Archive for 'June 2015'

    The Creative Freedom of Fashion Illustration

    Fashion illustrator and former online student Danny Roberts shares how he made a career from his passion


    Since completing his courses at Academy of Art University in 2007, fashion illustrator Danny Roberts has racked up an impressive résumé, including designing a line of T-shirts for Forever 21, illustrating a mural for Tiffany & Co. and launching his own company, Igor + André. Perhaps one of Roberts’ best-known illustrations is his portrait of the late Alexander McQueen, which graced the window of the brand’s NYC store after the designer passed away and was later used for the cover of the London Sunday Times.

    A former online student, Roberts’ burgeoning career as a fashion illustrator began during his school days. In September 2007, Roberts illustrated one look from each of the designers who presented at the Academy’s New York Fashion Week show that year, and his work was printed and distributed to guests at the show.  

    A vocal supporter of the School of Fashion, we were pleased to have Roberts join us as a special guest at the 2015 Graduation Fashion Show this past May. 


    A sketch by Roberts of the September 2007 collections at New York Fashion Week.

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    Academy Student Starts Photography and Filmmaking Company

    Jonathen E. Davis began his seven-year stint in the Navy as a mass communication specialist. The job leveraged the photography he’d learned in high school and taught him a new skill, videography. Gradually, he built a strong portfolio that helped him land a position with a Combat Camera unit, an elite group of military journalists. As a combat cameraman, Davis accompanied Army Rangers, Navy SEALs and other special forces to document a variety of military operations around the world. He covered disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, both of which occurred in 2010. 

    Davis was the first photographer to find oil on land after the BP disaster, a discovery that became a big national news story. His photos of the spill appeared in major publications such as The New York Times and National Geographic. Davis’ videos and pictures were also featured on Fox News and NBC.

    After leaving the Navy, he missed the fast pace and camaraderie of being a combat cameraman. 


    Jonathen E. Davis.

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    A Passion for Storytelling

    For Academy of Art University online student Jason R. Couch, studying for his M.F.A. in film production was the next step in a long and dynamic career in photography and art of many mediums. He is a blacksmith and metal craftsman, a wood worker and a bench jeweler; he was a gallery owner and travelled the world with the military during his 11 years in uniform, and he has taken hundreds of thousands of photographs. 

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    Academy Honored by Chinese Chamber of Commerce


    San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Bob Toy. Photo courtesy of Bob Toy.

    On Friday, May 8, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce held a dinner at the New Asia Restaurant to honor those involved with this year’s Chinese New Year Parade. During the dinner, Academy of Art University was recognized with the Most Artistic Float Award. Bob Toy, who was the project manager and art director of the Year of the Ram float, accepted the award on behalf of the Academy and all of the volunteers who worked on this year’s float.

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    Nate Gercken Drafted By Minnesota Twins

    Nate Gercken pitching

    Courtesy of Art U Athletics.

    A historic career was made that much more memorable on Wednesday, June 10, as Academy of Art University baseball alumnus Nate Gercken was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 17th round with the 500th pick overall in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft. Gercken is the second ART U athlete ever to be drafted by a professional sports organization after Zach Babitt’s 10th-round selection pioneered the way in 2012.

    “We are so proud of Nate and what he has accomplished,” said head coach Dan McDermott. “It has certainly been an emotional couple weeks for all of us after Nate received his degree and now being drafted by the Minnesota Twins.”

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    Independent Innovator: Allexis Kristedja

    The talented comic book artist brings her illustrations to the forefront of storyteliing through crowdfunding

    Allexis Kristedja has always been drawing—“since I was a little kid,” she said. “I stopped in high school and my friend asked me if I needed money. I went to a convention, drew some artwork and then made money, which is when I realized it didn’t have to be a hobby.”

    Kristedja, who is from Riverside, Calif., and was previously working to become an astrophysicist, studied illustration at Academy of Art University and has gained, as well as continues to acquire, many fans for her comics—the latest of which is called Kings Folly.

    “I get a lot of people commenting on how I color my illustrations,” Kristedja said. “I definitely read a lot of black and white comics, but I’ve always liked color. I told my parents I didn’t want transition lenses when I first got glasses, because I wanted to see all of the colors.”

    Kristedja not only stands out because of her art and the colors she uses, she is unique because she is very entrepreneurial, Director of the School of Illustration Chuck Pyle said.

    “I know her as the director of program and she has been coming to me since she was a freshman,” Pyle said. “She has a very distinct market presence for her Kings Folly comics and other online comics. She’s an exceptional case that embodies the next wave of entrepreneurial comic book storytellers.”


    Courtesy of Allexis Kristedja.

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    Film Review: 'Inside Out' - Balancing Emotions

    Pixar channels the little voices in our heads with Inside Out


    (L–R) Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith) in 'Inside Out.' (Disney/Pixar)

    Have you ever wondered what’s going on in someone’s head? In Pixar’s newest release, Inside Out, we meet the key emotions of Riley Anderson (Kaitlyn Dias), an 11-year-old girl (and hockey player!) whose family has just moved from Minnesota to San Francisco.

    Joy (Amy Poehler) is the motivating, sees-the-positive-in-everything leader that enjoys her day-to-day task of making sure that Riley is happy. There’s also Fear (Bill Hader), who assesses situations to keep Riley out of danger and also adds a bit of slapstick humor. Disgust (Mindy Kaling) is a bit sassy and keeps Riley from things she deems unpleasant. Anger (Lewis Black) likes things in Riley’s life to be fair and gets heated when they aren’t. And then there’s Sadness (Phyllis Smith), whose purpose the other emotions don’t entirely understand, especially Joy.

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    Film Review: 'Gemma Bovery' - Life and Art Among the Hedgerows or Normandy

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    Gemma (Gemma Arterton) in 'Gemma Bovery.' Courtesy of Music Box Films.

    When newlyweds Gemma and Charlie Bovery move from their city life in London to the quiet French countryside of Normandy, little do they know they are about to fulfill a literary fantasy of the elderly local baker. From director Anne Fontaine comes Gemma Bovery, an adaptation of Posy Simmonds’ graphic novel, and a film that provides a treat for the eyes and the ears.

    As much as he loves the sensual touch of kneading bread, Martin Joubert (Fabrice Luchini) is truly inspired by influential French writer Gustave Flaubert. Having left his hip life as a publisher in Paris for the quaint seclusion of Normandy, “a place where the art of living is taken seriously,” he is on the lookout for a diversion. His interest is piqued upon hearing the name Bovery, which bears a close resemblance to that of the title character in Flaubert’s debut novel Madame Bovary.

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    Behind 'Batkid Begins'

    Director Dana Nachman’s new film explores the creative work and memorable emotions that went into granting Miles Scott's wish to be Batkid for a day


    (L-R) EJ Johnston as Batman and Mile Scott as Batkid in New Line Cinema's documentary 'Batkid Begins,' A Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma. ©2015 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.

    In 2013, 25,000 people showed up in San Francisco to support and witness five-year-old Miles Scott from Tulelake, Calif., fulfill a very special wish. Miles was diagnosed at 18 months with leukemia, and following his treatment, he told Make-A-Wish that he wished to be “the real Batman." On November 15, 2013, our beloved city by the bay was transformed into Gotham City, and Batkid came to save us from the shenanigans of The Riddler and The Penguin. Miles’ wish was an unexpected social media sensation, receiving interest from around the world, including actors who have played Batman and President Barack Obama. But there was one person who learned about the wish after it happened, being acclaimed director Dana Nachman, who was intrigued by the overwhelming turnout for Miles’ wish.

    “The main thing that really attracted me was the concept,” Nachman shared. “[Make-A-Wish] wanted 200 people to show up and 25,000 people showed up and close to two billion online. And why? And what does it take to make an event that attracts people to that degree?”

    Nachman’s new film, Batkid Begins, looks to answer the filmmaker’s questions, as it reveals how one of the biggest stories of 2013 came to be and how San Francisco came together to make one special wish a reality.

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    Film Review: 'Escobar: Paradise Lost' - For the Love of Family


    Josh Hutcherson, Benecio Del Toro in 'Escobar: Paradise Lost.' Courtesy of Radius.

    When Canadian surfer Nick and his brother Dylan travel to an idyllic Colombian beach in the 1980s, they are seeking a paradise where life is good and happiness is easy. Nick soon falls in love with Maria and is faced with the prospect of meeting her beloved uncle, Pablo Escobar. Throughout Colombia, Escobar is adored as the man who feeds the poor, builds clinics for those in need and whose generosity is renowned far and wide. However, as Nick is welcomed further into the family fold, he begins to uncover a gritty side to the family man. Directed by Andrea Di Stefano, Escobar: Paradise Lost is based around the real life of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, who famously made his fortune by trafficking cocaine.

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    The Best of the Best

    Students, staff and industry representatives gather to explore eye-catching artwork and innovative designs at annual Spring Show


    School of Motion Pictures and Television M.F.A. student Marcello Pautasso provides a fun demo with a set piece from student short film, 'Eris' at Spring Show 2015. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Academy of Art University’s annual Spring Show is one of the biggest highlights of the year for students, faculty and staff, a grand finale of sorts that culminates in an impressive showcase. On May 18, guests, VIPs, industry representatives and students’ families and friends were invited to get a first-hand look at this year’s Spring Show.

    The 2225 Jerrold Ave. warehouse was transformed into a venue able to hold the largest collection of work by the collective Academy schools. The space was organized into one massive, sharply curated maze of gallery walls and displays, enough to take you all day to explore.

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    Spring Show Students Impress CBS News’ Chris Licht


    Chris Licht during the Spring Show 2015 portfolio review sessions. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Every year at Academy of Art University’s Spring Show, representatives from various industries attend to meet with students and review their portfolios. This year, the School of Multimedia Communications welcomed Executive Producer of CBS This Morning and Vice President of Programming at CBS News Chris Licht.

    In between portfolio review sessions, we caught up with Licht to get his take on Spring Show and the current news industry.

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    An Image That Inspires Action

    MPTV student Jonathen E. Davis reflects on the Nepal earthquake


    Photo by Jonathen E. Davis.

    Under the Nepali sun, the earth quaked and trembled with the ferocity of a 7.8 earthquake. Buildings shuddered, then collapsed, and frightened people ran to the safety of open fields. When the earth stopped shaking, more than 8,000 were dead and piles of rubble were all that remained of some villages. The next day, more than half a world away, my phone rang while I was running errands with my wife and less than 12 hours later, I was boarding a flight to Kathmandu, my carry-on bag full of camera gear.

    An image, as the cliché goes, is worth a thousand words. But in a catastrophic event, an image can inspire action. As a veteran combat photographer and now a visual journalist, I’ve seen the power an image can have on the public. Photos of an oil slick on the beach led to outrage and a demand for corporate responsibility. Images of Haitian children living among the destroyed remnants of their homes led to the outpouring of financial support after the earthquake. After leaving the military, I joined the veteran-driven disaster relief organization Team Rubicon and deployed to tornado stricken Moore, Okla., to document and volunteer in the cleanup effort.


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    Leading the Team

    Illustration alumnus brings his skills to Chinese animation studio ANTS Animation

    At a time when thousands of international students are coming to the United States to study and work in the animation industry, Academy of Art University alumnus Stewart Leith is bucking the trend. Leith just returned from a six-month assignment in Shenzhen, China, where he worked with a team of Chinese artists on the preproduction of a new film being made by Chinese animation studio ANTS Animation. He was hired along with a team of seven other Americans who had come from studios such as Pixar, Dreamworks and Laika.  

    “There are a number of points that make the very fact that he did this amazing,” said Chuck Pyle, director of the School of Illustration. “Normally if you’re a new hire you’re at the bottom, but he’s being handed an enormous amount of responsibility because of his education here.”


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    World-Famous Graphic Designer Henry Steiner Shares Expertise


    Graphic designer Henry Steiner with students from the School of Graphic Design. Photo by Bob Toy.

    During his visit with Academy of Art University graphic design students at Spring Show on May 20, world-renowned graphic designer and the creator of Hong Kong banknotes Henry Steiner joked: “I’m glad I’m not entering the profession right now.”

    He elaborated that is because he doesn’t want to compete with the students who will soon be immersing themselves in the field.

    “I’m really overwhelmed by all the students’ professionalism and competency in the work they’ve put together,” Steiner said.


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    Academy Duo Launch Eumeríka

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    Nesha Lee. Photo by Steven Harvey.


    Tina Christianson. Courtesy of Tina Christianson.

    Academy of Art University alums Nesha Lee and Tina Christianson met at an Urban Knights basketball game in 2007. Lee was a cheerleader for the recently launched team; Christianson was a resident assistant at 620 Sutter who organized outings to the games. The two young women soon discovered they shared a mutual love of fashion and sketching design ideas. They became even better friends when they were in the same English class.

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    Film Review: 'Aloha'


    Bradley Cooper, left, and Emma Stone star in Columbia Pictures’ 'Aloha.' © 2015 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    An uneven script and a lack of character development tarnish Cameron Crowe’s latest full-length feature

    Where to begin with writer/director Cameron Crowe’s new film Aloha? Well, there’s the not entirely believable plot, the underdeveloped characters and that it seemed like the beautiful location of Hawaii was used merely as a backdrop. All of these things contributed to a film that, at best, I would describe as muddled.


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