Stefan Aronsen // PSU Grad 2004 // Grad Student + Intern at LucasFilm

Posted on Jan 11th, 2009 by Command Save


What school are you going to?
I am getting my masters degree at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco CA.
It is a 4 year masters program, C- is failing, 3 absence you fail, 3 tardies you loose a full grade point, generally only 1 A awarded per class, 15 students in class. 

Who is your thesis advisor? Who are your favorite teachers in graduate school?
My current thesis advisor is Troy Alders, he is a teacher at the Academy and the Art Director at Lucas Licensing, he has been at Lucas 13 years. The hardest teacher is Carolina De Bartolo, she is also one of the best. She teachers Type 1. She hated everything I did. She failed me the first time I took her class. She gave me an A the second time. She will be my advisor next semester, I'm looking forward to a good type beating

What is your position/title, group and place of work? 
I am currently an intern at LucasFilm, I have been there 8 months.

How did you find your current design position?
It's true that it's all about who you know! I got my position through a former teacher.

What projects are you working on currently? What do you like best about interning for Lucas Films?
I work in the Licensing department of LucasFilm. Loosely that means I spend 8 hours a day playing with toys. The more accurate explanation is: I spend 9 hours a day playing with "Star Wars" toys. (9 hours because you have to include lunch.)

We are currently working on releasing the 2009 Star Wars and Clone Wars Style Guide. The style guide represents all the content licensee's use to create official Star Wars packaging and it is also filled with new character renders, backgrounds, emblems and patterns they will use to create new merchandise. We are adding new characters and artwork to the 2009 style guide.

Originally I was hired at LucasFilm to photograph all the new toys created by vendors such as Lego, Hasbro, Junk Food and Ecko. Quickly my responsibilities expanded! In addition to taking photos, I create new artwork for the Clone Wars Style Guide, I helped design the packaging, the style guide brochure, I designed the 2009 retail graphics, new Chronical book covers, Publishers Magazine covers, and a Star Wars poster about counterfeit merchandise. (It will will hang  in customs office of all major international airports.)

What do you like best about your position or projects?
I like that I'm not treated like an intern, oh and that I get to see movies before they're released to the public, oh and that the food here is amazing and I don't have to eat Top Roman. (Not that there is anything wrong with Top Roman… I actually eat a lot of Macaroni and Cheese.)

In what ways (faculty, program, projects, classes, etc) was PSU-GD successful in preparing you for graduate school and working as a designer?
I thank PSU for teaching me software I didn't know, for introducing me to fonts I'd never heard of, and for the people I met, and still keep in contact with.

What suggestions to have for PSU-GD to improve upon or information/ content that you should have had in school but did not get?
I wish instructors at PSU was meaner. Yes I said it. I wish they had kicked my butt, dragged me through the mud, ripped me apart, broke me down and built me up to be stronger. Instructors were too nice.

What recommendations do you have for any current students and/or students graduating?
The classroom is not a place to be nice, be truthful, it's by giving honest feedback that your friends can grow to become more confident designers. Also don't be a stubborn designer, you don't know everything, take and do the advise your teachers give you, you'll become a better designer. (That took me 10 years of school to learn!)

Be as social as possible, make lots of friends, become friends with the instructors, you should probably even become friends with the people at Cheerful Tortoise. Truthfully I think college is the best place to make contacts, some of those contacts will be more important than anything you could possibly learn from a book or a classroom. 

Any other thoughts about being a designer that you would like to share (things you wish you had known or just any thing of interest to you)?
I wish I had learned more about type and that I had understood the importance of kerning, leading and tracking earlier. Also research fonts, type foundries and type designers (I almost said font designers, not sure if which is more correct)… don't use comic sans… and you must have at least 5 favorite designers.  You should be able to name at least 5! If you can't, why are you designing?

Would you share a link to a site or a book or ? that you frequent for inspiration?
I frequently use the street for inspiration… thus my  recommendations are very street oriented!
"The Guerilla Art Kit" by Keri Smith
"One-Color Graphics: The Power of Contrast" by Chen Design Associates
Street Logos by Tristan Manco
Wall and Piece by Banksy
"It's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World's Best Selling Book" by Paul Arden

Please share with us your work