I Know Where You Worked Last Summer

A look at some of the 2015 GD Summer internships

Text by Margaret Andersen • Photos by Sharleen Chen & Jaime Van Wart

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Sharleen Chen (MFA1) with April Greiman at her studio Made In Space.

Sharleen Chen (MFA1) with April Greiman at her studio Made In Space.

Green screen stage from Jaime Van Wart’s (MFA2 Motion) internship at Blind

Green screen stage from Jaime Van Wart’s (MFA2 Motion) internship at Blind

It might still feel like Summer outside, but the Fall semester is officially underway. Remember those three luxurious months of sleeping in, hanging out poolside, feasting on food truck tacos? Neither do we. Many of CalArts’ current design students spent their summers working hard at internships; here’s a look at what some of them got up to, and what they’re most excited to be working on this year.

Every spring, CalArts seeks to connect students to internship opportunities through various recruitment days, or in the case of last semester by holding an official job fair for the design department, where students could engage in several rounds of speed-interviews with potential employers in Los Angeles. Henrique Eira (MFA2) landed his internship through the job fair with Distinc_ in Pasadena. He started working at the studio during a very busy period, and was able to contribute to a variety of different projects. “That was cool,” he says, “because I got to do a little bit of everything: brochure, brand identity, illustration, animation, presentations, websites, etc. I also got to participate in a lot of their meetings, including presentations to clients. Towards the end, I was basically the designer responsible for one of their projects/clients there.”

Jaime Van Wart (MFA2 Motion) says the opportunity to work with Chris Do at Blind in Santa Monica arose before last semester was was even over. “I met Chris during a workshop he taught for the Motion Graphics students,” she explains, “so simply being part of the program opened a door for this experience and helped me anticipate Chris’s standards and expectations. The Advanced Motion Graphics course, taught by Brad Tucker, was hellishly demanding but indispensable in preparing me for the technical requirements of the job as well as the urgency and pace of the work. All of my teachers have been very generous with their time and willingness to discuss the industry and help me make connections.”

What was the best part of experience for Jaime? “I got to design frames for XBOX! That was the most exciting project, and because those frames were produced toward the end of my internship, I was able to see how much I had improved both technically and in efficiency. I also loved the people and learned a lot about the industry and process of professional motion graphics.”

Some students had opportunities to intern with former CalArts faculty, like Sharleen Chen (MFA1) who spent the summer working on packaging, book layout, email newsletter, branding, and websites at April Greiman’s studio Made In Space. Her favorite part of the experience was, “Getting to work with and learn from design legends such as April Greiman and Laurie Haycock-Makela.” Chen recalls, “They were very kind to me and taught me a lot about looking at the finer details in type and design.” On working in a shared studio environment, Chen says, “CalArts has helped to develop a unique sensibility in my design approach. My other co-worker was a graduate of Art Center and it was always interesting to see the difference in thought behind our designs. Between the two of us we created an interesting dynamic in the studio; and this was not only an asset to our designs but also a good learning experience for myself.”

While most students interned in or around Los Angeles, others traveled farther north like Teal Gile  (BFA4) who worked on product design for men’s basketball at Nike’s main campus, just outside of Portland. She explains that she was, “responsible for designing t-shirt and apparel graphics, concepting for each season, and developing schematics for designs to be sent to factories, as well as various intern projects, ranging from giving presentations to collaborating with freelance artists. The design interns were also responsible for designing and curating an end of the program show, showcasing their work over the summer.” When asked about how she thinks life at CalArts helps to prepare students for working in a professional environment she says, “When I got to Nike they definitely seemed like they wanted to get a new angle and perspective on what they were doing and I feel like my time here at CalArts has trained me to explore multiple solutions to reach a place that is totally new. Not to mention the work ethic you build during the program is definitely helpful when you get into the working world and have to be able to produce a lot of work in a short time.”

So now that they’re back in the studio again, what are some of the projects the designers are most excited about? In addition to self-initiated projects and collaborations with studiomates, Teal and Henrique are both in their last years and ready to start developing their thesis projects and final portfolios. For Sharleen, she says she, “would like to take the fluidity and energy that I saw in April’s designs and attempt to incorporate it into my own work. I am interested in experimenting with some new methodology that may help me achieve this goal.” And for Jaime, “Practicing efficiency and decisiveness and committing to improving and diversifying technically.” She explains, “At the end of my first year, I knew I had learned a lot, but I wasn’t sure at all where I stood in the bigger world of the motion industry. My internship helped me triangulate my place in that world and really understand what I need to focus on in order to excel in it. I now have a well defined agenda for learning production techniques and design tools, and I have seen first-hand how fast and skilled I will need to be to compete for the jobs that I want.”