A-list Critics for Photography Juniors

When it comes to having your accomplishments acknowledged, being a college junior can be like that of a middle child. “The seniors have a graduating show. The associate degree students have a show. What the juniors need is feedback,” says Photography Prof. Curtis Willocks. “They had this intense year. They learned a lot, applied a lot. They just need feedback from the outside world on what they’re producing.”

Each of Willocks’ Projects in Advanced Style and Media students “produced” a book or magazine based on a 15-week personal project, work from a large-scale Coney Island photo shoot, and much more.

On May 15 a total of 16 critics arrived. The industry professionals from American Society of Media Professionals (ASMP)American Photographic Artist (APA) and elsewhere, holed up for the afternoon to confer with students about their semester-long body of work.

Let the reviewing begin! Industry pros provide feedback to photography juniors
Industry pros providing feedback to sixth semester Photography students

“My experience with the industry critique was amazing,” says Alejandra Lopez, who has a strong focus on fashion.  “It was a great opportunity for us students. I got so much feedback on my work from industry professionals, which  will definitely help me improve my work,” she said.

“I met inspiring people who shared new insights with me. It was very beneficial,” said Alex Golshani, whose work details daily occurrences of New York City life.  “I made a contact with someone interested in my work whom I’ll be meeting with again this summer,” he said.

“I was very impressed with the students’ ability to describe their work and photography goals,” says Jennifer Permutter, Creative Consultant for Agency Access who came to critique. “There are so many ways to be involved in the photographic community upon graduation and all of the students had a good handle on that.”

Alex Golshani preparing for portfolio review
Alex Golshani preparing for portfolio review

Perlmutter said she was especially taken by portfolios that reflected strong vision, such as Irene Espinosa’s lifestyle-portrait and Trupal Pandya‘s documentary-portrait portfolios.

“I believe that to make it in this industry you need a strong vision that represents the work you want to create, not what others want you to create,” she says.

The Advaced Styling and Media class, for which Willocks developed the syllabus, focuses strongly on networking with industry and within the School itself. For one project, students created portfolios that were distributed to Fashion, Accessories and Packaging Design students. Those students in turn chose photographers who were right for photographing their own creative work.

Jennifer/Irene Espinosa
Jennifer Perlmutter, artist consultant at Agency Access with Irene Espinosa

Then there was the fashion photo shoot that started at 7 am in the dead of winter. And then the Coney Island extravaganza.  “We had a stylist, six dancers and models. Profoto brought location lights, Phaseone brought high-end, medium format cameras,” says Willocks who still seems in awe of the enormity of it. (Watch for an upcoming post with video about this event.)

“Professor Willocks’ class was remarkably extensive,” says Golshani. “We really connected with industry. We visited the Richard Avadon Foundation, Penumbra Foundation, Aperture and Jack Studios. It was a great class.”

Lauren Beck's final presentation
Lauren Beck’s final presentation

“Their work as a whole displayed a wide range of styles and skill levels,” said Steven Hellerstein, another of the critics. “There was an abundance of individuality. The work was very representative of each student’s vision and how they see the world. I got the feeling that the students are very ‘in the moment’ and figuring out how the skills that they are learning will benefit them longer term,” he said.

Michael Seto (APA), TJ Boegle, Cliff Housner (ProPhoto), Alejandra Lopez

“I got tips and advice about how the industry works,” says Lopez. “I talked to amazing, interesting people willing to answer any question I had. They gave me advice on moving forward with my work once I graduate. I increased my knowledge of how the industry works and whom to approach in different situations.”

Trupal, Martine, TJ, ? Alejandra Lopez
Trupal Pandya, Martine Fougeron (ASMP), TJ Boegle, Leland Bobbe (ASMP), Michael Weschler (ASMP) Alejandra Lopez

Says Perlmutter, “I look forward to seeing how these students progress including those who are still fine-tuning their artistic vision. It is clear Curtis has given these students direction and they are eager to take it and run with it.”

Photos by Brad Farwell


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SUNY Chancellor Award winner Darlene Levy-Birnbaum

Definition of SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence:  “A system-level honor conferred to acknowledge and provide system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and to encourage the ongoing pursuit of excellence.”

Definition of 2015 SUNY Chancellor Award Winner for Excellence in Classified Service at Fashion Institute of Technology: 

Darlene Levy-Birnbaum!

Dr. Joyce Brown with Darlene Levy-Birnbaum after receiving the SUNY Chancellor’s Award in Classified Service

At the FIT staff luncheon on April 29,  College President Joyce Brown introduced Ms. Levy-Birnbaum as the recipient of the 2015 SUNY Chancellor Award for Classified Service.  An alumna of FIT, Ms. Levy-Birnbaum serves as assistant to the dean of the School of Art and Design. She has worked at the college since 1982.

In her introduction, President Brown spoke of Ms. Levy-Birnbaum’s extensive knowledge of the college, its history, management, policies, budget, procedures and of each of the 17 School of Art and Design programs. “And that’s the short list!” she said.

Dean Joanne Arbuckle and Darlene Levy-Birnbaum
Dean Joanne Arbuckle and Darlene Levy-Birnbaum holding the SUNY Chancellor’s Award medal.

Ms. Levy Birnbaum was recognized for the exemplary service she provides to the dean, associate dean, department chairs, faculty and students.  Her habit of never saying “no,” has led to her wearing a second hat as School event coordinator. She is “the point-person who, with always a smile on her face, assures that all the loose ends are neatly tied up,” said Dr. Brown.

Art and Design department chairs piled on much exuberant praise:

“We chairs are responsible for our own ‘corners of the world’ at FIT,” said Suzanne Anoushian, Chair of Communication Design. “Darlene is aware of all of them. And what she does for me she does for every other chair of the School. She knows all our stories, all our department nuances and budget idiosyncrasies…Darlene keeps track of everything!”

“Darlene is a rare employee who goes beyond what people ask for and pro-actively assess the needs and issues of the departments,” said Craig Berger, Chair of Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design.

The Chancellor Award winner was celebrated on the anniversary of FIT's 70th birthday
The Chancellor Award winner was celebrated on the anniversary of FIT’s 70th birthday

The celebration coincided with the college’s 70th birthday, which meant plenty of cake and a lot to reflect on.

“I must attribute, to a very great extent, my success and the success of our department to the time spent under Darlene’s tutelage,” said former Chair of Jewelry Design Michael Coan.

Said the President “She performs all of her tasks not only efficiently, but graciously, making everyone, from student, to faculty to visiting VIP, feel well-served and welcome,” said Dr. Brown.

And don’t we know it!

“Darlene makes everything look so easy and effortless,” said Dean Joanne Arbuckle. “I am well aware that it is all part of the ‘magic” Darlene performs each day!”


Photos: Rachel Ellner

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Finishing touches. Fine Arts graduating student show opens May 6

This year’s Fine Arts thesis exhibit, “Not Gonna Hold Your Hand,” includes the work of the 17 BFA graduating seniors. The “defiant and exultant” title,  says Prof. Joel Werring, was chosen by the students. It suggests “This is my life. I’m ready, and I’m going to shape it.”

This backstage look shows the contemplative and often very physical involvement of students with their work in the days prior to the exhibit.

Nicole Christensen working on an acrylic collage
Nicole Christensen working on an acrylic collage

“Over the past two years students have explored their ideas, content, and imagery through experimentation and a range of approaches and methods,”says Werring who serves as Assistant Fine Arts Chair.

Some finishing touches required a long reach. Gravity-defying Fine Arts senior AJ Springer, in action below.

AJ Springer working on her mixed media piece "Submerged"
AJ Springer working on her mixed media piece “Submerged”

The student work captures “visceral and personal experiences with place, home, identity, ethnicity, psychology, philosophy, and spirituality,” says Werring.

Jeanette Wagner working on “Fingers and Fan Blades”

Werring worked with senior thesis students in painting. “The show both toys with and requires the active participation of its audience. “The theme speaks to the difficulty of attaining consonance between an artist’s intent and the viewer’s understanding of the work.

 Maggie Koenig working on her mixed media piece " In Vein"
Maggie Koenig working on her mixed media piece, “In Vein”

“It dares the viewers to cultivate their own understanding of each piece without being told its meaning by the artist. Similarly, it is an intimation to the artists themselves that the world will be expecting the same rigor and presence of each of them once they step out.”

Jyniese Valmont working on her piece, ” Feminine Energy”
Stephanie Castillio finish touches on her work " It's a Match"
Stephanie Castillio adds finishing touches to “It’s a Match”

“While preparing for this exhibition in the midst of multiple social and cultural influences and in close proximity to Chelsea’s art galleries, students developed a greater awareness of the challenges and opportunities ahead,” says Werring.

Eddy Valerio working on his piece “Cargo Flores Pesadas”

The students are poised to contribute to the world “as creators, divergent thinkers, and problem solvers,” says Werring.

Jeanette Wagner adding finishing touches to 8'x8' diptych
Jeanette Wagner adding finishing touches to 8’x8′ diptych

The Fine Arts department’s senior exhibit, “Not Gonna Hold Your Hand,” is part of the 2015 Art and Design Graduating Student Exhibit being held from May 6 – 21, 2015.  Viewing in is located in the John E. Reeves Great Hall, is from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm.

Opening reception is Tuesday, May 5, 6-9 pm

Click here for more information on the 2015 Graduating Student Exhibition 


Photos: Joel Werring


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It’s Not Pulp Fiction…But Could Be. Fine Arts students assist visiting artist at The Studio Museum in Harlem

Print is not dead, and a redesign by Fine Arts students and featured artist Samuel Levi Jones at The Studio Museum in Harlem on March 29 will help keep it alive.  The Fine Arts department’s Urban Studio club members assisted Jones in a “Studio Squared” workshop devoted to paper, pulping and bookbinding.  The artist’s work, currently on display, is known for its “deconstruction and manipulating” of texts in order to explore “systems of knowledge and power.” There was plenty of artistic knowledge on hand for the workshop, which attracted 48 participants.

Artist Samuel Levi Jones talking about his work
Artist Samuel Levi Jones speaking about his work

Printmaking technician, Slavko Djuric and Fine Arts Urban Studio club president  and printmaker, AJ Springer, along with Fine Arts alums Danielle Yalon and Cassandra Holden, demonstrated various book binding techniques at stations set up for participants. 

“One was a paper pulping section where you could blend down sheets of paper and set it to make your own piece,” says Springer. “Another was a sewing station, to stitch creations back together after disassembling them. The third was for bookbinding, where I and others helped to create new pieces. ”

It was a “learning and sharing of skills and personalized techniques,” said Nico Wheadon, public programs manager at the museum. “FIT students were crucial in delivering a holistic understanding of the many approaches to reconstructing the paper source materials that Mr. Jones guided us in deconstructing.”

Slavko Djuric demonstrating book binding process
Slavko Djuric demonstrating book binding process

Other Urban Studio members participated: Stephanie Castillo, Amanda Ioco, Wilfred Laureta, Alexus Parker, Samantha Treco, Lobsang Tsewang Eddy Valerio and Dina Volpe.

“Sam’s (Levi Jones) work focuses on unbinding preexisting, mainly law books, and deconstructing them,” says AJ Springer. “He uses the covers and papers inside to collage with. He explained that his work is meant to challenge the structure of authority, language, and social connotations. By deconstructing these elements, he finds ways to compose them back together. ”

Participants were asked to bring paper materials that had a personal significance and to “examine their attachments” to them. One participant brought in wedding invitations from his first marriage, “said Wheadon.  His interest was to “erase their iconic signifiers and repurpose this personal record into an altogether new narrative.”

Bookbinding station manned by Fine Arts students
Bookbinding stations helmed by Fine Arts students

This was the first Studio Squared workshop in which the exhibiting artist led the workshop. Techniques that were explored included Japanese stab binding, sewn bindings, and various types of both hard and soft cover techniques.

“Assisting Sam and helping people make things that were completely foreign to their art process was very inspiring for my own work as well!” said Springer, who is currently preparing for her senior thesis.

Slavko Djuric and AJ Springer with Harlem Studio Museum featured artist Samuel Levi Jones
Slavko Djuric and AJ Springer with Harlem Studio Museum featured artist Samuel Levi Jones

Samuel Levi Jones installation, “Unbound,“is on exhibit at The Studio Museum in Harlem until  Jun 28, 2015.

Photos by: Nico Wheadon/The Studio Museum in Harlem


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Sustainable Kornit printing powers student competition

Striking colors and innovative fabric designs, all addictive to the eye, filled the room. The students’ excitement was palpable as well. At yesterday’s announcement of the winners of the Kornit Design Challenge, Textile/Surface Design seniors shared their perceptions and spoke of the virtues of digital textile printing.

The Kornit prints out a digital image directly on almost any surface, in one step. It uses biodegradable, sustainable pigment inks and can handle small batches of fabric economically. Thus it saves time and the earth’s resources.

“It was our first time doing an engineered digital print, so it was interesting fitting our ideas into the silhouette of a garment,” said senior Elena Kanagy-Loux. “It’s an exciting day. We all put a lot of work into this.”


The awards and luncheon offered students the opportunity to hear Kornit officials. But giving students the opportunity to indulge in the technology was one of Kornit’s main goals. The company provided each of the 28 students in the competition with up to 10 yards of printed fabric in multiple designs.

Victoria Ida along side her (blue and green) digital fabric print
Victoria Ida along side her (blue and green) digital fabric print

“Usually for textile design it’s something you paint, but for this I folded paper since I had the opportunity to digitally print,” says Victoria Ida. “This way I could achieve a lot of dimension within the design.”

“The smoky effect in my design comes from a picture taken of polluted air over China,” says Stacey Lebron.  “A friend sent it and I said ‘great it goes with the theme of my project’–that is, how air pollution is affecting plant life.”

Stacey Lebron to the left of her digital fabric print
Stacey Lebron to the left of her digital fabric print

“Digital printing on fabric is often a duller washed out color” says Emily Arlington. “The great thing about Kornit and their printing and technology, is it can yield a broader color gamut. That’s not really accessible with other printers, yet it’s sustainable. It’s hard to find the pairing of the two. That’s what made it exciting. It came out so beautiful. I loved being part of it.”

Emily Arlington (next to her pattern to her lower right) and Jordan Patterson-Weber (next to her upper right pattern)
Emily Arlington (next to her pattern to her lower right) and Jordan Patterson-Weber (next to her upper right pattern)

Students from two sections of Advanced CAD with Photoshop classes participated in the contest. One section was taught by Prof. Ellen Oster, the other by Prof. Kenneth Krug. “Prof. Krog knows all the tricks and short cuts,” said Lebron. “He is really amazing at all digital design and Photoshop,” said Ida.

Photoshop has almost boundless ways to create new patterns. It also connects easily to the Kornit commercial fabric printer.

Prof. Krug has long known the importance of adapting to new technology. “Very early on a client told me ‘If you don’t use technology we can’t use you anymore. I got an expensive computer and worked on it and hated it for two days. After the urging from a friend he gave it another try.  “I figured out Photoshop was just another way to draw.” By 3 am he fell asleep with a mouse in his hand. “I realized I was addicted.”

Prof. Krug with students

“The student work is amazing” said Dean Joanne Arbuckle of the School of Art and Design. “The college is committed to sustainability. It is part of our Strategic Plan. This project is a wonderful example of engaging with industry in that effort to produce world-class designs in a world-sustaining way.”

Award winners with Joanne Arbuckle, Dean of Art & Design
Award winners with Dean Joanne Arbuckle

And the winners are: Hyuna Kim, Konchok Bercholz and Elena Kanagy-Loux.

Prof. Oster, who initiated the collaboration with Kornit, noted that the display “of phenomenal textile designs showed the culmination of the students’ four years of study,” and that the competition  “exposed them to some difficult realities about our planet. As part of the project they needed to research and develop a theme based on sustainability, and in that, I think many eyes were opened, not only to the negative effects of global warming and its human causes,  but on ways technological advances can help.”

Photos: Rachel Ellner

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Don’t let bullies tell you how to heel

OneClique founders Sandy Saccullo and Stefani Tsakos encourage women and girls to walk tall, whether under peer pressure or throughout the day when re-fashioning oneself from formal wear to casual wear is an imperative.

The two hosted a screening of “Finding Kind” yesterday at the Faces & Places in Fashion lecture series taught by Prof. Joshua Williams. The film explores the often devastating consequences of girl-on-girl bullying. Saccullo and Tsakos are sponsoring 10 screenings of the film across the country. The two stayed to discuss their online shoe “separates,” engineered with interchangable heels and uppers.

OneClique founders (in foreground) Stefani Tsakos & Sandy Saccullo with students in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater
OneClique founders (in foreground) Stefani Tsakos & Sandy Saccullo with students in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater

“I think they’re offering customization and versatility that intrigues consumers,” says Accessories Design Chair Sarah Mullins. “The consumer gets to feel like a shoe designer by interchanging OneClique uppers and heels.  Hopefully it inspires future shoe designers to study Accessories Design at FIT!”

The Faces & Places lecture series is a weekly forum that features prominent fashion professionals, including executives, designers and marketers.  It is held in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater (D Building, Corner of 27th Street and 7th Avenue), the series is also open to the public, Mondays, 4pm-5pm.

Photo: Rachel Ellner

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Eight languages have their say in “Four Seasons”

The merged texts in Prof. Suikang Zhao’s “Four Seasons,” appear like a colorful, assertive mix of ancient scripts and orchestral scoring. A lot is wanting to be said in this four-part work in eight languages. It is among over 90 pieces in “New Views: FIT Art and Design Faculty Exhibitin the John E. Reeves Great Hall.

Prof. Zhao’s work in Hebrew, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, English, Greek and Russian employs calligraphy, monotype printing, literature and conceptual documentation.

“By using different, overlapping texts, I construct a reality that draws upon the parallels and juxtapositions of today’s cultural fabrication and social structure,” says Fine Arts Prof. Zhao.

Suikong Zhao in front of "Four Seasons"
Prof. Suikang Zhao in front of “The Four Seasons” 

In his artist’s statement Prof. Zhao says that the drawings are spaces “of interwoven reality and cultural displacement, the juxtaposition of unrelated differences, the connection and disconnection…the fragmentation of familiarity and obscurity, the unknown, the anticipation of rootlessness and the sense of losing the center of traditional value and place.”

Says Prof. Zhao the work represents “the world we live in, or at least the one coming to us in the near future.”

New Views: FIT Art and Design Faculty Exhibit,” runs until March 22 and is open to the public. Hours are from 9 am–9 pm.  The exhibit is located in the John E. Reeves Great Hall of the Fred Pomerantz Art & Design Center. The entrance is on the northwest corner of 28 Street and Seventh Avenue.

See previous post on Prof. Zhao’s work: Suikang Zhao fires up the art in Tacony, PA

Photo: Rachel Ellner

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Moving mosaic cornered by Prof. Brian Emery

Professor Brian Emery’s  “Williamsburg Grid Test,” currently in the faculty exhibit “New Views,” is as captivating and vibrant as a New York City street corner. It is composed of 108, one-minute videos organized in a grid, each of a slightly different view taken at slightly different times.  The setting, movement and chatter, are from a busy street corner in Williamsburg.

Prof. Emery discussed with us his fascination with urban space, explorations in creating “simulations of reality,” the stress of having his equipment kicked, and encouraging students to develop their curiosities.

Williamsburg Grid Test (video still)
Brian Emery’s “Williamsburg Grid Test” (video still)

Q: Can you explain the techniques you use in this work?

Prof. Emery: The videos are arranged to create a panoramic mosaic of the area.  To achieve this I used a single camera that I moved slightly between each shot so that the frames line up and appear as a single photographic space.  In the video the static architectural space is rendered like a photograph while objects in motion appear as fractured moments flashing across the screen.

Ultimately I am redistributing the “arrow of time” across a traditional perspective rendering of space. The general photographic technique of image arrays is fairly common today, especially in scientific photography such as the panoramas from the Mars Rover (http://tinyurl.com/p5b7j6d) or the Hubble Telescope (http://tinyurl.com/mul6zdo).

Q. What sparked your interest in this technique?

Prof. Emery: My work has always centered around making pictures out of multiple images.  I have been working with various image array methods for over 10 years, but I began exploring the technique with moving images in the past 2 years.  My curiosity has always been in photography’s reliance on time and its ability to describe it.

Culture tends to think of photography as a frozen moment. It ignores the inevitability of time in our experience of life. I try to find ways to highlight the aspect of time in pictures by fracturing photographic space. Applying the image array concept to video was the natural next step in the exploration.

Brian Emery's "Eyetour Downtown Loop" (digital picture)
Brian Emery’s “Eyetour Downtown Loop” (digital)

Q.  How does your work enhance your teaching?

Prof. Emery: I teach a unit on “panoramic storytelling,” which aims to convey concepts of time and space.  I show many remarkable examples of how time and space is portrayed throughout the history of art, but I rarely ever show my work in class and don’t demonstrate these specific techniques.  I prefer to teach more general methods and allow the students to develop their own curiosities and applications.

Generally speaking, however, I couldn’t teach picture-making without making pictures myself, so my studio practice allows me to guide students through the creative process.

Brian Emery's "Harold Square" (digital picture, detail)
Brian Emery’s “Harold Square” (detail)

Q. You’ve had some very striking, compelling images in other shows at FIT. They seem to show urban life with a tremendous flow of energy, emotion and continuity. Do you feel this “aliveness” while involved in the work? Are you absorbed by that energy you’re capturing?

Prof. Emery: I wouldn’t be drawn to making this work if I wasn’t fascinated by the urban street and the process of representing that experience in various ways.  But, it’s an incredibly stressful experience making these images and video works.  It takes 2-3 hours to capture the imagery and it’s a very precise process which requires a lot of focus.  If I make a mistake or have even a minimal equipment failure, the entire shoot can be wasted.

The device I use to make these pictures is rather big and strange looking.  I often work in densely populated areas and I have to contend with people accidentally kicking my tripod, or questioning my presence as I work.  Last summer I was shooting in Bushwick and a tractor trailer truck couldn’t make a tight turn so he drove up on the sidewalk where I was set up and I had to grab my gear and run out of the way after several hours of shooting.  So, I’m really not absorbed by the energy as much as constantly fighting against it to make the picture.

Brian Emery's "Harold Square" (digital picture"
Brian Emery’s “Harold Square” (digital picture)

Q. Your photos involve the viewer in a unique way. We’re brought into the action, of sometimes chaotic harmony, in a way that feels personal, as if invited. It’s an immediate feeling. Are you aware that your work can be experiential in this way for the viewer?

Prof. Emery: Well, I’m happy to hear you say that.  My goal is to create simulations of reality that allow a viewer to have some sort of experience of being in a place.  I’m fascinated by a souvenir’s ability to transport someone to a memory of a place, whether real or fabricated.  I try to make work that creates a similar aesthetic effect.

Q. Is it fair to say that post production is a forte of yours?

Prof. Emery: Yes, I have a background in photographic retouching, compositing, visual effects and printing.  But my personal work uses computational methods, so the photography is one part of the process that allows me to record light and time to use as media to make pictures.  I then work with that media in many different software packages to craft the final piece.  For this work I see it all as part of the picture-making process, and not really separated into photography and post-production.

Q. Is there anything that you hope viewers will experience, or better understand after viewing your work?

Prof. Emery:  I strive to create pieces that will reverberate for a viewer over time.  The work that inspires me has a haunting effect, resurfacing in my consciousness long after the experience between myself and the piece.  If a memory of my work flashes in a viewer’s head and creates for them an augmented experience in reality, then that would be good.  If that hybrid moment causes the person to question their real-life experience in some way then the work is successful.

New Views: FIT Art and Design Faculty Exhibit,” runs until March 22 and is open to the public. Hours are from 9 am–9 pm.  The exhibit is located in the John E. Reeves Great Hall of the Fred Pomerantz Art & Design Center. The entrance is on the northwest corner of 28 Street and Seventh Avenue.

To see more of Brian Emery’s work go to: www.placescapetheatre.com

Images used with permission

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Julian Acevedo’s Smoke, Ashes, and Persuasion

The relationship between cigarette smoking and terminal disease is well established. But how much of that stark reality should be incorporated into an anti-smoking ad campaign? Third semester Communications Design student Julian Acevedo experimented with this relationship in three ways for an assignment for his Advertising Design class with Prof. Thomas McManus. One is an obsequious reference, another seductively irreverent, and one blatantly portrays early death.

“I wanted to show in one ad the cause, in another the effect, and finally the truth of how people–while knowing the facts and having experienced health problems–are stuck in a bad habit or addiction,” says Acevedo.

“The ads show an evolution of thinking from something that was a little obscure, to heavy-handed, to very sophisticated, smart and compelling,” says Prof. McManus. “It was a great progression how he took his thinking as he solved an advertising problem.”

Julian Acevedo's "Smoke Free"
Julian Acevedo’s “Smoke Free”

In the most brazen ad, three smoking, corpse-like figures sleepwalk down an incline. The entranceway toward certain death is represented by an iconic Marlboro cigarette box.

“It ties into the ‘Walking Dead’ television phenomenon,” says Prof. Elvin Kince, with whom Acevedo studied Typography II. “It’s sort of a double-entendre, playing on the image of three zombie-like characters and the word “kil” literally spelled out from the cigarette smoke.”

Julian Acevedo's "Smoke Free"
Julian Acevedo’s “Smoke Free”

In the scene of another ad, an open casket lies in a lonely, wintry cemetery. Black smoke arises from it, in what might be the shape of a women’s legs.

Acevedo employed photography, digital collage and photo montage with typography.

“The visual execution of his ideas is greatly enhanced through composition, clarity, visual hierarchy and contrast,” says Prof. Kince. “Julian uses scale, simplicity and repetition to visually and emotionally tie his series together. I like that he sought to create a graphically interesting series in addition to having strong concepts.”

Acevedo’s Design History class provided inspiration from the masters. “The Modern movement in America stayed in my mind while designing. Having attended the exhibition ‘The Cut-Outs’ of Henri Matisse at MoMA helped me expand my perspectives on the final development, as in the ad with the three figures and the Marlboro box.”

Julian Acevedo
Julian Acevedo’s “Smoke Free”

Prof. McManus said the third ad (above) was Acevedo’s most compelling. “It links the ashes from the cigarette to the ashes of cremation. It’s a simple clean layout and it’s striking.”

For Prof. Kince, there’s no “mistaking the intent of the ads. Coffins are a strong symbol of death. Zombies are not far behind, and the ‘ashes to ashes’ phrase is a comment often made after someone has passed…People would respond with a quick recognition and acknowledgement of the messages.”

Acevedo choose his campaign theme after a conversation with a friend who had begun smoking to alleviate stress. “I felt the need to react in my own way to this, and that is art,” says Acevedo.

The differences in perspective don’t just get his professors talking. “The more perspectives the better,” says Prof. Kince. “Various sources of feedback may help students to understand different ways their work and its presentation can be interpreted.”


Images used with permission

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