Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BFA Review Details...Short and Long of it.

The short story is that I did not pass. Scroll down to the pictures if you want to skip all of my bullshit.


I can still graduate this spring with a BA, but I'm going to look into appealing their decision. This is my fifth year of college and I've worked in the arts for coming up on three years now, and there's just no reason that I've worked with the intention of receiving a BFA and I shouldn't get it for any number of reasons. I plan to continue to work in the arts, even if I can't get a design job straight out of school, and I don't just do design work, so there's no reason for me to not try to appeal. I wouldn't have gone up if I didn't believe I was ready, and I certainly wouldn't have put myself in this vulnerable position if I thought I didn't deserve to pass.

I'm not sure their process for deciding who gets which degree is a due process, or at least it just doesn't work the same way for everyone that goes up for review.

They have separate art shows, the BFA candidates write a thesis (except the Graphic Design students, we get some sort of portfolio review and professional practice class, or something...) and find their own space using a small allotted budget, so students that don't have the dedication or the skill to get together with a group of people to organize their show can opt out, or in some unfortunate cases, you don't pass and you were really counting on passing and prepared to do the work that would come in your last year.

I've known both people that should've passed that didn't and people who passed that maybe shouldn't have, or at least not for the right reasons. So basically, that's what happened to me, for whatever reason I didn't convince the majority of the 7 full time and 3 half time professors that I am ready and deserved of this degree.

I've already spent a lot of time and tears and beers speculating what I could've done differently, but it turned out the way it did, and now I've got a new set of challenges so I can join my classmates in planning our BFA show this spring, or at least say that I tried to be a part of it. A good friend and professor of mine said that he doesn't want them to break my spirit because this guy I know appealed last year and they broke his and it's not fixed yet, but they forget, my world is bigger than this department. Oh, and I broke my skull and lived, look how far I've come from a near death experience that happened only 6 months ago. I'm sure if I'm capable of that, I think I'm capable of taking beginnings of ideas into fruition for a BFA show that is 8 months away. Maybe more importantly, I am capable of understanding that even if I lose, it is not the end of my spirit. I'll probably cry a lot or whatever, but I'll be fine no matter the outcome. This is worth working for.

So here's how our review worked:

We had to write an artist statement and fill out a form that outlines the classes we've taken throughout our time in the Webster Art Department. Regarding my statement, I got some feedback from my parents that said it sounded too apologetic, and have since gotten feedback from others, but not until after the review results, unfortunately. There's no harm in sharing, so if you're curious about it, you can download the PDF. It's not the best thing I've ever written, but you should see what the sample statements looked like. Poorly written.

Here's the work I included, and some (hopefully) short explanations, including links if necessary. I don't think I did a great job of convincing them that this wasn't my only work:

My name in birthday candles and sparkles to show them my love of finding alternative typographic solutions. Just a little greeting.

This was an experiment to emulate something that I saw when it snowed. man decorates nature with lights on bushes, then nature decorates man's decoration and creates a beautiful effect through the snow. These are color changing LED lights and fake blanket snow. It was the cheapest and most accessible way I could experiment with this idea. This'd probably be better as a gif, but maybe I blew your minds too much yesterday with those.
Here are some detail shots:

On to the next piece, which we've seen before:

I did for an assignment dealing with publication illustration. The fake article's subject was "oil vs the ecology". I showed it because I developed this really great technique that I'm excited to work more with on future projects. I printed it on really nice photo paper at around 20 inches tall, if that gives you an idea of the print. It looked beautiful and I got compliments on the quality until they got all stuck on wanting to see these drawings in real life and feel the texture that this technique I developed yields.


Or eagles, rather, I just wanted to reference Brian Eno there. I keep finding more and more ways to relate to this balancing shape that I've created, inspired by balancing eagle toys that I loved so much as a kid. I made 35 of them in all different sizes, I cut them out of black matboard and then adhered holographic film I've been collecting to the top side and then trimmed the edges with a box cutter and folded them down the middle and then they balance off almost any kind of corner or upright point, like magic. Stephen and I made and sanded and painted all those oak dowel stands for them to balance on. The coolest thing about them, which I didn't even do, is that you can stack them and they still balance on a point because the weight is still distributed evenly among the shape. It's cool looking, I don't know why I didn't do it for the review.

They are not glued down, they are balancing on their own. If anyone has any questions, I'll be happy to answer, but they are way cooler in real life. That being said, if anyone wants one, contact me.

The majority of the reviewers didn't get it, and I was weak in explaining my concept, and with the exception of a few, they were weak in understanding, so excuse me for feeling a little exhausted in trying to defend something that I spent so much time making. I'll do another post about my attachment and inspiration and whatever else for these, or maybe a few. I can't tell you how many times I listened to the ABBA song Eagle [see last 2 videos of linked post] to pump myself up for explaining and defending this piece, which was clearly the big keypiece in my review. It took up A very large corner, I think you can see an electrical outlet in some of the pics for scale.

I wish there were better lighting in the room I showed, they create amazing shadows and reflections. Check this post to see part of how I related the ever-developing meaning of these shapes and their significance to me.

and finally: my design work, the best accomplishments, or at least the only two things I've ever gotten professionally printed and released into the world.

Axolotl's Telesma, 2006/7, (I can't remember, which I guess I have a production credit too because my ex and I put it out under) Spooky Action:

Released in an edition of 500, I selected the paper (it's name was funny, like super white or something that indicated that it was whiter than white was capable of) at a fine arts paper dealer here in STL, worked with the die cut/foil stamper guy, made the logo on the disc, typeset everything (with my work being checked by a more experienced friend), and hand trimmed and measured and scored and bonefolded probably about HALF of the whole edition. Yeah, I know. It got great reviews on experimental boards on the internet, and these might be the best pics anyone's taken of it.
Please check out the reviews I've linked if you have the time, I'm sure they're better at talking about it than I am:
I should also mention how much the reviews went out of their way to commend the design of the packaging, so check it out!

JD Emmanuel's Solid Dawn, 2008, KVIST Records:


This CD I designed of this old electronic music guru guy's unreleased material that was printed in an edition of 1000, but planned to be released as an edition of 500, and expected to sell out, (it was highly anticipated to a select group of people) so that was a nice surprise for everyone after the release. I'm not sure if it has actually sold out yet or not...My friend Stephen and I made that font on the album title and artist name, we built it from scanning in the cover of this old electronic LP that the art director gave us to work from for inspiration. The type on that LP was done by hand (I could tell because some of the a's were different) and we built a more cohesive version of it.

Reviews and links to them can be found on the KVIST page I already linked to. In my review they kind of tore me apart or at least it confused the hell out of them because they asked "did you take those photographs?" no less than THREE times. The first time I responded, "no, but I made that font" and then when I realized what was really being asked, I said, "no, the musician took all these photos, it's called Solid Dawn because all of them were taken at dawn, and I was given about 20 images to choose from to build a color palate and I eyedroppered all the selected colors used on the backside of the insert images so that the color scheme would be determined by these photographs, and I chose the order of the cards to be light to dark."

So, what do you guys think, now that you've seen the same work that I thought best represented the "fine arts" side of me and how I'm integrating that into my designs. I'd really like feedback, constructive critique, compliments, questions WHATEVER. I'll view it as support, I promise.

Also, if anyone has any ideas about how I should go about my appeal, then please comment. I need all the support I can get in this one. If anyone who knows me well enough or even just my knowledge of contemporary art and design, feel free to draft a short note or email to me and I'll be sure to highlight points and include them in my presentation- this would be especially helpful if you are a professional creative.

Spirited Away screenshots

I took these screen shots to show how I started feeling attached to the meaning of that shape of paper when I saw that it was similar to that of the shape that I've been working with, of my balancing eagles. I tried to explain in my review, but I didn't have these pics on hand and only a few had seen the movie. This is how I described my attachment to the shape in the movie and why I liked that it looked very similar to my shape:

In the movie Spirited Away, this little girl gets lost in this alternate world. She befriends this boy immediately that gives her advice and watches over her and he is also a dragon, and sometimes the dragon turns into this big flurry of paper shapes that look a lot like my shape. One of the pieces of paper separates from the group and attaches itself to her back (hugging motion, almost embarrassingly Kate Bush inspired body language while explaining this) and peeks its head up every so often or flies off to distract or warn danger, and then reattaches itself to her back. I liked the idea that this shape is capable of protecting her.

Sounds about right, right? I'm starting to feel that way about these shapes that I am making. I should take some pictures of them with me balancing them off my fingers.

I have no idea why I thought this was so cute

This tiny doggy waiting diligently for its owner in this giant van
that's the same color as it? So cute.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Puppy surprise for Taylor and Ali (and maybe Jerms)

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist somehow including a few odd things.

Jaimie Warren:

I hope that cheered us all up.
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