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

Thomas “Sho” Rust


What was your background prior to Art Center?
My mother is Japanese and my father is Anglo-Saxon. I grew up attending Osaka International School in Japan. The majority of my art development prior to Art Center happened as a merit-scholar at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan.

How/why did you choose Art Center?
After visiting some of the top colleges around the U.S. I was convinced that Art Center was the best institution in which I can learn and grow.

Describe your most gratifying collaboration with a faculty member or another student.
The most gratifying collaboration experience was with a good friend, fellow student, and mentor Daniel Young. We were able to complement the other’s strengths and weaknesses which resulted in rewarding projects.

How has Art Center changed your worldview and/or creative sensibility?
Through the process of learning, I have gained a renewed sense of purpose as a designer. I have a better awareness as a citizen and actively make decisions that have a positive impact. Art Center instruction has given me the skills and confidence to: start an eco-friendly sportswear company called Rareform; work with Nike on research and design work involving eco-friendly practice; work for five different non-profit companies including SBCC, FBB, Aeras, IBEW, Make America; work as a Designmatters fellow at the United Nations Population Fund in New York City.

What are some of the most valuable practical tools and skills you’ve acquired here?
Beyond a foundation in design, I have grown to become a better critical thinker, problem solver while practicing a more adaptive process.

What advice would you give to prospective Art Center students?
Approach each opportunity with a strong understanding of who you are and the path that best gets you to where you want to be. Always push yourself to learn more, tying practical experience with classroom instruction. Remain purposeful and always engage in lively conversation and self-critique with focus and determination. This has always opened opportunities.

What are some of the most unexpected/interesting aspects to your experience at Art Center outside the classroom?
I interned at B-Reel (www.b-reel.com) recently named the top creative production house in the United States and the non-profit Wondros (www.wondros), where I was exposed to some of the best talents in the industry. Since then, I have freelanced continuously for both companies. Project clients include: Google, Yahoo, Marvel, Acura, Intel, and Toshiba. I was selected to become a Designmatters fellow at the United Nations Population Fund. I co-founded two new companies - one of which,  RAREFORM, is sold in stores internationally including Patagonia, and Sports Chalet. www.rareform.com.

Describe a memorable project, from conception to ideation to production
While at B-Reel, I created a logo [ webplatform ] for Google. My pitch deck was sent along with multiple pitch decks from the top identity companies in the world. My deck was selected among designers I have always admired. As a young designer, it was an honor and validation for my work.

Who are your biggest creative influences?
Doyald Young, Elon Musk, Paul David Hewson, Daniel Young and My Father, who has always been my role model, as a creative, father and human being.

Tell us something about yourself people might find surprising.
Growing up I was an active bass guitarist. I played in classical, jazz, and rock. I attended Rock School where I was in the performing all-star band.

How do you hope to change the world through your work?
Add beauty and clarity.

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