Art Center College of Design | Pasadena, California | Learn to Create. Influence Change.

Marian Chiao

Graphic Design

7th Term

Why did you choose to attend Art Center?
I studied film at NYU briefly before returning to L.A. and finishing with a degree in fine art from USC. My undergraduate studies were so varied that I wanted to continue my education concentrating on graphic design. I chose Art Center because I knew the program would both challenge me and prepare me for a successful design career.

What is the most valuable lesson you've learned so far at Art Center?
Always push and challenge yourself—you can't rely on others to do it for you.

What do you hope to accomplish through your work?
I believe Paul Rand said it best: “Design is a problem-solving activity.” I usually keep my solutions simple, looking for the clearest communication. I want my work to be interesting and intelligent, and hopefully, it provokes something in those who see it.

Describe a memorable project and the creative process involved—from conception to ideation to production. What were the obstacles, results, etc?
In my fifth term, I had an advanced graphics studio with Clive Piercy. For the first assignment, a poster series for an event, I chose to design four posters for the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. The design process went relatively smoothly, from concept and sketches to design explorations and final art. I ended up finishing around mid-term so I felt like I was in a good place. That same term, I was taking printmaking with Anthony Zepeda, so I decided I to silkscreen my posters. Each poster was 24x36”, and five colors, which meant five separate screens for each poster. I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I realized the screens were too big for me to pull alone, so I ended up needing a lot of help. By the end of the term, I only had two of the four posters completed, and ended up going back to my original plan of having all four posters printed as oversize inkjet prints. But, I can now honestly say, I truly appreciate silk screening.

What's the most challenging aspect of studying art and design?
Art and design can be quite subjective and personal, which makes it difficult to separate yourself from your work. It's also a challenge to come up with something original, especially when everything has been done already.

Have you joined any student organizations or taken part in campus activities since becoming an Art Center student?
I try to attend the lecture series events because there are always great guest speakers. Hearing the experiences and perspectives of designers like Paula Scher, David Droga and Marian Bantjes has been very inspiring.

Chiao graduated from Art Center in 2009.

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