In a 2004 essay, Robert Williams asks, “What is that itching need to pursue curiosities and dynamics beyond our everyday necessities and comforts?” And thus, he offers the answer to a long debated question about the nature of art, which has been defined as beauty, truth, form and just plain expression of emotion. Dare we call that entertainment? Let’s dare, and learn more about an art program that gleefully runs with it.

Laguna College of Art and Design, a non-profit college, found its rich roots at the turn of the century amidst a cultural wellspring of plein air painters and film actors like Charlie Chaplain, who motivated the establishment of the Laguna Playhouse. Rooted in traditional fine arts at its 1961 inception, LCAD, perhaps because of the close cultural community of Laguna Beach, has always been receptive to students’ needs. And according to Department Chair Todd Smith, the keen interest in “designing and creating worlds” brought about one of the school’s newest programs, Entertainment Design. “As a very illustrative example, I use Star Wars, where the artists actually created stories from scratch. They made stuff right out of their imagination, from buildings to the modes of transportation.” He describes how students, many inspired by a particular character, start the program and learn how to design, visualize and illustrate that figure, as well as whole environments, not limited to film, but encompassing places like theme parks, hotel lobbies and restaurants.

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Smith lists the myriad classes available. Animal Drawing may still be on the wish list, but look for Digital Landscape and New Technologies, which might include sculpture in virtual reality, but aspirationally, “whatever is new.” When we asked student Andrew Tran about how he chose this program, he quickly answered, “I have a special connection with the entertainment industry because when things got tough, I could always rely on games and movies to make life a little easier. The Entertainment Design major at LCAD allows me to satiate my curiosity in game, film and theme park production by pulling the curtains back and allowing me to create my own worlds and tell my story. I want to instill the wondrous joy I had as a kid in the people who view my work, and LCAD provides an enriching environment where I can maximize my potential as a creative. In this piece about a young person about to journey into the future, and as a senior about to graduate, I want to invoke that same anticipation my peers and I feel.”

Learn more about the programs at Laguna College of Art and Design at