Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in San Diego, California. Both of my parents were from Mexico City, Every year they would take me to spend time with our extended family and to absorb their culture. Although I’d spend most of my time in California, I knew my heart belonged to Mexico. I like to think that I carry the spirit of its culture with me every day wherever I go.
Q2: How did you get into design? Did you see it as an opportunity for self-expression, and making a difference?
My mother was a painter and arts and crafts enthusiast. My father is a mechanical engineer. Growing up I picked up their love of making things by hand and their attention to detail. For as long as I can remember art and self-expression have been huge parts of my life. When I started high school I had my heart set on becoming an architect. Upon graduating I dove straight into architecture, where I found myself making quarter inch scale models and designing floor plans well into the early hours of the morning. I felt good in this field until I found out the harsh realities of being an architect. The idea of working on a project for months and sometimes years and not seeing it come to life killed my heart. With only one semester left to transfer to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo I decided to change majors. I knew it was the right thing to do; but a part of me felt like I had given up on my dream.
Determined to find my path again, I took a few days to reflect on my earlier years. I’d always been drawing letters, cartoon characters, or spending hours creating holiday cards. But I never really took it seriously. I always saw it as a silly hobby I’d been told I was good at. A friend of mine helped me realize that all those things happened to have one thing in common: graphic design. Without a doubt in my mind, I signed up for graphic design courses at San Diego City College where I met my amazing mentor, Candice Lopez. There I met extraordinary professors who helped hone my skills and give me the confidence I needed. After two years at SDCC it was time for my next big challenge: Art Center College of Design.
Q3: Why did you choose to study at Art Center College of Design?
Candice Lopez always spoke highly of Art Center. Her husband Rafael Lopez had gone there, her dear friend Doyald Young taught there (at the time) and many of her previous students had attended. I got in touch with several of them who were currently attending Art Center and they all had amazing things to say about the school. Then I contacted Nicola Vruwink, who invited me to come see the upcoming scholarship review to get first-hand a glimpse into the madness. I attended and knew Art Center was where I needed to be!
Q4: What was your experience at Art Center like when you started?
I was scared. I was a nervous wreck my first few terms. I started off my first term with a pretty hectic schedule that left me little to no sleep. But it got better once I started making friends with upper term students. By the end of my first term I knew I wanted to get really involved in school and get to know people outside of my major. So I joined Art Center Student Government as the Graphic Design representative, where I served for two terms. That was probably the best thing I could have done for myself. It helped me build relationships throughout the school, with students, facult and staff.
Q5: What was the most important challenge you faced? How did you overcome it?
One of the most important challenges I faced was studying abroad at our school’s Testlab Berlin, Fall of 2013. Often I end up putting so much pressure on myself to do well that I create unnecessary stress, which, as you may know can be creativity’s worst enemy. So I embarked on this journey to Berlin, a city and country I’d never been to before, with the goal of doing amazing things. I think a lot of times we take things that bring us comfort for granted; and that comfort gets tested on every level when you change your environment. I found myself lost at times in this beautiful city, with its rich history, and questioned myself daily. Was I doing good? Would my parents be proud? Where was my group project going?
That term in Berlin I learned an invaluable lesson: When in doubt, trust your process. What made this term different from others, aside from being on the other side of the world, was taking on a project with a brief that had never been executed. There weren’t any examples of past similar projects for us to pick up from to guide us. None of us knew what we were doing half of the time; and that was new to me. I learned so much about myself in this trip and grew as a person, as a thinker and as a designer. If I could go back in time and do this trip again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. This trip changed me. It challenged me on every level.
Coming back from Berlin I knew that it didn’t matter if my group had the best project or not. It wasn’t about that at all. It was about the people I’d met, the places I’d seen, the experiences I’d lived, and the things I’d learn.
Q6: An important ritual at the end of each term is the final presentation for each class. Sometimes, these presentations can be exhilarating. Is there any project that stands out?
Term 7 I took Brad Bartlett’s Type 5 class. Keep in mind that I had just come back from Berlin and thought: “If I survived Berlin, I can definitely take on Brad’s infamous class, Type 5!” I felt good. I felt ready. Weeks one through three went well; but weeks four through eleven were complete chaos. I struggled a lot to find the voice in my rebranding of San Francisco’s Exploratorium museum and felt I was falling behind every week. It finally all clicked around week eight or nine, when I took a day drip to San Francisco to visit the museum. I knew I had to experience the museum for myself in order to bring it to a good place. From then on the race to the finish line was on! I was still behind but at least I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and I ran.
I took on the challenge of learning processing and built kinetic environmental signage for my museum rebrand that moved when it sensed a human presence within its proximity. It was all moving along well, with the help of Michael Kontopoulos, until week thirteen, when the motherboard to my Arduino fried! If it wasn’t for Kontopoulos and Bruce Hubbard, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to finish it on time for week fourteen. Week fourteen came along and although things kept breaking apart the morning of my final, I was able to bring it together and have a great final presentation.
Q7: Is there a school project, that you felt particularly passionate about? Please explain why?
I think I feel that way after every term I finish. But my most recent project was Brad Bartlett’s AGS. I took on the challenge of researching and curating a 304 page book on the remarkable David Lynch. Before starting this project I didn’t know everything there was to know about Lynch but enough to keep my curiosity going. Because I had such a profound respect and admiration for Lynch; it made this project even more special and dear to me. As with almost any project, I encountered a series of highs and lows. But it was my undying passion for Lynch that led me to create a beautiful book and an interactive installation.
Q8: The Department of Graphic Design is a leader in transmedia education. Transmedia is important to us, because we believe that in order to master the present, we must explore the future. How did transmedia help you in your professional life?
Transmedia design has intimidated me and made me feel uncomfortable. It has pushed my boundaries and challenged me like no other. Transmedia has helped facilitate my work process when exploring new territory. I no longer fear it and see it as an exciting task. I know now more than anything that with any project, trust your process and stay true to it. Everything thing else will follow.
Q: How does transmedia thinking influence your creative process? Do you have an example?
Transmedia thinking is about taking an idea, however small or big, and exploring beyond your comfort zone. If at any time in your creative process you aren’t feeling uncomfortable, then you aren’t exploring deep enough. My creative process changes according to the project. But one thing that stays true is my commitment to conquering my fear of the unknown.
I don’t have a specific example of this. But I can say that ever since transmedia was introduced into my curriculum, I’ve accomplished things far beyond what I thought I could.
Q: Do you think that the structure of the curriculum has helped you learn and master the skills needed for the real world?
Definitely! I’ve heard several times that Art Center over prepares its students for the real world. I got a glimpse into the real world during my three-month internship in San Francisco and I felt it. I was challenged; but I knew I could handle it.
Q: On a personal level, what was for you the most important thing you’ve learned at Art Center?
Art Center has shaped my point of view as a person, as a thinker, and as a designer. Every experience I’ve had at Art Center—every class I’ve taken, every project I’ve completed, every professor and person I’ve met— has shaped me into the designer that I am today.
Q: What advice would you have for a student considering applying for admission? What should they know to get the best out of the Art Center experience?
Don’t be afraid to fail. There are just as many great lessons to be learned from accomplishments as there are from failures. Know that often times the higher the risk the higher the reward. Talk to everyone. Make friends with upper termers. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask about classes. Ask about teachers. Ask about projects. Don’t be afraid to branch out. Take classes that truly interest and challenge you. Make the library your second home if you can. Its the greatest place ever. It’s filled with so many gems waiting to be discovered. When researching don’t just scratch the surface: Dive deep, get lost and find those gems! It’ll set you apart from everyone else.
Q: What are you doing now?
I have not graduated yet, I’ll be graduating this term!
Q: What are your goals for the future?
Upon graduation, I plan to move back to San Francisco to work in UX design and branding. I’d like to run a studio of my own eventually but before doing that I plan on work for various companies to learn the ropes before running off on my own.
Q15: What interests you now? Is there a book, an idea, a quote, or something cool you want to share with us?
Travel interests me a lot. I love learning about different cultures and their customs. I’ve been casually reading a book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. One of my favorite things to do is to observe and understand human behavior. This book gives great insight into the life of an autistic kid and his way of thinking. It’s quite fascinatin. Ideas come in all shapes and sizes. It’s what you do with them that matters.
“Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.”
Q: Anything else you want to add about your experience at Art Center College of Design?
Get involved! Join a club. Attend events. Atudy abroad. Aake a term off. And take advantage of the awesome connections you get through our faculty and alumni. Intern before you graduate!
SURREAL DUALITY is an interactive installation showcasing David Lynch’s Early Film Explorations. A golden frame is used as a projecting surface in tribute to Lynch’s homage to one of his biggest inspirations, Francis Bacon. Lynch started off as a painter first and transitioned into film by accident when late one night working on a painting, a gust of wind moved his canvas and he saw his painting move. In that instant he thought “what if a painting could move?” hence the moving images seen within the suspended picture frame. The user is able to navigate through the films by utilizing its own shadow, creating a surreal duality. A common theme seen in Lynch’s films is seeing the protagonist be in control and at times out of control of their own character. Surreal Duality brings this concept to life, for the user to experience and for the observer to witness.
BASE is a rebrand of San Francisco’s museum The Exploratorium. With a mission to change the way the world learns, we bring you a new BASE to build upon. BASE is also an acronym for Bridging Art and Science Education.