I met Milka Broukhim, a vibrant and talented young woman in college where she was an art and design student. Since then she has gone on to become a university professor and a visual communication designer with a long list of awards. She has taught at the Art Center College of Design, UCLA, Design|Media Art, Otis, Cal State Universities, to name just a few of her accomplishments. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at Loyola Marymount University.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Milka recently:
When did you move to the United States?
Just like my older siblings when it was time for me to go to high school and college, I was eagerly awaiting for my turn to study abroad. However, I was put on a plane and sent abroad alone to flee Iran’s revolution at the age of twelve. My parents stayed behind. My mother joined my siblings and me in Los Angeles a few months after the revolution. My father stayed in Iran since his name had been black listed. He had to flee by crossing the border on a donkey in the middle of the night to escape the revolutionary guards.
There was a lot of personal growth at this stage of my life which I value. I quickly learned responsibility, independence and the joy of freedom. Like a dry sponge I soaked in the new culture, language and found different ways of thinking and seeing opportunities. I also received moral support from my caring school teachers and counselors.
What is your education and background?
I was in sixth grade when I arrived here. I attended El Rodeo grade school, Emerson Junior high, University High School followed by University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) for my B.A., where I studied both Fine Arts and Design. I was always good at art and was interested in psychology. My favorite subject was (and still is) figure drawing/painting. Some of my UCLA art professors (i.e. Don Suggs) amazed me when critiquing the students’ art work. Like a mind reader, he would see through our work and reflect our thought processes. Since I wasn’t mature enough yet to understand the theoretical abstract aspect of Fine Art at age of 18 and 19 (though it did plant a seed where it made an impact in my graduate study). I switched my major to Design where it seemed more rational and pragmatic–design and media could be used together to create and produce an effective solution, for a purpose or for functionality.
After graduation, one of my Design professors (Bill Brown) referred me to work with Bob Abel, (a visionary and a pioneer designer and commercial producer with numerous industry awards) where I worked with him on interactive multimedia design. I also worked as a freelancer with other distinguished designers and firms (Saul Bass, Debora Sussman, Mednick Group, Disney Creative Group) and held my own clientele,offering graphic design consultation from concept to finish on various projects from print to interactive design.
For seven years I contemplated going back to school to one of the most demanding in the nation to get my Masters degree – Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. A highly rigorous and demanding art and design school where one can not afford to sleep, surrounded by intense, committed, talented and creative people, and costs as much as a medical school! And I did. Additionally, I gave birth during this time to my two children, who are my other masterpieces!
I received my Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) from Art Center College of Design – studying visual communication design and new media focusing on typography for motion, and creating short motion graphic design animation videos capturing the essence of a theme via typography for film title sequence designs. I call it “Kinematic Typography”.
What appeals to you about teaching?
Although I love getting my hands dirty with art and design, creating and experimenting, I also love sharing and discovering ideas with others. By nature, I get very excited about how ideas and solutions in the course of search are explored and are found unexpectedly. I like how concepts are deconstructed, reconstructed, hybridized, and multiplied to inspire others and be put in to good and meaningful practices. This enthusiasm brings out the passion in me to share, facilitate and to be a partner with each one of my students. So when Art Center invited me to teach right after my graduation (also a time in my life when I had given birth to my second child), I happily accepted the opportunity.
Are there any new and exciting trends in the art world?
There is always a trend, but for me the most exciting part is how to use the power of design to create a positive impact for the good of the society.
How do you manage your time between career and family?
Ha ha! …That’s the 21st century challenge. I have pulled many allnighters in to finish my project in order to not compromise my time with my children. But I made up for my lack of sleep with little naps here and there. My husband has been a fantastic partner looking after me to maintain my career and to raise our family together. As the result, our kids feel close to both of us. My parents have also been an extremely important support system for us with raising the kids. I’m very grateful. However, in the end, it’s about knowing how to prioritize and to shake off the unnecessary stress by recognizing the positive facts that all is well.
What advice do you have for young professionals?
I highly recommend staying in touch with your former professors. It thrills me to hear from my former students (thanks to social media). I actually invite them as my guest speakers and through my business connection and consultation, I refer and connect them with the industry. I also recommend joining the business organizations in your field to learn more and to connect with the industry (i.e. AIGALosAngeles.org – in the graphic design field). Attend events, lectures, conferences and internships (especially while at school) with your dream firm to build portfolio, learn the business and again make industry connections.
Furthermore, I advise submitting your work for publications and awards – that’s how you get noticed. Take advantage of technology, social media opportunities and alumni groups. Best with all and let me know how it goes.
You can contact Milka Broukhim at email@example.com