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Mar 2007 : Embedded Design
by Guest Editor Cybil Weigel

It's a Saturday morning and I am sitting by the pool at my apartment with my colleague and collaborator. We are waiting on the talent to show up at one of our casting calls. It’s an unusually rainy day in Southern California and we are talking about everything from our friends on the east coast, to our jobs in California. We are trying to come up with ideas for a commercial that an ad agency sought us out for. In our mid-twenties, it is amazing and sometimes unbelievable how we could be in this position: producing, teaching, making work in my creative world and being successful. Some people would look at me and think I was a sell-out to the art world I came from, going to an art school and then graduating to a strict graduate design school. I was bred from free-thinking hippies who raised me to make it in any condition, including my own. I have worked in the most creative cities all over world, now I reside in Southern California working for ad agencies, TV networks, teaching at colleges, and running my own production company, EMBEDDEDIN.LA.

     I started teaching college in Los Angeles in my early twenties after I earned my MFA. People consider 'being signed' as being related to sports or modeling contracts, but in the creative industries, you can be signed to ad agencies, educational institutions, TV networks who want you to work for them because you are a young talent. They want to buy your knowledge and creativity as a means to market their brand, or, teach their students who can reach your level or "out-do" you. You essentially are the face and work for the companies or educational institutions. Your vision, your work, and your words are a reflection of who you represent in commercial and college worlds.
     Essentially, creatives in this position are role models, but more than models, we are educational inspirations. I have taught students who have gone on to the most prestigious ad agencies, and who create commercials that you watch everyday for the products that you have in your home. It is amazing to see how my methodology has had an impact on my students' creative careers, but most importantly how the students have influenced my own.           
embedded: teaching at otis
     We look good and speak well with our methodologies, our reels, our teaching resumes, our published works. We are comfortably hidden; sitting outside of plush condos alongside pools with water fountains talking about commercial concepts. Our hard work and creative chameleon work ethics have earned us comfort. My methodology, 'embedded design', is a thesis concept from graduate school that has developed into my own practice. It’s “design + direction = production.” I work with a myriad of national and international creatives and talent depending upon the project where I work as the producer. I hire creatives based upon the work given to me by my reps or by word of mouth.
          I consider myself a creative nomad working with every genre of work from hip-hop music culture to some of the most conservative ad agencies for products I would never buy. EMBEDDEDIN.LA is known for its embedded graphics and its embedded work practice. This past fall, I was speaking at an arts conference at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and was asked ”Was I selling out my own creativity to the commercial world?” When you work for an agency or a client, you have to follow their guidelines to sell their product, communication design is not the same as art. But you can ask, why an imagination like Leonardo DaVinci designed weapons for his wealthy patrons? You can ask, “Why did David Lynch make Twin Peaks for a national mainstream television station?” What about those videos Michael Gondry did? I utilize my art and design skills to make the product stand out. Those skills, those ideas, are before the product and after its time. Being a creative in the commercial world is important; it’s more than inspiration, you must have a deep awareness and understanding for business, management, communication. You have to know what to keep, and, what to let go of---if this is where you want to be. You never hear about an architect selling out, you never hear of a furniture designer selling out. We live in a rich media environment, and people have choices to make. I don't want to struggle. The work is for sale, I am not. I want to make it work. It is not the only work. I teach it to my students too. It’s not a creative failure when I sell 24 seconds of a commercial for more money than someone can make in months. In fact, it can be a rewarding feeling to see your work on TV or billboard, on a website and know that you did it. Rewarding to work and be around so much creative energy. I practice what I teach, and learn from it too. Those students, they are asking good questions. ---Cybil Weigel March 4, 2007

: Cybil Weigel is a producer, educator and performance artist residing in California. Her production studio,, creates original community documentaries on media and design. Cybil, a graduate of MICA with her Masters work completed in Media Design at Art Center in Pasenda, teaches undergraduates at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California. She has a miniature dobie.

......  Links:
>>> Int'l Conference on the Arts in Society [ presenter bio ]          
>>> Art Center: "EMBEDDEDIN.LA a design documentary" [ thesis ]
>>> [ website ]

c+, romeo and a treo in my mom's bathroom


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