Category: design

New LDSOA director Chris Garvin


garvin_chris.jpgEach fall brings many new faces to campus, but this semsester marks the beginning of a new era at the Lamar Dodd School of Art with the arrival of its new director, Chris Garvin. Learn more about Garvin, his background and vision for the school in this extended Q&A (an abridged version appeared in the Sept. 2 Columns):

Chris Garvin comes to UGA from The University for the Arts in Philadelphia, where he served as program director. An interactive designer and creative director in the private sector for many years, Garvin has written and spoken extensively on the complexity of contemporary design and business practice, and its implications on the future of design and education. He spoke with Columns upon his arrival to UGA this summer.

Alan Flurry: You are a professor and an artist, how do those two fit together?

Chris Garvin: There are parts of my life that I act as a designer, as an artist, an educator, an entrepreneur, and I embrace them all. I’m never scared to be a hybrid, to have ‘and’ be in there. Part of my experience is writing curriculum and programs at universities and getting them off the ground, building coalitions and curriculums so that things can happen. I’ve done that looking at those projects as a designer, and I’ve used those designer skills to help me become a better educator.

The thing that makes them part of me is that I use the same thinking processes in all of them. I think about audience differently in each, and I think about the group and the collaborations differently.

AF: That takes a lot of confidence, but also a lot of humility – it can seem like a contradiction.

CG: It can, and I have often said, “I have just enough ego to try this, but not so much ego that I need to own it.” And it’s helped me a lot in building things; many times in academia, the ownership is what can kill interesting projects and keep them from getting off the ground.

AF: You come to UGA from a big city setting, how is that related to your vision for the school of art?

CG: So I grew up in a formerly big city, Buffalo. I went to grad school at Ohio State, then I lived in New York City for ten years, and that’s an education in itself, then in Philadelphia. And those are two very different American metropolises, and they work very differently.

I moved to New York to be a designer, with a painting degree, so some of my vision comes out of my own experience. I was trained in a great art school in a large research university, where I gained the confidence to use those skills in a variety of different ways.

For example, I could talk to computer scientists; I borrowed projectors for my thesis exhibit from the football team; I had an office in a center shared between the art school and the computer science school, all very formative experiences. Being a painter and working in those critiques, I learned the idea of abstracting things, moving across disciplines, across mediums, and in a contemporary business world that would be called ‘knowledge transfer.’ It’s incredibly marketable. So I like to say I was accidentally marketable because of my education, but it wasn’t so much an accident as that academic environment.

For me, the most exciting thing about UGA is that the pieces of that same ecosystem are here. Helping to build those connections where our graduate and undergraduate students can excel in whatever they want to do, that their vision of success is not just the gallery show, not just working at a design firm, but it’s a variety of different things that they choose, we have the ability to do that here. Few places in the world have the academic ecosystem available to make that kind of malleable, exciting graduate that can go out into the world and do whatever they want.

Alums We Love


chris-bilheimerWe love all of our alums and play no favorites here - and we especially love when our graduates and their exploits find their way into the media, as is the case today with great friend of the blog, Chris Bilheimer:

For more than two decades Chris Bilheimer has designed album covers, concert posters, rock T-shirts and more as art director for R.E.M. and freelancer for other bands, notably Green Day, Widespread Panic and Neutral Milk Hotel. Now he’s entered the fashion realm as the creative force behind Helm Boots’ redesign. This spring, the Austin, Texas-based brand unveiled a new logo, website, packaging, store signage and point-of-sale materials. “The original look had a pretty heavy Americana feel to it, and part of the vision was to move away from beating you over the head that it’s made in America,” said Bilheimer, whose wife, Hillary, is Helm’s brand manager. “With what they plan to do in the future, I tried to give them an identity that has a more modern feel.” Bilheimer studied drawing and painting at University of Georgia in Athens...

It's short, you can read it all. The Lamar Dodd School of Art has brought many great people to Athens and UGA, acted as a petri dish for their talents, and loosened them upon a the wider populace to achieve great success. We're proud of Chris and so many others. The people who come here to live, study and work are what make our town and the university what they are.

Creative Curricula


Costumes_du_ballet_Parade.jpgThe future of higher education is always a hot topic - though it can be difficult to predict from this side of the arch, front-loaded as we are with the present, if not the past. That being said, there are important elements of what we do and teach that, if arranged differently, could re-inforce traditional disiciplines and provide next-generation skills in the context in which they will be needed.

For example, this Baltimore Magazine article highlights a ground-breaking new partnership between the Maryland Institute College of Art and John Hopkins University Carey Business School. Right in the middle of it, of course, is a former UGA undergrad:

“I was looking for a mix of MBA and design,” says first-year Design Leadership student Julie Buisson, a native of France who has lived in the U.S. for the past 10 years. Buisson moved from Athens, GA, to Baltimore for the Design Leadership program after discovering it through a Google search. Dressed in a bulky, mustard-yellow sweater and holding a mug of coffee and a well-loved Moleskin journal, Buisson fits the picture of an art student, though she earned her undergraduate degree—in marketing, with an emphasis in sales—at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

“At Georgia, all of my friends were art students,” she says. “They showed me a different way of working. I took some art classes, and I realized that creativity is something you work on just like anything else.”

With the Design Leadership program, she’s filling a gap in her education. It’s the same for her classmates, who come from varied backgrounds, including architecture, nonprofits, photography, and even the oil industry. “There is something more that’s driving us,” says Buisson. “We all believe we should be trained as creatives—it’s just as important as being trained in analytics.”

Read the whole thing. The 'business model to bridge different worlds,' as construed in the article, cuts in many different directions, far beyond just business. When one of the architects of the new program says

“The business person who’s got that more humanistic platform is going to be less brittle than someone who’s just trained in business.” 

it is not to take anything away from business - rather it is to add to it. We must be sufficiently secure in our disciplines to consider expanding them, joining them, disrupting them, in the common parlance. To enhance our graduates' skills and abilities is the key. The academic capacity is here - a large liberal arts learning environment has everything. Let's encourage people - faculty, students, staff - to discover new ways to integrate our strengths and leverage our collaborative capacity.

Image: Costumes for the Ballet russes Parade, 1917. Répertoire de la compagnie des Ballets russes directed by Serge Diaghilev; Argument : Jean Cocteau, Musique : Eric Satie. Décors et costumes : Pablo Picasso. Chorégraphie originale : Léonide Massine. via Wikimedia Commons.

Locandine: Cortona Program Poster Designs


Cortona poster, star with heads of dignitaries.The University of Georgia Studies Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy is the great patriarch of study abroad programs at the university, going strong after its fortieth anniversary in 2010 and probably never as vibrant as it is today. In that time, thousands of UGA students and many hundreds more from other institutions have visited the small city on the hill, left a little of themselves there and taken a bit with them for wherever else life's journey has led.

Now through Nov. 7, the Suite and Plaza galleries of the Lamar Dodd School of Art are showcasing some of the inventive and original designs used to promote the program over the years. On view in the show is not only the evolution of design as such, but also the warm transatlantic relationship between Athens and Cortona that has so enriched both towns over the years.

The designs represented offer insight into the program's history, including course offerings, destinations and announcements for "La Mostra" or the student/faculty exhibition traditionally held each semester in Cortona.

Stop by and see the show - I just saw it today. A reception will be held on Sunday, Nov. 4 from 4 - 6 p.m. The program is using the poster exhibition to entice alumni to visit campus and they're giving the posters away as a token for donations to the program. A great opportunity to own some delightful design pieces that mark part of the history of art at UGA.

Talking Design in Myanmar


burmese script

In July 2012, Lamar Dodd School of Art assistant professor of graphic design Moon Jung Jang was one of three international designers invited to participate in a three-week design workshop in Yangon, Myanmar. Organized to cultivate discourse on the power of visual design in the Southeast Asian country of many languages, ethnicities and linguistic groups, the workshop was a learning experience for Jang even as she was invited to be one of its instructors.

“It was great opportunity to talk about and share ideas on design concepts with a diverse of group of professional illustrators, designers and artists,” Jang said. She was invited to present at the workshop, Tactical Media: Publication Design - Creating Critical and Creative Journalism for a New Era of Myanmar, along with Fumio Tachibana of Women’s Art University in Tokyo and Bart Haensel of the Artemis Academy in Amsterdam. The three presented separate design sessions over the course of the workshop on a variety of topics organized around social development and capacity building in Myanmar. The three-week experience culminated in an exhibition of new graphic works developed by the participants.

The workshop was organized by Mizzima, a Burmese news and multimedia company, in cooperation with Arts Network Asia, an independent group of artists and activist from across Asia.

“All the participants understand very well that publications are a powerful medium, especially so as a country goes through a transition period of democratization, such as Myanmar is,” Jang said. “They are very talented cartoonists, artists and designers, but they wanted to know what else is going on - and so they invited designers from different parts of the world.”

Postmodern design, transformations of craft



The impact of high style on the hand-made elements of craft is an ongoing, if contentious, phenomenon. The Lamar Dodd School of Art hosts a lecture by a curator from the Victoria and Albert Museum, who will talk about the recent V & A exhibition exploring this topic.

Glenn Adamson, Deputy Head of Research and Head of Graduate Studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, will present a lecture at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at 5:30 p.m. on April 10 in room S151. His lecture, which will focus on recent transformations of craft, as viewed through the lens of his experience curating the exhibition, ‘Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, 1970-1990,’ is free and the public is invited to attend.

Futurefarmer Franceschini to visit UGA



The Lamar Dodd School of Art, The Willson Center and ICE bring interdisciplinary artist Amy Franceschini to campus on March 6.

Franceschini will deliver the lecture[ 4 p.m., 101 MLC] "Art is a Verb," which focuses on her recent work with sustainable energy, urban food production and dialogues between artists and scientists. She is the founder of Futurefarmers, a critically acclaimed group of artists and designers who have worked together since 1995. Their innovative studio produces art projects, design for print and interactive websites, workshops and research that explores social, cultural and environmental systems. Futurefarmers hosts artists from around the world in residency programs that offer a platform for collaboration and research.