May 2, 2018 · Fashion Industry

San Francisco’s Academy of Art University was founded in 1929. The founder was Richard S. Stephens who worked as the creative director of Sunset Magazine. He wanted to help students become professional designers and artists by teaching them using actual professional artists. Since the company was founded graduates of this school have found positions at companies like Nike, Apple, EA, Pixar, and more.

One example of this is Daniel Arriaga who is a graduate of the Academy of Art University. He worked on the critically and commercially acclaimed movie Coco. He has years of experience in computer animation as well as artistic direction. While attending an event at this university he said that he wanted this movie to be as authentic to Mexican culture as he could possibly make it.

Today, the Academy of Art University is led by Elisa Stephens, the granddaughter of the founder. She increased the number of students at this school nine-fold and it now as 18,000 students. Under her leadership, this school now sends students to take part in NY Fashion Week every other year where they show off their designs on a runway. She also set up a system where students can catch a free bus to attend their classes which are in a few different building in San Francisco.

Coco is about “Day of the Dead”. It shows viewers why this holiday, called El Día de los Muertos in Mexico, is so culturally important. It uses skeleton characters throughout the movie which Daniel Arriaga said was fun to animate. He said an entire team of animators was involved so that the characters would have as much personality as possible. He said the big challenge was getting an appealing character out of a human skull which is pretty hard to do.

In addition to computer animation, students at the Academy of Art University can learn many other areas of the arts such as fine arts, jewelry & metal arts, photography, illustration, design, advertising, and more. Students can also attend a liberal arts program where they can get a degree in either art education or art history.


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