Photography with Ginny Dixon

GInny Dixon - Director of Photography

1. What is your class about? 
I teach many but all of them are related to photography, one of my favorites is documentary photography. I like it because it's not easy to get inside the world of another person or to take pictures of the candidness of life and maybe because I am a photojournalist and that has always been my favorite kind of photography. So many things get uncovered and learned during the course of the 10 week class, probably as much about yourself as your subject. Transformations happen and it's an amazing process.

One of my favorite quotes is:

"While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see." -Dorothea Lange.
Documentary photography teaches us to ditch our preconceived ideas about a subject and really look and watch and observer.

2. What is the most important thing you want students to take away from your class? 
The ability to generate ideas and think for themselves and then go out and execute. Experience has taught me that students learn best by doing---then seeing what they did wrong and learning how to correct the mistakes. Failure and mistakes (also known as "experience") are always the best and fastest ways to learn anything as far as I know. So, go out and fail---that's how you succeed.3. What is one of your favorite assignments to give? Please share a few pieces of the best work your students have done for this assignment. 

One was Sandra Arenas documentary of the life of Milo Bell. A hip 92-year-old who hangs out by the pool at The Standard among other spots. He's kind of an icon on Miami Beach. Through the process of taking his pictures, she found out he is kind of lonely and so eventually this loneliness showed up visually in the pictures. Why do you like this work? I like it because it's visual story telling at it's best. We uncover something about the subject and about ourselves when we look into someone else's life. I also love that they are all shot in available light because it sets a mood of the sunny life in South Beach and yet the shadowy lonely side of being 92 in what is basically seen as a young person's world. Everyone is South Beach has a big concern about looking good and staying fit and young. So it's a bit of a juxtaposition to be that age living in South Beach towards the end of your life. 

Mary Beth Koeth did a very interesting story about the Raven, a man who has run 8 miles every day on Miami Beach for almost 40 years now. The story began being about the running, but it ended up being about everything that keeps the man running and maybe uncovered what it is he is running from. Mary Beth has a great gift for approaching people and just gaining access really quickly and so she was able to dig deep into this character's life and she took a lot of time with him. She really devoted a lot of time to telling his story---and she did it very well. You saw the progression of her skill set along the way and the pictures just got better and better. 

Paula Vasone also did a pretty amazing piece about a tattoo artist. And again the story began because the tattoo parlor looked interesting but as she kept going back, she found out it was also a church on Sundays, so obviously, it made for great visual story telling and she did an amazing job with it. I think that generally we love stories, we grow up having them read to us at early age (most of us) so telling a story through pictures is a bit of a challenge because you have to have your reader understand it even though they were not there, without using words. It's a valuable tool to have as a photographer.

4. What do you like about teaching?
I like watching the progression. It's a bit like planting seeds and watching them grow. I like that when one teaches, two learn. I think the best teachers tell you where to look but not what to see. I also like the challenge that not all students learn in the same way---so it's  great to find the keys to unlocking the formulas  to have everyone learn--- it's always different.

Berlin: Conceptual Thinking with Bjoern Bremer

Instructor: Bjoern Bremer

1. What is your class about?
Conceptual Thinking is really about thinking first. Or as Dan Wieden used to say: ‘Get it right - Then up the crazy’. It is easy to come up with crazy creative ideas. But it’s hard to deliver on a brief, answer a problem, make people like and adore a brand or even simply to convince someone to buy a product. After all we ain’t artists.

2. What is the most important thing you want students to take away from your class?
In the real world, the client can only produce one idea, and one idea only. So, this needs to be the best. The Sh**. The one that beats all the others. The absolute superstar. Four kinda nice ideas isn’t good. If someone else has one better. So, crafting, fine-tuning, pounding that one idea again and again is crucial. Many students are good at coming up with many ideas, but not good in improving the one that would beat all contenders.

3. What is your favorite assignments to give?
Learn to ‘creative-direct’ yourself.

4. What do you like about teaching?
I love how innocent students still are. They are not ruined by the big evil advertising world yet. It allows me to take a step back from everyday life and actually enjoy what I do every day again. Basically it keeps me sane. They are as much a spark for me as I hope I am for them.  

5. Favorite work done by students?
Björn Köbe, a former student, wrote this TV Spot in my class and we later produced it:

Student: Björn Köbe

Berlin: Typography with Ray Ho

Instructor: Ray Ho Creative Director DDB Berlin

1.What is your class about?
I want to convey the importance of tonality and meaning within communication.

We start by laying the groundwork with the story and background of typography - it’s styles, movements and best practices. The student are invited to explore these themes through engaging design tasks, learning about the power good type setting has with bare-bones typographical executions, to how typography should play together with composition, color and graphics.

2.What is the most important thing you want student to take away from your class?
By using typography as a medium, I want to unravel the dark art of design rationalization. It’s all well and good feeling that something looks great or fits together, but it’s better when you can articulate why and how.

3.What is one of your favorite assignments to give? Please share a few pieces of the best work your students have done for this assignment? Why do you like this work?
The projects the students live with over time are the best. It’s a perfect testament to one of the commandments of creativity - to never stand still. Over the quarter, I ask the students to promote their favorite typeface through a story.

It’s a blank canvas that allows for surprises, manifesting itself in different forms, from posters to books to brands. I love seeing the thought processes, the u-turns, the careful considerations needed -  teaching them that there is no right or wrong, just better or worse.

4.What do you like about teaching?
Students are like the best clients ever! :) It’s so satisfying seeing the progress students make over a quarter, it’s something that ensures that I keep providing the right stimulus every class, so I reap the rewards of students that share, are positively engaged in typography and are ultimately interested in learning.

Hamburg: Advanced Ad Concepts with Tobias Burger

Instructor: Tobias Burger Senior Creative Jung von Matt Hamburg

1.What is your class about?
Advanced Ad Concepts is pretty much about everything that young creatives could possibly come across in their professional careers. From simple print campaigns to integrated 360° cases – concept comes first and sets the base for everything.

2.What is the most important thing you want students to take away from your class?
I try to get students to focus on what makes everything they'll do great: A great concept. A concept, which really fits the brief. And which is always much more than just a fancy visual.

3.What do you like about teaching?
In a branch, where everything we do is super-fugacious (nothing is older than last year's campaigns), teaching young talents adds some kind of sustainability to my work. If at least only a few of my students carry my ideals (or just some of them) further, I've reached much more than with winning just another award.

4.Favorite work done by the students?
This case has been developed on last quarter's D&AD New Blood Awards brief. It was about solving Megacity problems and the outcome is just awesome.

Copywriter: Francesca van Haverbeke
Art Director: Daria Rustambekova
Art Director: Anne-Grit Maier

Hamburg: Integrated Advertisting with Sascha Hanke

Instructor: Sascha Hanke  Executive Creative Director, Kolle Rebbe Hamburg

1.What is your class about?
The class is about integrated advertising: don´t just come up with a good print ad, a single good digital idea or a good film script. Come up with all of them! The goal is to have a brilliant basic idea first and then find a unique interpretation of this idea, push it across a range of various media channels in order to have the most effective solution. First five or six weeks of the course my students spend searching for this big smart idea. During this time we rarely even talk about execution. It´s really tough at the times, pure brain squeeze that’s what it is.

2.What is the most important thing you want students to take away from your class?
I never really thought about this until right now. Maybe this is what I want them to learn: think less, feel more. Be emotional. And if you do think about something, don´t think too much about the future, the end of the class, things you might do after finishing school. Surrender to now. Presence is the key. Focus at the moment. 

3.What is one of your favorite assignments to give? Please share a few pieces of the best work your students have done for this assignment? Why do you like this work?
Apart from the example that follows below I usually only give assignments for real clients we have in the agency. The reason why I do it is that I don´t want my students to work on theoretical problems that are unlikely to happen in real business.
In the last couple of years I gave out plenty of briefs for our client Lufthansa. One of the works created for this client even won a Young Guns Award just recently: „Make long distance half the distance“. The idea was to target people who are in a long distance relationship. Not only it is interesting from the brand´s perspective, but the execution is extremely smart:

CW: Christian Thomsen
AD : Kostia Liakhov, Carine Howayek

4.What do you like about teaching?
I enjoy being surrounded by as equally young, talented and beautiful people as I am myself ;-) 

5.Favorite work done by the students?
I remember one team working on a promo idea for the very famous German restaurant. They understood the importance of entertainment when it comes to presenting your ideas in front of an audience and ended up projecting their face2face-campaign directly into a frying pan. (Picture 1 + Picture 2)

Mumbai: Visual Impact with Goral Ajmera

Instructor: Goral Ajmera

1) What is your class about?
I taught Visual Impact to a talented, enthusiastic group of 10 students. The subject was so broad that we divided the classes into 7 sub-categories to cover various aspects of Visual Impact. The first was about Visual Impact through Photography, the second through Graphics & Symbols, the third through Typography, fourth and fifth was using Illustrations, the sixth through Installations and lastly Visual Impact using Negative Space. We often started each topic discussing life examples and then trickled down into advertising and design instances. 

2) What is the most important thing you want students to take away from your class?
Leave nothing to chance. As a student of visual language myself, I have learned that every piece of communication needs to be crafted with intention and intelligence so that it does not go unnoticed. At the same time it should not be 'over done'. This is the learning I wish to pass on to all my students. 

3) What is one of your favorite assignments to give? Please share a few pieces of the best work your students have done for this assignment? Why do you like this work?
Achieve Visual Impact using Negative Space and make viewers look twice. This assignment allowed students to expand their visual and ideation skills since two visual representations needed to coexist. Have attached some examples worked by my students.     

4) What do you like about teaching?
The research that I put into every class got me closer to the reason I joined advertising. Spending a lot of time on pure art and craft is a luxury in my busy role of selling work to clients. Also the enthusiasm in students was infectious and I often found myself carrying back this energy to my workplace. 

5) Aside from teaching, what is it that you do in your regular day to day jobs working with clients?
I work with my clients to understand their business problems and solve them with the help of innovative advertising and new-age communication solutions. We have a large team in Mumbai so a significant part of my day is spend ideating and creating work with my teams.

Idea Presentation with Kimberly Gonzalez

Instructor: Kimberly Gonzalez

  1. What is your class about?
    Idea Presentation is one of our universal core classes that covers a range of skills for our new students. We give the students a foundation class in the Adobe program InDesign, and use it to show them how to produce documents for print as well as presentation. They’ll need this for their career at school, and beyond. We also add a healthy dose of basic graphic design and typography to get them started on producing effective design that has an impact.


  2. What is the most important thing you want students to take away from your class?
    Personally, I want them to see the beauty and power of good design and the impact that it has on presenting their ideas. I want them to fall in love with typography and wonder at the difference leading makes in setting paragraph text. I want them to stop mumbling and engage their audience with an interesting presentation.


  3. What is one of your favorite assignments to give? Please share a few pieces of the best work your students have done for this assignment? Why do you like this work?
    The book assignment has been a staple of this class from day one. They need this type of project on so many levels: planning, specs, production, typography, layout, structure and printing. The students are free to choose any topic for their book and I have gotten almost every type of book.
  4. What do you like about teaching?
    I adore teaching. I never, ever get tired of the feeling of sharing knowledge and seeing what just one quarter of design does for  their work and their confidence sharing their ideas in front of a group. I love that it pushes ME to do better work and to never stop learning. Learning something new everyday and passing it on the my students is one of the most satisfying aspects of my career. 

Visual Impact with Judy Penny

Instructor: Judy Penny

  1. What is your class about?
    Visual Impact - What is it? How to achieve it in a world that is so cluttered with images.  Is it possible to do work that is unique and how can that be manifested?

    Each week we explore different approaches to art direction, visual communication and execution. Different materials and techniques are implemented in an effort to discover new solutions in visual communication. Concept, strategy and craftsmanship - including " making stuff" off the computer are the focus, to put some "art" into Art Direction

  2. What is the most important thing you want students to take away from your class?
    To be design thinkers. To lose the fear of trying something new in the ways of problem-solving, communicating &creating. Also, the love of typography, the importance of craftsmanship, and the desire to make the most of every opportunity to do great work.
  3. What is one of your favorite assignments to give?
    Poster for an event at the NY Botanical Garden using "paper & paint" to create the visual.

    This a brilliant example of great concept, and unique execution - using the New York Times     page visual to create a newsworthy feel, while having the event actually "grow" right out of the page in a beautiful illustration made all from paper and paint. This was a new discovery.
    An assignment to create an Art Deco Poster for Miami Beach Art Deco Weekend. My students work from this class has won the competition 3 times.

    Design packaging for a CD that feels like the music sounds inside.

    Cause Poster  - collage execution

  4. What do you like about teaching?
    To open minds and encourage students to see things in new and interesting ways is what I strive to inspire.  I challenge my students to make new discoveries. This means learning new ways of thinking, new ways of problem-solving and an understanding of the exciting possibilities there are when creativity & craftsmanship come together.

    My favorite part about teaching seeing the shift. When you see a student suddenly "get it" and begin to perceive problem-solving in a different way - it's a time when a whole new world of possibilities open up for their creativity and their future. That is very rewarding.