Being schooled in Kickerstarter

By , September 4, 2013 5:53 pm

Stefan Loble (entrepreneurship ’10) came up with men’s pants that can be worn for days without needing washing or ironing.

Stefan Loble’s Buffworks pants

 Amy Lombard  (photography ’12) wanted to create a book of photographs of people interacting in family rooms at IKEA

Amy Lombard’s website

Heather Huey (millinery ’04) wanted to tell a story of the “human body and fashion,” accompanied by “blatantly frank, erotic and beautiful images.”

Kickstarter funded them all.

At the “Kickstarter School: Bring Your Fashion Project To Life” seminar on August 5, Kickstarter’s fashion project specialist Nicole He  said entrepreneurs have raised $751 million since the crowd-sourcing platform was established four years ago. To date more than 47,000 creative projects have been funded.

“My idea is this…” and “We can’t do this without you” are the

two bookends of a Kickstarter campaign. 

Heather Huey website

The rules are simple: you must be trying to get funding for a product, service or project.  Funders do not get a stake in your business or project, but typically receive goodies — like the product itself, or one picture from a picture book.

Assistant Dean Sass Brown, a self-proclaimed “serial funder” of various campaigns, (one for a jacket that plays music), spoke about why investing in someone else’s campaign is worthwhile.   Brown favors the artistic autonomy the campaigns allow for, and the unique connection funders of have to project developers.

“For the cost of a couple Starbucks coffees you can have an impact on somebody’s

project in bringing it into the world,” says Assistant Dean Brown 

Keep your funders abreast of your progress, said He, even if it mean’s reporting that you’ve been banging your head against the wall.  Loble said that it’s important to get feedback even before you start asking for money.  He added a critical fourth shade, black, to his men’s pants line based on feedback.

There are some key routes to Kickstarter.

They include:
  • A great idea that excites potential donors.  
  • Using social media outlets to promote your project. 
  • Different levels of awards to give donors depending on the size of their donations.  
  • A good explanation, preferably on video of what you’re trying to do. 

The “Kickstarter School” event was  organized by Yolanda Urrabazo from Alumni Affairs.  While Kickstarter is not specifically for the fashion industry,  another platform Byco is.  Unlike Kickstarter, however, it does allow donors to have a share of the business.

Curious among some attendees: Might some of these small ventures might grow into the major fashion houses of tomorrow?


Ellenbogen films what the eye can’t see

By , August 20, 2013 2:05 pm

There was a lot of talk about “swimming with the fishes” in Boston this summer as the trial of famed mobster “Whitey” Bulger got underway. But underwater photographer Keith Ellenbogen really was swimming with marine animals of an amazing sort.

For  New England Aquarium‘s 2013 ad campaign. Ellenbogen’s  high-speed images of a lionfish, blacknose shark and a ballonfish were so riveting, Aquarium officials decided to broaden the campaign from print and web to include television. Ellenbogen is an incoming assistant professor in FIT’s photography department.

Ellenbogen made his name by filming not only what the eye sees but what it doesn’t. Using special cameras, he can slow down motion or speed it up. He can also provide lighting, shadow and contrast that the human eye would not normally be able to adapt to.

“Many of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring behaviors of the ocean’s creatures are simply too fast and too rare for the human eye to directly observe,” says Ellenbogen. He partnered with an MIT physicist and used a camera that’s employed to slow down the motion of Olympic athletes. “We realized that these awe-inspiring but nearly-invisible moments could be revealed through the lens of an ultra-high-speed camera.”

Tony LaCasse, director of media relations for the New England Aquarium, says that Ellenbogen’s  work helps to “present the mysterious world of the oceans and its creatures to a mass audience.”

On dry land this fall, Ellenbogen will be teaching introduction to photography,  research for senior design projects , and photography basics for non-majors.  It’s different terrain from the New England Aquarium’s Giant Ocean Tank,  home to the blacknose shark he filmed, as well as to 2,000 other animals including rays, eels, sea turtles and fishes.

Among the videos not used for the campaign, but available on the Aquarium website, shows a cuttlefish catching its prey.

Ellenbogen says his work and teaching ”explores how we can use photography and videography to address environmental and social issues.  I believe in empowering students to explore their own creativity and point of view.”

To top things off, Ellenbogen gave a presentation at the Aquarium’s IMAX theater, showing the creatures and their behaviors as they were captured in  slow motion (at 1,200 frames per second) for the ad campaign. Stills from the campaign are featured throughout Boston’s Park Street subway or “T” station.

MIT professor Allan Adams (l) and incoming FIT professor Keith Ellenbogen


All media used with permission

Wegman and his well dressed Weimaraners coming to FIT

By , August 14, 2013 1:28 pm

William Wegman, the photographer best known for his compositions of eclectically attired Weimaraners, is coming to speak at FIT.  The dogs won’t likely attend ”in person,” but should be well represented in video and print.  Wegman will be the first speaker in the Fall 2013 Photo Talks lecture series,  a forum organized by Professor Jessica Wynne of the photography department.


A conceptional video artist in the 1970s, Wegman has said (to David Letterman) that his dog Man Ray started looking “better than the cheese or nuts I was conceptually placing in the corner.” Man Ray, named after the famous photographer and artist, would go on to gain global celebrity.

When Man Ray the dog died in 1982, there were many affectionate tributes, such as a cover photo of Man Ray dubbed “Man of the Year” in the Village Voice.  There would be more Weimaraners.

Brad Paris, assistant chair of the photography department, says he especially likes Wegman’s early video work. “You can tell the early ones by the terrible video quality, which I think only makes the videos better,” he says.

The regal looking Weimaraners take well to an endless array of character types they seem to inspire in Wegman. Donning wigs, roller skates, space suits, dapper hats, overcoats and bulky cable knit sweaters, they pull off looks ranging from Elizabethan to femme fatale. They even look ridiculously lovable as farmers in overalls.  Wegman seems never to tire of the pranksterish nature of it. About the only thing they don’t do is play poker.

Art critics are quick to point out that Wegman should be known as more than the “dog guy.” His early work, says Jerry Saltz in the Village Voice, was a “reminder that art could be entertaining and hilarious, and that it didn’t take much to do this, which gave his work the beauty of economy.”

William Wegman’s talk will take place on September 18 at 5:30 in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater located on the northwest corner of 27th Street and 7th Avenue.

To see more of Wegman’s work including vintage videos of Man Ray, go to his blog: A Blog from William Wegman


FIT temporarily exports Dean Arbuckle to Taiwan

By , August 6, 2013 4:26 pm

Dean Arbuckle, C.J. Yeh , int’l faculty & Asian Univ. of Taiwan students w/ their collaborative projects

Call it creative ingenuity across disciplines and cultures. And call it the product of a long flight to Taiwan!  Last week under the direction of Prof. C.J. Yeh from Communication Design, students from Asia University of Taiwan participated in a four-day workshop with a visiting assortment of international academics, including Dean Joanne Arbuckle.

Collaborative projects with an unusual mix of disciplines — including fashion, communication and industrial design — were judged on the last day of the workshop.

Dean Arbuckle led a group that used its fashion and product design skills to produce hats.  “It’s an exciting process when you bring students together from disciplines that don’t traditionally work together,” said Dean Arbuckle. 

No strings holding down Goodwin’s animation students

By , July 15, 2013 9:15 pm

To make their animation projects look like miniature movies that come alive, students in Professor John Goodwin’s Computer Animation course (CG213)  flip through their sketch books as the process is filmed. They then choose a page to animate in After Effects, which is then returned back into the book.  The challenge is often not the technology, but choosing from seemingly endless possibilities that the software allows.  Helped by a lot of laughter and guidance, such dilemmas are usually happy ones.

“The class is super fun,” says Luca Mak a Hunter College student currently taking Goodwin’s. “Despite all the different options and layers, After Effects is surprisingly easy to manipulate. Animations that could have taken hours by hand can be done in less than a minute.”

“I love the class. I am truly having a blast,” says Mary Capozzi, who is also currently enrolled in  CG213. “I want to animate everything!”

The hard part is “executing their ideas” says Goodwin. “They can have great ideas,  but they need to pick something the software does well.”

Capozzi, an FIT faculty member, animated puppets that dance to the tune “I’ve Got No Strings,” sung by the Supremes. The lyrics seem to match Capozzi’s enthusiasm: “I’ve got no strings/To hold me down/To make me fret/Or make me frown.”

“There is so much to learn and it’s so exciting I wish there was a second course to take,” says Capozzi.  ”John Goodwin is a great  professor, he is encouraging and engaging.”

Goodwin says Mak and Capozzi “use the software beautifully. They’ve clicked into how to use the software. The wonderful thing about Adobe Suite is everything is layered; it’s built in Photoshop and can be animated separately. If you know Photoshop you are halfway to knowing After Effects.”  

“Using the skills I learned in this class, I want to make animations for TV shows and movies, and further my personal animation projects,” says Mak.

“I simply took the class for fun and would love to take it again. I can walk away from class with a little confidence but I know I still have way more to learn” says Capozzi. 

Piazza’s work bridges the gap between classroom & industry

By , July 1, 2013 1:39 pm

We exclaimed over the beautiful patterns as we stood looking at Isabel Piazza’s fabric designs at the AAS Graduating Show. And then just as soon we were lost in fantasies about all the nice things we could make for ourselves out of spectacular fabrics we imagined being made from Piazza’s designs.    

“Birds in Paradise” by Isabel Piazza

Intrigued by her folk art style with elements that are expressive and gentile, we caught up with the former Eastern religion-psychology major turned FIT fabric styling major. Piazza is having a very busy summer. She’s working at two different design studios that focus on prints for apparel and high-end home furnishings.

“Small and humorous things…whether it’s paint chipping off a wall, an interesting shadow cast on the ground, or a renown work of art,” are Piazza’s inspirations. “The screws and bolts that hold up a building,” aren’t minutia to Piazza, “they are just as important as the building itself.”

“Summerset” by Isabel Piazza

This decorative floral painting was done for Piazza’s industrial studio practices course that focuses on the business side of design. “We were instructed to work within a range of limitations. Bridging the gap between the classroom and the industry is essential” says Piazza.

“Rajah” by Isabel Piazza

“I transferred to FIT from a private university. I wanted to do something creative and needed to be in a smaller, close knit community,” says Piazza. “FIT is great for that. I enjoy the intimate class size and the opportunity to engage with your professors on a daily basis. It’s also great being in NYC where there are an unlimited amount of resources—going to fabric trade shows and museums has had a lot of influence on my work as a student.”

photos by Isabel Piazza

Show in Milan is a “runaway” success

By , June 21, 2013 2:47 pm

No style-conscious person comes back underdressed from Italy.  For fashion students studying in Milan, fantasies like these led to winning designs:  A wedding dress for a funeral made of tied-together men’s shirts, adorable toddler rain gear and gladiator-styled leather-woven dress. The 2013 Future of Fashion Milan student graduate collection was a runway success from all directions.  Here are looks from the catwalk followed by snapshots of  FIT in Milan’s student designers, intensely engaged in studies and show preparation.

From above, a hand-dyed blue and white”point” stitch tunic over print leggings.

Catherine Quirk’s “The Fractal Face of Chaos”

Coming down the aisle alone.  A groomless wedding.  A Widow’s Wedding dress, from hand sewn, recycled cotton shirts.

Maria Vaz’s “1+1=1″

 Otherwise known as patchwork, ”Quite the Contrary”  is a woven-like wool and silk menswear suit.

Michael Majello’s “Quite the Contrary”

And then came the “Dream,” a taupe long-sleeved, silk and transparent knit with chiffon side inserts. 

Sydney Roark’s “Dream”

The lineup. Taking the scabbiness out of rainy days. From left to right: a black slicker with grey trim and bow detail over original bike print legging;  White wool hooded cape over silk bike print pleated dress;  Black trimmed transparent rain cape over cotton bow top an soft pleat skirt. 

Alexis Drattell’s “A Black and White Day”

Take me to the Colosseum. Woven leather paneled dress with capped shoulder armor and pegged pleated hip. (Sword not included).

Manuela Ocampo’s “Gray Shadows”

Turning her back in style.  The white cotton”point” stitch dress. “They look like delightful like mini volcanoes or little dimensional pyramids,” said one viewer.

Catherine Quirk’s “Fractal Face of Chaos”  

The lead-up. A look back:

Knitwear students Sydney Roark, Kourtney Hankins and Catherine Quirk working with electric knitting technician Julianna Manfredi. 

Swatches: 4th year knitwear students work with Prof. Ornella Bignami


Fourth year children’s wear student Alexis Drattell’s design. Preparing for the runway.

Fourth year sportswear student Michael Maiello responds to critic Debora Sinibaldi

Fourth year student Catherine Quirk making refinements with Prof. D’lessandro


Runway photos: Lab foto, Politecnico di Milano

Student photos:  Lisa Feuerherm

She took one refurbished piano…

By , June 13, 2013 2:25 pm

… some primer, a little paint, 15 discarded music books, 1/3 gallon of glue, and created one of the 88 pianos re-envisioned by artists for Sing for Hope (a public arts organization in NYC). The artist responsible for this piano is Art and Design Dean’s Office staff member Amy Bauer.

In February Bauer submitted a proposal to be chosen as a Sing for Hope artist. She envisioned tearing pages from vintage music books and covering an entire piano with them. It’s in keeping with an artistic process that involves using discarded paper for works that have nostalgic and recycling themes.  

Being fine tuned

In March, Bauer received confirmation that her proposal was accepted. April and May were spent working on her masterpiece.

Being prepared for the elements

Until June 15 Bauer’s piano will remain outdoors for anyone to admire and/or play. The  piano will then be donated to a school or community center in NYC. 

Current location: On the porch of the Van Cortlandt House Museum in the Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

Tickling the keys.   Photo: Richard Hecht

Sunday, June 16 all of the pianos will be located at the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center for a free all-day celebration from 11:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.


For more information about Amy Bauer, her piano  and art work visit:

Photos by Amy Bauer

Childrenswear alum websites offerering flounced, flouted and playful

By , June 10, 2013 3:38 pm

Pretty in pink. Pretty in aqua. Pretty in trapeze shapes. Pretty in flounced and flouted prints. Pretty with broad straps or spaghetti ties.  All this sweetness is exclusively online at Galette Children’s Apparel and Nula Kids.  They are just two of many childrenswear e-shops created by FIT fashion design alums.

Scrolling instead of strolling it seems, offers benefits to designers and their customers.

“Postcard” composite from Galette Children’s Apparel

“It allows me to work in small quantities and shorten my lead times as I test the market,” says Leah Aronhime (’09), owner of Galette. “This makes it easier to fit into manufacturers’ busy schedules and get the great quality that I want to offer.”

“Producing a line in the US is very costly,” says Ashlie Kodsy (’11) co-founder of Nula Kids. ”Cutting out the middle man – the traditional retailer – allows me to have a competitive price point. I can also see what is and isn’t selling immediately, without having to wait for a buyer’s feedback.”

Addie dress from Nula

Fashion Design professor Sandra Markus agrees. “It circumvents selling wholesale, so they can make a better profit. They can charge retail prices, and it’s a way to have your own life.”

Working from one’s choice of location is attractive for Aronhime, who lives in Baltimore. 

For Kodsy as well. “In L.A., I have access to a variety of manufacturers and vendors. Thanks to the (FIT’s) Childrenswear program, I can effectively communicate with these manufacturers in L.A., my business partner in New York, my screen printer in San Francisco, and so forth.”

Lucy outfit from Nula Kids

“They have the digital skills to do this,” says Markus about recent childrenswear grads.  ”The whole upper division in the Childenswear major focuses on gaining digital skills that can be used for practical applications.”

None of these practical applications impinges on the primary focus of designing great childenswear.

“It’s wonderful to see such playful designs,” says Sass Brown, Assistant Dean of the School of Art & Design. “Both designers have achieved a cute and playful balance of wearablity and age appropriate practicality.” They’ve avoided, she says, an “over sophistication” of children’s designs that can be out of keeping with childhood. “They know who they’re designing for,” says Brown.

Galette Children’s Apparel

Aronhime credits FIT with helping her find her individual style as a designer. Upon graduation she knew she wanted to start her own company.  The challenge she says “is finding a market niche and getting people to notice my company among everyone else’s on the web. My goal is to build a business through my website that is recognized in the industry.”

“Mine is to reach a larger audience with my brand,” says  Kodsy. “We’ve been fortunate to have some international interest, but the challenge is getting the word out there.”


Photos used with permission. Photos for Nula Kids:  Angeline Woo.  Photos for  Galette Children’s Apparel: Anat Dubin

One Night Only! “Tempo” media design exhibition May 30!

By , May 29, 2013 2:32 pm

What kind of song and dance will it take to get you to the Media Design Club’s “Tempo” exhibition? Well we’re glad you asked.

Here is your video invite: (Note: The Communication Design Professor C.J. Yee character was not impressed with this, but you will be!) 

There will be food, a panel discussion, important people, and inspiration. Sorry for the short notice.

The Media Design Club’s “Tempo” exhibition is ONE NIGHT only. Catch it at: Helen Mills Event Space & Theater located: 137-139 West 26 Street, NYC.

Thursday, May 30, 2013, 6 p.m – 10 p.m. It’s free.

The art and design show, “Tempo,” explores the the relationship between time and visual communication.


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