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Academy of Art University Alumni Award

The Academy of Art University has taken up residence in San Francisco since 1929. There are over 20 departments that students can choose to study in; some of these departments include photography, television and digital media, motion pictures, graphic design, fashion, architecture, acting, and animation. With over 25,000 graduates the university has a number of alumni that have made quite a name for themselves.

Jason Sperling graduated from the Advertising department in 1993. He was the leader of the creative team that was responsible for creating the wildly popular and award winning “Mac vs. PC” advertisement. Denise Cherry attended the Academy of Art University’s School of Interior Architecture & Design; she is credited as being the main designer for the Facebook headquarters corporate office, which is award winning. Chris Milk attended the School of Motion Pictures and Television. He has made a name for himself directing music videos for the famous Kanye West and U2.

Most recently, two students who attended the School of Fashion Design won two out of five of the prestigious CFDA Awards. The overarching theme of the night was diversity and inclusiveness, which all designers portrayed in their work. Susan Zienty won the Kenneth Cole Footwear Innovation Award, which gives her a $50,000 annual stipend and the opportunity to have a year-long fellowship at Kenneth Cole. Cameron Orland won the $25,000 Liz Claiborne Design Scholarship Award.

The shoe Susan Zienty designed was influenced by her experience with foster care. She used a thick and sturdy platform heel to depict the strength and support a foster child needs in their life. Often times a child in foster has emotions that run the gamut. Susan used these traits as inspiration for the rich colors and textures used in her design. Within the heel of Zienty’s shoe design are salvaged materials and precious stones; these were used to indicate the memory of one of her foster-sisters.

For Cameron Orland’s award, she was required to submit a number of artifacts that contributed to her collection. She submitted an essay, a resume, and a 44-page portfolio. The portfolio was, perhaps, the most critical portion of her submission. Orland’s portfolio not only held a sketchbook, but also eight different looks that included flats, details, and garment draping. The overall inspiration for her submission was the celebration of the aging process. It celebrates the wrinkles, vitiligo, hyper-pigmentation, and freckles that are experienced as people age.

These two award winners attribute much of their success to the opportunity they had to attend the Academy of Art University. They were given the knowledge and experience necessary to excel in their industry.