PromaxBDA: The Conference 2010
July 10th, 2010

Living Arts College’s annual trip to the PromaxBDA conference concluded on June 25, 2010. This year’s trip was one of the best! PromaxBDA, the association for promotional and design professionals, just wrapped on its 55th annual conference in Los Angeles June 24 with an incredible turnout, drastically higher than previous years. In attendance from LAC were School President Roger Klietz, Vice-President and Campus Director Debra Hooper, Assistant Campus Director Matthew Kelly, Interactive Media Arts Program Coordinator Vincent Gardner, and several LAC students and alumni along with four LAC students who were chosen to serve as PromaxBDA Interns for this year’s conference.

“The interns are rockin’ it!” said Jonathan Block-Verk, President and CEO, PromaxBDA.

The conference was kicked off by a speech by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, along with an introduction by ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. Top design and marketing awards went to Fox Broadcasting Co., bpg Advertising, CTV Creative Agency, Syfy, Showtime, and FX. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Hugh Hefner, who was present for an exciting interview by Larry King.

The conference also introduced the Creative Educator’s Forum, a professional development event for creative educators. The forum’s board is made up of a small, select group of nationwide creative education leaders. Living Arts College’s own Vice-President and Campus Director, Debra Hooper was among this elite group.

This year’s conference had some real treats in store for creative professionals and students. Sessions were held by industry leaders such as David Carson, Jakob Trollback, Brett Ashy, Gordon Ho, Stefan Sagmeister, Seth Berkowitz, Patrick Burgoyne, Michael Walsh, Lee Hunt, Graeme Newell, Timmy Fisher, Garson Yu, Mark Kudsi and Will Travis – to name just a few!

When asked what their favorite part of the conference was, staff and students had a difficult time deciding. One thing common with everyone’s excitement about the event was all the national and international industry professionals and celebrities that attendees had the privilege to meet.

“Ryan Stout and Norm MacDonald were hilarious at the awards events – and a perfect way to wrap up en exciting day of meeting professionals and networking” said TJ Piper, LAC student.

“I met Larry King!” said LAC student, Shannon Chapman.

“I’ve met many big names in the creative arts in my career, but meeting David Carson and Stefan Sagmesiter all within a 30 minute window had to be the highlight for me!” said LAC Assistant Campus Director, Matthew Kelly. “This year PromaxBDA has done a perfect job of giving all the folks at the conference on both the business and creative side of things exactly what they wanted!”

Living Arts Institute Participates in Health and Wellness Fair
April 26th, 2010

The Living Arts Institute was one of 90 exhibitors at the Natural Triad Health and Wellness Show on April 10 at the Greensboro Coliseum. Students performed free chair massages and blood pressure checks, and faculty and staff networked for admissions, externship opportunities, and job placement.

LAI Health & Wellness Fair

LAI Health & Wellness Fair

The event was sponsored by Natural Triad magazine, a monthly publication that focuses on “natural health, complementary and alternative medicine, nutrition, fitness, personal growth, green living, and the products and services that support good health.” Publisher and event organizer Matt Mulinic said that in its second year, this year’s fair “blew the doors off last year’s attendance.” Mulinic estimated that well over 12,600 residents from throughout the Triad had entered the exhibit hall by mid-afternoon, up more than 1,500 from the year before.

“We’ve done at least 200 blood pressure checks,” said Patricia Carter, R.N., who supervised Medical Assistant students Barry Atkins, Molly Hampton, Debra King, Debra Petree and Georgia Temple. LAI was the only exhibitor providing blood pressure screenings, though the school was one of many providing chair massages.

“But ours are the best,” said Assistant Campus Director Lauren Whitaker, who staffed the event along with Professional Services Co-Directors Ben Hatch and Heather Schicker. “I just had a 70-year-old woman tell me that the chair massage performed by Sam Crowell was the best she had ever had.” In addition to Crowell, massage therapy students Danita Bohannon, Tracy Dixon, Sandra Gallimore, Mary Gore, Endia Lewis, Sheri Myers, Gene Perry, Shelly Rignola and Bethany Voyles participated in the fair.

Along with the services provided, LAI offered coupons for free massages. “Students are required to perform clinical practice as part of their curriculum,” Hatch explained. “Members of the public can come into our facility and get a one-hour, full-body table massage.” Though the school will begin charging $20 for the practicum massages, those who bring a coupon from the health fair will not be charged.

LAI Health & Wellness Fair

LAI Health & Wellness Fair

Schicker said the health fair offered valuable networking for both students and staff. “I’ve met representatives from chiropractor’s offices, spas, and clinics that are going to be hiring, or could use an extern. We will definitely be following up on a lot of contacts that we’ve made here.”

LAI also offered two spa baskets as door prizes. Participants who completed a school interest card will be contacted by an Admissions Representative. The first two who complete a guided interview at the School will receive a basket, which contains massage oil, a spa towel, spa sound machine, stress relief wrap, back massager, aluminum water bottle, and LAI logo coffee mug.

Living Arts Institute, located at 1100 South Stratford Road in Winston-Salem, opened its doors in January 2009, offering day and evening diploma programs in Medical Assistant, Medical Billing and Coding, Medical Administrative Specialist, and Massage Therapy. It is a branch campus of Living Arts College in Raleigh, which confers baccalaureate degrees in photography, filmmaking, animation, audio production and interior design.

James Perry Fundraiser at Riverwood
April 14th, 2010

The James Perry Fundraiser Golf Tournament was held on Friday, April 9th at the Riverwood Golf Club in Clayton, NC. Living Arts College (LAC) was represented by a contingency of three golfers: Gordon Russell, Director of Education, Craig Brandwynne, Audio Co-Program Coordinator, and Cole Russing, Digital Filmmaking Instructor.

James Perry

The event was organized by Tommy Ballard of Rex Hospital to help with the expense of James Perry’s upcoming kidney transplant. James could not be present, however, his son and daughter read a statement on his behalf expressing his tremendous appreciation to all who participated. The tournament was a great success. Living Arts College’s team finished with a four over par in the face of cold, windy, and wet weather conditions on the front nine. By the end of the 18 holes the skies had cleared and everyone sat down for a BBQ lunch.

James Perry Fundraiser

(from right) Gordon Russell, Cole Russing, Craig Brandwynne, and Tim Blake

2010 AIGA Raleigh: Student Portfolio Review
April 7th, 2010

Saturday, March 27, students from regional schools all over North Carolina converged at Durham ad agency, McKinney to meet local design leaders and endure the equivalent of four 30 minute mock interviews.

2010 AIGA Raleigh

2010 AIGA Raleigh

“This is where the local interactive media arts and design industry is at.” reported Vincent Gardner, Living Arts College (LAC) Senior Instructor and AIGA Raleigh Education Director.

2010 AIGA Raleigh

“The event was a great success.” stated LAC AIGA Raleigh Student Group representative Chelae Cummings. Chelae volunteered along with over 15 students from local student groups to help coordinate the event. Chelae has been a force of creative excellence at the College and influential in keeping the LAC AIGA Raleigh Student Group active and involved.

Seating was limited as over 10 local schools participated with 39 total desks being available. Living Arts College had four student desks: Nathan Wellman, Kirstin Wiltjer, Maria Hartman and Gerri Fernandez all seemed energized by the end of the afternoon and could not stop talking about what their reviewers told them.

Tiffany Johnson and Shako Oteko, additional LAC students, participated as volunteers.

“It was great!” reported student Shako Oteko.

2010 AIGA Raleigh

2010 AIGA Raleigh

College staff and creative professionals from across the country work together to help students develop their portfolios and to prepare them for job interviews. Overall, LAC students were more than prepared for this event.

The event helps students not only develop their body of work, but also (and perhaps just as importantly) in developing their network of contacts.

“When students go to events like this they see what can make them stand apart from the crowd.” stated Chelae Cummings.

2010 AIGA Raleigh

At LAC, students are exposed to an intense curriculum of professional development, including creative, professional, business and technical know-how.

“This special focus makes the difference for students when interviewing!” reported Review Panelist and LAC Assistant Campus Director, Matthew Kelly.

Documentary Screening – Three Unique Artists Collaborate
March 17th, 2010


Living Arts College @ School of Communications Arts is proud to host “3 The Hard Way”, a film documentary by Octave Blue Entertainment Production an entrepreneur venture of LAC alumnus Robert King presented by “THE LoDi PROJECT.”

What happens when you bring together a graffiti artist from the streets of Philly, a cartoonist born and bred in the South, and a French Puerto Rican, mixed media/collage painter to collaborate on an artistic project?

Over the last ten months Sean Kernick and Paul Friedrick collaborated with Georges Le Chevallier, professor at Living Arts College, to create 14 canvasses and 15 drawings. Three artists from completely different backgrounds will present their work in a unique film documentary. Living Arts College is pleased to welcome alumnus Robert King who worked in conjunction with his wife Lisa King of Octave Blue Entertainment to film the year-long process.

“It will be interesting to see how three artists, with completely different backgrounds, processes and styles come together to create a finished painting. “
–Georges LeChevallier

“THE LoDi PROJECT” exists as a curatorial organization that strives to bring attention to current issues and ideas by creating an atmosphere of open dialogue through site- specific and traveling exhibitions, performances and productions.

Living Arts College Students Wowed at Game Developer’s Conference
March 17th, 2010

Motion control and social gaming were the hot topics at GDC, the annual convention for game designers, programmers and creatives.

The Game Developer’s Conference is the place to be and Living Arts College students and faculty were there to “rub elbows” with the industry leaders.

Sony shook up the conference with a splashy introduction of the PlayStation Move. Watch out Nintendo… this will rival the Wii.

The biggest buzz was reserved for social gaming, a form of easy-to-play online multiplayer games. The success of “Farmville” and “Mafia Wars” is amazing. LAC students Holly Rowland, Michael Grant, Alexa Riley and Alex Loeffler checked out “Power Gig.” The upcoming guitar game was introduced in a mocked-up living room populated with hipsters rocking out to “Power Gig.”

“Civilization” and “Railroad Tycoon” designer Sid Meier delivered a keynote speech to hundreds of onlookers on the psychology of game design. Meier is the Director of Creative Development at Firaxis Games.

The students who attended had these things to say:

“GDC was a terrific experience and it was very exciting to meet so many industry professionals.” Holly Rowland

“It was big, it was long, very educational……definitely a learning experience.” Alexa Riley

“It was a great opportunity to get a ton of insight in the industry.” Michael Grant

“GDC was a very good opportunity to meet and network with industry professionals.” Patrick VanNortwick

“It was a great networking opportunity.” Alex Loeffler

College Director Networking for Success in Placement at GDC
March 17th, 2010

Learning Arts College @ School of Communication Arts has a long association with industry leaders in animation, game design, film and audio. Assisting graduates to move into top positions in these industries is accomplished by the graduate using their unique skill sets gained at the College.

The College’s “secret weapon” is the Campus Director’s networking with colleagues that she has known for over 25 years. “Networking is my sole reason for attending Game Developer’s Conference” states College Director Debra Ann Hooper. I can shake hands with leaders from Blizzard, Lucas Arts, Epic, Ubisoft, Insomniac Games, Naughty Dog, Disney Interactive Media Group and Crytek Gmbh, all under the same roof.

“My goal is to be able to text, email, or phone an industry contact when I have a talented graduate that I know has the skill set needed for their company,” reports Ms. Hooper.

LAC Students Take Home Four ADDY Awards
March 17th, 2010

“It’s all about the art of the message”, reports College Director Debra Hooper. “We won in this tough advertising competition because the goal at the College is to develop great content skills. We are moving students beyond learning Photoshop techniques to exciting audiences with stories and images that count.”

Living Arts College @ School of Communication Arts (LAC) students took home four awards at the 2010 Triangle ADDY Awards. The awards were announced and hosted by legendary Advertising Executive, Charlotte Beers. It was a fun-filled Gala evening at the ADDYs honoring LAC students Nicole Litts, Geoff Helderman and Austin Burley in student categories.

Nicole Litts received a gold ADDY and was “Best in Show” for her TV spot for the campaign on anti-smoking and “Mothers with Birth Defects.” Two Silver ADDY awards were presented to Geoff Helderman, “Drunk Driving Prevention Ad” and Austin Burley for the typographic illustration of “Christopher Walken”. LAC is thrilled to honor the students and the recognition they will receive in pursuing careers in the interactive media industry.

“Support from Instructors was tremendous and helped me shape my creative concepts into digital media.” – Nicole Litts

“Winning this award is a true benchmark in my life. Not only can I look at it proudly, I can also smile knowing this is only the beginning.” – Austin Burley

“It was a true honor to win an award for a project I put so much time and effort into. Working on the MADD campaign was a great experience.” – Geoff Helderman

College staff includes professionals who are representative of the talent and strength of the local Raleigh ADDY Award group–American Advertising Federation. Michael Winslow, Creative Director at LAC is the recipient of the 2009 AAF Silver Medal Award, recognizing men and women who have made outstanding contributions to advertising and who have been active in furthering the industry’s creative standards. Winslow participates in developing the College’s special focus on design content. “Our programs incorporate the talents of staff members like Michael Winslow, who transfer years of practical content know-how to critiquing portfolios. This is why we have developed a Greenlight process for mentoring student development,” reports College Director Debra Hooper.

Thinking “Out of the Box” – Suzanne Meiler
February 18th, 2010

January 28, 2010 – Raleigh – Suzanne Meiler, guest speaker and former Alumni of Living Arts College, presented an “Out of Box” discussion on how to make it as a professional in the game industry. Meiler comes from an extensive background in environmental modeling having over 10 years experience in the game industry working for conglomerates such as Random Games, Red Storm Entertainment, Destineer/Atomic Games and most recently with Vaco as a Director of Design and Gaming recruiting top industry professionals. She has focused on managing a large team, hiring, scheduling, performing art critiques, and producing documentation.

“Don’t be a Jack of all trades and master of none.” – Suzanne Meiler

Working in either motion pictures or the game industry requires practice by exploring your art skills, whether it is traditional painting, life or architectural drawing. Whatever it takes to improve your skill set to be prepared in your field, just do it! Focus on one specific genre and explore texture, lighting and prop layouts. What is most important is that you stand out and have the work to prove it! Think out of the box by making your own iPhone application or work with other students to design a game.

“Don’t burn bridges.” – Suzanne Meiler

Wherever you work, keep good ties with former supervisors and colleagues. Forming working relationships can help build your experience in the workplace and open up other opportunities down the road.

When developing your portfolio what message are you sending to potential employers?

Below is Suzanne’s Checklist on Portfolio Basics

  1. If you are an environment artist, have examples on your website. A CD/DVD is nice, but having a website is more important.
  2. Make sure when building your website you have a clean header, it is easy on the eye and your work speaks for itself.
  3. Attach your demo reel on your website link, NOT your blog.
  4. Create a menu that is easy to navigate.
  5. Present a variety of skills with a focus.
  6. Design your website using media other than Flash. Industry professionals can view websites on their iPhone and it will not upload if the website is designed in Flash.
  7. Separate your personal blog from your professional website.

Networking can increase your chances of finding a job by joining organizations such as IFFA, Game Initiative, GDC and E3. Facebook, LinkedIn and other industry related social media websites have also had a great impact in the digital media world.

“Preparing a resume, building a portfolio and networking are top priorities to land a job in the industry.” says Meiler. Writing a resume is not always easy, so take a step back and think about what you want, do research on potential employers and write a resume that sells.

When applying for jobs, send an email or apply online, create a cover letter which is brief and to the point, research information about the company and read the job postings carefully. Write a list of questions an employer would ask and be prepared to ask questions regarding the position. And last but not least, follow up with the employer with a thank you letter.

“Suzanne was spot on. She cares about this industry and she cares about our students. Suzanne said exactly what the students needed to hear. It showed through her presentation. She illustrated her points accurately and eloquently using her experience in the industry and her position now as a recruiter. “ – Kwame Hawkins

Meiler provided students a glimpse of what to expect in the world of animation in the game industry and ended the discussion with questions from the students. She is most notable for the environment designs on AAA titles such as the Ghost Recon series, Rainbow Six, and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2. At Atomic she worked on the highly anticipated and controversial game Six Days in Fallujah.

Debra A Hooper
Vice President/Director
School of Communication Arts
@ Digital Circus

Terrance Mann at Living Arts College
February 11th, 2010

Friday, January 1st we hosted a workshop for the theater students from Wakefield High School. Due to the snow, Wake County closed all after school activities. Professor Craig Brandwynne, with Paul Orsett, Wakefield’s theater director, had arranged for the students to use our facility for the workshop and we were more than happy to do so.

The workshop was directed by Broadway actor, singer and dancer Terrance Mann. Terrance Mann has originated roles in major Broadway productions such as Rum Tum Tugger in Cats and Javert in Les Mis, among others. Craig Brandwynne took Mr. Mann on a tour of the school. Terrance was very impressed and was amazed that a college like this can not only offer the programs and the technology for students, but the students can also earn a Bachelors degree, said Craig. Terrance is on Broadway now in the new musical “The Adams Family” with Nathan Lane. When he is back in North Carolina, we will invite him to speak at one of our functions.

Opportunities like this happen very often here at Living Arts College. Our professors are very well connected with their respective industries. Not only do they teach at the college, they also work in the industry

We would like to thank Mr. Brandwynne and Mr. Orsett for arranging this amazing event. Roughly 25 students were glued to Mr. Mann as he listened to each one sing, offering suggestions and constructive criticism. He is a remarkable mentor and we loved hosting this event.

Debra A Hooper
Vice President/Director
School of Communication Arts
@ Digital Circus