“There’s a movement occurring and many people are trying to participate; artists and designers are trying to figure out how to be an artist designer and solve complex problems.”Stephanie Sigg, Mentor to Designmatters Fellows
Although Stephanie Sigg lives in New York City, she devotes a good amount of her time to Designmatters, where she mentors the Designmatters Fellows. With a masters degree from Art Center in Environmental Design, Stephanie has keen awareness of the multiple worlds in which she travels: corporate advertising, social and humanitarian design, and Art Center.
1.What is it about mentoring Designmatters Fellows that inspires you?
SS: The chance to watch a mind open, and then open even more, inspires me. Students usually come in having worked in design studios, or on their own, so entering this new world is a little shocking to them—at first. But, over time, they figure things out, and I find myself watching them take to this world of design for social impact like ducks take to water. I love watching as their lives get bigger through their real world projects. I love watching when they see their work actually get out into the world for real people to see. It’s inspiring for me to watch them completely commit themselves to an unknown adventure.
2. Why did you get involved as a mentor to Designmatters fellows?
SS: I think it goes back to the adage: It’s better to give than to receive. Plus, it’s about wanting more designers know you can do this– you can do good as a designer. I didn’t really know about this when I was getting out of Art Center; I thought that if I wanted to give back I’d have to work in a soup kitchen. Then I learned about Designmatters and that changed things for me, and I wanted to lead by example.
I love the work I do in advertising; it’s exciting and creative, but I also love that it lets me give back. When I was working at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, I started seeing how this could be done. Through them I did work for Nike and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and the Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence campaign. I can use my skill set, my art, and my creativity to help solve global problems. When talking to the Fellows I like saying, “let’s do better; let’s keep doing better things,” and they get what I mean.
3. What does success look like within these Designmatters fellowships?
SS: Success looks like students seeing the porous nature of design going across many disciplines. Success often means accepting changes in their career trajectories; they’ve seen art and design as something that can go beyond posters and websites and towards helping people anywhere in the world. Success also looks like new-found confidence, like when the training wheels come off their bikes and they think about what they’ve done and say, “Wow, I did that.”
4. As a person in advertising who’s deeply involved in design for social impact, what do you think matters most?
SS: What matters most seems to me is the same thing that fascinates me most, and that is whether I’m working with a non-profit organization, a government agency, or doing advertising in the corporate world, certain things are always the same. It always comes down understanding the constraints and variables, digging into the belly of the beast, and losing myself for a while. For me, it’s about trying to stay naïve, asking the simple questions, and always staying curious.