Yes, Master. I will do your bidding.

The UCLA Extension Masters of Design program was conceived and managed by InJu Sturgeon. InJu had the genius idea to elevate the utilitarian course catalogue covers working with some of the world’s best designers. Paul Rand designed the first cover in 1990. The program soon became the coveted assignment. Other designers including Saul Bass, Paula Scher, Woody Pirtle, Ivan Chermayeff, and Michael Bierut have tackled the same assignment: education, Los Angeles, the season, and extension. In 1998, we were honored to be asked to design our first cover. This was daunting, solving the same assignment as some of our heroes. Michael Vanderbyl was the encouraging voice for us, and convinced us to have fun. The series could easily have become a hodge-podge of crazed egos. But InJu’s remarkable skill handling designers consistently leads to some of the best work. When working with InJu, it is immediately clear that there is no room for diva-esque behavior. Hence my typical screaming, demanding, and abusive approach was not welcome. And I have never net anyone so adept at motivating me to do better.

From the Academy Awards to Tuna Fish

I think humility is a virtue. I do my best to practice it.  I feel uncomfortable with praise, and am usually far more impressed with the people I meet than I am with myself. This post, however, may seem to lack that humility. I’ve been trying to figure out how I could recap last night without seeming like a total douche. But that’s probably unavoidable, so I’ll pass on some highlights.

Last night we went to The Academy Awards. The Academy was extremely generous and made sure we had great seats and felt wonderfully welcome. My biggest concern before going was shallow at best. Would I fit into my tuxedo? I took it to Armani and asked them if I should let the pants out. They said no. I didn’t want to wear Spanx. Fortunately, it fit and I didn’t need the Spanx.

Driving along an empty Hollywood Blvd. was surreal, at best, weaving through barricades, with crowds of people with cameras watching from both sides. Like everywhere in Los Angeles, there was a valet. Once we passed through the metal detectors without incident, none of us were packing, we were in the middle of the official “Red Carpet” area. I expected the people in bleachers and press, but it was that times ten. The press was three people deep with television cameras and interviewers. The bleachers were filled with people shouting and taking photos. This was far beyond a premier at Sundance. Who knew?

The nominees and presenters were in the first few rows and like an AIGA Gala, were all out of their seats talking to each other at every commercial break. The announcer began the countdown at 30 seconds and then said “5 seconds to the world.” I liked that. It was a good way to start.

I did my best to stay on top of things on Twitter, but it’s hard to be witty when you are trying to type and not have everyone around us say, “Well! How rude.” This show is a machine. The efficiency was incredible. Within the three minutes of commercial breaks, a crew of stagehands in tuxedos changed the sets completely. Presenters in dresses were helped down the stairs that looked perilous for presenters with high heels and lots of fabric. Most impressively, at the end of a commercial break when the announcer said, “30 seconds,” people got back in their seats. Try that at an AIGA Gala. Obviously, designers need to be commanded to sit down in 30 seconds over a loudspeaker too.

Now the other trivial issue in the back of my head was the valet. How were they going to return 2,000 people’s cars? Would we be there all night? And, I somehow lost my claim ticket. I’ve never done that in my entire life. Now in the most complicated valet situation possible, I lost it. Like the rest of the evening, though, it worked out beautifully. I told the valet, “It’s a Range Rover with an American flag sticker,” and in five minutes, they found it. Now real life kicked back in. Monday is an Art Center day, so I needed to prepare for class. I, also, didn’t want to eat at 10:30 at night, so we all passed on going out for dinner. At home, I had a bowl of tuna fish and 3 pretzels. Glamorous.

Security, valets