Archive for 'May 2017'

    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

    Careflight Doc Freeze Frame.tif

    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"

    Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 2.24.04 PM

    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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    Uncomfortable Truths Bubble to the Surface in Funny, Poignant 'Detroit'


    (L–R) Renee Rogoff , Greg Snyder, Roman Reyes, Jessie Rankin and Bill Davis. Photo by Bob Toy.

    Steaks and burgers weren’t the only things cooking at the backyard barbeques that brought two very different couples together in the School of Acting’s recent production of 'Detroit.' Uncomfortable truths about each couple and individual simmered just below the surface, and eventually reached a boiling point, as the play unfolded before audiences at 620 Sutter Street Theatre.

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    Alumnus Leans on Academy-Learned Skills for 'The First Volunteers'

    Academy of Art University alumnus Fred Charles took a number of detours in his quest to become an actor. During his years at the Academy, he jumped around between different departments. After starting as an acting major, he switched to communications. He also did a stint in screenwriting. In addition, Charles took time off from his studies to go to China to form an American-Chinese co-production company before returning to the Academy as an online student and earning his degree in 2014. In hindsight, he realizes that venturing down different paths helped him expand his skills and grow as an actor.

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