Green trends and Landscape Design

Nick Flachsbart, Landscape Design

Nicholas Flachsbart design

What’s trending in your field in terms of design?

Right now a big trend in landscape architecture is the incorporation of green infrastructure for, mostly, large buildings. From high rise office buildings to classrooms and apartments of nearly any size, a green roof may create an outdoor social environment for its occupants while also acting as a climate controlling device and greatly reducing water runoff.
Though this area of the field is focusing upon private space, and is geared toward an engineering standpoint, I find it enormously critical for helping the general public to understand how dynamic the field is. Where people would often confuse landscape architecture with horticulture or simply landscaping, they are now seeing more consciously and carefully designed green spaces where it is highly unexpected, and beginning realize the social and cultural impact of the field.

How are models used in the design process?

Landscape architects use models for a whole number of reasons and purposes. A preliminary model may be built during the design process in order to analyze spatial creation. It is extremely crucial to produce these models because it brings any design flaws to your attention, which are often overlooked on a two dimensional drawing that lacks depth. I find more abstract models to be the most effective during the design process because it gives you a chance to explore different materials and mediums. For instance, where foam may be the best representation for trees in one design, metal wiring may be more appropriate in another. One may study the layout of a site by layering chipboard to fit the contours of the topography, allowing them to walk themselves over hills, through valleys, across bridges or along a shoreline. You could perhaps use a model to discover or manipulate different view-sheds you want users of the landscape to have. That is, you may want to block a view of a river until one reaches a certain point along the curvature of a path – and now you are creating a more intellectual experience for that person.
In short, there is no limit to how and why a model may be used. A good landscape architect will design with models, and of course to show a client your design, a model can make or break their decision to use it. Today, many models are done via computer programming, but the more sophisticated and large scale design firms seem to be more likely to build a final, physical rendering to show a client
Where do you see the intersection of fine art & landscape design?
I don’t believe that the idea of fine art is something that can simply drift in and out of landscape architecture. They are interwoven into something that is both expressive and practical. High Modernism of landscape architecture suggests even that it is fine art. Many people consider architecture to be fine art if it displays a great concern for aesthetic qualities, even though an architect must consider structural engineering into their work. Similarly, landscape architects juggle the principals of design as well as civil engineering, yet people seem extremely reluctant to call it fine art. Personally, I do not believe that the field fits in as a traditional fine art, but instead uses the same theories to create pieces of work much more literal than the method by which it was conceived.
 

Which artists have inspired you?

Environmental artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have probably been my biggest influence as an undergraduate student in the field. Known best for the Running Fence project in northern California and The Gates in Central Park (images attached), they have redefined the idea of art for me. British artist, Andy Goldsworthy has definitely been, and continued to be, a great source of inspiration for me as well, beginning when I watched the documentary Rivers and Tides. What both artists have in common is the temporary nature of their work. What is most beautiful to me is that an artist can have the selflessness to create a work of art that is not in a museum or gallery, but instead ceases to exist after a few weeks or even hours after completion.

 

What are the most common design mistakes?

It seems to me that most design mistakes in the field root from a misunderstanding of the goal of taking on a project. I have made all of these mistakes, often more than once, and I’m sure with more to come. The first and biggest design mistake is to compete with surrounding architecture. Because most projects have structures in the vicinity, a designer will become offended by ostentatious buildings and thus try to place more importance on the landscape with great amounts of hardscape and materials (excessive concrete, granite, marble, wood, walls, lighting, exotic plantings, water features…etc) in space that does not benefit from such.
Another common mistake is to design for yourself. One cannot simply conjure up a design they like and use it where ever they wish. A landscape is a living, breathing, and dynamic palate that changes on a daily basis, and thus the design of a landscape is inherent in nature. The question is not how you want to design the land, but how the land wants to be designed.
Thirdly, it is very typical of landscape architect students (as most mistakes are made before becoming a professional, but certainly not all) is to overestimate the power of landscape elements as space definers. What I mean is, when attempting spatial creation in a design in plan view (from above, on paper), it may appear that a row of trees and light posts will define an edge. Yet, if you’ve ever walked along a path that has a tree every 20 feet and a light post between each pair of trees, you’ll know how weak that edge truly is. However, using topography for instance, we can build up a 7 foot high hill at a very steep slope along a path and define the edge quite well because we cannot see over it. One must understand what a point is, how we turn that point into a line, the line into a plane, and the plane into volume.

What tips would you give to people who might consider pursuing this field?

Do not let people discourage you. The truth is, most people have no idea what landscape architecture is – and even the first year studying in the field may not be enough to understand it. Read books about the subject, as it can be very motivational. Be sure you love the artistic and technical aspect of it, because a pretty drawing of a landscape means nothing if it you don’t know how it will be built, and designing commercial parking lots limits expressive opportunity

Which organizations would you recommend to people who want to learn more?

The most important organization in the field (in the U.S.) is the American Society of Landscape Architects, which has an enormous amount of information on what we do. Theirs is the official organization from which a graduate and experienced (2 yrs minimum) junior landscape architect can receive their license after a series of exams. Another great way to learn about the field is to simply google search, “(city of your choice) landscape architecture” and see what firms come up. Click on their link and read through their design philosophy and check out their portfolios.
Nick Flachsbart is a seventh semester student of Landscape Architecture at the University of Connecticut.
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Designs on the Fashion World

 By Harleen Kaur Chhabra, Fashion Designer

Harleen Chhabra designs

One of the biggest misconceptions about achieving success in the fashion industry is that creativity is everything. The competition in the industry has become so intense over the years that having talent just isn’t enough anymore. A very big part of succeeding in the business is networking and knowing people who can recommend you to someone who is hiring. The industry is so saturated that there are hundreds of unemployed designers all applying for the same jobs which leads to stacks of resumes for employers to go through. If you know someone who can recommend you and attest to your innovation, creativity or motivation as a designer, you’ll have a very strong advantage over the stack of resumes that are sitting on a recruiter’s or manager’s desk. In order to get that advantage, many young designers start out working for temp agencies that specialize in the fashion industry that will assign them short-term jobs where they can meet different people and build up a solid network of references. This is one of the best ways to get experience and network as a young designer and some of the leading agencies include fourthFLOOR fashion, 6The Solomon-Page Fashion, and 24|Seven.

Now, this isn’t to say that creativity and talent account for nothing because creativity is ultimately what allows a company to grow–and this can be applied to any business, even outside the fashion world. Marketing can only go as far as the product will allow, and fashion evolves so quickly that you have to either perfect something that’s already out there or create something that’s not. The problem is that almost everything has already been done. The last century has been filled with almost every style of apparel and accessories you can imagine, which has led to the last 10 or so years simply turning into a recycling of trends rather than the innovation of new ones. There’s not much left to do which is why a lot of designers focus their brands on perfecting certain trends or adding more value and function to their designs for consumers who are more concerned with the value and functionality of clothing rather than the aesthetics. I think it’s important for designers to really think about which of these markets they want to cater to–the value-driven consumer, the trend-driven consumer, or the traditional consumer.

Determining your consumer base is especially essential to those designers who want to own their own label someday because fashion is a consumer-driven industry. One of the biggest challenges a company can face is selling their goods, but this part comes easy when you design with your consumer in mind. Try sketching some stuff for a type of market you haven’t really focused on before–men’s apparel, outerwear, handbags, and shoes are some commonly overlooked fields that may be good to try. Not only will you gain confidence designing outside of your comfort zone, but you may also discover that you like designing for an unfamiliar consumer base better! This type of challenge helps develop designers in many ways and can really help foster creativity. Buyers hate to see–what I like to call–“stale” collections with trends that have been overplayed or overdone, which is why it’s always important to stay creative. A fun way to get some ideas for which other consumers to design for, look on fashion blogs and websites. Two of my personal favorites are Fashion Copious and Refinery 29.

Before beginning to sketch ideas for a collection, it is important gather all of your inspiration and post it on a board that you can look at while sketching. This helps to keep a cohesive look and mood throughout the beginning stages of a collection, and it’s actually my favorite part of designing because it’s where all of my ideas come from. I like to do small thumbnails of the designs first and then choose which ones I’d like to sketch and render since not every idea comes to fruition

Harleen Kaur Chhabra was born and raised in Northern Virginia and attended the University of Connecticut where she received a BFA in Art with a concentration in Illustration and Costume Design. She began her career as an intern for fashion designer Laura Dahl and has recently worked at the Thuy Atelier in New York City as well and the Connecticut Repertory Theatre. She is currently working for Nine West and does freelance fashion design work as well.

Readers with questions are invited to contact Harleen at HarleenKChhabra@gmail.com and to visit her website.

 

 

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Learn medical animation: XVIVO

Michael Astrachan, President and Creative Director, XVIVO LLC

XVIVO art and animation

[youtube=http://youtu.be/nlbDP7uymO0?t=21s]

How did you get started in medical animation?

While I was in school at UConn I started airbrushing t-shirts and started selling them at craft shows and then at malls. All the time I continued to study and did the airbrushing and t-shirts for ten years. I also sold at fairs, like the North Haven (Agricultural) Fair. After ten years, I was totally burned out from being on my feet all the time and from the fumes. So, about 15 years ago, I started pursuing computer animation, which was a young field at the time.

To find clients, I began calling video production studios and small agencies. I became friends with a lot of people I was working with and for some unknown reason I started to get a lot of medical clients. So with medical, I just followed it and taught myself and consulted with others to learn what I needed to know. While doing all that, I also continued my art training.

What differentiates you and your company?

One thing that differentiated me was that I didn’t have a fear of failure or of trying new things. I always believed I’d figure out what I needed to know. It’s one of the things I think can be a big problem for people, which is that they look at something new and think, “I don’t know how to do that,” and then won’t push themselves to learn. Then they blame the rest of the world for not being able to get ahead with what they want to do, but if they open their minds they might find that there is an opportunity that they are missing.

When I started in animation, I was married, had a child, and had to learn a whole new career. To succeed, I knew I had to make myself visible and indispensable – whether I was working for myself or for someone else. The first job I had, I started out as an intern and did just this, I worked weekends help to get the company awarded some jobs and I was quickly hired and went on to become lead animator. As always I pushed myself to do new things and improve my work.

Now, with my company, XVIVO, we continue that tradition by looking for ways to make our process more efficient. After projects we do postmortems to see what we could have done better. We constantly review, reexamine and evolve our processes.

Are there opportunities you’d suggest to people entering the field?

Medical animation is a growing field and great for those who are good artists and have an interest in science. You need good composition, editing and design skills as well as good training in traditional art and painting. I think that having a solid foundation in art is good for anything visual – illustration, working with images, website design, etc.

People interested in pursuing this field can look for specialized graduate programs, and there are some undergrad programs out there as well.

What networking tips would you recommend to find opportunities in medical animation?

Networking is so important. The Association of Medical Illustrators, is a great resource for those wanting to learn about the field. It’s the place where you can meet others who are doing similar work and it is a great resource. To find business, you’d want to look at medical ad agencies, video production agencies, and pharmaceutical companies. Interning is a good way to go, but know it can take a couple years to break in.

My advice to people pursuing the arts is to work hard, stay focused, look for new opportunities and don’t get discouraged. Don’t be afraid to approach people and sell yourself. Making connections is what it’s all about.

Michael Astrachan has been involved in the visual arts for over twenty-five years and is one of the founders of XVIVO LLC, a leader in the field of scientific animation.  As president and head of the creative team at XVIVO, Michael brings to animation a sophisticated knowledge of artistic naturalism, grounded in strong technique. Michael draws upon his extensive fine arts background and leads his team to develop visually compelling animations of scientific content. XVIVO was recently selected by The International Academy of Visual Arts to receive a 2012 Communicator Award. XVIVO clients have included Amgen, Bayer, Disney, GlaxoSmithKline, Harvard, HBO, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, NOVA, PBS, Smithsonian, TEDMED, and Yale University.

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8 Networking Tips for Artists: Scott Daros

Scott Daros, Animator/Illustrator

What networking tips would you give to someone just starting out?

  • Ask for introductions from professionals in your field.
  • Get into art shows.
  • Meet people face-to-face. I’ve also had tons of luck networking online.
  • Make a website! You MUST have your work online.
  • Don’t be ashamed to show off.
  • Create a blog and update it regularly.
  • Join and be an active member of sites that discuss your area of expertise.
  • YouTube, Vimeo, Behance, LinkedIn are great sites for networking, getting feedback, and sharing your work.

How did you set prices for your projects early on?

I asked other illustrators and animators who were more experienced. There’s also a great book called Pricing & Ethical Guidelines that will give an artist an excellent idea of how much his or her time is worth.

What was the best advice you got when starting out?

Make time to keep up with the artistic projects you truly enjoy. Getting paid to be an artist is great but it can be exhausting and frustrating. It’s important to still do the creative things you did for fun before you decided to make it a career. After a long day of animating I like to sit down and draw some silly comics.

Any resources you’d recommend to others to learn about animation?

I’d recommend both StopMotionAnimation and AnimateClay.

Scott Daros is a stop-motion animator for the Adult Swim television series Robot Chicken and the CollegeHumor web series Dinosaur Office. Before moving to Los Angeles, he earned his BFA in Illustration from the University of Connecticut where he dabbled in animation prior to graduation. His subsequent job in a local advertising department got him interest in stop-motion animation, and he went on to work Michael Bannon who founded his own stop-motion studio, “Wreckless Abandon”. While helping Bannon create animated advertisements, Daros was taught “everything he needed to know” about stop-motion animation to go out on his own. 

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