Adventure to a college Emmy


How do I travel for free and make this my job? Many ask this question, but Joey Katz (B.F.A., film and television, senior) answered it. Winner of a College Television Award, the Adventure Katz web series is the culmination of two years spent documenting shoe-string-budget trips to Europe, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Jacksonville, Florida. And those are just the episodes in the can. The thing that differentiates Adventure Katz from other travel series is Katz’ mission to inspire his audience to do more than watch.

I hope to create something that will change how we look at reality TV. I want to make something that teaches people how to make their own adventures.

It’s a strategy for attracting young viewers, an audience Katz believes is underserved by reality TV, and he just might get the chance. He is pitching Adventure Katz to producers during a time when networks like Travel Channel want immersive, rugged content.

That’s one hook Katz has going for him. Another is his savvy use of social media to build a loyal following. “When I make a film, I shoot something that’s worth sharing on Reddit,” he said. To promote the episode Wales: MADMAN or Poet? Katz posted an image of the Cader Idris mountain in Reddit subgroups and included a YouTube link to his video. The image received 1.8 million views, persuading thousands to watch and hundreds to subscribe to his channel. In the episode, Katz endeavors to scale Cader Idris and test the legend that climbing the mountain turns hikers into madmen or poets.

Katz’ love affair with filmmaking began in seventh grade when his parents gave him a cell phone. He began shooting and editing videos on the mobile device, eventually graduating to a laptop and professional editing software. After becoming disenchanted with a string of internships as a production assistant, he was inspired by Andrew Wonder, director of the viral film Undercity, to hit the road. He started watching YouTube in 2007, but Wonder’s videos helped him realize he had everything he needed to break out of the traditional production routine. What’s in his bag?

I carry the least amount of gear I can. You need something you can shoot on really quickly. I shoot on the Canon PowerShot S100, a point and shoot camera. Batteries are cheap and if I break it I can replace it. Content is more important than what you shoot on. I carry a lightweight tripod and edit on Adobe Premiere.

True to their commitment to help film students develop projects beyond narrative films, Savannah College of Art and Design professors encouraged him to develop Adventure Katz for his  senior project. That led to a nomination for best reality series by the Television Academy.

So did Katz return from Cader Idris a madman or a poet? Teaser alert: Katz says the trip made him a bit of both. “My video is my poetry," he said. "But it takes both to not know where you’re sleeping for the next few nights.”

Watch and tell @AdventureKatz what you decide.

Sandcastle like a pro


Master sand sculptor Ted Siebert’s enormous creations - more than 700 sculptures in 30 years – makes the practice of sandcastling look effortless. But the world record holder knows differently: the tools are simple but the techniques require skilled hands.

A sand castle by Ted Siebert in Cape Town, South Africa. Courtesy of The Sand Sculpture Company.

The misconception is that sandcastling is a lot of fun. It’s hard work. - Ted Siebert

The King's Palace in Kuwait, courtesy of The Sand Sculpture Company.

To prepare Savannah College of Art and Design students for the annual Sand Arts Festival (May 1), Ted brought the beach to the classroom. He’s teaching best practices he developed as owner of The Sand Sculpture Company, like packing, subtractive processes and layout. An authority in a small community of professional sand sculptors, the opportunity to work alongside Ted, also an oil painter, is rare. The students will be able to apply the lessons they learn from Ted to their professional art practices. "The hope is that they'll take these lessons down to Tybee and have more technically adept works," said SCAD foundation's study professor Matthew Toole.

In Ted's workshop, SCAD students learn how to sculpt sandcastle towers, made from 400 pounds of compact sand.

Childhood memories of sandcastling competitions in Cannon Beach, Oregon led Ted to write The Art of Sandcastling and make the world’s beaches his palette. He’ll unveil his collaboration with SCAD students at Sand Arts 2015 in Tybee Island, Georgia. Fittingly, he’ll also judge the contest's Most Ambitious category.

In process, Ted's first sculpture with a university, a collaboration with Professor Matthew Toole's Art of the Spectacle class.

Here are Ted's tips for sandcastling like a pro:

• Use a lot of water. The sand has to be very wet. Bring spray bottles to wet the sand as you work.

• There’s an angle that all sand will stack at. Find it. If you’re too ambitious and try to build something too steep you’re going to have a collapse.

• Pack the sand, then pack again. Compaction is crucial.

• Be organized and sculpt from the top down or the center out so you don’t walk all over your work.

• Use the right tools: sharp knives, straws and brushes. Pallet knives are ideal. Plastic knives are too dull and won’t work.

• Bring suntan lotion.

• Make a plan. If you don’t bring an idea, you’ll waste time shoveling something you don’t have to shovel.

• It’s a collaborative sport. Divide and conquer.

Ted uses compact sand. Some beaches, including Tybee, have loose sand, making it difficult to achieve the height his sculptures reach in places like Asia, the Middle East and Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. If the temporary nature of a sand sculpture doesn't seem worth the effort, consider that winning professional sand sculpting contests can net a sculptor tens of thousands of dollars in prize money.

Chalk it up to 30 years at Sidewalk Arts Festival


In today’s world of sophisticated gadgets and apps, simpler tools like chalk and cement wouldn’t seem capable of producing a wow moment. Yet 34 years after its start, the annual Sidewalk Arts Festival (April 25) still draws a mesmerized crowd and creates the rare occurrence of gridlock in Savannah.

Among the chalked-up squares festival-goers have marveled at over the years are those belonging to Troy Wingard (B.F.A, graphic design, 1992). This year marks Troy’s 30th festival in a row. He was 15 when he entered his first Sidewalk Arts contest, one in a group of high school students ferried to Savannah from Lexington, South Carolina by art teacher Marion B. Mason.

1987 Sidewalk Arts Festival (from left to right): Cecil Davis, Anthony Hightower, Doug Gregory, Troy Wingard, Marion B. Mason, Joe McClendon, Scott Kirchner and Matt Mossholder. 

After a long, hot day of drawing on the sidewalk in Madison Square, we were filthy, tired and hungry, but we were hooked. - Troy Wingard

That marked the beginning of a long tradition. The students, who came to call themselves the Lexington Art Council, continued to return to the festival, which eventually moved to Forsyth Park. Meanwhile, they grew up and became convinced their artistic inclinations were more than a hobby. "To see a college based around different art programs blew our minds," said Wingard. It was like we had died and gone to heaven. Everyone who was there was interested in making art."

1993 Sidewalk Arts Festival (from left to right): Scott Kirchner, Stan Jennings, Julie Buffington, Hap Proctor and Troy Wingard.

1994 Sidewalk Arts Festival: Troy Wingard.

Mr. Mason did more for Wingard and the Lexington Art Council than introduce them to a fun spring affair. He taught them how to take themselves and their art seriously. It didn’t take long before the group was debating what they should draw for the entire two-hour trip to Savannah. “Sidewalk Arts became the tradition that proved we were all best friends," said Wingard. "You don’t know somebody until you’ve worked with them.”

Finally, in their 11th year, they won an honorable mention. For the next four years, the group topped that by taking first place in the alumni category and celebrating their wins with seafood dinners.

1997 Sidewalk Arts Festival (from left to right): Troy Wingard, Anthony Hightower, Stan Jennings, Ginger Stephens and Scott Kirchner. 

For the last 15 years, the Lexington Art Council has participated as exhibitors only. To them, having a dedicated 12-by-16-foot space in the alumni section where thousands of visitors tread to see their large-scale chalk drawings is prize enough. Their favorite piece commemorated one of their own, Scott Kirchner, who passed away in 2012.

2006 Sidewalk Arts Festival (from left to right): Troy Wingard and Marion B. Mason.

If you’ve photographed the Lexington Art Council throughout their history you probably captured Mr. Mason working alongside them. He’ll be there again this year, as he always is. The festival encouraged Wingard to attend SCAD, and Mr. Mason influenced his decision to teach art, as he does now as a professor at The Art Institute of Washington-Dulles in Dulles, Virginia. 

Everybody has a preconceived notion that artists are poor. My purpose is to tell my students, ‘You are here to show that you’re special and have something important to say and that you know how to say it in a way that garners respect.' - Troy Wingard

At Sidewalk Arts 2015, 700 high school and college students will discover just how much a simple piece of chalk can inspire, as Wingard did all those years ago.

Johannes Torpe: rock star of holistic design


From food to music to fashion, Copenhagen, Beijing and Padova, the practice of Danish designer Johannes Torpe is without borders. Or, as he says, holistic. It’s an approach rooted in his upbringing by an artist mother and musician father. He arrived at design by way of music, leaving home at 15 to become a professional drummer. Along the way, he produced the hit song Calabria 2007 and became CEO of Johannes Torpe Studios and creative director of Bang & Olufsen. Not only is his career unconventional but — as with Bang & Olufsen’s BeoVision Avant television — it’s like magic.

He commutes from continent to continent, managing a global team and leaving enchanting restaurants, retail stores and furniture in his wake. But it’s not just magic. Hard work, guided by core principles, allows Torpe to achieve his potential.

Here are 10 of these principles for building a holistic design practice, gleaned from Torpe during his recent visit to Savannah College of Art and Design for SCADstyle.

1. Start with a story. Design has less to do with process and more to do with the influences shaping it. Exploring everything surrounding design yields something more interesting, relevant and intuitive.

It doesn’t matter what we touch, the story behind it is very important. - Johannes Torpe

2. Reach beyond design. A designer’s work isn’t necessarily done when the project is complete. It extends, for instance, to marketing the product so the consumer experiences or perceives it as the designer intended.

3. Look at the past to get to the future. In 2012, Bang & Olufsen's CEO chose Torpe to be the company’s first-ever creative director and asked him to reinvigorate the 90-year-old brand. To do this, Torpe had to study its history. So he created a book of rules about the brand to inform new products. He also took classic models that captured Bang & Olufsen’s identity and revived them with modern twists.

4. Concept is everything. Design can’t begin without broad thinking. We prevent disruptive design from taking place when we approach a project without a well-developed concept and become distracted by doing.

5. If it feels like work you’re doing it wrong. Torpe transitioned from lighting design to graphic design to cinematography to nightclub design and even designing men’s suits. His zigzaggy path, and success, justifies his conviction that we produce our best work when we pursue things that move us.

6. Engage with retail. Extraordinary design shouldn’t be showcased in passive environments. Torpe’s studio redesigned all of Bang & Olufsen’s stores to enhance how consumers experience the products. Introducing furniture that’s easily replicated anywhere in the world ensured practicality didn’t have to be sacrificed for interactivity.

7. Use music as fuel. Of course music would inspire a drummer. But blessed with musical talents or not, Torpe believes there are few muses that evoke memories or emotions in us like music. Reach for your iPod and see what happens the next time you feel stuck.

8. Believe in magic. Bang & Olufsen customers, interviewed for insight into why certain products attracted them, repeatedly named magic as the factor that drew them to their purchases. It’s both a tangible and intangible variable Torpe tries to include in all of his projects and, inevitably, the one that makes the difference.

If you do something that’s magical in any way, something that’s simple and clear, you will reach people’s hearts. – Johannes Torpe

9. Pursue relationships. Tying together his far-flung interests are people who propelled Torpe from one job to the next. His connection to others and his effort to reach out and understand them fast tracked his evolution as a designer and the growth of his practice.

10. Think globally. From Italian to German and Japanese, it seems Torpe can do spot-on impressions of every client with whom he has worked. It’s a sign he’s truly listening, and a testament to the power of a place to shape us. By doing restaurants in Taiwan, resorts in China and retail stores in Europe, Torpe’s practice has achieved a universality that speaks for itself.

Livestream: One-of-a-kind rides by JT Nesbitt


Bienville Studios' lead designer JT Nesbitt drove his vehicle the Magnolia Special from New York to Los Angeles. It wasn’t your average drive because the 89-hour trip was powered purely by natural gas. What’s more, the car was crafted to be functional and to delight. It’s the result of a career spent pursuing the unconventional, one that began at Confederate Motorcycle, where Nesbitt created the Wraith and the G2 Hellcat. We’ll livestream Nesbitt’s talk “Reimagining the art and allure of the American motorcycle” below on Tuesday, April 14 at 6 p.m. EDT. This SCADstyle lecture is free and open to the public.

Lauren Bush Lauren feeds hunger with fashion


One of Fortune Magazine’s “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs” and Inc. Magazine’s “30 Under 30,” Lauren Bush Lauren has mastered the art of ‘creating good products that help feed the world.’ Since launching FEED in 2004, Lauren has proved that unlimited good can come from aligning consumer tastes with social causes. The result: 87 million meals provided to children around the globe. To learn how she did it, tune into the livestream from SCADstyle below on Wednesday, April 15 at 6 p.m. EDT. This lecture is free and open to the public. 


Steven Alan's 'smart' growth story


As Steven Alan prepares his brand for further expansion, he’s reflecting on how he got his start. After launching in 1994, the American fashion force spun his unique approach into a global presence reaching 300 stores worldwide and an additional 22 U.S. shops that bear his name. Hear how he keeps evolving at SCADstyle (April 12-16). For now, we bring you this teaser.

Preview Fred Spector's furniture collection for High Point Market


Watch as the owner of Frederic Spector Design Studio shows how he creates award-winning residential furniture. In this demonstration, livestreamed here on Tuesday, April 7 at 5:30 p.m. EDT from the SCAD Museum of Art Theater, Fred Spector takes you inside the design process of collections like Avalon, a bedroom suite to be shown along with his new dining collection in Casana Furniture's showroom at High Point Market (April 18-23). Furniture makers AAmerica and Ligna will also show bedroom collections by Frederic Spector Design Studio at the furniture industry’s largest trade show. The program coordinator for SCAD furniture design, Spector has also worked for Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Williams-Sonoma and Anthropologie. This presentation is part of the School of Building Arts Lecture Series and is free and open to the public.

Building João Vasco Paiva's 'Mausoleum' at Art Basel Hong Kong


When Hong Kong-based Portuguese artist João Vasco Paiva needed a studio assistant to help with a large-scale sculpture for Art Basel Hong Kong, the news spread quickly by word of mouth. Jakarta-born painting student Novita Permatasari jumped on the opportunity. Despite finals being just around the corner, Novita traveled between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China to assist the artist in creating Mausoleum (2015), a massive sculptural installation inspired by ordinary Styrofoam coolers found in local markets. We caught up with Novita to reflect on her experience at the world’s premier contemporary art fair and being in the right place at the right time, as Hong Kong’s art scene is rising.

SCAD: What interested you in studying fine arts?

NP: Fine arts hold so many possibilities. I used to think painting was a major where you spent a lot of money and didn’t receive anything in return. Then I hung around with painters during my foundations year and that changed my mind. Obviously, that thinking is obsolete. Art Basel, for example, is the way contemporary artists sell paintings and how they become superstars. In the fine art world, you get to meet many people and you get to mingle. It excites me.

I like meeting new people from other worlds; I like to learn their cultures. That’s what attracts me. Painting is a way to live freely. - Novita Permatasari

SCAD: What drew you to switch your major from animation to painting?

NP: I took both animation and painting classes during my first year because SCAD students are not limited to classes in their majors. With painting, I can harness more experimentation with real material. I’m okay with using the computer; I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s just that I like to touch things with my own hands.

SCAD: Walk us through your internship experience with João Vasco Paiva.

NP: João derived the idea for Mausoleum from his last show and he just pushed the boundaries. I was involved in the preparation stage. Although the sculpture itself is big, it’s comprised of small pieces: Styrofoam boxes cast in resin. The tape seen in the sculpture looks real, but it’s not real tape. It’s casted. In the casting material, everything is comprised of white concrete. Before he painted it, I had to mask everything to make sure the paint didn’t leak out. So each person could only mask eight to ten boxes per day because they had so many holes. It was labor-intensive. I also helped to dismantle the sculpture. There were 208 boxes that we wrapped delicately, one by one. We started at about 5:00 p.m. when the fair ended and finished around 1:00 a.m.

SCAD: Tell us about your work with Edouard Malingue Gallery, Mr. Paiva’s gallery.

NP: The internship began when I was working with João on Mausoleum in Shenzhen. They needed more hands because of Art Basel Hong Kong. Now I do their design work and assist with the gallery’s social media coverage. I also update artist PDFs and create renderings for clients to show how a painting will look in their home. It’s a three-month internship, but my goal is to work there through August, when the gallery has a show in Indonesia.

SCAD: Describe the experience of working for an international gallery in Hong Kong.

NP: It’s fun. There is so much pressure to get work done, so every day we set targets and keep the social media going. As you know with social media, if you are inactive even for one day interest will quickly decline. You have to keep posting. Writing the blurbs is not as easy as I thought. When you’re talking about other artists, you have to do editorial research on their work.

SCAD: In what ways have these experiences influenced your personal art practice?

NP: If you consider what was shown at Art Basel Hong Kong, art is becoming more conceptual instead of commercial. My art is leaning more towards the conceptual side. I think it’s more exciting. João is really good with digital art. He practices the materiality and form in real life. I like that a lot and I think that might be happening soon in my work.

SCAD: Why did you choose SCAD?

NP: I looked at the rankings of art schools. SCAD was one of the best and has different locations, which was important. Because I live in Asia, Hong Kong is closest. So why not choose SCAD when I can get an American education within Asia?

SCAD: What are your plans after graduation?

NP: If possible, I will stay in Hong Kong. It’s a growing place for art. In Indonesia, it’s super hard to see art because shows are located on different sides of the island. In Jakarta, there are some galleries, but the art center is in Jogja. Here in Hong Kong, you can just hop on the MTR or hop on the bus and see everything. Even in Central at the Pedder Building, for example, you can see at least five different major galleries. The most feasible option for me is to stay in Hong Kong, but not limit myself to other options.

Given her unlimited potential, it’s safe to bet this isn’t the last time that we’ll see Novita at Art Basel.

Whitney Yoerger is a special projects manager overseeing collaborative projects with external partners at Savannah College of Art and Design in Hong Kong. She is also a writer, always in search of stories about talented students and alumni. Follow her on Twitter @whityoerger.

The Ross Brothers return to SXSW with 'Western'


Western will be the third film in a row that Bill Ross (B.F.A., video/film, 2003) and Turner Ross (B.F.A., painting, 2003) have shown at SXSW, part of an acclaimed series of documentaries about the American experience that also includes the films 45365 and Tchoupitoulas. This trip to Austin is particularly meaningful to the team given that they spent more than a year in Texas shooting Western, which explores the relationships of residents in the border towns of Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico. We caught up with them soon after they returned from Sundance, where Western won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking.

SCAD: Congratulations on the success of Western. How did this film get made?

Bill Ross (BR): We scouted the border through New Mexico and Texas, looking for a place of visual resonance and cultural significance. Once we ran into the mayor of Eagle Pass we knew we had to stay. We got a dumpy apartment and didn't leave for 13 months. We got by. Logistically, we had to release Tchoupitoulas before we could dig into Western, so a bit of time did pass in the interim. That, and we had to create what we envisioned as a non-fiction western. It took its time, and we do things our own way.

SCAD: When did you know that you had a story?

We went in looking to explore what the modern frontier looks like, hoping just to observe without any sort of agenda. Once the cartels shook things up, though, it was unavoidable. That steered so many of the lives that we had been following. -Bill Ross

SCAD: Do you ever disagree on how to tell a story?

BR: How to tell it? Not really. The story comes together in the edit and we go back and forth until we’re happy. It's more of a long-running conversation than any sort of shortsighted argument.

SCAD: How did this film stretch you as filmmakers? What progression can we see from 45365, Tchoupitoulas, River and Western?

BR: Each one has developed its own character and set of rules. While we hope they are all recognizable as a body of work, they all have their own personality. Western asked for much more attention to the progression of the characters’ feelings and movements as things unfolded. We had to focus more on story elements and the trappings of genre. That said: we have a base approach that we bring to every shoot, though the aesthetic choices and motivations always differ.

SCAD: What’s your favorite scene that didn’t make the cut?

BR: With hundreds of hours of footage your heart gets broken a lot. There are full characters and storylines that get dropped and those are people and life experiences that you adored. I’ll just throw one out. Our rancher Martin and his cowhand J.W. were out hunting when they were attacked by bees. A very long chase ensued and Turner really covered it well. It would have been a great laugh for the film but it didn’t end up making sense.

SCAD: What did working with fellow SCAD alumni lend to your film?

BR: On the ground shooting our films it’s mostly Turner and me, but we often have fellow SCAD Bees show up and we hand them a camera. It’s in post that the team really pulls together. The core crew we had at SCAD all moved out to LA together, for the most part. Everyone started out with entry-level jobs and now find themselves in some pretty nice spots. They take breaks from their big-time stuff to help finish our films. This is one of my favorite parts because it feels a lot like college. Staying up all night and hustling to reach deadlines with your buddies. 

SCAD: What are you looking forward to about returning to SXSW? How do you get business done there?

SX threw us into the world, so it’s great to get to go back. Being close to Eagle Pass gives us an opportunity to share the film with a lot of people we shot with. That’s what we're most excited about. -Bill Ross

BR: Business happens everywhere and in many different forms, you just gotta find balance.

SCAD: Do you have advice on the festival circuit for aspiring filmmakers?

BR: Treat it as a party. Celebrate what you’ve done. The business will come down the line and the people you meet will be the people you make your next film with, but there is also life. Being present is key on all fronts.

SCAD: What’s your take on the status of documentary filmmaking? What trends should we pay attention to?

BR: Laura Poitras. Laura Poitras. Laura Poitras.

SCAD: How did you come across your next project working with Talking Heads frontman David Byrne on Contemporary Color?

BR: He had seen our films and asked for a meeting. It’s working out pretty well. We always use to close down Pinkie Master’s Lounge with ‘This Must Be The Place.’ So it's kind of funny. 

SCAD: What filmmakers have you learned the most from?

BR: Robert Altman.

SCAD: What’s your best advice for aspiring documentary filmmakers?

BR: Learned this one while working at a kitchen on Broughton Street in Savannah: ‘Don’t talk about it, be about it.’

SCAD: How did SCAD prepare you to become award-winning filmmakers? Turner, how does your degree in painting inform your films?

BR: The access to equipment was big for us and for our buddies.

We were always shooting, regardless of whether there was an assignment or not. The opportunity to get out there and make every mistake possible taught us so much. -Bill Ross

Turner Ross: Our family in college was all film kids, so from early on I got the opportunity to assist in the more creative aspects of their projects. I translated that into art department work on studio features before going for broke with Bill. Theory in painting and theory in film are analogous; it doesn't really matter the medium, it's what's behind it.

SCAD: You’ve said before that your point of view or angle is Americana trilogies. Do you think a filmmaker has to define their point of view to be successful?

BR: We have our mantras, but don’t feel the need to talk about it too loudly outside of that. The work should speak for itself.