Careers in Art Tuesday, Apr 28 2009 

For my Careers in Art project, I researched the jobs of a curator, production designer, and industrial designers.

Curators Judith Ryan and Stephen Gilchrist in front of a 1994 joint work by women from country west of Kintore, at the Ian Potter Centre (The Age)

Emily Fitzgerald, the curator of Let The Blood Run Free, in the waiting room with pictures by Mark Hetherington. (SMH)

Curators Alison Smith and Natasha Duff discussing the work during treatment (Tate)

The nature of a curator’s job is handle objects with cultural, biological, or historical significance. This includes sculptures, textiles, and paintings. The job of a curator must not be confused with that of an archivist – one who deals with important and potentially valuable records and documents. I knew vaguely that curators and museum directors administer museums and historic sites but I was surprised to discover that it actually involves a wide range of work areas, including zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, and nature centers. As a result, most curators specialize in a particular field like botany, art, paleontology, or history. There is a lot more business involved in being a curator than I originally assumed. Curators direct the acquisition, storage, and exhibition of collections, by negotiating and authorizing the purchase, sale, exchange or loan of collections. One of the most important developments in today’s job of a curator is fundraising and promotion, which includes writing and reviewing grand proposals, journal articles and publicity materials. Curators need a bachelor’s degree in art history and a master’s degree in museum studies or an appropriate discipline of the museum’s specialty, whether it be art, history, or archaeology. Some museums, such as natural history and science museums, require a doctoral degree. The median salary earned by a curator is $43,920 per year.

Stage design for the eurovision 2007 in collaboration, by Riikka Kytönen (Kalleahonen)

Hillary Harper, Production Designer puts finishing touches on the set (weallfloaton)

Kendal Cronkhite was the production designer of Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, Antz, and now Madagascar (Aminwatch)

I knew that production designers have an important role in film, television, or theater production but I had no idea their duties were so demanding and extensive. Responsible for the visual concept and the “overall look” of the set, they work closely with the director and producer to design the style for sets, locations, graphics, props, lighting, camera angles, and costumes. They come up with a concept by reading the scripts to identify factors indicating a particular visual style. Working with the design budget, production designers provide scale draws or models for potential studio or theater sets, produce design ideas for costumes and other accessories and props, and researching for possible resources, materials, and locations. They are in charge of an art department, consisting of a design and production team, dedicated to completing production sets. Although there are no set educational requirements for this job, many of the most successful production designers have degrees in architecture or environmental design. They must have an excellent understanding of the film television, and commercial production process, knowledge of different roles within an art department and how it operates, good time management skills, artistic and drawing skills, communication skills, ability to manage people, research skills, and budgeting and financial skills. The median expected salary for a production designer is $43,892.

Ross Lovegrove, the 47-year-old Welsh industrial designer, is inspired by the logic and beauty of nature. (BusinessWeek)

Phillipe Starck, Industrial Designer

Industrial designers fuse art, business, and engineering to design everyday products. When they design products, industrial designers look for style, function, quality, and safety of every manufactured goods. Before, I was not certain about the design process for professional. Now, I know that designers prepare conceptual sketches or diagrams, usually hand drawn or done on the computer. Then they create more detailed renderings. I did not realize that so many computer work goes into industrial design. A lot of research is conducted not only before designing products, but also while the process is going on. Production designers constantly have to discuss and consult with a creative director or other members of the productive development team in the initial stages. Then they present the designs and prototypes to their client or managers for any improvements or changes needed to be made. Industrial designers work closely with engineers, accountants and cost estimators to ensure the product’s safeness, easier assemblage, or cheaper manufacturing. Today, most designers work in large corporations or design firms. For most entry-level commercial and industrial design jobs, a bachelor’s degree in industrial design, architecture, or engineering is required. Master’s degree is optional but many of today’s designers are pursuing and obtaining them. Many choose to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a different area that pertains to the skills necessary for industrial design, such as business administration, marketing, or information technology. The median salary earnings for industrial designers are $54,560.

Jonathan Ive, industrial designer for Apple, with Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple


“Embryo” Monday, Dec 1 2008 


The form my artwork is reminiscent of a fetus, hence the title “Embryo.” This form was a result of a series of thought, moving from the unconscious to conscious. This means that I did not predetermine or plan on a particular shape at the start of this project. A three-dimensional figure was not created until later on the process. I actually began creating “Embryo” on a piece of paper, which I stained with watercolor, adding texture with chunks of salt. After it was dried, I took a pen and doodled all over the paper, stimulating my unconsciousness. The resulting artwork was a jungle of tangled ink-created lines. I then selected certain interesting negative shapes within that jungle and filled it in with ink to bring out the shapes. Among those shapes, I chose one to use as a foundation design to base my styrofoam-and-plaster artwork on. The reason why I chose this particular shape was because it had a bold, circular negative shape that really complemented my curved and overall round shape. Although carving a delicate form with intricate curves from a block of styrofoam was difficult task, I managed to do so with small carving tools. Smoothing out dried plaster turned out to be an even harder task because the old plaster would crack under pressure forced from the carving tools. After coating my form five times with plaster and many hours just carving it, I finally created a smooth, rounded with a whole punched in the middle. Inspired by minimalism, I painted the artwork in an orange and white color scheme with one white circle (about the same size as the whole) on either side of the form.

The shape and form of my artwork is strong because I created both negative and positive shapes. The occupied space is solid, contrasted to the unoccupied space, which creates an illusion of organic material that might begin to develop inside a fetus. The orange-and-white color scheme was inspired by a painting I had done before; I used the same painting technique on the form as I did on the painting (orange for the bottom layer of paint with white paint overlay to pick up some of the orange paint from underneath). The direction of my brushstrokes follows the movement of the form – starting from the narrow tip into the larger, doughnut-like area. Some repetition was used; the round hole inside the shape is echoed in the white circle pattern on the form. My artwork is unified through the principles and elements of art – shape, color, movement, and slight repetition.

I am satisfied with my artwork; it looks exactly what I had imagined after the unconscious part of the design process. I feel that my personality is manifested not only the shape of my form but also in the color choice. I like to think that I am a bubbly, well-rounded person, and this circular, full shape of “Embryo” symbolizes my personality in a literal way. If I were to make another foam-and-plaster work, I would want to attempt making a person’s face. Imagine having to carve out the eyes, nose, ears, and hair from the styrofoam!


Turn and Widen Thursday, Nov 13 2008 

Light, Communication, and Time. These were the three categories of “Turn and Widen,” an exhibition for the Fifth Seoul International Media Art Biennial, held at the Seoul Museum of Art.  A biennial is an exhibition that is held every two years. The name of the exhibition was quite interesting; I think it means that art is turning to a new direction, hence the “Turn,” while “widening” the possibilities of the way it can be created and presented. All of the artworks displayed at this exhibition are part of the New Media movement. Unlike traditional sculptures, New Media Art incorporates a great deal of new technology in which each artwork utilizes interactive art technologies, computer graphics, robotics, animation, or biotechnology. Today, traditional sculptures and paintings are less appreciated, unless they were created by renowned artists from past decades or centuries. It is my belief that in general, people become bored of derivative and recycled techniques, materials, subject matter, or overall style. Contemporary artists constantly strive to discover new mediums to create original and innovative artworks

The curators of this particular exhibition were Maarten Bertheux from the Netherlands, Raúl Zamudio from the USA, Tohru Matsumoto from Japan, and Andreas Broeckmann from Germany. I think it would have been a great experience to be one of the curators to choose the artworks in this show. Influenced by my Korean American background as well as my unique taste in art, I would have integrated artworks that are representative of my ethnicity. Already, however, the diverse cultural influence in all of artworks allows viewers from all over the world to relate to certain pieces on a  personal level.

Three floors were dedicated to each of the three themes – Light on the first floor, Communication on the second, and Time on the third. I was most intrigued by category of Time because many of the artworks made me reflect on past and present social concerns, political issues, and economic progress. One artwork, in particular, stood out to me. Alarm Clock, a thought-provoking video made in 2006 by South Korean artist Kiwoun Shin, captivated my attention. Although the video only runs for four minutes and twelve seconds, the clip actually depicts an event that occurred over hour, which had been cleverly fast-forwarded by the artist. In the scene captured by the video camera, a generic, green alarm clock is placed in a visible part of a spinning machine with a wheel, created by the artist for the purpose of completing this New Media artwork. In the beginning, the alarm clock is functioning. However, as the wheel spins as it is lowered, the machine pulverizes parts of the alarm clock starting from the top until it cuts into the mechanical portion of the clock, thus killing it. Many more hours pass until all that is left of the clock is dust.

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This artwork had a profound and powerful effect on me; when the machine ground the alarm clock, my heart was crushed. Alarm Clock is a statement on modern-day consumerism and disposability of products.  It makes a claim about mass production, a defining characteristic of the 21st century. As more products become accessible to a greater number of people, they are simply taken for granted by consumers. Products inevitably become less appreciated and more disposable. Consequently, our modern world is marked by the amount of waste we accumulate. The end of Alarm Clock implies that although that particular green clock was manufactured and then destroyed, many more will be created. This unveils the sad truth about mass-produced goods: individually, they are not distinctive but rather common and reproducible, making them worth very little in value and significance.

I also thoroughly enjoyed looking at TI (Edition of 5), a video installation made in 2004 by American artist C.E.B. Reas. This particular artwork was in the first floor – Light. It is meant to reveal human emotions through the movement of colors that seem to bleed into each other like watercolor. The emotion depicted in each of the circular, illuminated platforms is open to interpretation; if you are angry, the red swirls may symbolize rage but if you are happy, the same red patterns may appear like ecstasy or love.


Another interesting work was done by German artist Markus Hansen in 2006, titled Other People’s Feelings Are Also My Own. In this 2-Channel, five-minute video, each slide shows two separate photographs of two non-related people. The person on the left, who is actually the artist himself, imitates the other person’s expression and wears the same kind of attire, but most importantly, he embraces the other’s essence and personality and portrays it visually. This is the secret to creating a striking similarity between two non-related people.

Overall, “Turn and Widen” was very successful. The exhibition flowed well – first, viewers plunge into complete darkness where they are literally enlightened by luminous artworks, then communicate with interactive art before finally watching time fly by. A wide range of artworks created by artists from all around the world were presented. As an artist myself, this visit to the museum was an eye-opening experience that inspired and showed me that art is truly limitless and the possibilities are endless.