Guest Post: Pratt & Fashion Design

It’s fashion show season at art and design colleges across the country. So what’s it like on the inside? I asked Pratt junior Landry Low to give us her perspective.

DSC_0063 -a close upOne of the biggest benefits to going to school in Brooklyn is the fact that I am in one of the major creative hubs, not just in the United States, but also around the world. We have everything at our fingertips – between our close proximity to the other four boroughs and what is available in our own backyard.

I live on the first floor of a brownstone apartment, a short 15-minute walk down the street from Pratt Institute. My roommate, originally from Barbados, is a communications design major (focusing on graphic design). We walk to school together most days, always commenting on how lucky we are to be in such a beautiful neighborhood with a diverse community, rich with culture. Our campus itself is a sort of oasis in the city – complete with expansive lawns, scattered with a constantly changing collection of sculptures. As an Arizona native, I have a special appreciation for the nature on our campus (as most of the nature I’m used to only comes in shades of brown). Whether its tulips and cherry blossom trees in the spring or the colorful foliage of the changing leaves in the fall, our campus is a showcase for the natural beauty that the East Coast has to offer.

I usually try to get to campus a bit early to eat breakfast on the lawn with my friends and cats (we have 16 cats393634_4324009334870_272715025_n -a that live on campus!). Most of my classes start at 9:30 and each meets once a week for a three-, four-, or six-hour time block (with a lunch break splitting up the 6 hour classes). I typically stack my days so that I have two-to-three classes a day, which opens up the rest of my schedule for work. Through work-study I work as a campus tour guide in admissions and as a shop technician in the metal shop.

My favorite day of the week is Tuesday, as that is when I take my six-hour Shape & Form class (a construction based class that is taught in conjunction with our design class). Every other week during spring semester, our department brings in professional fit models for us to fit looks on from our junior thesis collection. This is in 1000896_10201399309767694_1501697596_n -apreparation for senior year, when we’ll spend both semesters developing, creating, fitting, and presenting a final thesis collection. Our entire class is involved in the process – we take photos, videos, and notes for each other, allowing us all to participate, collaborate, and communicate our ideas not just visually, but verbally as well.

As a junior Fashion Design major, I take a four-hour design studio class (Fashion Design), a six-hour construction class (Shape & Form), as well as another four-hour design class (this semester it’s Cut & Sew Knitwear). DSC_0715 - aAfter that, I am free to apply my remaining credits to two liberals arts classes of my choosing, still leaving room for another elective which I can take from any department in the school. I have taken classes in all different areas including Metal Fabrication, Welding & Forge, Intro to Electronics, Woodworking, Perception and Creativity, and Astronomy. One of the best parts about going to a school like Pratt is that I have the opportunity to learn a variety of skills that allow me to create complex cross-disciplinary work. Not only does my own work improve through the implementation of various skills, but I also find that my work has grown dramatically through the collaborative work that I have done with students in other majors as well as in my abroad studies.

Drop me a line if you’re interested in posting about your favorite college art program.
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Which Animation Program Is Best For You?

Does location matter?animation - bart simpson

In this case it might. The 2014 list of top Animation college programs is out from Animation Career Review (ANC). Coming as no surprise, those at the top of the list represent some of the best art and design colleges in the country. And, three of the top five are in California. Why, you may ask? The answer is Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks.

For many designers and fine artists, college location may not play a significant role in your future career. Companies recruit graduates from across town and around the globe today, so students have flexibility. However, as you narrow down your college search, considering proximity to future jobs isn’t a bad idea either. Studying and learning in a geographic environment with accessibility to numerous professionals working in your field will provide added value. Having a high concentration of internships, networking opportunities and potential jobs in your backyard can only prove beneficial to your future.

animation - disneys frozen2ANC’s top five programs include:

Cal Arts
USC
SCAD
RISD
UCLA

I have to add that while researching this topic further I found a 2013 ranking of top employers by Fortune Magazine. To my knowledge, Fortune hasn’t published a 2014 ranking yet, but I thought this was worthwhile to share, especially since it highlights Dreamworks Animation studio.

 

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Why Art History?

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse

Art and design are all about doing. Creating, building, drawing, painting, sculpting; you get the picture. Sometimes we forget that an important aspect of creating something new relies on understanding something old; something that others have created before us. It could have been designed last month or constructed two centuries ago. The age doesn’t matter; it all adds value.

Just like today’s artists, those of the past depicted the world as they knew it, they brought new ideas to the public’s attention, and they broke new ground. Through their dedication, they’ve enriched today’s broader understanding of varied perspectives and viewpoints. And perhaps unconsciously, they are guiding and influencing today’s and tomorrow’s artists.

If your passion is to understand the indigenous peoples of Pre-Columbia or the natural beauty of the world as depicted during the Renaissance, you’re not alone. There are a number of excellent art and design history programs to help you explore and comprehend a specific time or place, or to provide you with a broad understanding of artistic influences across a wide time period.

Chinese statues, Chin Dynasty

Chinese statues, Chin Dynasty

The study of Art History typically incorporates theory and criticism, as well as archeology, conservation, and museum studies. Period-relevant cultural and social contexts are examined, and many programs integrate studio work for an additional hands-on perspective. Apprenticeships and internships in galleries, museums, or educational settings are encouraged for a comprehensive understanding of potential career opportunities. Study abroad experiences add even more depth.

According to SnaapShot 2012, an annual online survey by the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, the top career paths for art history majors include education and training, library services, curatorial and museum/gallery work. Careers in publishing, grant writing, and auction houses are also common.

Where do you begin your search? Try some of these colleges:

Most institutions offer a BA, but some provide the opportunity for a BFA as well. Minors are common for those wanting to add value their studio focus. If for no other reason, I’d suggest taking art history courses just to give you a different perspective. They’ll enhance your life, and work. Among those I’ve taken, the one on indigenous peoples of Indonesia and Africa fascinated me, and forever changed my life… in a good way.

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In A Buckeye State of Mind

Student work - Department of Art 3-D Foundation course

Student work – Department of Art 3-D Foundation course

For many, searching for the right college begins with the question “art college or university?” The two choices lead to very different college experiences. And, true confessions here: I attended a state school and came away with an exceptional education. (Thank you, U Dub!) Unfortunately, I don’t live in Washington anymore, but Ohio offers some outstanding opportunities as well.

The Ohio State University (OSU) is one of the largest land-grant, research universities in the country. I thought they only did “big” in Texas, but OSU proves that theory wrong. Think 49,000+ undergraduate students, ½ million alumni, and 175 majors. Those numbers translate into significant opportunities and support for the Departments of Art, Arts Administration, Design, and Art History.

I’ve had the chance to tour both the Art and Design Departments, and I came away impressed. You won’t need a portfolio to gain acceptance into the university. However, you’ll need one for acceptance into one of the 10 majors these two departments provide. With guidance from professors and your foundation classes you’ll create one during freshman year (Design) and your sophomore year (Art) to compete for acceptance into your major of choice.

Industrial Design class

Industrial Design class

The two departments reside in buildings adjacent to each other, providing plenty of opportunity for cross-pollination. Both are competitive to gain entry. Only 80 students are accepted into the Department of Design’s Pre-Design program, which is narrowed down to 54 after freshman year. That equates to 18 new students each year joining one of three majors; Industrial Design, Interior Design, or Visual Communications. The end result is small classes with highly motivated students who graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Design, and excellent career opportunities.

The Department of Art is slightly larger but no less competitive. Students complete five foundation courses before gaining acceptance into the rigorous and challenging program. Those admitted earn a BFA in Art and Technology, Ceramics, Glass, Painting and Drawing, Photography, Printmaking, or Sculpture in a traditional studio environment. Also available is a Bachelor of Arts in Art, a more general degree for students wanting a career related to the arts.

Internships are highly encouraged, especially following sophomore year when students have more confidence in their skills. Study abroad opportunities are also encouraged, providing the chance to learn from other cultures and gain an international perspective.

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Design Thinking: In The Classroom

design thinkingWhich colleges are integrating Design Thinking into their undergraduate Industrial Design (ID) programs?

Here’s one: The Methods of Design Research at Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) was offered this past fall semester for ID sophomores. Paired with a spring semester studio class, the two courses combine to help students grasp the strategic rationale behind the design of a product and the process required to get to that rationale, in order to design a more successful product. “The goal is to simulate a real-world project scenario that incorporates insights, strategy, and then design,” explained John Youger, Director of Insights and Strategy at WD Partners and CCAD Adjunct Professor. 

Last semester’s project: design a future gas station, something that will exist 5 – 10 years from now. The process includes understanding and defining the challenge, generating ideas, and conducting research, followed by prototyping and testing. The night I sat in on the class had students flushing through their methods for gathering their primary and secondary research.

As if responding to a real-world RFP, students considered myriad details including vehicles of the future, fuel types, technology, and spatial layout of a gas station. They also dialogued over how to conduct their primary research (teams of 2 – 3 were formed), and discussed the market groups that will feel the impact of a design change; consumers, employees, and stakeholders. Finally, they planned for the presentations of their findings.

Excerpt from Alice Smejkalova's research presentation

Excerpt from Alice Smejkalova’s research presentation

End of semester results and presentations for this collaborative group were impressive. Now, engaged in their studio courses, the same students are focusing on the impact their research has made on their design choices, and will have on the look and feel of their future fuel stations.

Their research and the process they utilized to obtain it have provided them with the tools to create good future design decisions, in class and throughout their careers. The process can be repeated and utilized to solve project after project. If ID is on your radar, inquire at other colleges. Ask how they integrate design thinking into their processes. For me, I can’t wait to see what the end of this semester brings.

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