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Sound Bites - Issue #34 - June 2016

On the Cover 
Gian-Martin Joller & the Art of Jewelry Design

Jewelry Design instructor Gian-Martin Joller headshotJewelry Design instructor Gian-Martin Joller

Joller training for marathonsJoller has run three 50-mile ultra-marathons in the Santa Monica Mountains

To say Gian-Martin Joller is a popular instructor is an understatement.

Students like his Jewelry Design class, offered through SMC's academic program, so much that they want to take it over and over again. But state regulations restrict course repetition, leaving students stranded without their beloved professor and class.

SMC Community Education came to the rescue and is offering a modified, but similar class starting this fall. And because the course is not for credit and fee-based, there are no restrictions on how many times students can repeat the course.

"I'm so pleased that Professor Joller will be able to offer this popular jewelry making class through Community Ed," said SMC Trustee Louise Jaffe, who received calls from students asking for help. "Unfortunately, the state has imposed restrictions on how many times a student can repeat a class. It's great that SMC can expand offerings through Community Ed to serve the community."

A Swiss-trained jeweler and artist, Joller has been working in Europe and the U.S. for many years producing fine custom-made jewelry and restoring antique jewelry for museums and private collections.

He has been teaching in the SMC Art Department nine years, and also teaches classes at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles.

Aside from his degree from Switzerland, he attended SMC for three years before transferring to California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, where he earned bachelor and master of fine arts degrees.

Why is jewelry design your passion?

I decided to become a jeweler when I was 17 years old. What initially attracted me to it was that I could do everything from designing to the fabrication of pieces. Later, through my work restoring antique jewelry for museums and private collections, I got interested in the history of jewelry and the techniques and processes that were used back then. Many of them I still use in my work today. On the other hand I'm not opposed to the use of more modern techniques such as 3-D printing. It's the creative part of designing in combination with the technical part of fabricating that interests me.

What kinds of students take your class?

There are many kinds of students that take my class. It ranges from art students to people in the fashion world, to the retired fire chief. I always enjoy seeing people from all walks of life and ages come together in my class.

Why do you think your students are so passionate about your class?

I hope it's because I'm so passionate about it. The class is designed so that the students learn the basic techniques relatively quickly. Once they see the potential of this, there is no stopping them. It gives the students an opportunity to transform their ideas into a physical form.

Tell us one to three things that most people don't know about you.

I have a passion for wood and stringed instruments. I also build electric bass guitars and guitars.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

The craziest thing was when I decided to run a 50-mile ultra-marathon in the Santa Monica Mountains last year. At the time, I didn't think I would do something like that again. It was the hardest thing I've ever done and it pushed me to my limits. I did two more since then.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

Coming home at the end of the day and knowing that I've accomplished everything I set out to do. That unfortunately rarely happens. I like to set my goals high.

What was the last picture you took with your phone?

I went on a field trip with my son's class and took a picture of him standing in front of the Space Shuttle engine at the California Science Center.

What book(s) are on your nightstand now?

"How Bad Do You Want It / Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle" by Matt Fitzgerald, a book about endurance sport psychology, and Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air".

Gian-Martin Joller will teach Jewelry Design this fall.

What's New
...and the Winner is...Frank Damon!

Frank Damon - DINNERTIMEFrank Damon - DINNERTIME is the winning image in the 2016 Fall Cover Photo Contest

Laurie McCormick - COUNTRYSIDELaurie McCormick - COUNTRYSIDE is the first runner-up

Geri Ann Galanti - SAILING IN USHUAIA? is a new summer class taught by Neal YamamotoGeri Ann Galanti - SAILING IN USHUAIA captured Second Runner-Up honors


from the desk of Alice Meyering
I'm thrilled to congratulate Frank Damon for winning our 2016 Student Photo Contest with his stunning image of sunset at the Santa Monica Pier that he calls "Dinnertime." And I'm equally happy to say "Bravo" to the first and second runners-up for their beautiful photographs - as well as to all the contestants.

The winning image will be the cover of the Fall 2016 Schedule of Classes, and we have awarded $75, $50 and $25 Community Ed class credit vouchers, respectively, to the contest finalists. A more detailed article on Frank will appear in the July issue of Sound Bites.

Frank captured his image with a Canon 5D Mark 3 camera with a wide-angle lens. The retired Pacific Palisades lawyer has taken Ed Mangus' "On the Street with Your Camera" class, and he has taken several SMC academic courses, including Spanish and photography.

"I was ecstatic about winning this award," Frank said. "It is always reaffirming when you win an award, especially with so many entries and terrific competition.  And to win an award from SMC is frosting on the cake."

This is the second year we've held the contest, and we were excited to receive 90 images from 22 participants, a significant increase over last year's 63 images from 14 contestants. Equally exciting has been to see the high quality of the submissions.

The first runner-up is Laurie McCormick for her landscape "Countryside," and Geri-Ann Galanti captured second runner-up honors for her "Sailing in Ushuaia," a reference to the capital of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina and the southernmost city in the world.

The top three photos were selected after two rounds of rigorous judging, and then the public picked the winning photo through an online voting system that ended May 30.

I believe that this contest not only demonstrates the incredible talent of our students and our photography instructors, but also cultivates both the art and commerce of photography.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets for our latest news.

In Depth:
Dealing with Difficult & Demanding People

Dr. Louise-DianaDr. Louise-Diana


It's unavoidable: there are difficult and demanding people in the world. Sometimes it feels like there are quite a few of them.

There's always one: the toxic coworker or boss that can drive you crazy and question your self worth. They make your work life more difficult and you may feel certain that life would be easier without them. It may be a family member that you just can't resolve an issue with.

Everyone encounters difficult people and experiences the frustrations of interacting with them. But frustration, and the outcomes of conversations with difficult people, are at least partially under YOUR control. By learning and applying various tips and strategies you can make your life easier and have fewer problems.

Although most of us have had our fair share of difficult colleagues, not many of us have mastered the art of dealing with them. Many people feel it is easier to let the hostile behavior slide and hope that it stops. Little do they know, leaving these challenging situations unaddressed will allow the behavior to continue.

The idea in dealing with difficult people is to first look at your role in the situation and then to try the following strategies:

  1. When discussing problems with difficult people, keep it short and direct. It minimizes a stressful situation for both of you. Don't argue with them, as it's a waste of time. When you do speak, be sure your tone is non-emotional and non-confrontational.
  2. Generally speaking, it is good to practice starting conversations that create goodwill. Ask people about the things they like - family, hobbies, TV programs and work in general. This is a very good way to disarm them, get them talking and make them feel more comfortable.

    If you are dealing with silent people who ignore you and seek safety by refusing to respond, then there should be another response. Silent people get away with not talking because most people are uncomfortable with silence. Get them to talk by asking open-ended questions that can't be answered with just a yes or no, then wait at least one full minute and don't try to fill the space with words to ease your own discomfort.
  3. Oftentimes, indirect language works because it focuses on the work rather than the person. Instead of saying, "You need to get it to me," you can say, "Reports must be prepared." That way, people are less likely to feel that they are under attack.
  4. Learn to admit when you're wrong. Make apologies to all you have harmed. It can be as simple as saying, "I'm sorry for what I've done," "I made a mistake" or "I could be wrong." The more you do this, the easier it becomes.
  5. Confront problems professionally and with confidence. As a matter of fact, when you get into a tough point, don't raise your voice, as dealing with difficult people in a calm and permissive way will most likely keep the emotional level and force the person to listen to you.

For more strategies on dealing with difficult and demanding people, please see our SMC MindSpace blog

Dealing with difficult people takes persistence and practice, so don't get discouraged. Although these strategies won't change the difficult people, they will break their ability to interfere with your daily activities. Most important, you'll feel more confident and you'll start to enjoy your life.

Rev. Dr. Louise-Diana will teach "Dealing with Difficult & Demanding People," July 11-25 and you can contact us by calling (310) 434-3400 or emailing

Our Formula for Success!

Michelle King Michelle King, Director Career & Contract Ed.

Jewelry DesignJewelry Design

Noah?s Ark: Animals in Art HistoryNoah?s Ark: Animals in Art History

At Community Ed we pride ourselves on being responsive to our community. If they want a particular class, we do our best to provide it. And so it is that our fall semester course offerings are a reflection of our commitment to our community.

Among our robust and diverse offering of classes this fall are several new courses that sprung out of community demand. Some of them are more advanced as students master beginner skills and want to go to the next level. For example, our popular sewing classes have led to the offering of the more sophisticated courses Garment Construction and Block Printing Basics.

In all, we have slated more than 220 classes, workshops and tours for the Fall Semester, which begins Aug. 29. Registration is open online

As always, Community Ed is offering a wide range of personal enrichment classes, from the arts to fitness, from writing to gardening, and from music to dance, performance and film. At the same time, we are expanding our professional development courses in a wide range of fields, from business to social media to paralegal and much more.

Among some of our new classes are How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking, Smartphone Photography, Reiki Level I and Jewelry Design.

In addition, Eleanor Schrader's popular art and design history lecture series continues this fall with "Noah;s Ark: Animals in Art History."

Registration is open and can be completed online at or by calling (310) 434-3400 or emailing

Please join us this fall! You never know, one of our classes might just change your life.

Warm regards,

Michelle King
Director of Career &
Contract Education