Lead animators behind Big Hero 6 on making Baymax and careers in animation

November
11
2014

Disney Animation’s Big Hero 6 raked in one of the biggest opening weekend box offices ever for a Disney film, $56.2 million. When audiences screened the blockbuster at Savannah Film Festival several weeks before the official release, they also heard from a couple of the heroes behind the film. Savannah College of Art and Design alumni Zach Parrish (B.F.A., animation, 2007), head of animation at Disney, and animation supervisor Nathan Engelhardt (B.F.A., animation, 2007) let festival-goers in on how they made the magic happen. Afterward they sat down with SCAD founder and president Paula Wallace to discuss their role in the movie and getting their start in the industry. Here’s an excerpt of her conversation with them, followed by a portion of the extended interview.

President Wallace: How did you know that animation would be your career?

Zach Parrish: I went and saw Monsters, Inc. with some friends. I think I was in high school and I realized that I felt something emotional for Mike Wazowski, who’s the little green one-eyed character. When I realized that I had an emotional response to something that I absolutely knew definitively was not real and that someone made me feel that way, that was kind of a magic where I was like, “I want to be the guy who makes that happen.” So that’s when I started looking at schools and eventually chose SCAD.

Nathan Engelhardt: I actually stumbled upon this game called “The Neverhood,” and it was a stop motion animated game. It was like a point and click action adventure and I remember wanting to play the game until I got to the cut scenes. So they would put in little cut scenes, like animated shorts almost, and every time I was like, “Oh yes, here comes the cut scene.” I started realizing that – I like this and maybe I can start making some of my own. I think I fell in love with animation on a very primitive basic level when I saw this character waving back at me. I think I felt the same thing you felt where it’s like I created this thing that’s waving to me and I was just in a trance and I never looked back.

PW: You met when you were here as students at SCAD.  Was there any certain professor or a class that made a particular impact on you?

ZP: We actually helped create a class, an independent studies class, just for Nathan’s project. I saw this poster for people who wanted to help out on a project called Cereal Killers and I was immediately in. I gave Nathan a call. We met up. 

NE: It was an incredible experience because Zach was so enthusiastic. I was just like, “Man, this guy. He knows what he’s doing.” He took some of the characters, very rough early character rigs that we had been building, and he just started creating the first tests. I was like, “Wow, they’re moving. This could actually work.”

We didn’t really know it at the time, but we were really learning how to collaborate as a team. We were kind of experimenting with the pipeline that we would become so familiar with down the road. We did everything from design and writing, pen and paper, all the way to the final renders, even the sounds. I mean we had a full spectrum.

ZP: We had no idea what we were doing when we started.

NE: But it really did help groom us, I feel, in a way to understand the pipeline and collaboration with other artists and being able to give direction and even…

ZP: Receive direction.

NE: And be able to just do that and learn and then regurgitate that later when we became supervisors. You know, that was a really cool experience.

PW: How do you feel that your education at SCAD helped prepare you to work at such an iconic and innovative studio as Disney?

ZP: Oh man. I think what’s amazing about the education at SCAD is the breadth. Just like that class where we got to touch the entire production pipeline and see where we wanted to fit in and to understand how to utilize it, that has been huge for us. I brought Nathan in for Wreck-it Ralph when I was an animation supervisor, and we could just kind of jump in and do a lot of pieces of the pipeline that some people who are trained just in animation can’t do.

Because of the breadth of our education, as far as history, design and the whole spectrum that goes into it, not just animation, I think we’re allowed to be a bigger part of the pipeline that helps the supervisors as well since a lot of our job is working interdepartmentally and giving notes on models and rigs and whatever the case may be. We have enough of the general understanding to be able to participate in that, as well as our specialized focus in animation.

NE: I feel SCAD really creates artists. There are a lot of trade schools out there that will create specialized tasks and abilities, whereas, to Zach’s point, you get this well-rounded artistic education. It all really helped create the kind of artist that we are today and it’s all thanks to that program.

PW: Do you know what makes me so happy is to see you guys supporting each other, all SCAD graduates out there helping each other and giving opportunities to each other and also, as you said, critiquing each other and just making each other better, but being a great support in the whole profession.

ZP: That was also one of the things we talked about when we came and talked to SCAD freshmen. A huge component to becoming a professional artist are those interpersonal skills, because you can be the most talented person in the world, but if you can’t support other people, if you can’t take feedback, if you can’t communicate, no one’s going to work with you, and so that’s definitely something that I’m still learning and that we all go through every day.

PW: That makes me very proud. What’s been the most challenging character or scene that you’ve created so far?

NE: Animating Baymax was quite a challenge, not just to be able to give feedback, but also for the animators because animators are so used – I mean you get some of the top level talent in that studio that’s so used to all the principles of animation and overlap and squash and stretch and then we’re like, “Take it all out.” 

ZP: Yeah, don’t do anything.

NE: Don’t do any of it, you know, and we coined the term “unimating” for Baymax or that’s really just stripping out all the things that animators are used to putting in, and that was really great because that allowed the audience to project their own emotions onto this blank canvas of sorts. We found that even just a little blink and head tilt was ten times cuter than any extraneous body movement, like unnecessary stuff that really just didn’t plus the scene in any way and really was an exercise in restraint the whole time.

ZP: We’re so used to going all out on the animation and to say like, “I haven’t actually moved him yet.”  We’re like, “You did it. You did it. You nailed it.” For me personally, I had a couple of scenes in Tangled that were a super challenge. I mean Glen Keane was on that show. He’s one of my idols in animation, and John Kahrs was my animation supervisor, and those guys are rock stars. So the bar was set so high on that film and I was new to the studio and I was terrified and I was fortunate enough to get a run of shots where Flynn has a frying pan and he’s knocking out the guards and he’s fighting a horse and…

PW: The horse, the horse was great.

ZP: The challenge was I’d never really animated a quadruped. Let alone a quadruped with a sword in his mouth fighting a guy with a frying pan who’s falling down…

PW: What? You haven’t done that?

ZP: Surprisingly enough, that was my first time, and so that was one where I was really scratching my head going, “I don’t know if I can pull this off.” I was so intimidated, but again that support structure. You know, Disney was super-helpful and I think the scenes turned out okay.

PW: So give us an insider’s perspective on working at the legendary Disney Studios.  What’s it like?

ZP: It’s great.

NE: I mean of course, coming up to the gates on your first day and it’s got the Mickey wrought iron gates and you see the big hat and it’s a very emotional kind of experience, but I feel like it didn’t really hit home until I went to Disneyland of all places…

ZP: Yes.

NE: I was walking around and you see these characters and you see that these films lived on much longer past when they initially came out, and you see this like echo of artistry and talent that was done on this film like years back. Here’s the Beast walking around in the park and it’s like, “This is going to be forever.” I mean you have this in the back of your head where it’s just like, “Wow.” What we’re doing at the Walt Disney Animation Studios is very special and I think…

ZP: I had the exact same experience last winter. We didn’t unfortunately get to work on Frozen because we started on Big Hero 6 so early. But the whole animation department…

PW: A lot of SCAD graduates did.

ZP: There were a lot of SCAD graduates on Frozen for sure.

But the whole animation department, we went to Disneyland and there’s a little girl on a guy’s shoulders and when she was watching “Let It Go,” that’s the Elsa song, she was imitating every move that Elsa did, even her little walk and everything. She’s on her dad’s shoulders and it’s crazy because that was like a firsthand experience of what we do. You know, it’s fun for us, but when you start seeing kids have that emotional response, it’s like, “Oh crap, that was me. I did that.” You know, I had that emotional response and now we’re creating that emotional response and so…

NE: Even crazier when it was your shot. 

ZP: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

NE: Being the animator she’s imitating, too.

ZP: Yeah, exactly.

NE: It makes me feel like I’m back at that desk experimenting with stop motion animation for the first time. Do you know what I mean? I feel like we are always trying to get back to where it’s that initial excitement for what we do. And I feel like the great thing about Disney is that it’s constantly there and you’re constantly re-feeling that because of how – it’s all the inspirational artwork on the walls, you know, they’re constantly doing things to try to keep the energy, the creative energy high.

ZP: And that’s the other thing about just the actual workplace itself is the collaboration; inspiring one another, people are constantly giving talks on things that they’re just interested in. We do sort of like TED Talks. It could be a photography thing, a sculpture thing, anything that is just inspiring as far as an art form is concerned, and we talk about ourselves. Once a month, the animators get together and we talk about how we came to be at Disney and what inspired us as children. It’s a really fun, super-collaborative environment. So it’s the best I’ve ever had for sure.

PW: Yes, and like SCAD, you’re part of something bigger.

ZP: Exactly.

PW: I visited Hong Kong Disney and I saw all these children, just into characters and imitating…

NE: Yes, it goes around the world.

ZP: It’s just amazing.  It’s amazing. Yes, Big Hero 6 opened in Russia already and…

PW: Wow!

ZP: Yes, and it had one of its biggest weekends ever in Russia because it came out two weeks before it came out in the United States, and so it’s just crazy. I start hearing reviews from people who love it all over the world already. It’s a weird experience because it feels like a small community when we’re working on it. It feels like a small team, and then when the world starts seeing - there’s marketing that’s on buses and stuff, it feels like they took the movie and now it’s just running away, but it’s really cool.

NE: Zach and I, on multiple occasions were like, “Does this feel like when we’re working back on Cereal Killers?” Where it felt like we’re in SCAD and for a long time, we’re actually like really in the same office and, you know, we’re passing flash drives back and forth to each other, making sizzle pieces, you know, the proof of concept kind of stuff, very gorilla style animation, and it’s so many times we could look back fondly on those late nights in Montgomery Hall trying to learn animation.

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Savannah Film Festival rewind: honoree portraits of 2013

October
10
2014

In the midst of the count down to Savannah Film Festival 2014 (Oct. 25 - Nov. 1), a batch of Adam Kuehl’s distinctive portraits of Savannah College of Art and Design's honorees went up in Jen Library. From where the portraits hang in Jen’s study rooms, it’s hard to decipher who is ogling whom. Do the students glance up between chapters to study the faces of the film icons whose paths they want to trace? Or do the filmmakers stare at the students with motionless expression, wishing to trade places with the young creatives poised to make their own mark on the world?

Here's Adam's 2013 portraits, emblems of a week’s worth of the best and latest in film. Just like the festival, the portraits keep getting better. Styling by Amy Zurcher.

Portrait of actress Abigail Bresslin by photographer Adam Kuehl.

"Amy had the clever idea to fill the space from floor to ceiling with Domestic Construction rugs. Abigail was a fan."

Portrait of Alec Baldwin by photographer Adam Kuehl.

 "Alec Baldwin has been to the festival several times, so he knew exactly what to do with Christian Dunbar's (M.F.A., furniture design, 2013) lamp."

Portrait of Alexander Payne by photographer Adam Kuehl.

"Alexander Payne, recipient of the Achievement in Cinema Award, in the newly renovated lobby of Trustees Theater."

Portait of Bruce Dern by photographer Adam Kuehl.

Bruce Dern, a 2006 Savannah Film Festival honoree.

Portait of Candice Accola by photographer Adam Kuehl.

"A candid moment of Candice Accola rocking a pair of earrings by Aimee Petkus (B.F.A., jewelry, 2013) and leather top by Brooke Atwood (M.A., fashion, 2010).

Portrait of Jeremy Irons by photographer Adam Kuehl.

Jeremy Irons, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, sits comfortably in front of a painting ("Untitled") by JenMarie Zeleznak (M.F.A., painting, 2011). His intensity matched the scene Amy created perfectly. The wood wall is actually a small stage that we flipped on its side."

Portrait of Julian Sands by photographer Adam Kuehl.

Julian Sands in front of “Star Chamber” by Summer Wheat (M.F.A., painting, 2005).

Portrait of Natalie Dormer by photographer Adam Kuehl.

Natalie Dormer, recipient of the Discovery Award.

Portrait of Norman Reedus by photographer Adam Kuehl.

Norman Reedus in front of wallpaper designed by Joanne Duran (B.F.A., interior design, 1999).

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A museum’s worth: artists’ perspectives on SCAD Museum of Art

July
1
2014

This week, Savannah College of Art and Design brings home three honors from the American Institute of Architects convention: the AIA Young Architect’s Award, the AIA Fellowship for Emerging Leaders and the 2014 AIA National Honor Award for Architecture for the SCAD Museum of Art. The mission of the latter is to ‘establish a standard of excellence against which all architects can measure performance, and inform the public of the breadth and value of architecture practice.’

But what do artists think? Here, Kehinde Wiley, Liza Lou, Stephen Antonakos, Alfredo Jaar, Rosemarie Fiore and Trenton Doyle Hancock lend an artist’s perspective on the value of SCAD Museum of Art. They join the ranks of exhibiting artists like Jason Middlebrook, Fred Wilson and Nicola López who have responded to SCAD Museum of Art's distinctiveness by creating site-specific installations for the museum.

Congratulations, SCAD Museum of Art, for successfully connecting past and present, emerging artists with established artists, in both form and substance, and for being a magnet the draws the world in to contemplate the transformative power of art and design.

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AD's Margaret Russell's 'simple truths' for graduates

June
2
2014

A good commencement address is irresistible. Whether graduating or firmly planted in career or school, the distilled life experience and wisdom are too convenient and enlightening to pass up. And so, in case you missed Savannah College and Art and Design's 2014 commencement ceremonies, here's speaker Margaret Russell's 'simple truths', which she delivered to SCAD's 1,560 graduates in Atlanta and Savannah after tracing her rise to the helm of Elle Decor and now Architectural Digest.

I’m going to end with some simple truths, some things to keep in mind as you enter the workforce. These are more pragmatic than they are profound. Actually, they’re tips to help you do well at work and to keep you from annoying your future bosses.

Be early.
I remain challenged by this, but I’m usually still the first person at the AD offices each morning. It’s better to consistently arrive early at work than to have to consistently stay late.

Be a trouble shooter and problem solver.
These are key qualities that everyone in every industry looks for when hiring. Think ahead and always anticipate the unexpected.

Expect good and don’t gossip.
Don’t ever write emails that might land you in trouble if read in public. Email should communicate facts, not emotion.

Be aware of the power of social media and never post a photo when it’s clear that you’ve had far too much fun.
Your bosses are also on Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and they will find you. Try imagining that your social accounts have a pause button and take a breath before you hit send.

Embrace change as it’s the most constant aspect of your future.
The happiest people around you are those who are flexible and adapt well.

Don’t be afraid to ask; ask for everything. Just never have a sense of entitlement when you do.
Some of the best stories published in the magazines I’ve edited are there because I had the nerve to go after them.

Don’t be afraid, period.
Life’s too short. Conquer your fears today.

Pay attention.
Listen, stay focused, be ambitious, have common sense, show good judgment.

Do the right thing.
You’ll never go wrong by doing what you truly believe is right.

Give back.
I love AD, but the most rewarding work I do is philanthropic or political. Volunteer, develop your personal sense of social responsibility and integrate it into your daily life.

Think green.
Please think green because your forebears did not. Use your genius to save our planet.

Find your passion and your joy.
I hire people who are passionate about their work. I’ve always been told that there’s no place for emotion at work, and indeed that’s true. But I know for sure that being passionate about what you do will drive you to far greater success.

Feed your creativity. Get off your iPhone. Look up.
Don’t passively email someone sitting a few feet from you in the office. Talk to each other, write thank you notes, read books.

Don’t settle. Expect the best. Want to be the best.

You are so well prepared to make your way and to change the world and we can’t wait to see what you’ll do. Congratulations, class of 2014. We honor and admire you. Here’s to your brilliant future. Here’s to tomorrow.

Share your favorite or most memorable piece of commencement advice by posting it in the comments below.

 

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Studio Logic: inside the workspaces of professional artists and designers

May
14
2014

Space. Invariably, it’s the object of focus for artists and designers, and often times the basis for their inspiration. This is definitely true for the spaces we’ll feature in our series Studio Logic, exploring the studios of professional artists and designers. For the first installment we travel to Brooklyn, where powerhouse duo Trish Andersen (B.F.A., fibers, 2005) and Maureen Walsh (B.F.A., fibers, 2004) set up the multi-disciplinary design studio Domestic Construction. Below they ‘show and tell’ how their space reflects their philosophy and fuels their work for clients like Google, Target, Bravo and Hewlett-Packard. Clearly recent projects, like the striking blue exterior and interactive fiber walls of Savannah College of Art and Design’s micro-house SCADpad Europe and the pair’s grounded mat line, bear the mark of a special muse. We couldn’t resist taking a closer look.

Thread: How did designing for SCADpad challenge your initial way of working and how has it challenged how you engage space?

Domestic Construction: We wouldn't necessarily say it challenged our way of working, but rather supported it. We are all about the belief that any space, whether living or working, should be one that inspires you. SCADpad is a prime example of how you can push the limits of space through the creative use of materials to be one that is constantly engaging and ever-changing.

T: Being fibers artists, how does space inspire you? How does your personal work environment influence your products?

DC: Space is everything. As fibers artists, we like to challenge the preconceived notions of what a typical interior should be. Why should we live/work in white boxes? Have normal walls/floors? Isn't that getting boring? Our studio is an ever-changing exploration of what is inspiring us at the moment. A giant inspiration board of sorts. It is a playground that allows us to create without fear.

T: Your studio seems to be full of color and décor. What is the significance of these things to you? Describe your ideal surroundings for work (i.e., time of day, temperature, noise level, music, company, setting). 

DC: We love color and texture, so naturally we crammed our space with it. We find that color promotes an upbeat and fun working environment. Most people who enter our space smile and that's just the best. Some of the best days at the studio are when we are working on a big project and we have a ton of crew jamming to tunes and making things happen.

T: What's one thing you must have around or close by in order to do your best work? 

DC: Our friends/crew that always jump in to help execute projects. We usually work on a large scale, so it takes an army. We feel fortunate to work with so many other creatives and we truly have a blast doing it.

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The jewelry of Downton Abbey with designer Andrew Prince

April
28
2014

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.

Thread: 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.

T: 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.

T: 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.

T: 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.

T: 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.

T: I 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?

T: 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.

T: 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.

T: 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.

T: 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.

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Prabal Gurung chats with Steven Kolb live

April
14
2014

Prabal Gurung, world renowned fashion designer born in Singapore, will discuss his career and views on modern glamour with CFDA CEO, Steven Kolb. The livestream of their conversation from Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, part of SCADstyle 2014, starts tonight at 6:00 p.m. EDT here on Thread.

Parabal Gurung was the recipient of the 2010 Ecco Domani Fashion Fund Award, has served as Goodwill Ambassador for Maiti Nepal, and his designs have been worn by fashion icons such as First Lady Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge.

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Slam dunk for a college application: making art with Tim Rollins and K.O.S.

February
20
2014

Hanging amidst the exhibitions of celebrated contemporary artists at SCAD Museum of Art is the work of 14-year-old Winter Jones.

I never would have suspected that I would have the chance to put one of my pieces inside of a museum as good as this.

Who better than Tim Rollins and K.O.S. to introduce Winter and his 7th and 8th grade classmates from Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts to the art world. The collaboration between Winter’s class and the New York-based artists was a condition of sorts that Tim set for bringing the exhibition “Rivers” (Feb. 1 - June 8, 2014) to SCAD Museum of Art. Because, quite naturally, he wanted to interact with the community.

And so, among staples of the Tim Rollins and K.O.S. collection inspired by literature like Harriet Jacbos’ “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” and Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” is the piece that bears the untested marks of middle school students like Winter, “Darkwater III (after W.E.B. Du Bois).”

The students saw their work - first edition pages of the text "Darkwater" dipped in watercolor and gold acrylic - displayed on museum walls for the first time this week during deFINE ART.





Judging from their reactions, the students' encounter with Tim and K.O.S. was one opportunity that made their possibilities seem endless.

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A walk through deFINE ART with critic Paul Laster
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Inside the mind of Theaster Gates

February
19
2014

Award-winning artist Theaster Gates began his lecture “An Analog but Very Important Conversation” with a slow, soulful prayer, which he sang, his rich voice filling the crevices of the packed theater at SCAD Museum of Art.

 

Then, playing Nina Simone’s "To Be Young Gifted and Black" on vinyl from a turn table on the desk from where he spoke, Theaster turned his pulpit into a parlor, inviting the audience into his perspective on space, race and art. He punctuated his narrative about salvaging the interiors of Crispus Attucks Elmentary School in Chicago – where he is implementing a philosophy of radical urban revitalization - with an image of his work, "A Maimed King."

I'm not mad at the museum. It just won't do more than it can do. I'm not mad at the 'hood. I just expect more from my 'hood.

Of the crumpled image of the civil rights icon caught in a lock, Theaster explained that he wanted to preserve this "mutilated" depiction of “the King” just as he’d found it. He recalled shooing away his assistant who dutifully went to wipe away the thick layer of dust coating the glass and frame because, to him, all of it symbolized an ideal trapped, half-realized, then abandoned. A metaphor for the reality facing black schools in Chicago.

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Slam dunk for a college application: making art with Tim Rollins and K.O.S.
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A career in … amusement: It's not just about the rides

Alfredo Jaar live from Savannah College of Art and Design

February
19
2014

Chilean artist, architect and filmmaker Alfredo Jaar delivered the keynote address of deFINE Art 2014 from Trustees Theater in Savannah, Ga on Feb. 20, 2014. Watch the lecture below.

The world premiere of Alfredo’s exhibit "Shadows" runs Feb. 18 – June 20 at SCAD Museum of Art. All deFINE Art lectures, events and receptions are free and open to the public.

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Inside the mind of Theaster Gates
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A career in … amusement: It's not just about the rides