The Design Loop

Archive for the ‘Awesome Students!’ Category

opening-nightThe opening night of our Portfolio Showcase was a success! If you missed it, the show continues through May 21.  Gallery hours Wed. – Sat. 11:30 – 5, or by appointment (

See more photos of the opening night and the show here:


Four of the students in the show were interviewed by Marcus Leshock of WGN TV for a little spot about the Pop-Up Art Loop spaces.  It aired on the evening news last Friday.  Check it out!  WGN-TV’s link:




It’s that time again, to congratulate our Design Honors Students for their great grades and attendance for the October 2012 term.  It’s the usual suspects up to their own tricks.  Plus a few new ones on the list.  Nice work guys!  Don’t forgot about the Honors Reception this Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 4:30pm.  See you there!

On the President’s List
Jessica Aparicio

Kevin Ayers
Trisha Galimore
Ashley Macabenta-Torres
Joao Malpartida
Melissa Marrero
Nickolus Mayo
Stevie Webster-Thomas

On the Dean’s List
Anthony Braboy

Nes Davis
Richard Espino
Alfredo Mones
Ade Obasanya
Luis Padilla

With Perfect Attendance
Lionel Alvarez

Jessica Aparicio
Kevin Ayers
Ade Obasanya
Mark Schmidt
Deshawn Triplett

Better late than never…


Congrats to all our Honors Design Students for the MARCH Term!!!  Those senior-level folks better watch out, we’ve got some dedicated newbies rising up through the ranks!  And of course several usual suspects on this list, too—which we always love to see.  Keep it up, guys!  🙂



On the Dean’s List
Jessica Aparicio
Julianne Bainter
Felicia Bavirsha
Richard Espino
Bryce Sissac
Anthony Washington

On the President’s List
Lionel Alvarez
Kevin Ayers
Nes Davis
Anthony Jones
Steven Korycki
Mark Lewis
Ashley Macabenta-Torres
Joao Malpartida
John Mrochen
Isaac Rucker
Eva Willis

With Perfect Attendance
Robert Adams
Lionel Alvarez
Julianne Bainter
Yacoub Kort
Joao Malpartida
John Mrochen
Deshawn Triplett

Congratulations to animation student Jessica Aparicio for being named Student of the Term for the January 2012 term!  She was nominated for her exemplary work ethic and general awesome-ness.  Jess is amazingly cheerful, imaginative, and responsible, which make her a positive leader, a helpful teammate, and an enthusiastic learner.  A little over half-way through the program, she’s had enough experience to know the challenges of being an Animator, and she has great plans for the future!  As always, I asked a few questions.  And as expected, Jess responded joyfully and thoughtfully:

What do you surround yourself with visually, musically, creatively, or even just for fun?

“I love this question! There are so many things I love to surround myself with that make me feel creative. For instance, I love the beach, the ocean, anything summer, so I usually have something that reminds me of that around. Summer comes very slow to Chicago, so I always need a picture of the summer sun to help me feel warm. I have watercolor paintings of sea shells in my room and a jar of seashells and rocks on my shelf. I also make sure I have some of my favorite books around, which currently are my Harry Potter books–I adore the series! For music, anything dance or upbeat. I don’t want to listen to sad and slow songs while creating something; it will make me lose my energy.  But if I have some really good, upbeat music that has me wanting to dance, then I can create for hours. I also love to read short stories online. For me, that gets my imagination running, and I start thinking about my own projects and  what I can do with them.”

Here are some of her short studies in 2D animation techniques:

What is your favorite step in the process of making an Animation?

“My favorite step would be coming up with the idea. I love being able to discuss my projects with friends and teachers to get another person’s opinion. It really helps me grow. I may like my character to have something specific, but another person would disagree with me. It’s a process of trying to find a balance with your idea. As I talk to more and more people, I find new ideas to add to my story and old ideas that could be added to a new story. It’s almost like a journey. It’s you and the character running around in circles trying to understand one another. We’ve all had that one character who has told us what they do and don’t like. Every animator has an imagination, and with an imagination comes a whole lot of different worlds.”

This animation she made, called Imagination, perfectly illustrates this:

Learning animation techniques can be tough, especially in the 3D world.  What’s your secret to overcoming the tough stuff?

“I don’t let myself get down about these things. I may complain and scream in my pillow and want to kick a wall in but I keep moving forward. I think of it like this, every single animator, whether one is new to animation or a professional in the industry, has had or is currently having a problem with learning a different animation technique. No one is perfect, I have had instructors who have been teaching these skills for years forget how to do something. It’s totally normal and it happens. I just tell myself, “I will get it the next time and if I don’t then I just have to keep trying, keep practicing, keep believing. If you lose faith in yourself then you lose faith in your skills. It’s new and it takes a while for something new to sink in. You’re just starting to learn these things, it takes practice and ambition to learn. Never give up hope.” Smile, laugh, take a break, watch Doctor Who, like I do, and then go back and see what you can do.”

A 3D animation sketch:

A 3D model:

Once you finish school here, what’s next?  What do you have in mind for your future?

“Well, at first I wanted to try my hand at 2D animation. I love 2D so much, and I would love to be able to work in the industry and do that. But I found something so much better for myself. I found my calling, what I’m meant to do. I want to teach. I want to teach art, teach 2D animation, and reach out and help those who want to expand their imagination like I do. I have a lot of patience and I love working with children, so I think I could do it. I’m going to start off small. I would like to teach children and teenagers how to draw and use simple programs. After a while, I think I will go back to school and aim for my Master’s, so I can work with college students. That way I can work on some of my own work and not feel so closed in. I’ll be free to do my own thing and still help out. My dream, ever since I was a kid, was to help make people laugh, smile and just be happy. I can do that with my art, I can do that helping kids learn, I can do that by being a positive influence in a child’s life and helping them grow.”

Yay, Jess!


I am very pleased to announce our Student of Term (October 2011 term) for Visual Communications: Ashley Macabenta-Torres!  She has been with us only a little over 1 year now, and is already proving to be a force to reckon with.  She is dedicated to learning design, has clever ideas, and works hard, often taking on additional projects simply to build her skill-practice (or maybe just for fun?).

These images are from a series of photographs she took for the Digital Photography class, matching up old family photos with their current environments:


Here are a few pages of her layout solution for Intro to InDesign class–she did all the drawings, too!  My favorite line, hidden among the instructions–“Crank up some Kraftwerk” (click to view larger):

I asked her a few questions:

Do you have a creative background?  Or how did you get into Art/Design in the first place?
As a kid, I drew graffiti art, played instruments, and wrote a lot of poetry. In High School, I originally chose to take Graphic Design, but was placed in Culinary Arts. I learned a lot about how art can be applied to food that we eat. When a spot opened up for Graphic Communication, I took it. It ended up benefiting me, because everything I learned about Adobe Programs, and print production has helped me in Westwood.

Where do you draw inspiration for your design solutions?  Where do your ideas come from?
I try to understand what the project theme is, and what my expectations are, and base all of my decisions around that. My ideas pop out during my commute home, or my downtime when I have an opportunity to reflect on the flaws or successes of my designs.

You’re about half-way through the Bachelors Program here…what, so far, has been your favorite project for a class?
My favorite projects were my video projects for Audio/Video class. I can’t choose one. They were all really great. I feel like I am able to show my true potential in 3 minutes of a video, rather than a design.

What’s your long-term plan?  What do you want to be doing 10 years from now?
I still want to continue my education by taking Digital Animation and Video Effects, and IT. I really want to base myself around art and technology, how it works, and what I can do with all of it.

Speaking of video, this is one of Ashley’s video-editing outcomes (coincidentally about her family, too):

Keep it up, Ashley!  We look forward to seeing what you are up to in a year from now, after graduation, and far into the future.

…goes to Michael Baena!  Congratulations, Michael, on being chosen best overall by our secret judges!

Better keep an eye out for what he’s doing next.  You can follow him here:

Well, better late than never…

I’d like to announce our Featured Student in Visual Communications for the month of May, Mr. Nes Davis!   He’s impressed us not only with his creative solutions in class, but also with his burgeoning self-initiated design practice outside of school.  Lately, he’s been working on several projects for people–through photography, print and web design.  I asked him a few questions:

So…how’d you get so busy all of a sudden?  You seem to be a natural at making connections, what’s your angle? 


Whiskey. Rye to be exact. The majority of contacts I make happen in some rum joint somewhere. Most people follow the same routines when they meet someone. Following traditional social conventions comes secondary and letting others know where I stand is my focus. I know, it’s easier said than done. That is how I attract tolerant and dynamic people.

What’s your favorite part of the design process?

The concept stage. I am self aware and there are still times that a new idiosyncrasy is discovered during this stage.

Tell me your hopes and dreams:  What sort of design-career are you crafting for yourself?  

I am starting to be seen as a fixer. The guy who receives a visual concern and -not to sound redundant- fixes it. As far as the big picture is concerned, I will end up doing something that matters. You are born alone and usually die alone. Between these two book ends society dumps a ton of rules on you in an effort to make you forget those aforementioned way points. I never forget them. I will not allow myself to be washed away. And due to that fact… I will always be attuned to what truly matters.


And here is some of his recent creative work:

(click on a thumbnail to view larger)


Last term he built a fully functioning website for Play 18 Chicago.  Here’s a quick glimpse of the home page:

Happy social mixing, Nes!  Keep it workin’ for ya!

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