Nestled in the canyon and hidden amid hills within walking distance of the ocean, the Laguna College of Art & Design has beaconed artists to its campus for 50 years.
With LCAD marking its milestone this year, faculty and graduates reflected on how the college has grown since its establishment in 1961.
LCAD's new president, Jonathan Burke, came to the school 31 years ago, when it was just starting on the road to accreditation, he said. Now it has regional and national accreditation validating its liberal arts and art courses.
Burke has seen the school expand, adding new majors, facilities and a Master of Fine Arts program.
"It means that we're balanced in terms of offering both traditional fine arts programs and visual communication majors — majors that focus more on entertainment and design but utilize the same basic language and vocabulary as the painters learn," he said.
Visual communications — the newest addition to LCAD's academic offerings — includes majors in illustration, graphic design,animation and game art.
Growth — LCAD's key to success — has not been easy, Burke said.
However, the college has slowly and steadily increased faculty, resources and facilities on the campus that holds around 450 students today.
Last year was LCAD's first year of student housing for freshmen, and this year it's filled to capacity, Burke said. Out of the 26 new students this year, 22 are in housing, he said.
Beyond the idyllic setting, it's LCAD's programs and attention to its students that has drawn artists since 1961.
Robert Bou-Saab graduated in May and is now a storyboard artist for FOX's "Family Guy."
LCAD was one of two California schools he applied for to study 2-D classical animation.
Bou-Saab said he never felt like a small fish in a big pond. Faculty was always attentive to his needs.
Within six weeks of graduating, Bou-Saab was hired for the show.
He credits taking advantage of all the resources the school offers, including an Industry Open House in May where recruiters — many from the entertainment industry — come to meet visual communications majors.
Sergio Rebia, 29, attended LCAD for undergraduate and graduate fine arts course work and now teaches at the school.
Rebia pointed out that LCAD was one of a handful of schools that had an emphasis on classical realism.
"Whenever I saw great master works in museums, that's something that drew me," he said.
Through a scholarship, Rebia first encountered LCAD when he was 16 and a student at Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley.
His high school art instructor went the extra mile for his students, taking them to portfolio reviews.
"That's when I first encountered LCAD, and I immediately fell in love with it," he said.
Homegrown at LCAD, Rebia said he wouldn't want it any other way.
"It's like family. That's why I've been part of the school for so many years," he said. "It's really a labor of love. There's no other place I'd rather teach."
For more information about LCAD, visit lagunacollege.edu.