Latest entries

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Some of you at Otis may have already caught wind of the credit reduction that has been implemented for the incoming foundation students this fall semester. Some people are aware of this and some are not. For foundation students, you know that you are taking fewer classes than the students from previous years. Some of your classes have been squished into one and you might be wondering why and how it is impacting you. Although these changes will not affect the upper classmen, like myself, I was still curious why the curriculum was being changed. I’m sure that many students, especially foundation students are also curious as to what this whole thing is about.

I decided to interview Debra Ballard, the Liberal Arts and Science Department Chairperson, and ask her some questions that I felt other students might be interested in. After speaking with Debra, I learned about the school’s intentions behind the credit reduction and I feel it is something to be shared with the whole student body: not just foundation students.

Debra Ballard, Chairperson of LAS
To briefly explain what the credit reduction is to anyone who does not already know, a Bachelor Degree, by large, is regulated by the federal government and regional members. It can go anywhere between a minimum of 120 units to a maximum of 144 units in a four year degree. About 10 years ago, Otis reduced the credit requirement from 134 to 130. This year, it was decreased to 120. This equates to just a few less classes within a four year degree. It only applies to this year’s freshman and to the students to come in the following years, not upper classmen. The Foundation program has cut some corners and combined the form and space course with the drawing and composition course. The other departments have had to make some small changes. Debra explained that the departments maintained the same learning outcomes throughout the credit reduction and that it was really about prioritizing and discovering what’s been working and what has not.

When I asked Debra what provoked this, Debra responded, “The primary drive to do this was for the students and their workload. We saw students reporting that they were jumping from class to class to class to class and they wanted to do more, but literally couldn’t because they had to jump to their next class.” All the teachers and students know that they are supposed to keep the workload within the amount of units of that class, but everyone is so passionate about what they are doing that, sometimes it just expands and becomes too much. Anyone who has attended Otis for even one semester knows that the work can really pile up. Otis is famous for that. Debra states “When you are taking 8 classes for 18 units, it’s a very different experience than taking 6 classes for 18 units… It will give students time to do the things that they do more in-depth and to pursue other interests.” I find this to be quite true. When you ask for less classes but more time in it, you do more in-depth work. How often do you just wish that you had more time to work on a project? For me, this occurs frequently.

Last year, as a freshman, my classmates and I first got word of the credit reduction happening the following year. We had mixed feelings. Most students immediate reactions were to throw their arms to the side and shout.
“What?! Why do the freshmen get it and not me?!” Others were suspicious that it was a ploy from Otis to save money. Personally, I felt a little annoyed. There is a stigma placed around receiving an arts education – that it is easy and illegitimate. I feel that it costs so much to attend this college that we should really be challenged to reach our full potential. Cutting back the curriculum just because students complain about being tired was just taking the easy way out. But after reflecting back on the years passed at Otis, I have not had any additional time to myself to be creative. I know I can speak for other students too when I say that we are so consumed with school that we just barely find enough energy to complete our homework and we rarely find the time to pursue outside interests. So many of us, as artists, have additional hobbies and interests that are sometimes unrelated to our majors. My demanding schedule eliminates any chance to participate in those things.

I had to also ask her the question, “If there are students who are interested in taking the full 18 credits, would they get charged for that?” Debra responded clearly with, “Absolutely not.”

The maximum number of units a student can take in a semester without being charged additionally will remain at 18 units. The minimum number of units to still be considered “full-time” just dropped to 15. Some students will be perfectly satisfied staying at the basic curriculum, while others will want to explore more or work on their minors. I think this is great. Overall, this gives the students more choice and freedom.

With that being said, the foundation students should be reminded of the reason for the credit reduction and to utilize their free time. The foundation students of this year don’t necessarily know anything different. They don’t realize that the foundation program has been redesigned to give them more time and freedom because what they are doing right now is the norm to them. I think it is important to encourage both the new students and the upperclassmen to engage in outside activities and interests. Make time for yourself. No matter how eager you are, it might be a good idea to take a smaller number of classes, if possible. It will give you the chance to increase the quality and depth of your classwork. Being multi-faceted and having interdisciplinary skills is becoming a necessity in today’s world. Take this opportunity to dig in and make your college years count!

- Clover -

A new class was introduced this year to the Foundation students. This course was previously called Composition & Critical Thinking and was changed to WIDA: Writing in the Digital Age. Instead of writing three essays now you write one Critical Essay and you do a Multimodal Project, focusing on using different medias like video, comic strips, blogs and etc. to evaluate, develop and express your critical thinking on one issue.

I just finished this course and loved it! For our Multimodal Project, we were told to use any medium to further explore what we wrote about in the previous assignment, the Critical Essay. The issues/topics ranged from identity to consumption, from advertising to movies. Here are a couple of the final projects:

Nizzed On

Niz started this blog wanting to replicate the fabulous fashion blogs she followed. However, when she asked herself, "What does my life and my viewpoint have in common with that of those fabulous fashion bloggers?" she ended up creating a blog more truly reflective of her real experience. 

Art School Dropout

My group chose to create a cheesy movie trailer to play with the topic of television and what we like to watch. Our thesis was "Art school is filled with crazy, obscene drama which can lead to murder." Our target audience was our fellow classmates at Otis. Making the trailer was an exercise in critical thinking for it forced us to constantly analyze and cut out anything that did not express our thesis.


Episode 8: Blood Bath

This week's episode was filled with unpredictable craziness. Numerous deaths, crimes, and other
atrocities were strewn about. I was thoroughly entertained by this week's story line, and look
forward to the coming episodes, because now everything seems like it will move a little quicker
and that more and more characters are going to die off or mysteriously disappear. The ending of
this episode however, is more twisted than anything else that has been shown on this season.

This week, Ethel, the bearded lady has become suspicious of Elsa after the disappearance of Ma
Petite. Ethel describes a situation to Elsa in which she would do anything to anyone who stole
the spotlight form her. In response Elsa says that she hasn't murdered anyone. But once again
Ethel brings up the situation where the twins went missing. When Elsa tries to storm away, Ethel
shoots Elsa in her calf in anger, and then realizes that Elsa has two prosthetic legs. Ethel suggests
that the two of them die together, because she has lost all hope of what the circus is, and what the
freak show has for her. Elsa suggests that they have a drink together first. On the same cart where
her alcohol is stored she has a knife, and throws it at Ethel before she gets a chance to shoot her.
Ethel is now the fourth death that has occurred at the freak show. To cover up the death, Elsa and
Dr. Mansfield make it as if Ethel had died in a suicidal car crash.

Poor Ethel, you were one of the only ones to realize what Elsa was up to.
Dandy's mother decides that she needs to take Dandy to a psychologist. When she goes to find
Dandy we find that Dora's daughter is with him, questioning them about her missing mother. In
the next scene, Dandy is at the psychologist's taking a Rorschach test. When he describes each of
the images, they seem to be increasingly gory. The first is of a man whose arms are torn off, and
“his insides are outside for all the world to see”. The second is of a man stabbing a woman to
death, her blood is smeared all over the wall, and he even says that it would be a “very messy
clean up”. Dandy realizes that what he went to wasn't an IQ test like his mother had told him, but
rather a psychologist's office. He then strikes a deal with his mother saying that he'll go to the
psychologist's for a whole month if she kills Regina, Dora's daughter. He says that this is
reasonable because Regina wants him sent to the electric chair, and if he does get sent there his
mother will be sitting on his lap.

If I were Regina, I would not speak to Dandy knowing what he has done before.
We are then brought back to Elsa. She is lurking around an exercise center called “be fit, not fat”.
After a short stroll she chooses whom she would like to speak to. She turns the woman,
Barbara's, exercise machine belt off, and talks to her. We learn about how Barbara ended up
there, and what her life is like. She is a wealthy girl, who just happens to be a little heavy-set. For
a while her mother was calling her pregnant to avoid the shame of having a heavy daughter. Elsa
then tells her of a place where every pound of her glorious “jiggle” would be appreciated and
celebrated. She is renamed Ima Waddler.

I must say, it's a rather unfortunate name.
After the burial of Ethel, the women of the circus decide that they want to help Paul's girlfriend,
the tattooed lizard girl, and kill her father for doing so to her originally pretty face. At her father's
home, they break in and knock him out. He is back in the the Strong-Man's caravan, and the
ladies tar and feather him. Though they originally wanted to kill him as well, Maggie the Fortune
Teller, rushes in and tells them that they shouldn't kill him. By killing him they would stoop to
even lower than him, and ruin their own chances at living a clean life. So the lizard leaves him as
he is, and tells him that if he were to ever go near the freaks again, she would kill him.

Yes, very dramatic. But I still think they should have killed him.
Back at the Mott household, Dandy's mother, Gloria, informs the psychologist that she will no
longer be needing his services, even though he suggests temporary commitment to an asylum for
Dandy. He states that he fears for her safety. When she hangs up, we find that Dandy has been
standing behind her the whole time. We are then told of what Dandy knows about his history,
because of what Dora told him when he was five. In 1929 Gloria's father was wiped out by the sudden economic crash, and in order to be able to live lavishly again, she married her second
cousin. Dandy says that he was born of “deadly sin,” and that he won't go to Europe or anywhere
with his mother. His mother explains that she loves him very much, and need not worry about
her love for him. Dandy wants to put an end to this madness by killing himself, but when Gloria
says that she wouldn't be able to go on if he were dead, he shoots her in the head.
Back at the freak show Jimmy breaks up with Maggie, saying that she should go and live her
beautiful life with someone else. Not him. He then wallows in sadness and cries, seeking comfort
from Ima Waddler.

At the very end of the episode, Dandy walks up to a bathtub in his playroom. Only after he gets
in, do we realize that he is bathing in his mother's blood.

Bathing in your own mother's blood, have you no shame?


There are many problems a product designer has to face on a day to day basis. These problems can include doing research, working with materials, and dealing with clients. I think one of the biggest problems we face is our clients. It is always a challenge getting the correct information out of them.

Sometimes they cannot explain their needs and end up steering the designer in the wrong direction. Asking many questions to be specific and doing your own research is definitely a must. Another problem we face with clients is they always seem to prefer our least favorite design. You can show up with four very developed designs and one bad design, and of course they will probably choose the bad one. Designing products is more than just making something look cool. I mean, obviously you want your product to be aesthetically pleasing but if it doesn’t work well it really doesn’t matter how beautiful it looks. Let's take furniture for example: a designer may take months sketching out ideas for a chair he wants to make before he decides on a final idea. He may have his mind set on the idea but when he makes the prototype he might realize it's not very comfortable. This can be very frustrating. I made a hiking stick earlier in the semester and after finishing it I found that the handle really didn’t feel as comfortable to hold as it looked in my sketch so I had to start all over. Another thing you have to think about when designing is who you're designing for. Is your design good for people with diverse abilities? If you're designing kitchenware, is your design going to work the same for someone who uses their left hand instead of their right? Is it simple and intuitive to use? These are all things we have to think about while designing. Other problems can just be with materials. You may have used a material a thousand times before but every now and then somethings are just not going to work out how you wanted it to. Currently I’m making a shelving unit for a wall. I'm using a really cool piece of live edge silky oak. I just noticed that a piece chipped off the corner of it. There’s not another piece of wood that looks just like this so I can't just go buy a new one. Now I have to make a resin mold and fill it in. You need to account for unexpected things like this to happen. Unfortunately, I did not so I will be rushing to finish by the deadline. Often times you have to compromise with your design because the material just won’t work with it. These are just some of the challenges we face when it comes to designing products.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

As a consumer there's one thing a customer needs to remember about consumption and advertising.


Advertising doesn't have a reputation for being the most honest profession. It may seem there's a stigma against advertising, in the sense that people assume they are being lied too when they see advertisements. Usually, the customers are at fault for believing that wearing Axe will get you laid or that changing toothpaste will make your smile more radiant.

Yeah, most people have seen the “lose 30 pounds in a week; no exercise needed” advertisement, but, in fact, most customers are smart and can put the pieces together. Customers need to start giving her or himself more credit, and customers are now more aware and smarter than ever. You'd have to be pretty dumb to believe some of the advertisements out there, so give yourself a pat on the back.

In fact, it’s illegal to falsely advertise a product in America or most countries. Harsh fines, repercussion and customer resentment, comes to those agencies and brands who falsely advertise. This being true, huge and highly respected brands are also guilty of telling their consumers major lies to make sales.

My favorite example is when Skechers' used Kim Kardashian to endorse its Shape-up sneakers, “claiming that you only had to tie your shoes to lose weight.” The FTC disagreed, and the shoe company ended up paying a $40 million settlement.  So if incidents like that are happening, where does that leave advertising?

Advertising deserves more credit, and customers have become aware, as well as advertising has become more creative and entertaining. Creative advertising, like the kind taught at Otis College of Art and Design, focuses on a truthful way of advertising. The process is simple, finding a connection between product features and customer benefits. Then showing that idea or angle in a creative, entertaining and truthful way.

Not all advertising is good or helpful but at least you can start seeing advertising as a more honest art form. In a new way, advertising doesn't lie, and the consumers are lying to themselves. In the sense that next time you're at home watching a commercial, ask yourself, do you really need that 3-D capable flat screen? Or that new cell phone that plays blu-ray? Lastly, who's in control of your pocket at the end of the day. Who's  responsible? So stop saying advertising lies, people lie to themselves.  You know you didn't need that three hundred dollar video game console.


The lack of green space at Otis has always been known but it has become more evident in the last couple of months because of the extraction of a tree in order to place a flag and the dead grass caused by the construction area.

The Otis campus is small compared to others; the need for space has thoughtlessly dwindled green areas. Buildings have taken over the natural landscape. They replaced what was once a green area to a desolate gray expanse.

The solution to this problem could be the use of vertical gardens, also known as green walls, on a building's fa├žade, or indoors. This small transformation can benefit the Otis community by increasing aesthetic and creating a positive environmental impact.

These green walls work through the usage of framework that holds the plants in place until they have rooted. These panels are grown horizontally at first in a greenhouse. Once the plants mature and have rooted into the green wall panels, the plants are anchored into the specialized media and structure of the system. The growth of the root system expands the soil volume, pushing it against the panel, preventing the plants from falling out when the panels are turned vertically.
The green wall plant selection will have to consist of native plants, because there are numerous benefits in using native foliage.

• Lower maintenance: In a garden, native plants do best with attention and care, but require less water, fertilizer, pruning, and your time to maintain than many common garden plants.

• Reduce pesticides: Native plants have developed their own defenses
against many pests and diseases. Since most pesticides kill
indiscriminately, beneficial insects become secondary targets in the
fight against pests. Reducing or eliminating pesticide use lets natural
pest control takeover and keeps garden toxins out of our creeks and

• Invite wildlife: Native plants, hummingbirds, butterflies, and other
beneficial insects create a symbiotic ecosystem. Research shows that
local wildlife prefers indigenous plants. California’s wealth of insect pollinators can improve fruits in your garden while a variety of native insects and birds will keep your landscape free of mosquitoes and plant-eating bugs.

• Support local Ecology: Creating native landscapes will never replace natural habitats lost to development. However, planting gardens, parks, and roadsides with California native plants will provide a bridge to nearby remaining wild areas. Do your part by recommending native plants to homeowner associations, neighbors, and civic departments. You can also get involved with local land-use planning processes.

• Save water: Take advantage of water-conserving plants in your landscape. Once established, many California native plants need minimal irrigation beyond normal rainfall. Conservation of water saves money as well as this limited resource.

The Otis community can benefit from these green walls not only by improving aesthetics, but also improving health and well-being.

• Buildings that feature and promote access to vegetation have been documented as having a greater positive human health impact than those without (Honeyman 1987).

• Studies have shown that visual access to natural settings, leads to increased job satisfaction and productivity and post-operative recovery rates in medical facilities (Kaplan 2001 & Ulrich 1983).