Storyboard: Kristen Ding

On the right (interactive multimedia) track

It’s crazy to consider that coming into college I had little idea what graphic design was, given what an integral role design has played in shaping my creative journey. My passion has turned into designing digital products such as websites, software, and apps. Keep in mind, this was a field that hardly existed 25 years ago.

I have a double major from Stanford in psychology and design. In my younger years, I thought I’d go into advertising. With my psychology background, I could determine what motivated people to choose a certain product. Meanwhile, with my design brain, I could construct the ideal visual concept.

After graduating from Stanford, I began freelancing while living out of a tiny attic apartment in Palo Alto. I would cold-call companies from the Yellow Pages; I didn’t know how else to find work. At the time, I could tell that my typography wasn’t where it needed to be. If I wanted to be taken seriously at all, I had to refine my skills, which, naturally, led me to ArtCenter.

I was wowed by my first visit to ArtCenter. The student gallery blew my mind wide open. When I started at ArtCenter, I felt immediately at home amidst my chosen cohort of teachers, students, and makers. These were people who were single-mindedly driven and effortlessly creative. I identified with the perfectionist streak that seemed to be par for the course at the College. Collaborating and fostering friendships with photographers, filmmakers, and production designers inspired me to do my best and keep pushing forward.

During my sixth or seventh term, I began taking classes in a new interactive multimedia track offered to Graphic Design majors. Up until that point, Graphic Design was comprised almost entirely of traditional print and packaging. This was an exciting opportunity to help usher in a whole new digital approach to design, with the addition of interactivity, sound, movement, and usability.

ArtCenter hired MIT Media Lab alums who were experts at designing with code, including David Young and Karen Donoghue to teach these classes. It was a thrill to be a part of something that had no precedent. I also took multiple classes with Lou Danziger, who pushed me to always define the right set of design problems in my work before trying to solve them. He was and still is a wonderful mentor to me.

My tenure at CitySearch was thanks to an introduction from my good friend, Taylor Westcoat, a fellow ArtCenter alum. I was the first designer brought on at CitySearch, an online city guide in the early days of the Internet. The first thing I did was hire more ArtCenter grads, all of whom were or became friends. Spending long days and even longer nights with the team to launch our startup, it almost felt like we were back in the ArtCenter computer lab.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without ArtCenter. That’s a fact. ArtCenter people have the talent, work ethic, and creative stamina to make anything happen. I am honored to be among their ranks, and I only hope that, in the end, I can give back even a fraction of what they’ve given me.

Kristen Ding
BFA 94 Graphics/Packaging
Original Co-Founder Citysearch, Former VP of Idealab
Member of Legacy Circle Advisory Board, ArtCenter (2006-2015)

I wouldn’t be where I am today without ArtCenter. That’s a fact. ArtCenter people have the talent, work ethic, and creative stamina to make anything happen

Kristen Ding
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