Beyond the classroom, Art Center has been helping to funnel funding into our community's creative endeavors. The College teamed up with Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding platform, and in 2012 launched a curated page where Art Center students, faculty and alumni can find backers for their projects.
Kickstarter’s invite-only curated pages allow organizations—including YouTube, TED Fellows and Sundance Institute—to highlight projects for potential backers to browse, all in one place.
“Our Kickstarter page shows the diverse and innovative work of our Art Center community,” says Alumni Relations
Director Kristine Bowne, who helped lead the Kickstarter collaboration. “It’s a very powerful platform to both share these projects and support great ideas getting funded.”
So far, more than 45 ventures, mostly student-led, featured on Art Center’s page have raised nearly $1.5 million. Additionally, acclaimed designer and entrepreneur, alumnus Yves Béhar PROD 91, recently raised $8.5 million through Kickstarter for Ouya, an Android-powered game console.
Other successfully funded projects, some of which are already for sale, include alumna Christine Park’s PROD 08 PadPivot, a tablet stand that fits in your pocket, and Portals, a pair of boxes crafted by Media Design student Jayne Vidheecharoen that allow users to interact both physically and virtually.
In 2011, Gabriel Wartofsky TRAN 09 raised nearly $26,000 on Kickstarter for Conscious Commuter, a company he launched to produce the folding electric bike he designed while studying at Art Center.
Wartofsky and serial entrepreneur Bob Vander Woude co-founded Conscious Commuter Corporation in Portland, Ore. Art Center’s Executive Director of Graduate Transportation Design Geoff Wardle soon joined the advisory board.
“The best part of Kickstarter is that it allows everyone who wants to, to be involved,” says Wartofsky. “But to make it work, it’s got to be a passion project. Everyone [at Art Center] has a passion.”
Art Center is continuing to take creativity outside the classroom. In partnership with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the College has just launched The Design Accelerator, a 12-week immersive program for five selected startup teams with the goal of turning creative ideas into viable, funded companies.
“The Design Accelerator is unique among Los Angeles incubators in its focus on design-driven entrepreneurship and in the collaboration between design and technology, represented by two of the world’s top schools in these fields,” says Mark Breitenberg, Art Center’s special assistant to the President.
The Design Accelerator provides teams with seed capital and with professional mentors drawn from the faculty of Art Center and Caltech and from the local business community. The fledgling companies are housed in the Pasadena-based tech incubator Idealab, whose CEO Bill Gross sits on the boards of both schools.
“The work our students produce in courses like Creative Strategies has so much potential in the marketplace, but too often ends up just sitting in the portfolio. The Design Accelerator will give students and alumni yet another vital platform to get their creativity out of their portfolios and into the world of startups,” says Hofmann, who serves on The Design Accelerator advisory board. “This new initiative will allow us to turn creativity into actual companies. Platforms like Kickstarter and our DOT Launch entrepreneurship program are enabling our students to take their ideas directly to market and perhaps launch their own businesses.”
Faculty Commons: Raising the bar for art and design education in the 21st century
It takes a village to educate the next generation of artists and designers. With that in mind, more than 70 faculty members from all departments pooled their resources and approaches to understand how best to support Art Center students.
Faculty Commons, which hosted its first “Summit on Teaching and Learning” last October, offers instructors a series of professional development and research opportunities, as well as common ground to share campus resources and practical teaching approaches.
“The Commons allows faculty to develop a sense of community and share in the collective wisdom of the many, many smart and talented people who teach at Art Center,” says Sean Donahue GMDP 02, who teaches Graduate Media Design, Graphic Design and Humanities and Sciences classes at the College. “The goal is to engage the challenges and opportunities of art and design practice in this new century by supporting and initiating resources, efforts and events that directly contribute to instructors’ intellectual and classroom efforts.”
The next summit is slated for fall, with a series of faculty workshops and events sprinkled throughout the coming months.
Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman has personally encouraged the development of the Faculty Commons. “We are blessed with a group of gifted and talented faculty who collectively hold enormous knowledge capital, not only in what we teach but how we teach, and tapping into that is critical for an institution like ours committed to the highest level of learning and discovery. Through the Commons, faculty gain from a deep engagement with each other and, as one of the world’s leading art and design schools, we raise the bar for the entire field.”
Visit accdfacultycommons.com for more information.