When poetry and angst meet

By , April 21, 2014 5:22 pm
What happens when poetry, artistic talent and biographical angst meet in Prof. John Nickle’s fifth semester Illustration class? One example is Rebekie Bennington’s mind explosive self-portrait, suggestive of the “agony of sensual chisels,” “lilac shrieks” and the “scarlet bellowings” of E.E. Cummings’ poem “My mind is.” The poem ” says Bennington, “makes references to color and explores how art can be used as a vehicle for self-discovery, something I very much relate to.”
Self Portrait by Rebekie Bennington

“My Mind Is” self-portrait by Rebekie Bennington

For Nickle’s Materials and Techniques class assignment, students were to apply classical painting techniques to a contemporary treatment of a portrait using acrylic paint.

“I like the raw energy and rough texture of Rebekie’s mixed media self-portrait,” says Nickle. “It gets at the heart of the E.E. Cumming’s poem. Rebekie is an accomplished cartoonist and usually works in a very different, elegant but more detached style. This shows that she has artistic range.”

"Drug Bath" by Rebekie Bennington

“Drug Bath” by Rebekie Bennington

Bennington had previously been crafting what she calls “tight, reference-based paintings,” such at “Death Bath,” also a vibrantly colored acrylic. It’s message is very direct. “It is an exploration,” says Bennington, “into the dangerous self indulgence of drug addiction.” 

 Her self-portrait was a return to mixed media. “I began by gluing down torn paper and then attacking the canvas with acrylic paints and colored pencils. I found old sketches to incorporate into the piece,” she says.

 

my mind is
a big hunk of irrevocable nothing which touch and
taste and smell and hearing and sight keep hitting and
chipping with sharp fatal tools
in an agony of sensual chisels i perform squirms of
chrome and execute strides of cobalt
nevertheless i
feel that i cleverly am being altered that i slightly am
becoming something a little different, in fact
myself
Hereupon helpless i utter lilac shrieks and scarlet
bellowings.

—E. E. Cummings, from “Portraits, VII,” in “E. E. Cummings: The Complete Poems”

The grandeur of Maggie Norris’ couture Easter egg

By , April 14, 2014 6:02 pm

If anyone could design a couture Easter egg, it’s New Orleans born Maggie Norris. Maggie’s Rosebud Corset Egg (giant, bejeweled, and red velvet covered), is inspired by Peter Carl Fabergé’s Imperial Rosebud Egg. There’s no downside as suffered by Fabergé’s last royal customer, Tsar Nicholas II. Maggie’s egg will in fact, benefit two charities.

Watch here the hatching of Maggie’s egg. The event is a component of Fabergé’s Big Egg Hunt.

Maggie, who served as a guest judge for last year’s senior fashion show, was an inspired choice for the Fabergé event. A couture designer as well as an event coordinator, she has given her egg design classy treatment, and along the way garnered publicity for the charities, Studio in a School and The Elephant Family.

Maggie Norris with her freshly hatched couture egg

Maggie Norris (above) giving a sweet kiss to her freshly hatched egg. Her work, egg #040, is doing well. So far, bids for it have reached $500.

Illustrated by Anna Kiper

Illustrated by FIT Professor Anna Kiper

Follow the auction of Maggie’s couture egg here: Rosebud Corset Egg.

 

Students Join Mashable.com Vine Challenge

By , April 12, 2014 12:45 pm

Mashable.com’s weekly Vine Challenge produces a frenzy of infectious animation snippets on topics like creepy fantasy creatures, Jack-O-Lanterns, playing with food, and talking cars.  The more sophomoric the topic, often the more sophisticated the response in the form of six-second animated, blooper style shorts. Illustration students easily met the time limit to demonstrate: how a burger eats itself, the crush of a dinosaur, and a monster’s phobia of butterflies–a  condition called lepidopterophobia.

“Crushed” by Ella Fastiggi

On April 2, Mashable.com’s creative producer Jeff Petriello and company animators visited Prof. Dan Shefelman’s Illustrator Mentor Special Projects class to discuss Vine initiatives and work with students.

“Burger Monster” by Lauren French

“Vine is a smartphone video app. It’s used as a short-form animation tool,” says Shefelman. Vines (6-second videos) at their best can be particularly intriguing to illustration junkies and their geeky followers. 

“Lepidopterophobia” by Chelsea Morano

“Mashable is interested in student illustrators making Vines,” says Shefelman. “The bigger picture is that Vines are so user- engaging that including them increases the engagement among their own followers. Petriello is an early adopter of all social media because it engages Mashable users.”

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Chelsea Morano creating a monster with lepidopterophobia

“Vines are compared to Tweets. Nobody thought at first that messages limited to 140 characters would be useful, nor does everyone think six second videos are useful. At their best however, they are engaging indeed, and FIT students nailed it,” says Steve Ross, editor of Broadband Communities magazine. His publication serves the industry that makes the bandwidth for this stuff possible.

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Chelsea Morano animating a monster’s phobia

The Snapchat app allows you to draw pictures on your cellphone or tablet (see above) and share the results with friends. To experience more, download Vine on your smartphone and search for #creaturecrawl.

“A Horror Story” by Grace Batista

But not all apps are for everyone. “There’s nothing I could video for six seconds that anyone would want to see,” says fabric design student Ashley Ray.  ”Who wants to see you and your friends running through the streets screaming?”  But someday fabric designs may be animated with six second videos while people wear them.

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Lauren French animating her burger

But the trend is going strong. Out of weekly Vine challenges come Vine celebrities and the promise of a big payday. “The students were happy to hear that animators are being paid five figures to make Vines,” says Shefelman.

 

Portrait of Christine: not overdoing the details

By , April 4, 2014 5:30 pm
It’s so well executed: the bright-eyed sideward gaze and razor thin eyebrows. Teal-colored nails the right degree garish. A hidden expression behind a fantasy novel and an overall noir feel. “It was a process of learning when to stop, so as not to overdo certain details,” says Hiu Lim of her “Portrait of Christine,” created in Prof. John Nickle’s fifth semester illustration class.
Hiu Lim's "Portrait of Christine"

Hiu Lim’s “Portrait of Christine”

Part of Lim’s process was to create a grisaille, a painting executed almost entirely in monochrome. “It was very helpful in establishing the values and the overall warmth of the piece,” she says. “The undertone helped bring a brightness to some parts of the skin and clothes.” 

“Portrait of Christine” is on display on the third floor of the Pomerantz building. “I first saw Hiu’s work in the second semester and I am quite impressed by her growth as a painter,” says Prof. Nickle. “In just the fifth semester she is painting at a very high skill level.”

Says Lim “The painting was really a great learning experience.”

The masters reloaded

By , April 2, 2014 5:51 pm

Holding a teddy bear hostage while flaunting an arcade machine gun and goggles may be a geek’s mojo. It’s also a characterization of video game-obsessive Hyoung, a close friend of student illustrator Giancarlo Alicea. “Hyoung has a vivid imagination and a wry wit.  He’s a happy guy who is also serious and driven,” says Alicea who sought classical means to capture his friend’s duality.

Giancarlo Alicea

Giancarlo Alicea’s “Hyoung Uncommon”

“Hyoung Uncommon” was a product of “classical portraits re-imagined,” Prof. John Nickle’s assignment for a fifth semester illustration class. Students applied classical painting techniques and a “contemporary spin,” to an acrylic painting. It struck Alicea as an opportunity “to make a post-apocalyptic video game character seem magnanimous.”

Alicea chose a pharaonic pose and an undefined background, so that the focus would remain on his subject — a trick of the old masters. “The lack of extraneous detail helped focus the piece.” 

Says Prof. Nickle, ”The portrait of Hyoung is both sensitive and comical.”

Giancarlo Alicea's Initial rough sketch

Giancarlo Alicea’s Initial rough sketch of “Hyoung Uncommon”

Alicea completed an early drawing, “mapping the value relationships and figuring out composition.” He then worked on an “in-progress monotone painting,” a technique “of painting in values first in order to glaze in colors on top. It helps give the final painting good luminosity.”

Monotone underpainting before color glazes are applied

Monotone underpainting of “Hyoung Uncommon” before color glazes are applied

“I love seeing the sketch with the finish to reveal some of his process,” says Prof. Nickle. “Giancarlo made constant revisions to the finished painting, which continued even after the semester ended.”

From the earliest concepts to the actual painting, says Alicea, “Prof. Nickle was a source of wisdom and support. Without his help I wouldn’t have had ‘Hyoung Uncommon’ in my portfolio.”

Vanishing Ethiopian Tribes

By , March 21, 2014 3:39 pm

In January 2014 Trupal Pandya and Alexander Papakonstadinou, 4th semester photography students, traveled to Ethiopia to document the vanishing tribes of the Omo Valley. The tribes’ way of life is already stressed by hunting restrictions (tourists can hunt game, tribal members cannot). Soon a new dam will flood the valley as well.

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“I was working with Magnum photographer Steve McCurry, who does a lot of trips to Omo Valley,” says Trupal. “He had just come back from Ethiopia. I was looking through his pictures and found them inspiring. That’s when I decided to document the tribes in my own style. I wanted to bring studio lighting to the remote areas of the Omo Valley to create modern-style portraits.

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A young man on the day before the bull-jumping ceremony. Photo: Trupal Pandya

“We found that the way the tribes dressed, and their lifestyle, is still traditional. Visually the tribe members were very beautiful to us. We wanted to document that before it vanished. It is already under stress from globalization and development. Dress is changing, customs dying.”

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In a rite of passage, a boy jumps over the backs of cows. Photo: Trupal Pandya

“Every time the strobe went off the people thought that it was draining their blood and made them uncomfortable, so it was a difficult thing to do,” says Trupal.

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Photo: Alexander Papakonstadinou

Alexander shot in a completely different style, black and white 35 mm film. “My way of shooting was more documentary. What’s happening in their everyday life, capturing their expressions without them knowing, focusing on details, finding patterns. It helped me realize how uncluttered their life is. There’s no materialistic pleasure. It’s peaceful.”

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Photo: Alexander Papakonstadinou

Trupal and Alexander spent 10 days travelling within the valley and had the chance to reside with some of the tribes, which brought them closer to the culture.

“We were really lucky to find the right fixer who gave us access to these tribes,” Trupal says. “We took huge sacks of coffee or corn whenever we went to a tribe so they would let us stay. Sometimes it was money, sometimes clothes, sometimes food. It was always a bartered thing.”

They visited the Benna, Mursi, Hamar, Arbore, and Ari tribes. “Our tents were right next to their huts,” says Alexander. “We ate the same food. We exchanged food. We gave them canned food in exchange for their local chicken and lamb. They didn’t like the canned food of course.”

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A Hamar hut made from thatch, river reed, branches & sticks.  Photo:Trupal Pandya

“We had a lot of mentoring,” said Trupal. “Our professors really inspired us to do something out of the ordinary.”  Alexander and Trupal credit Ron Amato, Jessica Wynne, Brad Paris, Max Hilaire, Brian Emery “and all other faculty who played a role.”

The students showed tribal members some of the photographs they took; for some it was the first time they were seeing themselves in a digital form. They are planning to go back to the Omo Valley with the prints with a touring exhibit in their villages. “I’m planning on doing this with tribes of India as well” says Trupal, who grew up in Gujarat.

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Photo: Alexander Papakonstadinou

From now to the 4th of April some 40 of their photographs are in exhibit at the Marvin Feldman Center, Fashion Institute of Technology (C Lobby). There is a sense of regality to them. And that beauty in its natural form is what they want to show the world.

Trupal and Alex will be there to talk about their photos on the 25th of March from 6 pm onward.

Opening: Trupal Pandya & Alexander Papakonstadinou “Vanishing Tribes of the Omo Valley” photos in FIT C lobby, March 21 – April 4

 

photos used with permission

Albrink and Arnold’s art of matchmaking

By , March 11, 2014 3:18 pm

No one knows what a couple might be thinking in a classical painting. But we sure know what their artful counterparts are thinking in Lynn Albrink and Laura Arnold’s modern replicas for their Match.com ad campaign. It’s something like “I really like this girl. How do I get her to the altar?” Or, “He’s hot. I’m so lucky I could pinch myself.”

Jan van Eyck "The Arnolfini Portrait"

Ad based on Jan van Eyck “The Arnolfini Portrait”

“It’s about finding your perfect match to show that dating and even the experience of finding ‘the one’ can be fun,” says graphic design student Lynn Albrink.

The project grew from a Fine Art’s-related assignment: go to a museum, find an artwork you like, and create an ad.

When Albrink and Arnold saw René Magritte’s surrealist painting of raining men, they had an idea. It could be reworked to represent a single woman watching men pour out of the sky. Such easy picking! And a perfect metaphor for an abundance of eligible men one might hope to find on match.com

Ad based on Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte’s “Raining Men”

Ad based on Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte’s “Golconda”

Albrink and Arnold continued with their match.com theme for the next assignment in Professor Frank Csoka’s Foundation in Advertising Design class. “We used the same idea to create an entire campaign for match.com,” says Advertising Design student Arnold.

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Ad based on Jean Honoré Fragonard’s “Girl on the Swing”

They weren’t the only ones enjoying themselves. “It was an amazing and interesting experience working with Lynn and Laura on the ‘Girl on the Swing’ ad,” says Annie Yang who modeled for the ad. “It’s funny when I picture how I had to sit on a cooler while holding one chopstick in each hand. They even threaded a string through my black dress and pulled it back to give it the effect of movement.”

Professor Csoka oversaw the ad campaign with great enthusiasm.”There are so many works of art with couples, the thought was that this campaign could go on forever.”

Ad based on Jack Vettriano's "Singing Butler"

Ad based on Jack Vettriano’s “Singing Butler”

The complete project, with photos and details of how the project was completed, is in the 5th floor hallway between the D and E buildings.

Albrink and Arnold from  Rheine, Germany and Innsbruck, Austria respectively, met in class last semester. They are currently working on another project together and talking about starting a business after a few years of industry experience.

To see photos of the progression of the match.com campaign and other works they created together go to: lala design on Behance

 

Reach for the sun with Professor V

By , February 18, 2014 5:05 pm

Arriving at the topsy-turvy carnival spin and colors for her “Solar Spin” photograph is part of a process Prof. Vanessa Velez DeGarcia has tested for years. “The technique is called digital solarization and I do it in Adobe Lightroom,” says the photography professor whose work was in the “New Views” Art & Design faculty exhibit.

Solar Spin by Vanessa Velez DeGarcia
“Solar Spin” by Vanessa Velez DeGarcia

Solarization was popularized by surrealist photographer Man Ray. According to Practical Photoshop Magazine, Ray’s “darkroom assistant Lee Miller accidentally turned the light on while a print was in the developer. The quirky results saw a partial reversal of the tones in the image.”

Professor V, as her students call her, now applies solarization digitally. What’s better, it’s incorporated into her Digital Darkroom course, offered in the Photography Certificate program. “I usually teach it when we begin to explore the tonal curves panel in the software,” she says.

Velez DeGarcia is a native New Yorker. “Solar Spin,” taken at Coney Island’s Luna Park, is part of a series.

“Yes, I was born in New York City. My mom and I lived in Washington Heights until I was nine years old. After graduating college I moved back and now live in Brooklyn. I love New York City. I just wish my parents were here too.”

Professor V has also taught Photography Basics and Saturday portrait photography and Photoshop courses.  To see her portrait photography go to: VeesVision.com

 

To Russia with Love

By , February 11, 2014 8:01 pm

Most preoccupations FIT students have with snow and ice have to do with deciding how many layers to wear or blankets to pile on at night. But three Visual Presentation & Exhibition Design students found a way to send their support to the Olympic community. Here are three of their windows on Sochi with rainbow motifs.

Audrey Guadagnoli

Audrey Guadagnoli

A three-member Sochi window team formed in Prof. Peter-Tolin Baker’s freshmen exhibition design class. It included: Audrey Guadagnoli, Lilli Risler and Madelaine Auble.

“The assignment was to create three window designs central to a holiday pop theme,” says Prof. Baker. Each model is 15″ x 29″. “The challenge was blending a popular culture reference into a holiday winter-themed window,” he said.

“We had a hard time at first coming up with a pop culture reference,” says Audrey.

“We didn’t want to take it too literally. We also didn’t want to do anything too ‘holiday’ because everyone would be doing that,” says Lilli.

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“Passing it on to you…Equality is in Your Hands”  Lilli Risler

One night Audrey saw a commercial for the Winter Olympics. “It’s celebrated around the world. It stood out. We talked about it in class and our teacher mentioned the gay rights controversy. It added another layer to our window theme,” says Audrey.

“It turned it into a pop culture theme,” says Lilli. “We chose MAC Cosmetics because we thought they were likely to be sympathetic toward the cause.”

“Social commentary is a big feature in effective window display,” says VPED Chair Craig Berger. “It draws you into a current story that expands into a broader commentary. The Winter Olympics is such a great current story.”

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Madelaine Auble

Prof. Berger says that this project is the first opportunity that students have in their courses to develop an individual display.

“Given the confines of the space, successful projects have to have a ‘wow’ factor,” says Berger. “Yet they also have to be executed with a great deal of craft to be seen up close. These windows achieve that.”

Audrey agrees that “Everything has to be perfect. You make mistakes every project and you get critiques and apply it to your next window.”

Says Lilli “You have to pay close attention to detail working at this size. It helped us learn to plan ahead.”

After a long day of classes, both Audrey and Lilli sneak in a recap of the Olympic games.

“Curling is my favorite,” says Audrey. “My parents love it!”

“I really like the snowboarding half pipe,” says Lilli.

The Sochi-themed windows from Prof. Peter-Tolin Baker exhibition design class are on the 4th floor of the Marvin Feldman Center, or C-building. They will remain up until early April.

photos: Peter-Tolin Baker

 

Packaging design students hit the sweet spot!

By , January 30, 2014 4:23 pm

Capturing 3rd place in Paperboard Packaging Alliance’s Design Challenge 

How can a candy bar compete these days, especially at the movies? Concession stands are a dazzle of popcorn, candy, half-gallon sodas, hot dogs, “cheez”-drenched nachos, and ice cream. Indie theaters sell fresh-baked goods, specialty coffee, beer and wine.

1But good packaging design can appeal to the palate. To that aim, PPA instructed contestants to design the packaging for a colorful candy line. A larger version was to appeal to moviegoers, and a smaller version targeted retail stores.  No easy feat when you must appeal to different ages and audiences, adhere to strict measurements and devise a way to prevent spills and include other conveniences.
2PPA_FIT_Presentation_Vegas (2)_Page_03FIT’s five-student team devised a one-handed, easy sharing, two-flavors-within-one-structure. They called it Wonka’s Tootifruitichocolicious. It’s playful and smart, with multiple uses to be discovered. After gobbling up the contents, one isn’t left with an empty carton alone.
3-PPA_FIT_Presentation_Vegas (2)_Page_09“The biggest challenge was to attract moviegoers with little predilection for sweets–the type who experience concession stand candy as a blur of Milk Duds, Sno Caps, Raisinets and Twizzlers,” Packaging Design Prof. Sandra Krasovec.

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“This year’s Challenge was indeed challenging!” says Krasovec. “The typical objectives of form and function, coupled with fun and innovation, were tough, especially while keeping sustainability in mind. Our students came out winners with a package that has shelf-appeal and second-life play value built in.”

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And when the candy runs out, there’s no lamenting an empty carton. It can be used to make chains, periscopes and creative designs. “Diverting packaging material from the waste stream is a win-win for marketers and consumers,” says Krasovec.  Or we might just see it as creating fun memories. And that it did.

 

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