Archive for '2017'

    Standing out From the Crowd

    Academy alumni team wins an Emmy for their work on Gotham


    Academy of Art University alumna Ryan Bauer (center left) with her mother, Linda, and alumnus Alex Gitler (center right) with his wife, Galit. Photo courtesy of Alex Gitler.

    While the “Lead Actor, Comedy” or “Best Drama Series” awards highlight the ceremony and broadcast, the Emmy Awards recognize excellence in all facets of television, even the aspects that often go unnoticed by TV fans. Visual effects, sound editing, etc., are all integral elements of storytelling, but many VFX artists especially, including Academy of Art University alumna Ryan Bauer, tout a general hallmark: “Good visual effects are often when you don’t know they are visual effects.”

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    Reclaiming City Spaces

    LAN students reveal their “last cloud” concept as part of global PARK(ing) Day event


    PARK(ing) Day students’ “last cloud” concept installed in front of the Cannery. Photo by Nina Tabios.

    If it were up to Katerin Luquetta, she would never drive a car. But she understands we live in a world where practicality takes precedence, and thus, cars will forever be a main source of transportation.

    But in an effort to get people to rethink the impact our vehicles have on the planet, students from the Academy of Art University’s School of Landscape Architecture (LAN) partake in PARK(ing) Day, a global event where metered parking spots are converted into public spaces.

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    A 'Lovely' World of Inclusivity


    An image from Jess Hong’s children’s book, Lovely. Image courtesy of Jess Hong.

    For many of us, our first introduction to art and storytelling is through children’s books. Most of them featured favorite characters, taught us the alphabet and how to count to 10. Others were nursery rhymes our parents used to lull us to sleep. Some of the most memorable books were the ones that conveyed basic, but important, life lessons: How to get along with each other, learning to share and appreciating what you have. 

    Jess Hong, a graduate of the School of Illustration at Academy of Art University, recently debuted her own children’s book, Lovely. The New York Times’ Sunday Review included Lovely among its preview of picture books inspiring empathy and with good reason: The picture book explores a world of differences—big, small, curly, straight, loud, quiet, smooth, wrinkly—all to say that every single person is, indeed, lovely. Academy Art U News spoke with Hong on her inspiration for Lovely and how she discovered her art through the Academy.

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    Behind-The-Scenes Talent

    Three Academy School of Communications & Media Technologies graduates join instructor Matty Staudt at iHeartMedia


    (L–R) Academy of Art University School of Communications & Media Technolgies alumni Casey Franco, Zayana de Awis and Ricardo Ayar. Photo by Kirsten Coachman.

    When Matty Staudt invites you to take a tour of iHeartMedia, you don’t say no to the opportunity. In a similar vein, Staudt received a different kind of offer, one he also couldn’t turn down but that required a shift in schedule and responsibilities. 

    Earlier this year, iHeartMedia, a leading media company with the largest audience reach in the United States, put an offer on the table where he would be in charge of the seven stations it owns and operates in the San Francisco Bay Area, including spearheading its podcasting initiative. Of course, he said yes.

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    San Francisco Goes Wild for Shawn Mendes


    Shawn Mendes performs live at WiLD 94.9’s exclusive One Night with Shawn Mendes event in San Francisco presented by XFINITY. Photo by Kirsten Coachman.

    On Tuesday, Sept. 26, the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco was filled with loud shrieks and cheers of enthusiastic radio contest winners. The cause for all of the excitement: An exclusive concert with burgeoning pop artist Shawn Mendes. Presented by XFINITY, WiLD 94.9’s One Night with Shawn Mendes was a special win-your-way-in event, and if the screams before the show were any indication, Mendes’s fans were ready for a night of live music.

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    Brett Amory Debuts New Art in Bi-Coastal Exhibitions

    Earlier this month, artist and Academy of Art University graduate Brett Amory unveiled two new collections in simultaneous exhibitions on the West and East Coasts. It’s Wonderful Your Demons Came Today kicked off with a reception at Jonathan Levine Gallery in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Sept. 8 and will be on display through Oct. 7. His second exhibition, This Too Shall Pass, opened at San Francisco gallery The Luggage Store on Sept. 15 and will run until Oct. 21.

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    From the Field to the Stage

    Alumnus Frank Cole’s passion for connecting people has led him from soccer to an acting career


    Academy of Art University Schools of Communications & Media Technologies and Acting alumnus Frank Cole. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Frank Cole’s mother always told him he was born kicking. The School of Communications & Media Technologies and School of Acting alumnus from Academy of Art University said he and his siblings grew up performing in talent shows and musicals, but he always believed soccer was going to be his center stage.

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    Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Actress Andrea Riseborough Discuss 'Battle of the Sexes'


    (From L-R): Natalie Morales, Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Kaitlyn Christian, Fidan Manashirova and Mickey Summer on the set of BATTLE OF THE SEXES. Photo by Melinda Sue Gordon. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

    In 1973, Billie Jean King, a 29-year-old American former World No. 1 professional women’s tennis champion, had the world betting against her in an exhibition match against Bobby Riggs, another former World No. 1 tennis champion. Yet, Riggs was 55-years-old and past his prime. He also was a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, touting beliefs that “women belong in the kitchen and the bedroom” and not on the tennis court.

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    Kate and Laura Mulleavy Discuss "Natural Evolution" From Fashion to Film


    Kirsten Dunst in Woodshock. Photo courtesy of A24.

    Famed fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy don’t believe in confining their creative voice to one medium. Trading in the mannequins in which they lay out their Rodarte designs, the Mulleavy sisters have turned to film to channel their “creative instinct,” manifesting in their debut film, Woodshock, starring Kirsten Dunst.

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    Getting Real With Stop Motion

    Interest grows in the School of Animation & Visual Effects’ program that has use of one of the largest university stop motion labs in the country


    The imaginative vision of stop motion students of the Academy of Art University can’t just be drawn with paper and pencil or digitally designed, it must be physically created. World after world, down to the tiny hairs on a character’s head to the cracks on a sidewalk must be created from scratch. 

    “Stop motion is something real. It’s not just drawn, you can touch it,” said recent stop motion graduate Tada Kongjonrak. “We are building small worlds. It’s so cool.”

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    When Art Meets Science

    Art history alumna Kim Selvaggi shares how her Academy experience is helping her in the scientific world of archaeological conservation


    School of Art History alumna Kim Selvaggi pictured near the London Tower Bridge in London, England. Photo courtesy of Kim Selvaggi.

    Many students attend the Academy of Art University because they want to create art, but those enrolled in the School of Art History (AHS) choose to study art within its cultural context. Art history students learn how to analyze and become critics of historical pieces of work from all over the globe, with an emphasis on gaining a deep knowledge of what these relics mean within a cultural and global timeline.

    Most AHS students move on to become researchers and curators in galleries or museums, but recent alumna Kim Selvaggi took her studies in a more scientifically-based direction. Shortly after graduation, she was accepted into the University of College London’s Master of Science in Conservation for Archaeology and Museums in England, where she pursued art preservation.

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    Meet Your Campus Hosts: Donald Shields

    Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Campus Host Donald Shields has been working at Academy of Art University for seven years. “As a Campus Host, my job is to ensure that all people and properties are safe,” said Shields. “I’m extra vigilant and observe everyone that enters and exits the premises. As a front line host, we are also problem solvers and always troubleshoot any issues that arise.”

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    Illustration Alumna Opens New Surrealist Painting Exhibition in the Big Easy

    When we first wrote about Anne Faith Nicholls, School of Illustration alumna from the Academy of Art University, she was coming off of a successful exhibit called Neosurreal, displayed at the San Francisco Martin Lawrence Galleries location in 2015. We recently caught up with Nicholls again as she opens a new show at the Martin Lawrence Galleries in New Orleans this month, where she explores the Big Easy’s art, culture and history through her surrealist paintings. 

    Nicholls’ work is stark with symbolism that touches upon one’s subconscious, and how it relays to ideas of identity, truth, power and especially, feminism. We were eager to know more about how Nicholls’ ideas meshed against the rich heritage and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana in her art, so we spoke with Seattle-raised painter on her creative thought process, what parts of New Orleans inspired the paintings and where she finds continuous inspiration, both in the United States and outside of it.

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    Changing the Game

    In response to a growing demand within the gaming industry, the School of Game Development is introducing a dedicated UX/UI track

    Pieces of art, in general, want to be seen and noticed. In terms of UX/UI in the video game world, however, going unnoticed is a good thing. 

    UX/UI, which stands for “user experience” and “user interface,” is the newest track in the works for the School of Game Development at Academy of Art University. Gaming students have the opportunity to study coursework focusing on one of the gaming industry’s most in-demand positions, according to Gregory Eichholzer, lead UX/UI instructor and former associate art director for RockYou games.

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    COM Instructor Toan Lam Spreads Inspiration Through the Alchemy of Storytelling


    School of Communications & Media Technologies instructor Toan Lam. Photo credit:

    Toan Lam’s message remains the same, no matter the audience. He could be talking to viewers of the inspirational videos posted on his multimedia platform, podcast listeners, crowds gathered to hear him speak or a classroom full of Academy students. Lam guides them all toward the same goal: Be better. Do better. Discover your superhero power, and use it to serve others.

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    NYFW: The Shows - Meet the Designers

    Meet the School of Fashion student designers heading to NYFW: The Shows, whose talent and inspiration lead to unique solo and collaborative collections.


    (L–R) B.F.A. womenswear student Carlos Rodriguez and M.F.A. fashion design student Dina Marie Lam. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Collaboration: Lam and Rodriguez with support from Oliver-Palanca

    Dina Marie Lam, M.F.A. fashion design, was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Inspired by the myriad of emotions surrounding her aunt’s recent passing, Lam wanted to convey a feeling of transition in her collection. She selected soft and luxurious materials to evoke warmth and comfort. Additionally, she was inspired by those who demand the best in fabric, function and form. Lam stated, “The collection is simply for the dope and opinionated girls.” Lam was honored with the BCBG Max Azria Super Intern (2017) recognition, presented annually to one outstanding intern across the entire company, and was selected for the CFDA Fashion Future Graduate Showcase (2017).

    Carlos Rodriguez, B.F.A. womenswear, was born in Mexico City, Mexico and grew up inClarksburg, California. He was asked to collaborate with Lam to create the embroidery details for her collection. Here, Rodriguez uses a mixture of traditional hand and machine embroidery techniques to enhance the contemporary feel of the garments. Recently, Rodriguez interned at tech-fashion start-up Savitude.

    Rheanna Oliver-Palanca, M.F.A. fashion design, was born and raised in Kennebunk, Maine. She created knitwear for the collection that mimics Lam’s own prints and Rodriguez’s embroidery. The knitwear is made of wool blends to enhance the sense of warmth and comfort that Lam’s collection was inspired by. Oliver-Palanca was selected for the CFDA Fashion Future Graduate Digital Showcase (2017).

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    School of Fashion Alums Amy Bond & Brandon Kee Cast on ‘Project Runway’


    The cast of designers for Project Runway season 16.

    Sixteen new contestants look to make their designs work as they grace the catwalk during the 16th season of Lifetime’s Emmy-nominated series Project Runway, which premiered on Thursday, Aug. 17. Not only is the show celebrating their “super, sweet 16,” it is also celebrating body diversity throughout the season, featuring size-inclusive models (size 0-22).

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    Survival in the Underbelly

    Academy Art U News sat down with directors Ben and Josh Safdie and actor Robert Pattinson to discuss their latest film, Good Time


    Robert Pattinson and Benny Safdie. Photo courtesy of A24.

    In new movie Good Time, Constantine “Connie” Nikas occupies an underbelly of New York City where the reward always outweighs the risk. There’s no such thing as hindsight for the Queens thoroughbred, and when a get-rich-quick scheme goes awry, Connie (played by Robert Pattinson) must break his developmentally-disabled brother Nick out of jail by maneuvering through a night of petty crimes involving the borough’s forgotten – and sometimes seedy – characters.

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    Lady Dione: Creating Luxury Through Mixed Patterns & Materials

    Lady Dione Bevel’s high-quality cut-and-sew garments have won her celebrity fans, including neo-soul singer Erykah Badu


    Photo credit:

    All artists seek validation in one form or another, and for Lady Dione Bevel, hers came via a New York Times story from November 2016.

    She wasn’t the centerpiece for the feature, however, nor was her name mentioned anywhere in its text.

    Bevel’s stamp on the piece sat front and center in the lead photo: Neo-soul singer Erykah Badu, the article’s subject, sitting in a chair as she gets her hair braided. The golden kimono she’s wrapped in is of Bevel’s brand, Lady Dione. Badu purchased the garment from Bevel just days before the shoot at her concert in Santa Ana, California.

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    Emilio Villalba Creates Contemporary Portraits Inspired by the Old Masters

    Prolific, inventive and disciplined, Academy of Art University M.F.A. painting alumnus Emilio Villalba combines Old Masters influences with contemporary interpretation to power a thriving career. His distinctive, captivating work was most recently showcased in a solo exhibition titled I Don't See, on display at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco through August 5.

    The exhibition’s 22 paintings evoke vulnerability and duality. Fragmented forms and faceless torsos appear against a backdrop of black. Instead of acting as an empty void, the blackness imparts a textural depth that suggests complexity. Collectively, the works make up a varied, yet cohesive, whole. Some portraits appear blurred, or seem to dissolve, while others show sharper features, prompting the observer to think about what comes into focus when, and why.

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    Growing Positive Experiences


    Garden Project “Earth Stewards” begin working onsite at a farm located on the San Francisco County Jail San Bruno Complex grounds during the kick-off event. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Most people’s first jobs either land in the retail or restaurant category, but for 17-year-old Xaire Patrick, her first paying gig is working on a farm on the San Francisco County Jail San Bruno Complex grounds in San Mateo County. 

    For the past three years, Patrick has been employed by the Garden Project, a young adult summer program that provides environmentally-based job training and life skills programming. Patrick said with the money she earned throughout her time there, she was able to go on school trips to Italy and Cuba in the past two years.  

    “Eventually you have to abide by the rules of society—in order to live, you have to work, so it’s like I’m making a living,” she explained at the Garden Project kick-off on July 5. “It’s a chance for me to do for myself and be able to afford the things I want; things my mom would say ‘no’ to, but also be like, ‘If you had your own money, then you can buy it.’” 

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    Mary Scott & Phil Hamlett Named "Educators to Watch" by GDUSA


    (L–R) School of Graphic Design Director Phil Hamlett and Director Emeritus Mary Scott. Photo by Sean McGuire (B.F.A., ’06).

    Every year, Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) honors and recognizes influential creatives, both professionals and students, with its perennial “People to Watch” and “Students to Watch” lists. What was missing, however, was the recognition of the middle-person standing between student and professional designers: Teachers. 

    This year, GDUSA published its first ever “Educators to Watch” list acknowledging “design education and educators have more influence than ever on the fast-changing shape of design, media and culture.” Mentioned at the top of the list is the Academy of Art University’s own School of Graphic Design Director Emeritus Mary Scott and Director Phil Hamlett. 

    “What really got me is when I read the (GDUSA) graph and they called us ‘legends,’” Scott said in her office overseeing the Financial District in San Francisco. 

    With nearly 50 years of design experience between the two of them, both Scott and Hamlett have respective—legendary, if you will—portfolios as designers and educators. 

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    Cartoonist Gerald Scarfe Receives Honorary Doctorate From Academy of Art


    “Giant Judge & Hammers,” (31 1/2” x 81” sheet size) by Gerald Scarfe. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Art Exchange LLC,

    In the language of political cartoons, Gerald Scarfe’s voice is among the loudest. There aren’t too many artists who have dedicated their careers to parodying politicians and global figures, but Scarfe made his living off of ruffling feathers and eschewing public opinion. 

    “I was encouraged to attack politicians and society around me,” he said at the Academy of Art University’s 79 New Montgomery theater on July 6. “That became my way of life for a long time.” 

    The Academy presented Scarfe with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his decades-long work for English and American publications such as Punch, Private Eye, The Sunday Times, Time magazine and The New Yorker. His unapologetic, sometimes ostentatious comics depicted how Scarfe viewed the world around him, especially of those in power.

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    Advertising Grad's Branded Content Racks up Awards


    Stills from Joey Iamartino-Larson’s “Glory and Reason.” Images courtesy of Joey Iamartino-Larson.

    Skipping his Academy of Art University classes to spend four days at sea on a fishing boat paid off in a big way for recent School of Advertising graduate Joey Iamartino-Larson. Specializing in making short, documentary-style branded content films, Larson used the footage he captured of San Francisco fisherman John Miller and his crew to create two compelling pieces that have reeled in a slew of awards. He won in three categories—Documentary, Branded Content and Commercial—at this year’s NXT UP Fest. In addition, he took home a “Best in Show” prize at the Spring Show for “Glory and Reason,” his branded content piece for The North Face. “Glory and Reason” also earned him a Gold National Student Addy.

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    Establishing a Culture of Excellence


    A model poses for the Drawaholics Anonymous Crew during a recent session. Photo by Bob Toy.

    The Drawaholics Anonymous Crew, a new drawing community at Academy of Art University, is not for the faint of heart. Anyone who wants to join must first sign a contract stating they will adhere to a culture of excellence and put their absolute best foot forward. In order to advance from a temporary to permanent member, they must complete 2,500 drawings: 1,000 heads, 500 legs, 500 arms, 250 hands and 250 feet within one year of signing. 

     “It’s serious business to me,” said Michael Buffington, concept art lead for the School of Game Development and originator of the community. “Many students underestimate what it takes to make it in the industry.”

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    Film Review: 'Landline' - Life in the '90s

    Landline is non-judgmental in its portrayal of infidelity, family dynamics and relationships


    (L–R) Abby Quinn, Edie Falco, and Jenny Slate in Landline, an Amazon Studios release. Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

    Set in 1995, during the days of payphones, mixed tapes and floppy disks, the aptly named Landline is packed with nostalgia, offbeat comedy and drama. Co-written by Gillian Robespierre and Elisabeth Holm, and directed by Robespierre, the film stars Jenny Slate and Abby Quinn as sisters in the middle of a fractious family headed by Edie Falco and John Turturro. Lies threaten to tear the family apart as parents and children wrestle with their own secrets, while an undercurrent of familial bond ties them together.

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    One-On-One With Writer-Director David Lowery


    Photo by Bret Curry. Courtesy of A24.

    Currently playing in San Francisco, A Ghost Story is the latest feature film from acclaimed writer-director David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon). The film follows a white-sheeted ghost, C (Casey Affleck), who returns to his home, seeking to comfort his wife, M (Rooney Mara), following his death. As time passes, C continues to haunt the residence he once shared with his beloved, while new occupants come and go. Shot in 1:33:1 aspect ratio, this intimate portrait of love and grief speaks to the importance of connection, while bringing up life’s big questions to the audience.

    Academy Art U News sat down with Lowery during his recent visit to San Francisco, where the director spoke about a variety of topics regarding the film, including the decision behind reuniting his Ain’t Them Bodies Saints co-stars Affleck and Mara, how the director’s own existential fears influenced the film, and what advice he has for Academy students pursuing filmmaking.

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    Director Dave McCary & 'Saturday Night Live’s' Kyle Mooney Talk ‘Brigsby Bear’


    Kyle Mooney as James. @ Brigsby Bear Movie, LLC. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

    “Can anyone do it?” – Of all the questions James, protagonist of feel-good comedy Brigsby Bear, has of the new reality he inhabits, this one is perhaps his most illuminating.

    After finding out his parents (played by Mark Hamill and Jane Adams) stole him from the hospital as an infant, James (played by the film’s writer and Saturday Night Live cast member Kyle Mooney) is thrust into a strange, new family and struggles to adjust to modern-day norms and social cues. What seems to be the bridge between his world and theirs, however, is an affection for art and the idea that yes, anyone can pursue it.

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    Spring Show 2017: A Big Surprise for JEM Award Winners

    SS17 Award Winners Faculty.jpg

    JEM Spring Show Award winners and faculty. Photo courtesy of Justin Atangan.

    This year marked a first for the School of Jewelry & Metal Arts’ annual Spring Show Awards. Held on Tuesday, May 16, students and faculty eagerly gathered in the 410 Bush conference room for an intimate ceremony.

    Unbeknownst to the students, the department had a special surprise up its sleeve to honor the exceptional work of the winners. Faculty, along with JEM Club officers, had been invited months prior to participate in creating one-of-a-kind trophies that best represented the techniques taught in their respective classes. Covering the scope of JEM’s curriculum, these techniques ranged from wax working to casting and laser cutting to enameling.

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    School of Graphic Design Leadership Changes


    (L-R) Phil Hamlett and Mary Scott. Photo by Sean McGuire (B.F.A., 2006).

    Academy of Art University announces the transition of Mary Scott, who has served as Director for the School of Graphic Design for 17 years. In her new role as Director Emeritus, Mary will serve as senior advisor to the school, provide portfolio design guidance to students and work closely with her successor, Phil Hamlett, to ensure a seamless transition of leadership.  

    Phil Hamlett has been promoted to Director of the School of Graphic Design. He began his career at the Academy as Graduate Director and, during his 13 years of service, established a strong industry affiliation for the school.  His professional associations have provided wonderful opportunities for our alumni at many companies known throughout the world.

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    Pre-College Art Experience to Hold Final Project Exhibition on July 29

    Come visit the Art Experience Final Exhibition on Saturday, July 29. The event is for students, family, friends and Academy staff to view the final projects from the Summer 2017 Art Experience students. The exhbition will run from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at The Cannery.

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    Meet the Academic Steering Committee

    Statement of Purpose

     The Academic Steering Committee will identify what is needed to ensure that the Academy constantly remains at the forefront in preparing students to develop portfolios that are relevant to meet the needs of the global marketplace: 

    1. Contribute ideas for Academy-wide curriculum initiatives and improvements.
    2. Identify innovative curricular and cross-departmental opportunities.
    3. Engage in future thinking on the curriculum. (i.e. Where are we going to be in the next five years?)
    4. Serve as a think tank on the intersection of art and technology and identify emerging technologies and trends to enable the Academy to stay ahead of the curve.

    The Academic Steering Committee will hear issues dealing with department and curriculum concerns as well as brilliant new ideas for the University. Feel free to contact any member listed below or e-mail us at:

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    A Study of Happiness


    Portraits courtesy of Selena Davant (pictured center, photo by @ColorfulKierra). You can view more portraits at @smileaday on Instagram.

    Anyone that has survived a bad breakup before knows that when you feel like you hit rock bottom, the only direction to go is up. For Selena Davant, a freelance creative and an Academy of Art University M.F.A. advertising alumna, her heartache gave birth to “Smile A Day,” an Instagram project where she photographs individuals and asks them what makes them happy. 

    “My friends and family kept telling me to turn the breakup into a positive one,” she explained. “I wasn’t sure how to at first, so I started doing the little things: Listening to more positive music and being more present in the moment.” 

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    The Academy Hosts 2017 Red Bull Doodle Art Global Final


    Photo by Bob Toy.

    Although more than 30 languages were spoken on Saturday, June 24, at the 2017 Red Bull Doodle Art Global Final hosted in the Atelier Gallery at Academy of Art University, the universal language of art was evidently stronger than words. For the final stage of the 2017 Red Bull Doodle Art Contest, 47 global finalists from 43 countries flew thousands of miles to compete one last time for the winning title. But this time, their doodles were in virtual reality. 

    “The Academy has always been on the cutting edge of the most advanced technology as a way to express and push boundaries of art,” said James Egan, one of the judges of the contest and executive director of Immersive Technology and Short Term Programming at the Academy. “To me, it’s a natural partnership with Red Bull to bring this first international virtual reality doodle contest to the heart of the most important technology companies in the world.”

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    Academy Instructor's BART Caricatures Attract Fans


    A collection of Hamilton Cline's BART caricatures. Image courtesy of Hamilton Cline.

    Most people go to amusement parks for the thrilling rides and to escape reality. But for caricaturist and Academy of Art University instructor Hamilton Cline, they were where he learned the skills that would help him become a successful artist.  

    “I started doing caricatures in Missouri at World of Fun and then moved to Minnesota and worked at a park called Valleyfair,” he said. “I was taught by the best caricature artists in the business.”

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    Academy Student Receives Scholarship From AAUW


    (L–R ) Cathy Corcoran, Michelle Dong and Peg Jackson. Photo courtesy of Cathy Corcoran.

    The American Association of University Women (AAUW) San Francisco Branch Silver Jubilee Scholarship Committee recently awarded a $2,000 scholarship to Academy of Art University B.F.A. photography student Michelle Dong. Each year, the scholarship fund provides awards to college-going women in the Bay Area. 

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    Educational Empowerment


    (L–R) Spring 2017 Five Keys graduates Tiaria Breaux and Melina Meridji received full scholarships to Academy of Art University where they both plan to study art education. Photo by Bob Toy.

    As an accredited art institution, the Academy of Art University recognizes how education can empower not just individuals, but whole communities. In the school’s continuous effort to give back to the city of San Francisco, the Academy presented two full scholarships to Spring 2017 graduates of the Five Keys Schools and Programs, a charter school whose goal is to offer opportunities to disadvantaged individuals through education. 

    The recipients—Melina Meridji and Tiaira Breaux—both expressed in their essay applications that they wanted to become art teachers, much to the joy of Marybeth Tereszkiewicz, director of the School of Art Education (ARE) & Teaching Credential Program in the Visual Arts at the Academy. 

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    Joy of the Optical: Stuart Davis at the de Young


    "Stuart Davis: In Full Swing" exhibit will be up at the de Young Museum through Aug. 6. Photo courtesy of the de Young Museum.

    Before the Campbell Soup tote bags and Hello Kitty fashions took over the gift shops, there were early pop art pioneers who paved the way for the genre’s commercial success today. Juxtapose hard-edged geometric shapes and bold enigmatic graphics with pop-culture references and you’d get Stuart Davis. A master of modernist strokes, this jazz-influenced visionary represented one of the most vibrant eras in American culture. The seminal exhibition of the proto-pop art artist has made its way to the West Coast. “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing” is on display through Aug. 6 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

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    New Leadership Changes for School of Interior Architecture & Design

    Dear Academy of Art University Community,

    I would like to announce the resignation of Grover Dear, executive director of the School of Interior Architecture & Design. Grover brought to the department a wealth of industry expertise and international perspective which enriched the student experience. The university is grateful for Grover’s contributions and wish him continued success in his future endeavors.

    I am happy to announce that Archana Myer has been promoted to the role of executive director and will continue to provide leadership to the IAD team. Archana has spent the past few years as the Department Director and focused on dynamically revamping curriculum. Her efforts to maintain the highest level of professional accreditation were proven effective as the department had unprecedented success in their CIDA visit this spring. We appreciate Archana’s hard work and look forward to her continued success.

    Kathleen “Katie” Valkuchak has transitioned out of the Associate Director position and will be the new Department Director. Katie has been a core part of the IAD team for the past seven years and has had exceptional success in strengthening IAD studio culture. Her commitment to the students and partnerships with faculty have contributed substantially to the success of the department.

    Please join me in congratulating both Archana and Katie to their new roles within the School of Interior Architecture & Design.  We look forward to the continuation of dynamic leadership.


    Thank you, 

    Elisa Stephens, President

    Remembering Dr. Richard A. Stephens


    Dr. Richard A. Stephens with one of the many cars featured at the Academy’s Automobile Museum—the Talbot Lago T150-C Coupe.

    Academy of Art University suffered a great loss this past month with the passing of our beloved Chairman Emeritus Dr. Richard A. Stephens on June 6 at the age of 92.

    Dr. Stephens was born in San Francisco in 1925 to Richard S. Stephens and Clara Stephens. He travelled with his parents to Paris, where his father studied art at the Académie Julian. In 1929, the Stephens’ returned to the city, where Richard and Clara founded Académie of Advertising Art, which would later become what we know today as Academy of Art University.

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    Landscape Architecture Alumnus Garners Attention for Use of Drones

    File Jun 21, 11 54 06 AM

    By using drones, Arneson gained different vantage points for his designs. Image courtesy of Eric Arneson.

    No magical panacea can wipe out the challenges of a highly technical and creative field such as landscape architecture, but alumnus Eric Arneson’s work shows it’s possible to come close. By applying one tool throughout all phases of the design process, Arneson alleviated a wide range of complicating factors common in his field. Site access, digital image quality, data collection and audience engagement all benefited from this multifaceted problem-solver. Rather than some rare product, the key tool was an item likely to be found on the wish list of your gadget-obsessed friend. It was a drone.

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    The City of Oakland Celebrates Their Warriors


    The 2017 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors pose with the Larry O’Brien trophy at the parade rally. Photo by Nina Tabios.

    The champagne showers turned into ticker tape showers at the Golden State Warriors 2017 Championship Parade on June 13 in downtown Oakland. The parade route began on Broadway at 11th Street, and followed a route that led them to Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, where the rally was held. 

    Around 1.5 million fans attended the parade, some arriving as early as five a.m. to claim a good spot along the parade route. As the players and their families floated down the streets of Oakland on double-decker buses, the crowd of blue and gold roared, congratulating the team on their second title in three years.

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    Online Students Converge at Summer Expo


    School of Fashion Drawing Coordinator Jim Yang instructs Frank Martinez during a Summer Expo workshop. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Since 2002, the Academy of Art University has provided its vast art degree programs to students across the world through its comprehensive online education courses. According to Melinda Mettler, director of Online Student Relations, about 70 percent of Academy students enrolled for the Spring 2017 semester were in the online program. 

    “People keep talking about how online education is the school of the future, when actually, the future is already here,” she said.

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    Five Keys Branding Project a Winner for Client and Students


    Graphic design student Celina Oh shares her team’s rebrand campaign project to Five Keys representatives. Photo by Bob Toy.

    On a recent afternoon, you could feel the nervous energy bubbling in room 520 at 79 New Montgomery. Fifteen Academy of Art University School of  Graphic Design students were busy making final preparations for the presentations they were about to give to some very special guests. 

    Those guests included Steve Good and Sunny Schwartz, executives from Five Keys, an organization that provides prison inmates with the education and other resources they need to change their lives once they re-enter society. The students worked with Five Keys throughout the semester to create a new brand identity for their client in a class taught by School of Graphic Design Associate Director Tom McNulty. Representatives from the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, which founded Five Keys’ original charter school in 2003, also attended the big event along with Academy President Dr. Elisa Stephens and School of Graphic Design Director Emeritus Mary Scott.

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    'Offsprung' Finds Film Festival Success


    “Offsprung” director Rain Zheng and producer Shiyi Gu. Photo courtesy of Shiyi Gu.

    One precursor to consider when diving into art is to “not take anything too personal.” But for Shiyi Gu, graduate student from the School of Motion Pictures & Television at the Academy of Art University and producer of Offsprung, hearing mixed reviews about it almost prevented her from submitting the project into film festivals. And if she let that get the best of her, it would have never won the Best Student Film award from the Women’s Independent Film Festival in Los Angeles this spring, or been awarded the Silver Medal from the WorldFest-Houston International Film & Video Festival.  

    “We didn’t want to give up,” she said. “Patricia Pawlak (former film distribution, marketing and film festival participation instructor) supported me very well and gave us good advice, which encouraged me to send it to the different film festivals just to give it a shot. Many of the crew and actors worked very hard for it so I tried for them.”

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    Screen Acting Achievement Awards Honors Students and Faculty


    Acting student JLynn Femiano and School of Acting instructor Karen Hirst. Photo by Bob Toy.

    On May 26, Sutter Street Theatre buzzed with excitement as the Academy’s School of Acting kicked off its first annual Screen Acting Achievement Awards. The ceremony honored this spring’s graduating acting students and also paid tribute to eight young actors for their exceptional film work. Four School of Acting faculty members—Sarah Kliban, Clark Houston Lewis, Wes Sneeringer and Boris Zubov—were also honored for their contributions to the students and the department. 

    The event capped off a film festival held in the theatre earlier that week. The festival included several screenings of the many diverse movie scenes created throughout the year that gave all Academy acting students a chance to showcase skills. 

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    Positive Mindset Helps COM Instructor Fulfill Dreams and Inspire Others


    School of Communications & Media Technologies instructor Toan Lam interviews “Hamilton” cast member Ari Asfar, who plays Eliza Hamilton in the Chicago production of the hit Broadway musical. Photo courtesy of Toan Lam.

    When Toan Lam told people he was going to get tickets to the musical sensation “Hamilton,”—without paying scalpers a fortune—they often looked skeptical. After all, the Broadway hit has been selling out in record time at theatres across the country. But that didn’t deter Lam. 

    “I believe that manifesting trust and action equals traction,” said Lam, who teaches COM 103 and 303 classes at Academy of Art University. “I didn’t know how I would get a ticket, but I knew it was going to happen.” 

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    Moving to Baby's Beat

    Writer/director Edgar Wright and actor Ansel Elgort discuss the musically infused, high-octane heist film, Baby Driver

    Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 5.05.21 PM

    Ansel Elgort and director Edgar Wright on the set of TriStar Pictures’ Baby Driver.

    To quote the film’s opening song “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: “Ladies and gentlemen, right now I got to tell you about the fabulous, most groovy” film of the summer—Baby Driver. Written and directed by Edgar Wright (of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy), Baby Driver is a thrilling action movie that’s uniquely in step with the music being listened to by talented getaway driver, aka “young Mozart in a go-cart,” Baby, played by actor Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars).

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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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    A World of Creativity on Display at Spring Show

    Hard work pays off for students as they present high quality work to industry professionals


    Students from the School of Graphic Design presented their portfolios to industry guests at Spring Show. Photo by Bob Toy.

    A bright red carpet led the way to the entrance of the Academy of Art University’s 2017 Spring Show Student Showcase on opening day Thursday, May 18. The doors of 2225 Jerrold Avenue opened to a world bursting with color and creativity as the portfolio work from each of the 23 schools of the Academy vibrantly filled screens, walls and floor space. 

    This was an event students worked all year for. For many of them, it was an opportunity to shape their future and to prove their talent to industry representatives in attendance from some of the top companies in the world like Apple, Disney, Nissan, Google and Electronic Arts.

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    Honorary Doctorate Recipient: Chuck Pyle


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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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    2017 Valedictorian: Ryan Boone


    Photo courtesy of AAU Publications.

    Ryan Boone’s journey to the Academy of Art University was a bumpy one. But those bumps eventually led to Boone being honored as valedictorian at the Spring 2017 Commencement ceremony on May 10 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. 

    As he approached the podium in his graduation cap and gown, he started his speech, loud and with conviction. He began by telling the audience it took him five years to earn his master’s in architecture and he did it with two children and a full-time job. He explained that he is not alone in facing challenges on the journey to graduation and that this moment represents a moment not of the past, but of the future. 

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    Honorary Doctorate Recipient: Simon Ungless


    Photo courtesy of AAU Publications.

    Before Gladys Perint Palmer met Simon Ungless in the mid-’90s, she was caught between deciding to scrap or rebuild the School of Fashion’s textile program at Academy of Art University.

    As the school’s then-department director, she paid a visit to her alma mater, Central St. Martin’s, an art school in London where she was introduced to Ungless. At the time, he was working at St. Martin’s textile print shop, and the meeting of the two minds shifted the School of Fashion’s narrative entirely.

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    Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Kenneth Villamil


    Photo courtesy of AAU Publications.

    For all the titles Kenneth Villamil has held throughout his career—stylist, painter, art director, interior architect, vice president—his Seton Hall University painting teacher Ira Greenberg gave him a more proper designation when Villamil was 19 years old: creative problem solver. 

    In Greenberg and Villamil’s eyes, that essentially meant becoming a designer. With his teacher’s guidance, Villamil scraped together a portfolio that would land him a full-time design position at a Chelsea firm in New York City.

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    2017 Valedictorian: Ariel Magidson


    Photo courtesy of AAU Publications.

    Academy of Art University valedictorian and School of Interior Architecture & Design major Ariel Magidson hasn’t taken a single semester off since she arrived at the school in 2014. In addition to the regular spring and fall semesters, Magidson took classes every summer intersession, summer semester and winter intersession throughout her Academy education. 

    “I treat [school] like a job,” she said. “I may not have earned money, but I’m earning a grade and I want to do my best every single time. Everything I put out is to the best of my ability and if it’s not, I’ll go back and do it again.”

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    Honorary Doctorate Recipient: Diane Baker


    Photo courtesy of AAU Publications.

    In her 14 years at the Academy of Art University, School of Acting Executive Director Diane Baker’s presence served as a sort of gateway into Hollywood’s past and present. When she and I met in her office at 466 Townsend, she recounted her life for me via anecdote after anecdote. Within each one, she mentions a name or two of someone from her voluminous circle; not on purpose, but that’s just what happens when you speak to someone with a vast network.

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    Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: David Goodwine


    Photo courtesy of AAU Publications.

    David Goodwine, Academy of Art University’s Distinguished Alumni honoree and executive director for the School of Game Development (GAM), faced an all-too familiar artist-specific situation when he was younger. 

    When he told his friends and family he was considering a career in art, he was met with the classic rebuttals: “What are you going to do?” and “How are you going to make money doing this?”

    So, instead of listening to himself, Goodwine sought out a career in science instead. 

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    2017 Valedictorian: Crysta Frost


    Photo courtesy of AAU Publications.

    Crysta Frost’s whole Academy of Art University career has been about taking 180-degree turns: East Coast to West Coast. Suburb to big city. Fine art to technical art. Character rigging to game production, and vice versa. Many of those turns were acts of thoughtful spontaneity, while others were more spur-of-the-moment decisions.

    “As soon as I stepped on the eighth floor [in 180 New Montgomery] and saw everything, I knew that this is what I wanted,” she said. “I went from painting and drawing all day to 3-D programs and game engines.

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    Restoration Hardware's IAD Contingent


    (L–R) Jeana Peters, Brenna Mitchell and Alexandra Chausse. Photo by Mark Miller.

    Over this last year, Restoration Hardware, a luxury residential design brand, has taken a few of the top School of Interior Architecture & Design (IAD) students at Academy of Art University and given them an opportunity of a lifetime. 

    Brenna Mitchell, Jeana Peters and Alexandra Chausse have been working as interns at RH’s corporate office in Corte Madera, north of San Francisco. 

    Mitchell opened the door for additional interns by being proactive, sending her resume and contacting the human resources department. She has done such an outstanding job, RH subsequently called the School of Interior Architecture & Design and asked for additional interns “like Brenna."

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    Team Bunny Minions Hops in Victory in Jewelry-Making Race


    (L-R) Chiao Ju Lee, Symposium trophy presenter, Ailing Yin and Muda “Da Da” Yu. Photo courtesy of Ailing Yin.

    You don’t have to be a fast runner to compete in the Saw, File and Solder Sprint. But you do need to have strong metalwork skills and be comfortable whipping up a piece of jewelry in front of a crowd while dressed in a costume. The fun and quirky “relay race” is a highlight of the annual Yuma Symposium, an event that draws renowned and emerging artists to the Arizona desert every winter to learn, create and connect with each other. During the race, each three-person team works as quickly as possible to make a ring that will fit on one member’s finger.

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    InFlux 2017: Advanced Work in Jewelry and Metal Arts


    Vishali Sitharthan. Photo courtesy of the School of Jewelry & Metal Arts.

    On Thursday, March 2, the School of Jewelry and Metal Arts’ very own JEM Club held the opening reception for its third annual group show of advanced student work at the Cannery Gallery. The exhibition, “InFlux,” provides a platform for all students enrolled in jewelry and metal arts classes, whether they are a JEM-declared major or taking a course as an elective, to showcase their current work. Not only do they have the exciting opportunity to share their craft outside of the classroom and studio, they are also able to learn the intricate details that go into gallery installations.

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    The Verdict Is In: 'Legally Blonde' a Smash Hit for School of Acting


    The cast of the School of Acting’s production of “Legally Blonde.” Photo by Bob Toy.

    From the opening number of Academy of Art University School of Acting’s musical “Legally Blonde,” it was clear that the actors were having a blast. And so was the audience that packed 620 Sutter Street Theatre on a recent Friday night. 

    In the first scene, a bevvy of Delta Nu sorority sisters sashayed around the stage singing the infectious “Omigod You Guys,” excited for their beloved president—and the play’s main character—Elle Woods’ pending engagement to her boyfriend, Warner Huntington III. By the time Elle joined them on stage mid-way through the song, the audience was swept up in the moment and burst into applause.

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    Groovy, Baby, Groovy: 'The Summer of Love Experience' at the de Young


    "The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll" is on display at the de Young through August 20. 2017. Photo courtesy of the de Young.

    Art, fashion and music are powerful means of self-expression for individuals and communities in general, and in particular, in times of political upheaval and social unrest.

    This year the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth of a vibrant American counterculture that emerged in the summer of 1967. The de Young Museum brings you The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll, an exhilarating retrospective of over 300 artifacts, including posters, photographs, interactive installations, clothes and memorabilia, as well as documentary and avant-garde films. On display through Aug. 20, it gives you a chance to come back a couple times to soak up the good vibes!

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    Making Therapeutic Art

    The dramedy, created with an all-female crew, explores relationship dynamics


    Zoe Lister-Jones as Anna, Adam Pally as Ben and Fred Armisen as Dave in Zoe Lister-Jones’ Band Aid. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films release.

    A leaky faucet is a small problem at first, but can become a much bigger issue if ignored for too long. Hence the opening shot for Zoe Lister-Jones’ directorial debut, Band Aid (in theaters June 9), where the drip-drop in the kitchen sink predicates a vicious argument between Lister-Jones’ character Anna and her husband Ben, played by Adam Pally.

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    Animation & Visual Effects Spring Awards honor outstanding student achievement

    Animation & Visual Effects Spring Awards honor outstanding student achievement

    School of Animation & Visual Effects students celebrate their win at the department’s Spring Awards. Photo courtesy of Becky Johnson.

    On April 28, the Morgan Auditorium at 491 Post Street hosted a world premiere, as students’ never-before-seen work debuted at the School of Animation & Visual Effects Spring Awards. Bags of popcorn and candy greeted attendees in the lobby, serving as a cue to relax, sit back and admire the skill and creativity about to play across the screen. Hundreds of students filled the venue’s seats to find out how their submissions fared, admire the work of their peers and congratulate the winners.

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    Celebrating Excellence

    “Not competitive, they’re collaborative,” said MPTV Executive Director Jana Memel of the night’s nominees at the first annual NXT UP Festival


    Senior advertising student Joey Larson picked up three awards at the first-ever NXT UP Fest for Excellence in Commercial Creation & Production, Branded Content and Documentary Filmmaking. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Students were dressed to the nines as they walked down the red carpet into 491 Post Street on May 5 for the Academy of Art University’s first NXT UP Festival, a “for students, by students” production that celebrates “excellence in the creation and production of moving images.” The nominees donned their best attire: A mixture of suits, dresses and even one nominee sporting the feathered costume featured in her submitted music video. 

    The night’s host, Terrell “Big T” Butler, held the audience’s attention not just with his Academy-red blazer, but with his comedic wit, demeanor and poise that awarded him Excellence for On-Camera Talent – Male later that same evening. He sprinkled jokes into every aspect of his hosting, and carried himself with ease on stage, which was a true mark to the amount of hard work and talent the School of Communications & Media Technologies (COM) senior possesses and put in leading up to the show.

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    For Art's Sake - No. 8: Let's Get Inspired!

    For Art's Sake No. 8: Let's Get Inspired!

    The Academy of Art University annual Spring Show showcases cutting-edge student work, offering a unique opportunity to learn about the latest technology. Photo by Bob Toy.

    In the age of technology and Internet devices, there is a continued need for artists and designers to create advertisements for businesses as well as portfolios, featuring brands and products for entertainment, ranging from gaming to film. 

    As you master different levels of your art here at Academy of Art University, you’ll continue to work with your instructors and collaborate with other students on group works. You will master both presentation and communication skills that will strengthen your critical reasoning and problem-solving.

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    Allison Rutland Shares Her Path to Pixar

    Allison Rutland shares her path to Pixar

    Allison Rutland is an an animator at Pixar.

    After making Finding Chia, her first animated short, Allison Rutland was pretty sure she’d found her calling. She completed the funny mockumentary about a Chia Pet who’s traumatized when he can’t grow a coat of foliage while studying 3-D animation at Sheridan College in Canada. 

    “It was really fun to do,” said Rutland, who has been an animator at Pixar since 2009 and won a prestigious Annie Award for her character work on Inside Out. “I thought that as soon as I got this whole animation thing figured out, I was going to make films.”

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    Exploring Artistic Possibilities

    Exploring artistic possibilities

    “Reaching For Hope” by PCAE student Claire Wong.

    Every spring, summer and fall session, Academy of Art University opens its doors to high school students interested in jump starting their arts education and exploring the possibilities for career artists. 

    The Pre-College Art Experience (PCAE) is a scholarship-based program that is offered both online and onsite for eligible local and international students, with several classes from different majors to choose from, including animation, visual development, 3-D animation and music production.

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    IAD Students Tour Allsteel and Inside Source Showroom

    IAD students tour Allsteel and Inside Source showroom

    Allsteel Furniture – Clubhouse. Photo courtesy of Allsteel.

    Organized by the Interior Architecture & Design (IAD) Club and Academy of Art University School of Interior Architecture & Design alumna Elizabeth Wert (’11), 25 students were welcomed by Allsteel and Inside Source in San Francisco.

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    Creating an Orchestra

    Creating an orchestra

    Academy alumnus and composer Mark Cofer at work in Nashville, Tenn. Photo courtesy of Mark Cofer.

    Mark Cofer always had a love for music, but it wasn’t until he became a student of the School of Music Production & Sound Design For Visual Media at Academy of Art University that his passion for film composition began to soar. As one of the first graduates of the online program, Cofer has gone on to create scores for major motion pictures and trailers like Disney’s latest installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mummy starring Tom Cruise and Independence Day: Resurgence, all from his home in Nashville, Tenn. 

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    Wise Words From an Illustration Role Model

    Tony DiTerlizzi collaborates with School of Game Development faculty and students for exhibit.

    Illustrator and author Tony DiTerlizzi going over the collaborative project with the School of Game Development during his recent visit. Photo by Rich Bradway of the Norman Rockwell Museum.

    If being a children’s book illustrator and author didn’t work out for Tony DiTerlizzi, stand-up comedy might’ve been an adequate alternative career route for him. 

    In between stories of his fruitful career as a fantasy artist, he cracked jokes toward the Academy of Art University audience on April 18, using cartoon voices to poke fun at himself, those who showed up to hear him speak and the chicken-dragon students suggested he draw in his demo.  

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    DIY Band Daytime Nightlife Shares Both Music & Advice at Tuesday Tunes

    Daytime Nightlife performs at UKR Tuesday Tunes on May 2

    (L–R) Brothers Gary Malec and Mark Malec of Daytime Nightlife. Photo by Nina Tabios.


    For brothers Mark and Gary Malec of San Francisco band Daytime Nightlife, performing at Urban Knights Radio event Tuesday Tunes on May 2 was a way to test out new material following a new musical direction and change in their roster. 

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    Fashion Future: Academy of Art University 2017 Graduation Fashion Show


    Looks from Jiran Xia (B.F.A. fashion design) and Pei-Ling “Ann” Tsai (B.F.A. jewelry & metal arts) during the Graduation Fashion Show finale. Photo by Bob Toy.

    It’s all been leading up to this… 

    In the lives of individuals and communities, there are moments that define history and usher in the future. For students in Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion, that moment is the annual Graduation Fashion Show that brings together faculty, family, friends and industry such as retail executives, fashion and accessory designers, interior designers and recruiters to celebrate the accomplishments of each graduate, and honor their creative vision as they join the ranks of the Academy’s distinguished alumni.

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    Raising the Curtain on Backstage


    Makeup Lead Stacy Maki and the MAC Artistry Team together with Hair Lead Jon Reyman for Spoke & Weal and Salon Pro RX worked with School of Fashion Executive Director Simon Ungless on the beauty look for the show. Photo by Danielle Rueda.

    Here is one thing I learned from floating backstage at the Academy of Art University 2017 Graduation Fashion Show. Whoever had said “beauty’s only skin deep” was deeply wrong. When it comes to fashion, the idiom does not apply as beauty doesn’t lend itself to quick judgement and is much more than a pretty look. It’s the art of the method; the elaborate process that requires attention to layers of precision and creativity to captivate the audience in an instant.

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    2017 Portfolio Review: A Chance to Impress


    (L–R) Director of Fashion Gary Miller introducing guest of honor Sarah Mower and her daughter Maisie McCaughley to students during the Portfolio Review. Photo by Bob Toy.

    The warehouse on Jerrold Ave was full of high-energy and nerves on Saturday, May 6, as students of the School of Fashion at the Academy of Art University filed into tables to show off their thesis collections.

    Guests walked down the center aisle to peruse through works from students from a variety of focuses: Fashion Design, Textile Design, Jewelry and Metal Arts, Visual Merchandising, Costume Design, Fashion Merchandising, Fashion Marketing, Fashion Journalism, Technical Design and Styling.

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    Industry Mentors Share Ideas and Wisdom at School of Fashion Panel


    Panel moderator and School of Fashion Executive Director Simon Ungless, Director of Education and Professional Development for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Sara Kozlowski and Chief Critic of Sarah Mower spoke in front of a packed audience at 625 Polk. Photo by Bob Toy.

    The relationship between fashion and technology and the evolution of the fashion industry figured prominently in the conversation at a panel discussion hosted by the School of Fashion on May 5 at 625 Polk Street. Students packed the room for a chance to hear from panelists Sarah Mower, chief critic for and the British Fashion Council’s ambassador for emerging talent, and Sara Kozlowski, director of educational and professional development for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). 

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    Putting Theory to Practice

    Embracing the three H's—head, hands and heart—the School of Art Education has been making its mark on education in the arts with six students from the credential program now teaching at local Bay Area schools


    Photo by Bob Toy.

    The Academy of Art University prides itself in its mission of “the artists of today teaching the artists of tomorrow." Departments across the university uphold that initiative, but the School of Art Education (ARE) and Teaching Credential Program in the Visual Arts aims to take it a step further in preparing its students to become art educators and inspire a new generation of artists.

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    Running Through the Gamut

    Students get a taste of different filmmaking disciplines in Jana Memel’s MPTV 234 class


    (L–R) Actors Alea Mosley and Ignacio Lopez and students Xiuzhu “MiMi” Guo, Marcus Vaughn, Qiang “Celine” Guo, Bryan Wilks film a scene for Blood Money, an MPTV 234 project. Photo by Nina Tabios.

    Shoot day was going well for Cyrus Esfandiari and his group up until about 3 p.m. on April 11, right when their three-hour shoot window was starting to close. At the peak of crunchtime, their camera started malfunctioning: The SLR wasn’t reading the SD cards correctly and batteries were faulty. In a last-ditch effort, director Marcus Vaughn whipped out his smartphone and recorded the last scenes to his mobile device as time ticked away.

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    Sarah Mower to Be Honored at 2017 Graduation Fashion Show

    The chief critic for will receive an honorary doctorate from Academy of Art University President Dr. Elisa Stephens

    Academy of Art University is proud to announce that Sarah Mower, chief critic for, will join the School of Fashion as the guest of honor for the Graduation Fashion Show on Saturday, May 6, 2017. Mower will receive the degree of honorary doctorate from Dr. Elisa Stephens, president of Academy of Art University, for her contributions to the fashion industry and fashion education, and for her support of emerging designers.

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    For Art's Sake - No. 7: The Wonderful World of the Academy - Athletics

    № 7: The Wonderful World of the Academy – Athletics

    The Academy of Art University athletic programs have helped artist-athletes not only cultivate their artistic talents, but also their athletic talents, training them to compete at the highest level. Vashti Thomas (illustration major) set both a World University Games and NCAA Division II record in the 100-meter hurdles in 2013.


    At Academy of Art University, we encourage you to follow all of your passions, from art-related career goals to Olympic-sized dreams. For students looking to continue their athletic careers at a collegiate level, you can train and compete with ART U Athletics. Athletes from our program have won NCAA titles, have been drafted by Major League Baseball and most recently, one of our track stars, Mobolade Ajomale, won an Olympic medal during the 2016 games in Rio.

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    Animation Alumna Hopes to Open More Doors for Minorities in Film

    Winning Gold at the Student Academy Awards for your first film can be a tough act to follow. But Academy of Art University graduate Alyce Tzue, whose animated short Soar received this and other honors, is poised to fly high once again with her latest endeavor. Last year, Hiro Masuda, president of Ichigo Ichie Films, contacted her about directing Lobo, a full-length animated feature his Tokyo-based company is developing.

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    An Exciting Career Begins at WNM Ideate Conference

    An exciting career begins at Ideate Conference

    Academy of Art University School of Web Design & New Media alumna Angela Alarcon. Photo courtesy of Angela Alarcon.


    Last month, Angela Alarcon began settling into her new job as a user experience designer at Alarcon graduated with an M.F.A. from Academy of Art University’s School of Web Design & New Media (WNM) last fall, but it wasn’t her summer internships or many job applications that directly led to her employment. Instead, it was a connection she made with an official at WNM’s Ideate Conference in December 2016 that sparked the beginning of her career in web design.

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    Costume Carnival 2017 Echoes 1960s Counterculture

    Costume Carnival 2017 echoes 1960s counterculture

    Bob Webb as Timothy Leary.


    Nameless liquid shapes dance on a concert screen, protest slogans are hoisted into the air, music creates surreal shapes in the sky, young people rally for a new utopia and the United States Presidency is shrouded in scandal. Apparently, not much has changed since 1967.

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    Passion for Virtual Reality on Display at VR Summit


    A student tries out one of the VR headsets on display at this semester's VR Summit. Photo by Bob Toy.

    At one moment, Academy of Art University students were mingling in Room 140 of the 79 New Montgomery building on the night of the VR Summit. But with one touch and one virtual reality (VR) headset, moments later, students were transported to the sandy beaches of the marina staring up at the Golden Gate Bridge, gliding through the streets of San Francisco in a cable car or interacting with a little blue alien in outer space.

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    Stanford Clinical Instructor & Academy Directing Student Redefines Role of Medical Director

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    A still from Care Flight in the Golden Hour. Photo courtesy of Dr. Henry Curtis, M.D.

    The work of Dr. Henry Curtis, M.D. illustrates the intersection of medicine and the humanities. As a clinical instructor of emergency medicine at Stanford, Curtis enlists video-based learning tools to prepare students for future professional challenges. 

    But he’s not just using existing video to supplement his syllabus. Curtis, who is pursuing an M.F.A. in directing at Academy of Art University, also guides students in producing original educational video content.

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    Students Encouraged to Create at Comic Expo 2017

    Students encouraged to create at Comic Expo 2017

    Isabella Reeves reviews student work and portfolios during the Comic Expo. Photo by Bob Toy.


    Amid all the jokes and laughs heard at the Academy of Art University’s School of Illustration Comic Expo 2017, one thematic piece of advice heard in nearly every panel was this: Do more than just your homework.

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    NetEase Discuss Internships During Academy Visit

    NetEase discuss internships during Academy visit

    (L-R) NetEase User Researcher Jim Stanhope, Lead Artist Ada Liu, Product Manager Alex Liang and Human Resources Assistant Eva Hsu. Photo by Bob Toy.


    If you’re familiar with NetEase Games titles such as “Fantasy Westward Journey,” “Eternal Arena,” “Tome of the Sun,” “New Ghost,” the next big PC or mobile hit from the China-based camp may have an Academy of Art University’s School of Game Development alum in its credits. 

    On March 23, students packed into Room 825 in 180 New Montgomery to hear NetEase representatives from the company’s North American studio speak about the opportunities available to young developers and artists. 

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    Elle Woods Set to Win Hearts in School of Acting's 'Legally Blonde'

    Senior acting major India Jarvis to portray the iconic and savvy law student

    It’s hard to resist Elle Woods, the perky sorority girl with a fondness for pink, who takes Harvard Law School by storm in the musical Legally Blonde. Based on the popular film of the same name, the musical is coming to 620 Sutter Street Theatre in May, courtesy of Academy of Art University’s School of Acting.

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    Introducing NXT UP Fest: "By Students, for Students"

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    Spring semester is winding down and end-of-semester ceremonies are right around the corner. In lieu of the Media Awards this year, the Academy of Art University is hosting NXT UP Fest, a “celebration of excellence in the creation and production of moving images.” 

    Organizer and School of Motion Pictures and Television Executive Director Jana Memel said that NXT UP Fest is about honoring student excellence while also keeping them involved in the process.

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    Ready, Roll, Cut: J.D. Moran

    The MPTV alumnus shares his creative journey to his current post-Academy career

    Alumnus J.D. Moran graduated from Academy of Art University’s School of Motion Pictures & Television (MPTV) in Spring 2014. His talents and skills learned at the Academy, while studying production design, have taken Moran to Cannes, Rome and currently New York City, where he enjoys a career full of creative opportunities. 

    Moran recently spoke with us about his early days at the Academy with the Pre-College Art Experience, how he decided to “squeeze out the most” of his time at school by getting involved and how networking has led to some great opportunities in his post-Academy career.

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    Alumnus Antonio Martins: A Designer of Distinction


    Academy of Art University School of Interior Architecture & Design alumnus Antonio Martins. Photo courtesy of Antonio Martins Designs.

    We love when our Academy of Art University School of Interior Architecture & Design (IAD) students succeed. Hours and hours of hard work, critiques and learning all become worth it when a graduate reports back after a few years and has great news to share. Such is the case with Antonio Martins.

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    Meet the School of Fashion Interns: Jenny Truong


    Advertising major and Social Media Center intern Jenny Truing. Photo courtesy of Jenny Truong.

    Meet Jenny Truong, B.F.A. advertising student and the Social Media Center intern who happily traded Lake Ontario for the Bay Area following the ebb and flow of Zodiac charts.

    What brought you to the Academy?

    I am pursuing my B.F.A. in advertising with a direct focus on art. I was originally going to choose graphic design, but knew if I went into advertising, I would be taking graphic design courses as well as learning about concepts and the business side of advertising. I am glad I picked it. I have definitely found my passion.

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    Meet the School of Fashion Interns: Robert Bala


    Public relations intern Robert Bala. Photo courtesy of Robert Bala.

    Meet public relations intern Robert Bala. This Academy sophomore from Rhode Island has Hugo Boss and an award-winning magazine already on his résumé and uses “a leaf in the wind” to describe himself.

    What brought you to the Academy?

    I’ve had small styling successes here and there. People see and appreciate the little things that I’ve done, but the main thing that’s always holding me back is no degree. Being at the Academy is helping me blossom my passion into a true career. I once bought an amazing leather jacket at a consignment store in Florida. It became my favorite and I later discovered it was made by a San Francisco brand. It’s almost fate that I would be styling in the Bay one day.

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    Meet the School of Fashion Interns: Nivetha Sundar


    Fashion School Daily intern Nivetha Sundar at work. Photo courtesy of Nivetha Sundar.

    Meet Nivetha Sundar, the Fashion School Daily intern, who is a fashion journalism graduate student with a passion for celebrity gossip and all things Beatlemania.

    What brought you to the Academy?

    There was an exchange student from the Academy coming to my school in India. It was in the back of my mind ever since. I got a degree in textile design and thought that if I were to do graduate studies, it’d be here. I knew my parents wanted me to live with them and would not let me sign up. So, I went ahead and applied anyway. They only found out after I got the acceptance letter. I took a year online and now I’m happy with my decision to come to San Francisco. 

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    Meet the School of Fashion Interns: Nhu Dao


    (Right) Fashion styling major and public relations intern Nhu Dao styles a model for a shoot. Photo courtesy of Nhu Dao.

    Meet Nhu Dao, a fashion styling major and an intern with the public relations office.

    What brought you to the Academy?

    Seven years ago, I moved with my family from Vietnam to San Jose. I just assumed my parents wouldn’t approve of me studying the arts, so I was majoring in psy- chology. en I chose styling, because you can be creative with clothes, make something new out [of] something exist- ing. My family wholehearted- ly supported my decision. e transition wasn’t di cult. I think I was too well dressed to study anything else!

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