Empire Building: Photography by SCAD alumnus Vegas Giovanni


With a brand of photography that blends fashion, character design and game culture, alumnus Vegas Giovanni (B.F.A photography, 2016) is a rising star. This excellent mix of elements recently landed the photographer’s work on set for the new season of "Empire," premiering Wednesday, September 21 on FOX.

SCAD:  Your photography will appear in Cookie's apartment on the new season of "Empire." How was your work selected?

GIOVANNI: One of the buyers for the show scouted me. I was delighted and surprised to know she was a fan of my work, and interested in showcasing it on "Empire."    

SCAD: You studied photography at SCAD. How did the degree program prepare you for your career?

GIOVANNI: I came to SCAD as an interior design major. I had no experience in photography, only fashion. Deciding to transition into photography was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The program and its faculty were excellent at providing me with a well-rounded understanding of both the artistic and technical aspects of the field. That, along with an overwhelming feeling of kinship and belonging, shaped me into the person I am today. I would recommend SCAD and its photography program to any and everyone.

SCAD: Your creative success is blossoming — what is your formula for growth?

GIOVANNI: First and foremost, I consistently try to remain in a state of calm and inner peace. This allows my mind to focus on all of the random things it needs to dig through in order to reach the ideas. Since I’m a freelancer, I have to manage my time well, so it’s important to make sure that I do productive tasks each day, outside of shooting and retouching.

SCAD: What advice do you have for other aspiring creative entrepreneurs, especially other SCAD students?

GIOVANNI: Don’t wait until you are out of school to break into your career path. Each week at SCAD should be spent not only handling school work, but also finding your way into your industry. Set personal goals and use your time strategically and consistently. I got a lot of great work done while in school, but I sure had fun, too. Treat yourself for each accomplishment; the little steps really matter and deserve to be celebrated. Last and most importantly, keep putting out the work that resonates with you. It doesn’t matter how many likes you get, or how many people are into it. It always takes a while for the masses to catch up to good, meaningful work.

SCAD: You were born in Florida, but now call Atlanta home. Tell us about this city: How does it feed your creative spirit?

GIOVANNI: I love Atlanta. There is a soul and energy that resonates throughout the city, and a lot of artists are tapping into it. The market is slowly beginning to expand and catch up to the talent that lives here, and I’m excited to watch the transformation happen. I get a lot of inspiration from photographers like An Le, Tim Walker and Mario Testino. But the bulk of my ideas are influenced by dreams, and the fantastic universe of anime and video games.

SCAD: What are your plans for the future?

GIOVANNI: It’s hard to plan for the future when you feel like you’re strategically weaving your way through each month. As a freelancer my main plan is simple: Keep shooting, and keep putting it out into the world. I know that by constantly doing that, the right opportunity will find its way to me. While I will always call Atlanta home, I am ready to see what else is out there. I have discovered an appreciation for my work in Atlanta, but I have always wanted to experiment with different markets and contrasting point of views.

Artwork courtesty of Vegas Giovanni. Artist's headshot by Luane DeMeo.

SCAD invites shoelace donations for Nari Ward’s Mercedes-Benz stadium artwork


Laces, please! Before Atlanta United and Atlanta Falcons players even hit the field, SCAD is inviting fans and community members to contribute to an epic work by artist Nari Ward that will be permanently installed at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Utilizing an estimated 10,000 pairs of donated shoelaces, Ward’s artwork will spell out “ONE VOICE,” a motto of unity for the city the new stadium will serve. “ONE VOICE” is part of one of the largest and most dynamic collections of site-specific art ever housed in a major sporting complex, as curated by SCAD.

Highly acclaimed, Jamaican-born Nari Ward often works with repurposed and found materials. His artwork “We The People” (displayed during his solo show at SCAD Museum of Art, part of deFINE ART 2015) utilized dyed and braided shoelaces to spell out the key words that begin the United States Constitution. 

Be a part of Mercedes-Benz Stadium with “ONE VOICE.” And stay tuned for more exciting updates on how SCAD is helping shape the character of Atlanta’s new stadium.

Donate your shoelaces now through November 12, 2016. Any and all adult shoelaces with aglets are welcome (a.k.a. those plastic bits at the end).

Drop your new or old shoelaces off at the following locations:

SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film

1600 Peachtree St. NW
4th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30309
(Please note: SCAD FASH is closed on Mondays.)

PGA TOUR Superstores:

1005 Holcomb Woods Pkwy
Roswell, GA 30076

2255 Newpoint Pkwy
Lawrenceville, GA 30043

2911 George Busbee Pkwy
Kennesaw, GA 30144

The Bellwood Boys and Girls Club:

777 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

You may bring your shoelaces to Atlanta United events in August and September.

Laces may also be mailed to:

Savannah College of Art and Design
Attn: Daniel Sanchez
SCAD Evans Hall
212 W. Hall Street
Savannah, GA 31401

SCAD aTVfest 2016 kicks off in Atlanta


aTVfest — SCAD Atlanta’s international celebration of creativity and innovation in television and media production — opened yesterday with star-studded panels and screenings.

To start things off, film and television professor Tobias Yoshimura announced SCADFILM, a specialized training program for the growing community of filmmakers in Atlanta. He compared it to “aTVfest all year long,” and the news was well received by the many enthusiastic film and TV students in attendance. 

SCADshow hosted a presentation by the Writers Guild Foundation titled “Scribble to Screen: Inside the Writers Room of ‘Futurama’” with co-creator David X. Cohen and writers Eric Horsted, Ken Keeler and Patric Verrone. Right down the street, SCAD Atlanta offered panels on costume design and postproduction, each with industry insiders sharing their knowledge.

In the afternoon, fashion maven Miss J Alexander discussed all things reality television and runway. The SCAD Digital Media Center hosted “How to Build a Video Network from Scratch” (Hint: It’s not easy!), while an episode of “Devious Maids” was screened at SCADshow.

Midday events continued with a presentation by (n+1) designstudio on branded content in live sports and the uplifting HBO documentary “Mavis!” chronicling the life of legendary singer Mavis Staples.

The midseason premiere of longtime hit series “Grey’s Anatomy” preceded a sneak peek at highly anticipated series “The Path.” Stars from both shows participated in lively discussions and Q&A sessions.

aTVfest will continue throughout the weekend with panels, a student showcase and much more. Must-see screenings include “The Walking Dead,” “Gotham,” “The Mindy Project,” “Banshee,” “Bates Motel” and “Family Guy.”

For times, locations and more details on the festival, check the aTVfest schedule, and come back to SCADworks for more coverage behind the screen!

December 2015: A whole month celebrating SCAD!


Happy SCAD Month! Yes, you read that correctly. The Atlanta City Council has proclaimed December 2015 SCAD Month in honor of SCAD Atlanta’s tenth anniversary, and in recognition of the dedication of President Paula Wallace and the university’s students, faculty and staff.

Since SCAD Atlanta opened in 2005, it has flourished with the addition of tremendous resources, including the historic Ivy Hall Writing Center, a restored and revitalized 19th century structure; the recently expanded Digital Media Center that was created within the former WXIA-TV building; and the new SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film, the first of its kind in the southern United States.

The Atlanta City Council’s proclamation reads:

“Yet the learning experience reaches beyond SCAD students. All Atlantans from every walk of life look forward to SCAD’s next meaningful contribution to our city: artwork that SCAD will commission, acquire, curate and install at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.”

But that’s not all! More congratulations are in hand for President Wallace who, as a former Atlanta Public School teacher and native of the city, was awarded the Phoenix Award by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The Phoenix is the highest citizen award the mayor can give, and acknowledges President Wallace’s commitment to Atlanta’s artistic, cultural and educational development.

SCAD student helps document a piece of Atlanta history


Since 1956, Manuel’s Tavern has been a popular hangout for multiple generations of Atlantans –—with decades’ worth of photographs, art, maps, and bumper stickers on its walls to prove it. When a developer recently purchased Manuel’s and announced plans to renovate the dive bar’s interior, patrons feared the artifacts would be lost forever.

Enter Ruth Dusseault, a long-time Manuel’s customer and a lecturer at Georgia State University. She hatched a plan to document the bar’s interior through an online research project called Unpacking Manuel’s Tavern. After recruiting a voluntary team from SCAD, Emory, University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, they set out to photograph the entire bar and create an online 3-D virtual tour where visitors can learn all about the 59-year-old watering hole.

Given SCAD’s extensive expertise in historic preservation and photography, Dusseault reached out to Michael O’Brien, SCAD Atlanta’s associate chair of photography. O’Brien in turn recommended SCAD student Hastings Huggins, who received a B.F.A. in photography in 2012 and is currently pursuing his M.F.A. in photography.

Hastings was responsible for lighting the Unpacking Manuel’s Tavern project. Here, Hastings chats about the tribulations, triumphs, and idiosyncrasies of the work.

NorthaveRmGoProFilm from Ruth Dusseault on Vimeo.

SCAD: Can you take us through the shooting process?

Huggins: The technology we used was a GigaPan system, a mounted camera that can articulate up and down, left and right, and every axis in between for a nice, fluid pan.

We had tracks set up that were parallel to the wall that we were documenting. The tracks had a dolly and tripod with this GigaPan system set on top. We would march the tripod and dolly along every 32 inches left to right, and at each stop, we would take as many as 22 images from the very top of the wall where it met the ceiling.

SCAD: What was the biggest challenge?

Huggins: There were six rooms, and every room has characteristics that made things a bit challenging. One room wasn’t perfectly flat. It had ramps for access and metal railings that were fixed into the floor that couldn’t be moved.

Another challenge was the fact that a lot of what we were photographing gave off reflections that would obfuscate the images. We had PVC pipes that we’d throw some black material over and just raise as high as we could to block whatever the GigaPan system was catching as it marched along. That was probably the most frustrating and awkward part of the process.

SCAD: What were some of the most interesting pieces of memorabilia you photographed?

Huggins: One work of art on the wall – a beautiful, impressionistic painting of a woman’s figure – could easily be in a museum. We asked the bar owner’s son about it, and he said it was from a customer who was an accomplished painter [Dean Chapman] but couldn’t pay his tab. So he paid with this piece of work, a painting of his wife who also frequented Manuel’s.

SCAD: Any other fun stories?

Huggins: Well, at one point I was standing in the bar area and I looked up and saw this mobile. I said, “Doesn’t that look just like a Calder mobile?” A guy behind the bar said, “It is.” Then I said, “Yeah, right. If that’s a Calder, you would have had an appraiser in here and probably would have gotten some sort of…” The guy finished the sentence for me: “A six-figure appraisal? That’s exactly what we got.”

They had this Calder mobile hanging in the bar and it was filthy – covered in tar from cigarette smoke! I said, “Well at least clean it!” And he said, “Oh no, if we clean that thing, we won’t hear the end of it.”

Photo by Hastings Huggins.

A design solution for Atlanta bridges and traffic-weary drivers


Along with landmarks like Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta is synonymous with traffic. Long lines of vehicles — 300,000 per day — winding through Interstate 75/85 are staples in the city’s landscape. So are the concrete bridges that traverse these five miles of highway. What if these exchanges could delight and inspire drivers? What if, rather than ignoring them, commuters looked forward to passing under the structures for a momentary reprieve from their slow-moving circumstances? That is the reaction architecture students from the Savannah College of Art and Design were going for when they crafted the winning concept for the annual American Institute of Architects National Conference Student Legacy Charette design competition.

In a nod to the host city of their 2015 convention, the AIA asked students to lend their ingenuity to the Atlanta Bridgescape Competition, the city's initiative to beautify the I-75/85 corridor, known as the Connector. Their task was to transform the area between Folk Art Park and the Peachtree Street Bridge, which passes over the Connector. The only requirement was that their “capping mechanism” engage pedestrians and drivers.

The contest's six-hour time limit left SCAD graduate Bradley Green (B.F.A., architecture, 2015) and his team just enough time to present sketches and a site plan for a cap that could be a solution for any city focused on urban renewal.

Our undulating designs allowed room for commissioned art, worked to collect rainwater in bioswales and used wind turbines to collect wind energy that would also create a visual display of light underneath the bridge. — Bradley Green

Inspired by the roundabout in Folk Art Park, the designers envisioned a collection of earthen mounds to create greenspace for pedestrian traffic on top of the cap. Some mounds would be constructed as verticle tunnels, either hallow — to allow light to spill through onto vehicles below — or equipped to host multiple genres of artwork to be enjoyed by those passing on top of and beneath the bridge.

Creating a spectacle – to be constructed so as not to endanger drivers – was only one part of the SCAD team's intention. The other objective was to promote interaction with community groups who could provide the art, and even among drivers and pedestrians who could see one another through the hallow mounds. It’s Green’s way of bringing the tight-knit feel of his hometown of North Augusta, South Carolina to the big city. "As an architect, I’m doing a lot more than creating a building; I’m creating a long-standing relationship with the area I’m building in," Green said.

Thanks to the SCAD team and the finalists of the National Bridgescape Competition, traffic won’t always be the only thing by which we remember Atlanta’s roadways.

Inside the preservation story of Atlanta's Ivy Hall


In honor of Preservation Month, we celebrate Savannah College of Art and Design's Ivy Hall. On May 21, 1917, the Great Fire of Atlanta spared one of the South’s rare examples of Queen Anne-style architecture, the Edward C. Peters House, or Ivy Hall after the Peters family symbol. Flanked at the time by a long dirt road, now the busy thoroughfare of Ponce de Leon Avenue, Ivy Hall landed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. In 2000, as The Mansion Restaurant, Ivy Hall barely survived another devastating blaze. It took more than fate to intervene and save the house a third time.

“We worked seven years on the process and we were glad to see SCAD come in on a white horse to really save the building,” said Boyd Coons, executive director of the Atlanta Preservation Center. "We stopped the destruction, but we needed SCAD to come in and be the steward of this.”

As Atlantans and tourists may recall, the once grand manor resembled a haunted house until SCAD received it as a donation in 2007. After undertaking an award-winning restoration that involved interior design and historic preservation students, the university reopened Ivy Hall in 2008 as home to SCAD Atlanta’s writing program.

That’s good preservation because it’s not just making a house a museum, it has a sustaining purpose. That kind of use and adaptive reuse is what’s really important. - Boyd Coons

Ivy Hall hosts writing classes and connects students and the public to renowned writers like New York Times best-selling author Augusten Burroughs, Camille Paglia, Pearl Cleage and Cinda Williams Chima. In this way, Ivy Hall’s importance has come full circle.

Another pivotal author, Margaret Mitchell, is said to have based Gone with the Wind’s character Rhett Butler on Richard Peters, father to Edward Peters who built Ivy Hall in 1883. His home lives on as a center for aspiring writers. Quite a journey for what was once considered one of Atlanta's most endangered places.

Randi Zuckerberg uncomplicates social innovation


Randi Zuckerberg is a busy woman. She’s the former director of market development for Facebook, the founder and CEO of boutique marketing firm and production company Zuckerberg Media, an author and, in her words, the Zuckerberg “who graduated from Harvard.” Also a sought-after speaker, Zuckerberg recently visited Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. Keeping with the spirit of her online community and book Dot Complicated, Zuckerberg helped the audience at SCADShow decipher future trends in technology and social media. Interspersed with a technological ballad sung to the tune of Under the Sea and a nursery rhyme with lines like, “Eeny, meeny, miny, mode teach a toddler how to code,” Zuckerberg shared a list of trends we can’t ignore. Here are five takeaways from her talk What’s Next in Social Innovation and How We Interact with the 21st Century Consumer.

Entreployees rule
The maker movement has spawned the rise of the “entreployee,” people who work full-time for a business while launching one of their own. Many employers welcome this because they’re looking for creative people and problem solvers, which should make artists and designers optimistic about their career prospects. But be warned: changing employment trends mean changing hiring practices and your next interview might take place via Snapchat.

Social media is not optional
Social media is not a fad and smart companies are taking it seriously. There’s still unlimited potential for social media to revolutionize the business-to-consumer relationship. One example is the 1888 Hotel in Sydney, Australia where travelers with 10,000 Instagram followers stay free — yes, free.

Learn and learn from technology
From silly to serious, technology is achieving the unthinkable. 3D printers create everything from fashion accessories to prosthetics. Smart contact lenses will make it easier for diabetics to test their glucose levels. Online (and often free) educational tools mean people never have to stop learning and can learn just about anywhere. Fun toys and games can hook kids on science and engineering. We can learn a great deal from technology about how to think bigger in our respective professions.

Innovation is like a box of chocolates
With social and technological breakthroughs, you never know what you’re going to get. We have inventive educational toys, books and games. Then someone takes it too far and designs the iPotty. Fitbits are helpful, but does the world really need a scale that tweets the user’s weight? The same 3D printers that make shoes and iPhone cases can also make guns and bullets. Virtual reality can be used to help cure people of their phobias, but also to create first-person shooter games that, according to Zuckerburg, might be a little too realistic. Innovation inspires excitement, but also requires prudence.

Balance is best
The next great social innovation just might be unplugging. It is exactly what it sounds like: leaving technology behind for an afternoon or weekend. We can get ahead of this trend by enjoying the outdoors, wandering through a used bookstore, and talking to people without looking at our phone or taking a selfie. Not exactly the advice one would expect from a social media maven, but it's exactly why Zuckerberg is a breath of fresh air.

Catherine Ramsdell is the associate chair of liberal arts at SCAD Atlanta, and has been teaching writing and English courses at SCAD since 2000. She also writes for Popmatters.com, an online magazine of cultural criticism.

Loglines from aTVfest 2015


The star-studded line up of Savannah College of Art and Design’s third annual television festival sent #aTVfest trending. But true to the tag line – Go Behind the Screen - the buzz was as much about the people who make television as it was about the people on it. In addition to the actors, directors, producers, editors, show runners and programmers shared invaluable insights on the state of the industry. Below are some of the recurring themes that emerged from the panels and screenings.

Shows serving up the foreign and the familiar are surging.
Digital is the answer to two seemingly incongruous trends of shows getting simultaneously more personal and unfamiliar. The reason is, unlocked from the vise of linear TV, content is free to speak to narrower audiences. At the same time, the proliferation of content spawned by digital distribution has audiences wanting to go deeper into immersive worlds where they can escape the “noise” and get lost in a rare environment. It’s why Travel Channel greenlit coming of age adventure, "Boy to Man" and why "Game of Thrones" and "Downton Abbey" are favorites.

New technologies complicate workflow but are making content better.
Helping to feed the appetite for more immersive worlds on the small screen is the increasing affordability of visual effects for television. While permitting show creators endless creative freedom, the explosion of new technologies and formats can hamper show delivery and are transforming workflows. This is true of the most sophisticated formats, like Ultra HD, and the most pedestrian, like the refurbished cell phones being used to shoot a show for BET. What is a headache for post supervisors and editors, however, is a bonus for those entering the industry. Easy access to these tools for aspiring producers and editors, and their mastery of them before they get hired, will make it easier for them to land jobs, even while they're still students.

Cord cutters, ‘cord nevers’ and superfans are overthrowing business as usual.
To capture audiences who have never watched or rarely watch linear TV, networks are pulling out all the stops: giving pre-releases to Netflix and Amazon and producing original digital content alongside show content. It’s not just about finding audiences who aren’t watching TV, but about keeping the ones who are in front of the tube longer. So there are new tools in programmers arsenals, like pods of fresh content in the middle of commercials, deep teases, super teases, cliff hangers and marathon viewing. Then there’s the superfans, like "Scandal's" ‘gladiators.’ In the process of using their personal social networks to over share their enthusiasm for certain shows, these viewers become the ultimate brand ambassadors. In return, they expect direct access to the writers, actors and glam squads. More than ratings, social media and word of mouth are so crucial to a show’s success that some networks have added cast member social media classes to their marketing playbooks.

Authenticity is getting more authentic.
Technology like drones and HDR increasingly provide consumers an unrestricted and unfiltered view. Meanwhile, digital has heightened attention to diverse points of view. Both of these realties contribute to an appetite for real perspectives and an environment where TV can help you to truly connect instead of assimilate. So networks are moving away from creating situations to building shows around realities that already exist. This is easiest to see in unscripted programming like HGTV’s hit "Fixer Upper," which takes viewers into the marriage and renovation business of husband and wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Livestream: aTVfest panel explores the future of television


On Saturday, February 7 at 11 a.m. EST, watch the aTVfest Television Roundtable live from Atlanta. TV journalists will offer their insight on the state of the industry, including why television is in a golden age, the impact of airing online versus broadcast and cable, their favorite TV shows and more.