Alumni Spotlight: Oliver Padilla on Art School

© Oliver Padilla’s Excelsior Project “Mission St from Brazil to Silver”

CCSF Photography student Oliver Padilla is a successful transfer student who chose to attend the California College of Art (CCA) in Oakland, CA. He expects to graduate with a BFA in Photography in 2014 and in 2011 won a Faculty Honors Award at CCA based on his outstanding creative ability and academic achievement.

Padilla took some time to share pearls of wisdom and advice for CCSFers interested in transferring to an art school to pursue a BFA.

How do you think CCSF prepared you for art school?

CCSF did a lot to prepare me for art school, though it’s still a bit of a culture shock to go from a large community college to a relatively small private art school. I was really happy that I was able to focus on my technical skills at CCSF. Holman Turner is an incredible lighting teacher, Steve Raskin and Bob Nishihira will get those B&W fiber prints looking sharp, and Erika Gentry will give you all the digital tools you’ll need. Because of my technically strong portfolio, I was able to wave out of a lot of skill based classes at CCA. This allows me to simply focus on developing my ideas and concepts in upper level classes. Another thing about Community College is that you meet and work with all kinds of people; some that you like and enjoy and others who you find difficult to work with. Learning how to work with difficult people and situations at the community college level was really helpful.

What advice do you have for CCSF students wanting to transfer to an arts college like CCA?

My advice for CCSF students looking to transfer to an art school is to take full advantage of CCSF. The Art Department and Photo Department are really strong with a lot of great artists. Take Art History at CCSF, its more in-depth than many other Art History programs. It is really important to get your general education done at CCSF and it’s absolutely necessary to hone in your English and public speaking skills at the community college level. Those skills are necessary when it comes to talking about your work and defending it during critiques. Also, work on polishing your presentation skills, figure out how you work best, and work on your time management. The workload is much more intense at an art school because you’re so focused on developing work at a deeper level.  In my opinion, you want to maximize your time at an Art school and you don’t want to spend time learning English or math. Another thing that isn’t always mentioned is that you want to leave community college with confidence. You want to be able to think of an idea and not worry about how you’re going to realize it.

Collaborate with Padilla by Contributing to The Excelsior Archive Project

I’m starting a community arts project in the Excelsior district in San Francisco. I realize that my home neighborhood has lots of history that may be over looked. I’m currently in a San Francisco History class, which prompted my interest in the history of the Excelsior. There were great things that I learned about my home neighborhood but I saw that other neighborhoods, like The Mission or Chinatown, had much more documentation of their past. I feel that the Excelsior is a great little neighborhood that deserves to have its history documented more thoroughly. I decided to start my own archive, which will include stories told by neighbors, local business owners, and visitors to try to create a more personal history of the Excelsior. I need your help sharing this project with people so we can get this Archive going. For more information go to

Please feel free to share this project with others – I encourage it!

Thank You
Oliver Padilla

One Comment on “Alumni Spotlight: Oliver Padilla on Art School”

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