April 7, 2008, Valencia, CA--A renowned school of the arts and the world's leading manufacturer of cut crystal have teamed to form an innovative educational collaboration.
Over the past year, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Character Animation Program and D. Swarovski & Co . have developed an ongoing collaboration that includes a workshop at CalArts where students conceptualize and develop original content for Swarovski; an internship program with Swarovski for CalArts students and alumni; and Think Tank, an intensive story telling and character animation workshop for Swarovski designers. The first completed project is the animated film, The Gang of Dogs, which premiered in April on the Swarovski website.
"Although it may not be immediately apparent, our two institutions complement each other," said Karl Heinz Rumpold of Swarovki's i-Lab/Innovation Team. "Swarovski is a very European company with an open, cosmopolitan mind. CalArts is a cosmopolitan school with a global approach and broad background. We each have much to offer the other and we, at Swarovski, look forward to developing a long term exchange of knowledge and people."
The partnership advances key goals of both participants. Furthering the Institute-wide commitment to career development, the CalArts Animation Program is expanding options for its graduates beyond the entertainment industry. Swarovski, for its part, seeks to develop marketing models employing CalArts' expertise in storytelling and character development to further deepen the identity of the company's products.
The Gang of Dogs film was created by CalArts alumni Stephan Hawkins and Courtland Lomax. It presents a story and cast of characters for a new line of Swarovski Lovlots figurines of the same name. The film's trailer will appear in selected stores worldwide. Another project with Hawkins and Lomax is now under consideration.
In spring 2007, Hawkins and Lomax participated in the Character Animation program's  semester-long workshop in which students created a product line of Swarovski figurines. Projects were evaluated by a team of Swarovski executives and designers and, exceeding all expectations, five of the eight workshop participants were selected to pursue projects with the company. Hawkins and Lomax participated in paid summer internships at the Swarovski studio in Wattens, Austria, which resulted in The Gang of Dogs. A second student workshop is slated for spring 2009.
Students Sean Jimenez and Brigette Barrager were selected for a month-long character development project at the Swarovski studio in November 2008.
"There is a growing awareness in today's market that the value of a product is intensified through its story or brand identity," said CalArts faculty member Frank Terry --a luminary in the field of character and international advertising animation. "The first priority of our program is to train students to enter the workforce as character and story developers. Although our students most notably excel in animation, these skills can be applied to other fields as well."
CalArts and Swarovski continue to strengthen their relationship with Think Tank. This intensive, six-week workshop for Swarovski designers will be held at CalArts beginning in February 2008. Participants will have unprecedented access to the outstanding faculty and state-of-the-art resources on the Institute's Valencia campus. Two of Swarovski's top designers are currently participating in the six week pilot program with a larger group from the company attending in fall 2008.
Frank Terry developed the Think Tank curriculum. The workshop will comprise 35 hours of in-class instruction each week, including classes in illustration, drawing, perspective, animation, story, and the graphic novel. Each class will be taught by a different member of the CalArts faculty, exposing the designers to many creative minds and approaches to creative problem solving.
"This partnership is a true exchange," said Terry. "The market is looking for skills in conceptual thinking and that is just what our students and faculty have to offer. At the same time, we are expanding the professional horizons of our students far beyond traditional avenues."
The nation's first art institute to offer BFAs and MFAs in both the visual and performing arts, CalArts is dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation of professional artists, fostering brilliance and innovation within the broadest context possible. Emphasis is placed on new and experimental work, and students are admitted solely on the basis of artistic ability. To encourage innovation and experimentation, CalArts' six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater--are all housed under one roof in a unique, five-story building with the equivalent of 11 acres of square footage in Valencia, California, 30 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles.