Academy of Art University Partners with Ghirardelli Square for Christmas Tree Stroll

San Francisco, CA, December 15, 2020 –  Students and faculty of Academy of Art University participated in Ghirardelli Square’s outdoor Winter Wonderland Holiday Market and Christmas Tree Stroll this year by decorating 16 Christmas trees for a design contest. 

Various schools from the Academy participated in the Christmas tree decoration contest, with the winner set to take home a $1,000 gift prize. The finalists included the Schools of Art Education, Communications & Media Technologies, Fine Art-Painting, Game Development, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interior Architecture & Design, Jewelry & Metal Arts, and the ART U Athletics department. Their trees will be put on display at the Ghirardelli Square throughout the holiday season.

Said Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens,

“I am thrilled to have the Academy partner with Ghirardelli Square during this upcoming holiday season in San Francisco. It’s a wonderful opportunity for our incredibly talented students to be able to showcase their innovative designs in such a festive design competition.

President Elisa Stephens

The Christmas trees will continue to be on display at the Ghirardelli Square in the Marina District until December 31, 2020. 

AAU-Ghiradelli Christmas Tree Comp-2
Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens checking out the student-designed Christmas trees at Ghirardelli Square.

Reflective Designs

The students were put to the task of showcasing their creativity in decorating their departments’ respective Christmas trees. The School of Art Education featured the works of the children they met through their community partnerships at the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Police Activities League by transforming their paper designs into snowflakes laser-cut in plastic.

The School of Graphic Design’s tree, named “Tools of Typography,” showcased the essentials of the craft, which include the different tools that students and professionals use in their work. According to director Phil Hamelett, “The students identified heavily with the Adobe software products suite as a means to articulate how graphic design manifests itself. Adobe is a valued enterprise partner of the Academy and might very well enjoy seeing their products enshrined accordingly.”

GAM-Ghiradelli Christmas Tree Comp
AAU-Ghiradelli Christmas Tree Comp

Meanwhile, the ART U Athletics reflected “our pride in our university, as an athletic department of student-athletes in giving back to the community and celebrating the holidays with everyone in a time where we’re trying to come together,” explained director Director Brad Jones. The softball student-athletes, along with their head coach, took the charge for the creation of their tree. 

ARTU-Ghiradelli Christmas Tree Comp - Academy of Art Un

The winning tree from the School of Photography highlighted the theme of physical touch, in an effort to make their piece responsive to the current situation. “Embrace,” as the tree is called, is decorated with Polaroids featuring the students’ images. Each piece is wrapped in rainbow-colored lights. “We believe it is essential to embrace not only our friends and family but your entire community,” explains department manager Candice Rollerson. 

AAU-PH-Ghiradelli Christmas Tree Comp
School of Photography “Embrace” Christmas tree. Image courtesy of ABC7News.

About Academy of Art University

Established in 1929, Academy of Art University is one of the largest private, accredited art and design schools in the nation. Located in San Francisco, the epicenter of culture and technology, Academy of Art University offers more than 135 accredited degree programs spanning 40 areas of study, including entertainment arts, advertising, fashion, architecture, game development, music, communication, photography, and more. For more information, please visit

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