Introducing Cath: a graphic designer uses design thinking

October 7, 2014


What happens when an artist harnesses the stages of design thinking to create a design? If you meet Cath once, you will remember her.  She is shrewd; she has acumen; she has drive. Her favorite artist is Bansky. Her art is lively, and she has taken the IDEAS Center up on moving her art beyond Gould and into Patagonia’s “Vote the Environment” design opportunity.

Cath is from China, and her two years at Gould has taught her many things, but this one is sticking with her: environment matters.  She began to notice that when in China she always has a runny nose–allergies from air pollutants. In Maine, though, she’s good–no allergies. She began to make the connection to air quality and citizen engagement around environmental issues. The design contest, brought to our attention by senior environmentalist Heidi Ohms,  was  a great chance for Cath to explore an emerging concern through her arts and with the support of the IDEAS Center.

This example is just what the IDEAS Center is for: finding opportunity for student interest and passion. We hooked her up with Kipp Green, who has worked as an artist/designer; connected her to a few tutorials on to learn how to use the Wacom tablet, and helped her to devise a Google survey and series of interview questions about the contest’s slogan, “Vote the Environment”.


Cath is now grappling with the reality of the design thinking process. Her interviews and data are revealing things she does not want to be true. People buy t-shirts because they look cool, not so much for the a belief in the message: VOTE THE ENVIRONMENT.  The design thinking  process is helping her  to understand the role of a designer with the needs of specific users, not just her vision. This cross-pollination is good and creates complicated and sometimes messy questions that have no answers. This cross-pollination is why a balanced liberal arts foundation is so vital.  She is designer,  artist, interviewer, data cruncher, technician, advocate all in one awesome sophomore!

Stay tuned for the release of her design.  Here is a screen shot of her recent doodles.

CATH doodle


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