the Navy SEAL’s four tours of Iraq and the effect that they had on Chris and his family.

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    It's Oscar Season!


    Oscars main w/Neil Patrick Harris: The Oscars: Award-winning star of stage and screen Neil Patrick Harris will host the 87th Oscars. This will be Harris’ first time hosting the ceremony. The show will air live on ABC on Oscar Sunday, February 22, 2015. Photo by ABC/Bob D’Amico.

    The Oscars are coming and it’s the perfect time to get caught up on as many of the nominated films as you can! Tweet us your predictions - @AcademyArtUNews #OscarPredictions. The 87th Academy Awards will air on Sunday, February 22 on ABC.

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    Adobe’s Paul Trani Gives the Lowdown on 3-D Printing


    Sr. Worldwide Creative Cloud Evangelist for Adobe Paul Trani giving a presentation at the 79 New Montgomery theatre on December 8, 2014. Photo credit: Bob Toy

    On Monday, Dec. 8, the 79 New Montgomery theatre was packed with students waiting to watch a presentation on 3-D printing by Sr. Worldwide Creative Cloud Evangelist for Adobe Paul Trani. Opening after the drum solo of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight,” Trani delivered a vivacious show full of information, advice and demonstrations to get students and instructors excited about the possibilities promised by the fast-growing 3-D printing industry.

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    Symbolic Surrealism

    Illustration alumna and surrealist artist Anne Faith Nicholls celebrates successful solo show, Neosurreal


    Academy of Art University alumna Anne Faith Nicholls with her oil on canvas painting, Three Layers of Consciousness, at her recent exhibition at the Martin Lawrence Gallery in San Francisco on December 6, 2014. Photo by Lindsey Davis.

    Anne Faith Nicholls first began exhibiting her paintings in 2005, and has shown her rare brand of playful surrealism everywhere, from London to Laguna Beach. But last December she celebrated her exclusive representation by Martin Lawrence Galleries with a remarkably successful solo show in San Francisco titled Neosurreal.

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    How to Get Hired at Pixar


    Rapt students listen to Pixar present their internship opportunities in Morgan Auditorium on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. Photo by Bob Toy.

    World-renowned animation studio Pixar has a reputation for nimbly plucking an audience’s heartstrings with classics like Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Up. Last month, the studio’s recruitment team stopped by the Academy of Art University’s Morgan Auditorium, where more than 100 students learned what it takes to join the Pixar team.

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