Phil Dimitriadis, Frank Jose Guthrie and Steve Klippenstein make a “dream team,” except they are not playing basketball. They are three instructors working on putting Fullerton College on the map as a top school for graphic arts.
They hope to make FC the first school in the state to offer a consumer product certificate.
Consumer products involve taking an existing product or brand and changing or re-identifying it for a new pitch date. It meshes together skills such as illustration, graphic design, packaging and marketing to create new products to sell to consumers.
Dimitriadis, Guthrie and Klippenstein bring a lot of applicable industry knowledge to the department. Between the three, they have experience working in the entertainment industry with graphic design and advertising and working with 3-D printers.
Dimitriadis, head of the digital arts department, said changes in the field are constantly happening.
One big change is a program called ZBrush, that allows illustrators to paint and make 3-D models using a Wacom tablet.
“An artist can take a concept, sculpt it out [in ZBrush], print it on a 3-D printer and the next day go and sit in front of executives and go ‘here’s what your [product] looks like,’” Dimitriadis said.
The creative industry is a growing field, and that was a key factor Dimitriadis considered when creating this new consumer product certificate.
A 2014 report by Otis College of Art and Design found that in Los Angeles the creative industry generated nearly 700,000 jobs and had an output revenue that totaled $139.8 billion in 2013.
“We [thought], ‘How cool would it be to have a certificate in consumer products?’ Where the students not only learn graphic design, but also how to design for consumer products,” said Guthrie, a new hire in the digital art department who has the most experience with 3-D printing of the three instructors.
Guthrie said learning how to 3-D print is a very important factor for someone who wants to work in designing not just for entertainment, but also any field that manufactures or designs a product.
Klippenstein is the chair of advertising and graphic design and is in charge of those elements of the consumer product certificate.
“Even if you don’t go into consumer products, those are skills that are also going to adapt to other avenues as well,” he said.
Guthrie added that 3-D printing is a technology that isn’t just limited to the entertainment industry. It is becoming huge for industries such as car and airplane manufacturing, prosthetics, medicine and defense.
“Entertainment is a very small field within the 3-D printing world,” he said.
FC’s 3-D printers are top of the line professional printers that will allow students to get experience not only designing 3-D models, but also actually printing them. This skill will make the students far more appealing to companies in the job market.
“By [combining] the three fields of concept design, graphic design and 3-D sculpting and printing… [students] have more possibilities of obtaining a job,” said Guthrie. “We want [students] to come here and get jobs right away.”
Guthrie also mentioned that the digital arts department is very open-minded when it comes to incorporating various fundamental art classes for their students. He said that having students take non-digital art fundamental classes, such as Beginning Life Sculpting, 2-D Animation and Color Theory, builds a strong foundation.
Dimitriadis, Guthrie and Klippenstein are also contacting companies in the industry such as Disney Studios, Warner Bros., DreamWorks Studios, Mattel and Hasbro, and asking them what skills they look for when hiring college graduates.
“It’s like cheating because we get the answers before we take the test, but I think that it’s favorable for our students,” Guthrie said. “We can design a program that gives them a better chance to succeed once they get out of [school]. We want them to help us design our program by telling us exactly what they’re looking for in the future work force.”
All three instructors are very excited for the future of the department, but they lack space and certain accommodations required for the very expensive technology that comes with working in design.
They are hoping to get funding from the school to get a new Mac lab to accommodate to students who can’t afford to have that equipment.
Guthrie said he has received student emails saying they need to drop the class because they don’t have the means to complete the coursework outside of class.
“I don’t expect my students to have top of the line [equipment] with a top of the line software like Maya or ZBrush,” said Guthrie. “We need to have a lab where they [students] can come after hours or on the weekend and do their homework.”
The instructors are also working on getting the 3-D printer room expanded to allow students more space to work on their models.
Dimitriadis said that getting the certificate is a long process. Guthrie, Klippenstein and he are creating the course outline for required classes. After that, the program needs approval from the county, state and school.
“I’m estimating there are classes that could be up and running in a year to two years,” Dimitriadis said. “But by the time the whole certificate is up and running, I’m estimating another two years.”
Overall, he thinks the process will take somewhere around four years. He said it may seem like a long time and it’s normal when it comes to getting approval for classes and certificates.
While there may be bumps along the way of getting this program and certificate going, the three instructors are very optimistic.
Klippenstein, who attended FC before transferring to Art Center College of Design, said that this new certificate will help strengthen the art department’s already good reputation. He added that many of his students already come from other schools, and in many cases already have degrees from Art Center, Cal State Fullerton or other schools.
“I think we’re at a really good place, [the three of us] come from the entertainment industry. I think having our expertise here is really going to help the program,” said Klippenstein.
Guthrie believes this certificate will put FC on the map as one of the top art schools in the state and maybe even the country, and will be one that companies will consider when looking to hire designers in the future.
“I think one day, when I get one of my students emailing me or calling me and telling me ‘Hey, I just got a job at Disney,’ that, I think, is going to be one of the happiest days of my life. I guarantee it,” Guthrie said. “I will probably cry that day.”