Teaching Surface Design at Art Center
I feel so lucky to be able to teach what I love and share my passion for design. Monday nights this fall I taught “Introduction to Surface Design” at Art Center in Pasadena. It is a part of their “Art Center at Night” program (which is their continuing education program). I have taught there previously in the summer exchange program and really enjoy teaching there. I especially loved this class as the students were very engaged and extremely creative. They had varied artistic backgrounds with very different point of views like a former motion graphics designer with serious watercolor skills to a greeting card designer who draws whimsical illustrations to a gallery assistant with a refined fine art background. They all enrolled to learn more about how to be a surface designer, how to develop a collection, put together a presentation and initiate their design portfolio in their art style. Everyone embraced the lessons and homework and turned in well-thought-out, conceptual work. They did an amazing job and made this girl proud – Boom!
The first week of class I educated the students about the world of surface design and had them write 1-pagers on two designers they researched. They discovered designers such as Rebecca Atwood and Mindinara and each presented their findings to the class. They said it helped them to really understand the profession of surface design and I was so glad to hear that – it’s exactly what I was hoping and it helped to get their engines going. After the research project, we dove into the anatomy of a collection, how to make repeats in Illustrator, how to make moodboards, pick a color palette and start a collection. I rounded the class up and had a field trip to Old Town Pasadena’s shopping district to inspiration shop. We cruised the boutiques and major retailers to identify current trends, see products that inspire them and their work, locate surface designer’s work and find products that license art. We all agreed it was so refreshing to get out of the classroom, hang out together and see design in the wild. Everyone saw items that they cheerfully identified with and inspired them. It was a fun day. Here are a couple photos I took of items that inspired me.The students continued to make several inspiring collections in our 13 weeks together. I loved seeing their progress and getting their feedback per assignment. It was interesting to hear from each student that they had no idea how difficult it was to make a collection. I agree that it isn’t easy at first but you definitely get the hang of it and get hooked! They each had their own challenges but with each project got more and more comfortable. For every project I encouraged them to work in their style whether it was by hand or digital and to reach out to me if they needed assistance. By the end they were all critiquing their earlier designs, revising their work and turning in stunning collections.
For their final project I gave them complete free rein where they were able to design a collection in the theme of their choice. They showed me they were now pros and finished strong. Here are some highlights from our final critique. You can see it in action too! Watch a segment of the critique on my Periscope here!
Isn’t this so imaginative? Any ninja-loving little one would go bananas over this. The mock-ups of the bedding, the paintings and the limited color palette blew me away.How adorable and conceptual are these illustrations? I can see this developed across several product categories. My student, Winter, challenged herself using 3 colors to make this holiday collection. We knew it was creatively ambitious and boy did she deliver! It came out really lovely.
What an elegant holiday pattern in these unconventional but gorgeous colors. Her watercolor technique slays!Spoonflower provided the class with a scholarship that paid for free fabric swatches. They students were so excited to make fabric from their designs! I was too!
Seeing the students’ progress, their faces light up when they started to understand things and really get excited about their work was so gratifying to me. I urged them to keep designing and will really miss this talented bunch (we are missing Paige in the photo – Hi Paige!).