Emerging filmmakers 'see' their dreams come true


Updated June 4: Congratulations to director Olivia Riley Day and her crew from Savannah College of Art and Design for winning the Sprite Films Fan Favorite Award for the short film “See Your Dreams.” America voted on “See Your Dreams” and five other student films that were finalists in the 2014 Sprite Films competition at sprite.com/films this spring. In return for racking up the most votes by the public, Olivia and the film’s co-producer Akmyrat Tuyliyev will receive a trip to the American Film Institute’s (AFI) film festival in November and a $5,000 donation to SCAD’s film department.

Posted on April 3: Breaking into film requires more than talent. It requires access and visibility. Olivia Riley Day (B.F.A., film and television, senior) from Savannah College of Art and Design found a direct line to both. She's one of six finalists participating in the Sprite Films program for student filmmakers and vying for a chance to win a contract to produce a Sprite branded project.

With her short film “See Your Dreams” up for the world to vote on now through May 15 at sprite.com/films, we delved into what makes director Olivia tick. She and Akmyrat Tuyliyev (B.F.A., film and television, senior), one of the film’s producers, just returned from CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Nev., where "See Your Dreams" was screened for industry leaders.

Olivia and Akmyrat, with the 2014 Sprite Films finalists, meet producer-director Ivan Reitman whose film "Draft Day" will be released on April 11. Photo credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images.

Thread: Name one “pinch me" moment from CinemaCon?

O: The most unforgettable moment of CinemaCon, and probably my life, was at the awards ceremony. The announcer called my name and I stood while big-name stars actually clapped for me. It was kind of insane, and I still can't believe it happened.

T: What inspired the concept for “See Your Dreams”?

O: Everyone in life has had to overcome challenges, and some people face challenges that they believe are too great to overcome. This story is about believing in yourself and always staying true to your dreams, and if you don't give up, your dreams will one day become a reality.

Olivia and Akmyrat at work on the McDonough, Ga. set of "See Your Dreams."

T: How did you develop your passion for film?

O: I always loved the escape that going to the movies gave me, however I did not realize my passion for film until I went to three and a half years of business school and knew that I needed to express my creative side to be happy. I am a natural born leader/director so it was only fitting to control the creative side of the one thing in life that I love more than anything, the movies.

T: What are some trends, techniques or technologies that you’re watching?

O: I don't worry about the latest trends or technology past what is going to get my story across the best. If a new technology comes out that strikes my interest and benefits my story I will utilize it, but as of right now I stick to digital. One day I would love to work with the robots Bot & Dolly, they are a very expensive and unique technology that only extremely successful filmmakers get the opportunity to work with.

T: What’s your advice to aspiring student filmmakers?

O: I recommend looking out for opportunities like Sprite Films. The program has allowed me to compete at a higher level, thus gain recognition at a higher level, and has helped me get one step closer to seeing my dreams become a reality. If you are in film school, I recommend that you attend all the film festivals you can because that’s where you can meet industry professionals and establish connections that could lead to greater opportunities once out of college.

T: How has the Savannah Film Festival molded you as a filmmaker?

O: The Savannah Film Festival has allowed me to establish connections with industry professionals I otherwise would not have been able to meet and given me wonderful insight from famous directors that I will carry with me forever.

T: Anything else that you want Thread to know?

O: Never stop 'seeing your dreams,' and if you don't know what they are, do not stop searching until you find them.

From the pages of 'Vogue' to grad school


I first met Marv Graff (M.F.A., fibers, 2015) while studying abroad at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Lacoste. His unique eye for fashion left quite an impression. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art clearly was equally impressed by Marv, having added a tunic he created to the permanent collection of The Costume Institute.) Marv creates his garments using one of a kind found objects, and the antique markets of Provence were a treasure trove for his creativity. He visited the markets often during his stay in Lacoste and was known among the market owners in Isle Sur la Sorgue as "Mr. Hollywood." Marv created three looks for the 2014 SCAD Fashion Show. It was incredible to see how his explorations in Lacoste carried over to the pieces he showed on the runway at SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah.

Marv in his studio at Pepe Hall.

This first look, shown above, was inspired by an antique fireplace screen Marv found in a shop in Bluffton, South Carolina. Marv loved the way the screen fanned out to like peacock feathers and decided to create a petal skirt in its image, working with a SCAD graduate to laser-cut the screen's pattern into the leather.

Marv's second look started with an antique hoop skirt from Peddler Jim's Antiques in Savannah. Making the skirt was a labor intsensive process, complete with handmade knotting and macrame techniques, and the paired top was even more intricate, taking over 16 hours to make.

Marv's final look was inspired by one of the projects he started when he first came to SCAD. On one of his many antique hunts, he came across a taxidermied, polyurethane shell of a deer and began braiding and knotting over it, starting with the legs. From then on, braided deer antlers became his trademark touch.

Thread: You had a very successful career in New York. When and why did you come to SCAD?

Marv Graff: I came to SCAD in September 2013. I kind of just jumped on a train from New York and came down here. I needed a change.

T: What has changed for you? Why did you decide to leave your career in fashion and jewelry design?

M: I felt like I wasn’t being so creative. I was just gearing everything towards marketing fulfillment and not creative fulfillment. Being at SCAD has brought me back to where I was when I graduated the first time. When I graduated from the University of Nebraska, I was doing really unusual things regarding to body and fashion. I just started making things and selling things in New York and that’s pretty much how my whole career started. I would just take a suitcase full of stuff I had made around for fashion editors and stores to see. But keep in mind, in those days it was pretty easy. Then I came to SCAD because it was my dream to be able to do fashion like this, and it’s amazing that it's happening.

Marv's previous work, created at SCAD Lacoste.

T: What is it about SCAD that spurred that creative drive?

M: When I was in New York, every weekend I’d go to boutiques and galleries and see everything that was new and popular. When I came to Savannah, there was none of that. So I made my own, and that became my goal: to find and create things. I’m also very inspired by the way that SCAD goes about making their classrooms. The buildings are beautiful, and that makes up for the lack of fancy galleries in Savannah, compared to New York City. These buildings become that. Like Morris Hall, the new Fashion Marketing and Managment building and Hayman's Hall, the new Illustration building.

T: What's next for you? Will you return to New York after graduating?

M: I’m keeping my options open to see what happens. I taught at Kansas State University and I was making these sweaters that were hand-loomed on cardboard, and they had feathers and tentacles. I was selling them to stores in New York and the fashion press picked me up at that time. I got a lot of really good press early on. I would say I had Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame when I was there. I won this young designer award, Pré de Cache, but fashion was really hard to produce, and the cost of jewelry was easier for an individual designer without any backing. So that’s how I got into the fashion jewelry industry.

Whichever road Marv should choose, he is sure to have a successful second act, the beginnings of which his followers may just trace back to the runway in Savannah.

A taste of tiny living in SCADpad


I volunteered to live in Savannah College of Art and Design's experimental micro-house SCADpad® because I wanted to test whether a 135 square-foot dwelling is truly liveable. I figured cooking was going to be my biggest challenge when I moved into SCADpad Europe this week: even when you have full-sized equipment (i.e. stove, oven), cooking in a small space is difficult. Where do you prep? Chop? Plate? Clean up? My mother is a fantastic cook. As a child, I was attached to her hip, which meant a lot of time with her in the kitchen. I learned to cook from her, absorbed it rather, over years of watching, mimicking and helping her prepare meal after meal.

But in a kitchen with only a sink, microwave, and a one-burner stovetop? Now that’s a challenge, especially if you’re going for something slightly healthier than mac ‘n cheese from a cardboard box.

My SCADpad kitchen is a single plane of countertop, 7 Women’s Size 7 Keds long by 2 Women’s Size 7 Keds deep. Half is taken up by the sink and single-burner stovetop. A large cutting board can squeeze in on the other half, next to the Keurig coffee maker and in front of the kitchen utensils. In other words, there’s not a lot of space. So how do you cook?

Three words: Keep. It. Simple.

I’m talking one pot simple: stir-fries, one pot pasta, lots of sautéing and steaming. For my first meal, I made stir-fry with lots of vegetables, some leftover roasted chicken I brought to SCADpad from home, and steamed rice. I call it SCADpad Stirfry.

While the space is tight, I can say that the SCADpad kitchen was designed for the user. Of course, everything is in reach. How could it not be? But in such a tight squeeze, burning yourself could be an issue. The SCADpad designers factored that in. The burner is “magnetic induction,” meaning the flat plane will only heat magnetized pots and pans. The “burner” will not burn you if you happen to graze your hand over it. You could place a stick of butter on the “hot burner” but it would not melt. The burner will only heat magnetized metal. All of the pots and pans in SCADpad have been specially made with magnetic coating to respond to the burner.

But if for some reason the cooking doesn’t work out, there is always the SCADpad iPad: use it to order delivery. Just be sure to give detailed directions to the parking deck.

Glennis Lofland is a writer, reader and occasional runner pursuing her M.F.A. in writing at SCAD Atlanta. A native Virginian from a country town called Crozier, she traveled across the globe before coming to Atlanta. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in linguistics from the College of William and Mary. Follow her on Twitter @GlennisLofland.

Video: Sidewalk Arts 2014 and the winners


Sidewalk Arts 2014 saw 1,000 Savannah College of Art and Design students, alumni and prospective students transform the pathways of Forsyth Park into a colorful carpet of inspired chalk art. This timelapse by photographer Andrew Forino (B.F.A., photography, 2014) captures the mellow frenzy of the day: artists drawing against the clock, their audience lured ahead by one brilliant illustration after another.

The winners include:

Best in Show: Madison Burger (B.F.A., illustration, 2010) and Katie Campbell (B.F.A., graphic design, 2004)

SCAD 35th Anniversary Award: Illustration students Jordyn Moss and Taylor McCaslin and animation students Grant Whitsitt and Abigail Slupecki

Graduate Student Award: Illustration student Sanaz Bagheraloloum Yazdani

Gray’s Reef Award: Animation student Jose Matheu and architecture student Ricardo Chiuz

Drawing Minor Award: Animation student Laurie Murray

Individual Student Award First Place: Illustration student Nguyen Tran

Group Student Award First Place: Illustration student Hyeonji Kim and fashion marketing and management student Soobin Lee

Alumni Award First Place: Cliff Lummus (B.F.A., graphic design, 2006; M.F.A., writing, 2011)

High School Competition First Place: Kari Hiner



The jewelry of 'Downton Abbey' with designer Andrew Prince


English jewelry maker Andrew Prince is across the pond for a U.S. tour that includes Bergdorf Goodman, which sells his designs, and Kleinfelds in New York City. He’ll give a public lecture at Savannah College of Art and Design on April 30 at 5:00 p.m.

Andrew’s impeccable taste and encyclopedic knowledge of jewelry and fashion could convince the most unadorned of us to match our bling and bouffant. Coexisting with Andrew’s unflinching sense of humor and style is a scholarly seriousness about his craft that will change the way you watch the PBS hit series Downton Abbey, now filming its fifth season, or any other period piece on television, big screen or stage. Here’s the designer on the virtues of costume jewelry, his commissions for legends like Michael Jackson and, of course, how he bejewels the ladies of Downton.

SCAD: Give us a sneak preview of the talk you’ll give at SCAD Museum of Art.

Andrew Prince: It’s about how fashion and jewelry are usually treated as two entirely different subjects, yet they are absolutely intertwined. So many people in the clothes industry know nothing about jewelry, and so many people in the jewelry industry know nothing about fashion. Jewelry follows fashion and it’s a talk that explains how the fashions change and why they change and why at the beginning of the 20th century there was such a revolution in jewelry design.

SCAD: What’s the relationship between jewelry and costume design in film and TV?

AP: With costume design, one of the important things is not so much to match the jewelry with the costume, but to match the jewelry with the age of the person. You might get someone in the 1930s in their 60s wearing a modern dress, but her jewelry would be 20 or 30 years older than that. It wouldn’t be up to date because most people buy their jewelry in their 30s, 40s and 50s when they look their best. Using Maggie Smith’s Downton character the Dowager Countess as an example, all her jewelry would have been Victorian and Edwardian pieces. She would not have had Art Deco piece. Sometimes you see period dramas where you have a matron wearing modern jewelry and that’s totally wrong. It’s like if you can imagine someone in their 60s today wearing someone like Stephen Webster. It wouldn’t happen or it would be very unusual.

Necklace for Dowager Countess of Grantham that was worn at a formal dinner along with a choker. This style and combination is typical of the late Victorian or Edwardian period.

SCAD: How does your jewelry aid the development of Downton’s characters?

AP: The jewelry is more of a background really because it’s supporting an image. It was never meant to take the characters over. For example, Cora, who is the American heiress, she would have had very large jewelry, diamond pieces to hold her own against the English aristocracy who had some very large pieces themselves. At that time, England was a very wealthy country because it had an empire and lots of money was coming in. So the families were able to afford these very lavish pieces of jewelry. So the jewelry is more of a frame for the character rather than part of the character. It’s a little bit of decoration to enhance the character.

Tiara made for Cora of pear shaped diamonds. This is a very dressy tiara worn for court and, being an American heiress, Cora would have come to England with a lot of diamonds as an indicator of great wealth.

Hairpiece made for Cora. She wore this tucked in back of her hair for dinners at home. Because of the eclectic influences, such as exotic countries, during the Art Deco period this design was based on a Japanese plum blossom.

SCAD: Do you loan pieces to the production or are they commissioned?

AP: Some of the early pieces were ones that I already had in stock, but some of the pieces, particularly for the presentation of court and Lady Mary’s feather piece, they were made specifically for the character. The one for Caroline McCall, the show's costume designer, she basically said, "This is the period, this is the person, this is what’s happening. What do you think needs to be done?" There is one particular tiara, the one Queen Mary was wearing during the presentation, and when it came to two days before shooting I had a panicked call from Caroline who said, “We need her tiara to be bigger because Cora’s is going to be bigger than the queen’s and it does not look good.” So I spent 24 hours on the new crown and delivered it two days later.

Tiara that Queen Mary wore during the court presentation. Closely resembling a crown, this piece had to be very big and grand because she is the queen. Pearls were very expensive during these times, and a matched set of pear shaped pearls would have been out of reach for most everyone except royalty.

Maggie Smith is very specific on her jewelry. She’s particular about her character. I was concerned about what she would think about the choker and the tiara. And when it was shown to her she said, “Oh it’s wonderful, it’s exactly what I want,” I was relieved because it could’ve been a case of making something else.

The Dowager Countess of Grantham’s signature choker. She wears this in almost every scene, as she models herself on Queen Mary and Queen Alexandra (who were both very into chokers). The style is Late Edwardian/Belle Époque and is typical of a piece that a wealthy man would have bought for his wife while she was in her 30s.

The choker is a big piece of jewelry that shows wealth, and while it is not considered blindingly flashy or ostentatiously vulgar, it is something she would have used almost as “armor” to show the world her social and financial status.

SCAD: What are these pieces worth or is it a matter of worth?

AP: The most expensive thing that goes into them is time. A lot of the stones are especially cut for me so that the cuts are correct. For example, a 1930s piece would have a different style of cut than a piece from the Victorian times. So quite often you find that when films loan real jewelry that it’s too bright. Under the lights in the studios the stones are too dazzling, so they have to be dulled down. Costume jewelry works best up under film lights because it’s not as bright as diamonds. Diamonds are blinding. There’s a particular tiara that Judy Dench wears in the film “Mrs. Henderson Presents” that is emeralds and crystals. In the studio I toned them down with graphite, which makes the stones look darker and can be washed off, because under the lights they were too strong. The pieces have to be tailored to the filming. Also, insurance on jewelry is too expensive, so studios tend to commission very good costume jewelry.

SCAD: We saw your quote: "You can’t have fun with diamonds." You must be joking.

AP: Seriously. It’s because if you have a $25,000 pair of earrings you will spend the entire evening wondering if they’re still on, or whether the event you’re going to justifies the occasion to bring them out. If you have a string of pearls for $10,000 or glass beads, which one are you going to where more often?

SCAD: What are the most memorable commissions that you've made?

AP: A friend of mine was making Michael Jackson a jacket. I had made a very large piece of jewelry for me - a shoulder jewel - that I was going to wear to a party. She saw it and she said, “I know someone who would like that, but can you make it bigger?” And that’s how that commission came about. That was a fun one. The other is a shoulder strap that runs down the back of a dress. It was for an Oscar lady. I can’t really say who. It went through the dress designer.

SCAD: Mentorship is a big part of your story. What do you tell your mentees?

AP: One is to keep at it. The second one is don’t blow the profits. You always have bills coming in. When you start off and the money comes in, it seems fantastic and it builds up and builds up. You’ve got to put something aside every month, just in case something happens because everybody’s business goes down. It’s never an easy ride. Also, there are two things you’ve got to listen out for when dealing with clients. One is, “Don’t worry, I’m very easy to please.” You’ve missed out on a word. I’m “not” easy to please. And the second one is, “I don’t mind how much it costs, just go ahead.” They don’t mind how much it costs, but they’re not going to pay you. You’ve got to give them a price. Otherwise they’re going to refuse to pay.

SCAD: What designers influence you?

AP: I’m rather ashamed to say it, but Cartier. Cartier from about 1900 to about 1939. They were outstanding. So much better than they are today. At that time the company was run by Louis Cartier himself and he was the driving force. They were modern. Now the company is not a driving force because it has so much history to rely on. So like Stephen Webster, he’s a fantastic designer. Cartier would never produce pieces like that because it’s too groundbreaking and they’d alienate their traditional customers that have been with them for 30 or 40 years. Lalique was also groundbreaking. I wish my brain worked like that because he was a genius in every single way. From a jeweler’s point of view, Cartier is wonderful for technical reasons and commercial reasons, but for sheer artistic extravagance and amazement Lalique is unsurpassable.

Tiara for the Earl of Grantham’s sister for the post court presentation reception at their London house. This piece is a copy of an actual Cartier tiara that was worn by a titled English woman and is reflective of the appropriate style that an extremely wealthy woman would have worn during that period.

SCAD: What’s next for you?

AP: I’m going to start doing some more lavish pieces. I want to do impact pieces. So I’m being influenced by the Duchess of Cambridge’s things at the moment; big necklaces. I love big necklaces, so there’s some big necklaces coming out. I’ll also be working with English dress designer Sharon Cunningham. She did a lot of bridal stuff years ago and wants to do more couture things, and she’s a beautiful cutter. We want to create wonderful gowns incorporating lavish jewelry. 

And that takes us back to where we began, fashion and jewelry. Hear more from Andrew on April 30.

The evolution of an art and design education


This week we've featured the reflections of Savannah College of Art and Design alumni in the Northeast, South, West and Midwest on their industries and the education that prepared them for their careers. We'd be remiss to not feature the faculty members responsible for helping to direct their paths. Below you'll find faculty perspectives on how SCAD has evolved to keep pace with, and sometimes outpace, the world of art and design. And like the students who once roamed SCAD's classrooms and study halls, so too have those locations undergone powerful transformation.

SCAD Museum of Art

What's the biggest change you've seen at SCAD since you began teaching here?

SCAD was the best kept secret in art and design education in the year 1990. Now it is a top tier university for art and design. I used to have to explain SCAD to everyone I met, now everyone I meet seems to have a story about some great experience they have had with SCAD students or alumni. 
-Tom Fischer, Professor of Photography, first year at SCAD 1990

There has been a lot of change, yet there’s something about the school’s DNA that has guided that change. You could relate it to comparing a young azalea to a mature azalea, in that the qualities and the promises inherent in the young azalea are manifested in the more mature plant. The blooms have always been there, yet now those blooms are expressed in a more elaborate array of instances, and they can be witnessed by many more people and at greater distances. They catch a larger spectrum of the sun. 
-Scott Boylston, Professor of Sustainability Design, first year at SCAD 1998

Poetter Hall

What's the most signifcant change that your field has seen since you began teaching at SCAD?

Graphic Design is one of the fastest changing industries, so the constant change of our curriculum is extremely important. Our seniors produce responsive digital publications and websites for their portfolios; they breathe new technology like air. Some of these cutting edge portfolio presentations can be seen on the Atlanta Graphic Design blog, and if you are only familiar with the old style portfolio presentation, you will be blown away. 
-Henry Hongmin Kim, Professor of Graphic Design, first year at SCAD 2004

SCAD students have always been outstanding in their eagerness to learn and excel in their majors. They are a pleasure to share knowledge with. 
-Judith Ott Allen, Professor of Art History, first year at SCAD 1986

Maisson Basse

How has your work to prepare students for careers in art and design changed?

Over the past 4 years, I have noticed the increasing importance that internship opportunities play in providing real world experience for students at their entry point into art careers. It has lead to impressive positions at colleges, public art organizations, the film industry, and museums. We are focusing on impressive internship opportunities more than ever and fitting students into compatible internships that successfully lead to jobs. 
-Susan Krause, Professor of Sculpture, first year at SCAD 2000

On some levels, I’d compare design for sustainability in 2014 to web design in the early 1990's. I remember well the days when businesses considered web design first as a fad, then as a necessarily ‘evil,’ then as an essential core to their business success, and then finally to ‘if you don’t have a website, you’re out of business.’ Sustainability is following a similar path, and so teaching sustainability has gotten a little easier since we started the program 5 years ago because we spend less time justifying the discipline and more time celebrating its successes.
-Scott Boylston, Professor of Sustainability Design, first year at SCAD 1998


Norris Hall

Is there one student you've taught whose work you are particularly proud of?

I would have to say that one of my former SCAD Savannah students and now my current supervisor, Associate Chair of Animation, Matt Maloney, might be the best personal story for me. Even as a student, Matt was always an outstanding artist, animator, filmmaker, and film historian and is only more so today. Over the years I think we've learned from each other and the fact that he is now an outstanding professor, department leader, and colleague is a really beautiful thing. 
-Becky Wible Searles, Professor of Animation, first year at SCAD 1999

It's hard to pick one, so here's a few: Chris Schweizer, Jackie Lewis, Hunter Clark, Doug Dabbs, Cara McGee, Justin Wagner. These are all alumni who have gone on to have some amazing careers. I am constantly impressed by my current students as well.
-Shawn Crystal (M.F.A., sequential art, 2001), Professor of Sequential Art since 2006

Student Center transformation

Snapshots of SCAD alumni in the West and the Midwest


From the South, we move West and Midwest for our last installment in this week's series on Savannah College of Art and Design alumni. For those of you who can't make Alumni Weekend 2014 (April 25-27), think of it as a virtual homecoming. With your help and input, however, this reunion of stories can continue througout the year. Please send us your updates to blog@scad.edu

Benny Gold, 1998
B.F.A., Graphic Design

Where are they now: Owner and designer of Benny Gold store and design studio in San Francisco, Calif.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Inspirational

Favorite SCAD memory: My favorite memory of my time at SCAD was falling in love with graphic design. Before attending college, I had no idea what it meant to be a designer. Thank you!

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: The biggest change in my career path was making myself the client. After graduating, I was working in design firms and corporate jobs until I took the chance to develop a personal project. I am glad I did and haven't looked back since.

Advice to students: The best advice that I can give is to not be afraid of rejection. When I graduated, I sent out a million resumes and barely got any call backs. It took close to a year to land my first real design job. Once someone took a chance on me everything started to fall into place.

Lookbook photo from Benny's design collaboration with JanSport and Pendleton.

Mike Wohnoutka, 1993
B.F.A., Illustration

Where are they now: Freelance illustrator and author in Minneapolis, Minn.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Challenging (in a good way)

Favorite SCAD memory: Seeing David Shannon's presentation on how he illustrated his first children's book.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: There are so many creative people pushing children's books in every direction. It's very exciting to see how this medium has grown and changed in so many positive ways since I graduated.

Advice to students: Persistence is the key...seriously.

Mike's first book as both illustrator and author coming out this Fall, published by Holiday House.


Laurence Rothman, 1997
B.F.A., Fashion Design

Where are they now: Director of digital messaging and eCommerce at Crown Partners in Columbus, Ohio.

One word that describes time at SCAD: ENLIGHTENING

Favorite SCAD memory: Classes with the late Ben Morris, professor of fashion design. Professor Morris worked for Givenchy in the 1950s and was a fashion editor at The New York Times. His classes were amazing.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: That's a simple one. Fashion went from being an art to a business. When we were learning, it was more about the art form and being able to conceptualize things. These days, it's all about lifestyle marketing rather than being an artist.

Advice to students: Be very willing to accept feedback and learn from people because that's the only way you'll grow your career, and go outside your comfort zone because you'll never grow if you stay in your comfort zone.


Michael Myers, 1987
B.F.A., Photography

Where are they now: Was a New York fashion and beauty photographer for more than 25 years, now the head distiller and owner of Distillery 291, making award-winning Colorado Whiskey in Colorado Springs, Colo.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Unprecedented

Favorite SCAD memory: Breaking all the rules of photography while shooting images for my nature photography class.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: The change from analog to digital photography reducing the number of jobs in the photography industry.

Advice to students: Follow your passion and do what you love; be an artist and do your work to your enjoyment.

Photo from a series Michael created in Africa.


Catherine Asanov, 2009
B.F.A., Photography

Where are they now: Freelance fashion and advertising Photographer in Los Angeles, Calif.

One word that describes time at SCAD: CAPTIVATING!

Favorite SCAD memory: Studying abroad in Lacoste and being able to travel around Europe.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: Photography field merging into video.

Advice to students: Being a successful artist requires work and passion for your art. Anything is possible with will and determination.

Photo from one of Catherine's recent fashion shoots.

What makes a college Emmy 'Possible'?


Tonight, Prasad Narse (M.F.A., animation, 2014) will learn whether he'll take home one of the most coveted prizes for film and television students: a College Television Award for his animated short "I M Possible." Watch the live webcast of the 35th annual awards tonight at 7:30 p.m. PDT. 

Since making the film at Savannah College of Art and Design, Prasad has garnered significant acclaim. In addition to the college Emmys, "I M Possible" won a Best of Festival award from the Speechless Film Festival and a Star of Festival award from the Grand Film Festival. In early May, Prasad will learn whether the short will be accepted by the Los Angeles Film Festival. The work Prasad did as a graduate student at SCAD continues to pay off, even as he works full-time as a CG animation intern at Laika in Portland, Ore.

Thread: Congrats on the success of your film. Why is it resonating with audiences?

Prasad Narse: Audiences relate to the trauma of the hero "Christopher" and his sheer grit in overcoming his weakness and making his weakness his strength. There are audiences who ‘never say die’ and this film confirms that outlook. Most of us struggle with something in life and this film must be encouraging audiences to keep going and not give up. I think the passion with which this movie was made comes across clearly to its audiences, as well.

Early character concept for Christopher, pencil and marker

T: You create such empathy for the main character. What is the secret to conveying such searing emotions through animation?

PN: Just like actors, an animator has to feel the emotions before driving his characters in a shot. Observation is the key. Certain poses or facial expressions tell us everything that is going through a character’s mind. In animation we tend to use these as story poses, which are often remembered by audiences even after the screening of the film. 

(Hopeless Night) Christopher's Court, digital paint

T: What inspired the film?

PN: My father is my inspiration. He taught me that everything is possible if you believe in yourself. He was a sportsman. Though he played cricket his entire life, he was passionate about all sports. Even after a tragic accident, which left his body paralyzed, his passion and love for sports didn’t diminish. Medically his condition was incurable, but he still had the grit to withstand it and wanted to make the impossible, possible. I sensed that it was his sportsman’s spirit that gave him the strength to withstand every adversity. This heartrending experience left me with the desire to make my thesis film “I M POSSIBLE”  while studying animation at SCAD and learning to convey emotions through fictional characters.

T: What was your father’s reaction?

PN: My father passed away twelve years ago. I know that he would have been extremely proud of me. The pride I wished to see in my father’s eyes is now reflected in my mother’s eyes. She is my strength, my friend, my guide, my mentor and my comforter and it is because of her and the vision she had of me today that ‘I am possible.’ I dedicate this film to my father, however, my I feel my future is going to be great because of my mother. I miss you, Dad, and hats off to you, Mom.

T: Tell us about your crew.

PN: We started in Summer 2012 as two students and eventually grew to 18. The entire crew is from SCAD except Brandon Clements, who is a student of Purdue University. The most interesting thing is that the crew members had never worked together and didn’t even know one another before the project. In the process of making this film, many of them graduated, however each one made a major contribution.

T: How did you prepare for your internship at Laika?

PN: The training, mentorship and dedication to quality at SCAD are par excellence. I learned all the nuances of animation there. The quality of work I did at SCAD was one of the major reasons that Laika decided to take me on as an intern. When I came to Laika, my supervisor told me that he enjoyed the performance of "Christopher" in my animation reel. In the last two and half months I have animated more than 15 shots for Laika’s commercials, like the M&M's "Bachelor" spots, and those for Shaw Cable and International Delight. Working on Laika’s short film is a big experience and it will be out soon.

T: What trends or technologies in animation are you watching?

PN: I am fascinated by the stop-motion animation technique, which uses a puppet animation. The hardest thing is to animate each and every frame. I think this is the most challenging way of animating, where an animator has to be prepared to redo the shot again and again. One shot of 450 frames may take up to 18 hours a day. I am also eager to jump into visual effects and animating for live action projects.

Christopher Expression Sheet, pencil and digital paint

T: What’s your advice for aspiring animators?

PN: Working on a personal project is different than working in the industry. I’ve learned from my internship that an animator must be able to change his shots according to the director’s vision. Nothing is fixed until the director approves it. While studying animation, follow your professors’ lead.  Plan your shots, collect references as much as possible, and don’t jump directly into 3D software. Try to take sufficient breaks while animating, animate in poses and then refine timing. Get enough of sleep, be alert and continue to take creative direction well.

Where will an education in art and design take you?


For the first wave of Savannah College of Art and Design alumni snapshots that we're featuring on Thread this week, here's a sampling from the Northeast. Whether they happen to be your geographical neighbors, or hail from your graduating class, read on to find out what these alumni are doing now, their perspectives on their profession and advice for aspiring artists and designers.


Chuck Chewning, 1986

B.F.A., Historic Preservation/Interior Design

Where are they now: Creative director at Donghia and design director at Studio Rubelli in New York City.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Transformative

Favorite SCAD memory: Being put in charge of the SCAD Christmas tree with SCAD alum Cuffy Hise Sullivan for the Savannah Festival of Trees.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: The interior design field has become more competitive, being challenged by do-it-yourself retailers, television design shows and the Internet. The days of exclusivity to trade only resources and the value of professional design services is fading and more difficult to justify. There still are those clients that understand and aspire to hire expert designers.

Advice to students: View yourself as a brand. You are competing with thousands of other people in your field. Understand your strengths and exploit them. Package yourself so that you set yourself apart from the competition. To achieve this you must work incredibly hard, constantly.

Living Room of the Guggenheim Suite after the restoration of the Gritti Palace in Venice, Italy
Living Room of the Guggenheim Suite from the recent restoraion of the Gritti Palace in Venice, Italy.


Bernard Urban, 1988

B.F.A., Advertising/Film

Where are they now: President and creative director at Gigantic, a digital branding agency that works with Fortune 1000 brands in New York City.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Vivid

Favorite SCAD memory: Photo critiques with Pete Christman.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: Computers — the most wonderful and terrible things ever invented.

Advice to students: Don’t chase your dreams. Relentlessly hunt them down.

MODERN is a feature film Bernard has written and plans to direct later this year. The screenplay was named an Official Selection at the 2014 Charleston International Film Festival. 


Michael Phillippi, 1997/2004

B.F.A., Sequential Art/M.F.A., Illustration

Where are they now: Senior concept artist and illustrator at Mythic Studio in Washington, D.C.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Productive

Favorite SCAD memory: Getting to know my professors as peers.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: Digital painting

Advice to students: Be self-motivated and drive your own career.

"Dwarf Forge" concept environment digital drawing


Alexander Hammer, 2006

M.F.A., Film and Television

Where are they now: Editor and director for films, music videos and performances, residing in New York City.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Chrysalis

Favorite SCAD memory: Transforming what is now Savannah's Premiere Craft Beer & Gastropub, The Distillery, from a condemned derelict warehouse into the fantastical world of "The Distant Journey."

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: Because of 'accessibility' now, more than ever before, we are overly saturated by media (from 'big money' to iPhone home video) with constant stimuli loudly grasping for attention in every way possible. While this may garner exposure, 'more' doesn't equal quality, but rather becomes white noise in a world of shorter and shorter attention spans. However, I have seen this push the greats to be greater because the good stuff still stands out, but it is just harder to spot.

Advice to students: Don't strive to make 'more', instead make 'great', which will be more meaningful and rise above the noise.


Bryan Gardner, 2006

B.F.A., Photography

Where are they now: Photographer for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in New York City.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Inspiring

Favorite SCAD memory: The night I met my wife, best friend and love of my life.
Biggest changes in the field since graduation: The biggest change is technology over all. When I was graduating, the photo depart was pretty new to digital. They still had a color darkroom. Now, to take a photo you just pull out your smart phone and upload it to Instagram, which I love. As technology changes, more and more options of how you can accomplish taking and sharing a great photo become available and that is a very exciting aspect of this industry.

Advice to students: You should always be trying to improve your craft, reach out to everyone you know, put in your time and don't think you're "too good" for anything. Good things will come.

Colorful food photography by Bryan.


Ariel Ray Lilly + Christina Coniglio, 2009

B.F.A., Fashion Design

Where are they now: Co-founders of Rae Francis in New York City.

One word that describes time at SCAD: MAGIC

Favorite SCAD memory: Meeting each other at SCAD and launching Rae Francis because of it!!!

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: The biggest change we have seen in fashion is a huge push in young design. We are so lucky to be a part of fashion right now, where consumers are really inspired and interested in up and coming brands.

Advice to students: Never say "no" to an opportunity because you never know where it may lead you.

Two designs from RaeFrancis' most recent spring lookbook.


Katherine Barron, 2012

B.F.A., Fashion Design

Where are they now: Womenswear designer in New York City.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Exhausting

Favorite SCAD memory: Spending the day with designer Ralph Rucci at his NYC atelier.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: No notable change that I have seen.

Advice to students: FIND A JOB.

Katherine's design of a hand embellished, felted cashmere coat.

Snapshots of SCAD alumni in the South


Next in our week-long series profiling Savannah College of Art and Design alumni are four artists and designers who represent the South. They've set up shop relatively close to SCAD's location in Savannah and Atlanta stomping grounds, but have gone far in terms of creating successful entrepreneurial enterprises, and they reflect the wisdom to prove it.


Taylor Welden, 2006
B.F.A., Industrial Design

Where are they now: Industrial designer and owner of Taylor Welden Industrial Design in Austin, Texas.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Vitalizing.

Favorite SCAD memory: The beautiful, romantic city of Savannah infused with vibrant, energized young talent from around the world.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: 3D printing is and will continue to change the way products are designed and manufactured for consumers around the world.

Advice to students: 3D printing is and will continue to change the way products are designed and manufactured for consumers around the world.

Various design projects by Taylor, including photography, hiking bags and spy watches.


Marialexandra García, 1997
B.F.A., Fashion Design

Where are they now: Entrepreneur, designer and creative director for Marialexandra, Fourteen, OutPlay and Carême in Miami, Fla.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Busy

Favorite SCAD memory: Meeting Ben Morris and having him review my designs.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: Everything is done on Illustrator, Photoshop, with computer aided design; too few still enjoy and have the need to design by hand. A computer generated flat will never compare to the beautiful strokes of a color pencil or paint brush that can convey the movement of the fabric.

Advice to students: Read anything you can get your hands on that can feed your mind, and never be afraid to change the world.

Ornate wedding gown designed by Marialexandra.


Clifton Guterman, 2001
M.F.A., Performing Arts

Where are they now: Instructor, actor, and associate producer at Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta, Ga.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Vigorous

Favorite SCAD memory: Two years of intense graduate level work and months of research culminated in March 2001 with the opening night of my one-man thesis show, "Bosie" (about Oscar Wilde's infamous lover, Lord Alfred Douglas), which I acted in, self-wrote, self-designed (sets, costumes, props) and self-marketed.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: The performing arts, like other industries, have become increasingly computer/electronic-heavy, but - in turn - funding (especially for theatre) is always elusive and regressing. So, actors and producing companies now rely heavily on self-promotion, free social media, inventive marketing, fundraising campaigns, solo projects, web projects, etc. Also, casting is now very high-tech, so the expectation is faster/sooner/slicker, and actors and agencies must submit quickly and electronically to keep up and rise ahead.

Advice to students: Value and absorb all you can learn from professors, but seek and seize every opportunity to speak with artists currently working in the field, and explore internships, off-campus opportunities, apprenticeships, mentors, etc., while reading and exploring everything you can about your industry because the smart artist armed with practical, applicable and current skills has the advantage over one whose knowledge is just theoretical.

Clifton in two of his most recent productions, "Wolves" and "Nicholas Nickelby."


Jason Kofke, 2005/2012
B.F.A., Painting/M.F.A., Printmaking

Where are they now: Studio artist in Atlanta, Ga.

One word that describes time at SCAD: Edifying

Favorite SCAD memory: My favorite memory and most important experience I had through SCAD was the three months I spend in New York through the painting department's New York Studio Space.

Biggest changes in the field since graduation: In fine art and painting, economic changes have caused many fine artists to be more self-reliant and inventive in terms of business - essentially becoming their own small-business owners. And through these changes communal projects, artist residencies, and collaborations are more reliable support systems than academic institutions or gallery networks. Emerging artists have adapted to a lack of long-term institutional support (such as teaching jobs) by navigating a growing network of temporary project-based entities such as residencies, competitions, and calls for entry for specific project agendas.

Advice to students: The job you are meant to have does not exist because you have not invented it yet. Also, pity those who sacrifice long-term goals for short term success. Also, disregard career advice from those who took a career rather than created one.

A piece from Jason's ongoing "Everything Will Be OK" art campaign.