Well Baby Toolkit

I have learned the value of experience and how it plays a huge role in the outcome of design. How do we experience what we are designing for or furthermore how do we design for what we have experienced? It is my experience that in times of change throughout our lives it is best to stay organized. While expecting my first child, I was fortunate to have access to mobile apps, books, online resources, and multiple medical facilities. For women going through pregnancy without access to such resources, the journey may be an unstructured and even chaotic experience. This simple yet complex idea to stay organized became the key component to the Well Baby Toolkit.


As the researcher interviewing community caregivers in their clinics, a substantial amount of information was collected in the form of brochures, handouts and even sponsored materials. As a patient, women receive overwhelming amounts of information from such clinics. It becomes hard to decipher what information is important. It became overwhelming when trying to identify the main components each clinic was working to educate visitors about. The materials collected ranged from pain management during labor to the proper installation of a car seat.  The caregivers each had different ideas of what they found important which in turn made the process of identifying the essential information more difficult. On average one research location was capable of distributing designed educational materials to thousands of women a year. When realizing the volume of patients it was clear that something needed to be done to organize and make the process easier for patients to absorb.

A major concern that the community clients had were the costs to their facility to produce and distribute new materials designed through this research. This concern was treated with high priority when deciding the final format to design for. If a great educational tool was created as the outcome of this project and could not distributed by the community client it would not solve the issues of overwhelming information. By design, the toolkit has been created in a way that could be mass-produced with basic office materials such as a copier and standard sized office paper.

“This toolkit speaks to the basic needs of pregnant women across many barriers. In a compact and easy to read design, the toolkit provides a wealth of information regarding pre and postnatal care that many women do not receive due to socioeconomic status or limited access to education.”  

Doula and Ph.D. researcher of American Studies

The problems that were defined during this research became the following objectives:

• Development of Pre and Postnatal Educational Tools that are non digital and easy to share with little cost to reproduce.
• Identify graphics and language that is relevant to the target audience: pregnant women and their partners.
•  Evaluate both print and electronic educational and charting systems. What are the key components for successful use of each tool and how can they be simplified into one toolkit
• Look at industry and analyze what exists and determine whats missing from Pre and Post Natal educational and information charting tools.

A user guide has been included in the table of contents area of the Well Baby Toolkit. The toolkit is currently in the process of being reviewed and utilized by Midwives and doulas, WIC, YWCA and OBGYN offices and their Expectant Mother clients.  This phase will be important to evaluate the user experience when using the toolkit and also any areas that need to be explained by a health care professional.

“They are well organized and easy to read.  What wonderful tools especially for first time parents!”

Pre and Post natal Educational Coordinator 

The future plans for the Well Baby Toolkit are to be shared nationally in multiple languages to create a universal conversation between expectant mothers and their caregivers. The tools developed during my MFA research will allow women without resources to monitor their pregnancy and begin the first year of their baby’s life with the best possible understanding of monitoring and preventative care.  The community clients involved in this project were able to identify with the materials presented and successfully implement the new toolkit into their daily educational instruction. These processes of research and design education have helped the community clients have a better understanding of the power of socially driven design.

Next steps: prepare to release to public for use. All charts are formatted to be placed in three ring binders by the user on letter sized paper. The final toolkit will be shared with healthcare and educational offices in color and black and white format for copies to be made and available for patients. If you are interested in reviewing the Well Baby Toolkit for use in your clinic please contact me to be added to the email list. 

Community Design Ecosystem

The Community Design Ecosystem is a community of the living (people, plants, and animals) in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (structures, architecture, transportation, and public services), interacting as a system. The system consists of creatives, stakeholders, and public partners. Working only with all three partners, the puzzle remains incomplete without all pieces.

This poster was created to help illustrate the process of designers working with community members. Traditionally the stakeholder or business owner is the project leader and the designer is the project pusher and the public is the receiver of designed goods. In the Community Design Ecosystem all participants play equal parts in the decision making processes and the end goal is to help make a positive impact on there community.

The process chart highlights the start to finish process that takes place throughout any given projects timeline. Although every project has varying pros and cons the general idea is illustrated to help the non-designers understand the phases of a project.

If you would like to use the poster above please click here for a high resolution pdf.


Presented at the 2013 AIGA Head, Heart, Hand Conference Minneapolis, MN

Re//State: Build a Better Block

The client was interested in building a better neighborhood and revitalizing a once thriving area of Grand Rapids, MI where the streets were lined with shops and a trolley line. Our team worked through rapid prototyping to develop a two day pop-up shop event.  Event materials were designed for two very different audiences: the elder generation that had shops on State Street and the young entrepreneurs that wished to have a business there. Print promotional materials were displayed on public transportation.

The Weekend Blitz event has started a local movement to ignite, accelerate and amplify design-driven social change through the collaboration of creative professionals and local non-profit organizations.

Design with the community

As author, designer and professor Scott Boylston once said: “Design with the community, not for the community.” I traveled south back to dear Savannah, GA. The trip was not only to participate in the Design Ethos conference held by Savannah College of Art and Design but to regain my creative energy for the final leg of my MFA research at Purdue University. A year later I am still looking back on all that I have accomplish, yet all that is ahead of me. Participating in the Do-Ference was a life changing experience I think of on a daily basis. Having the opportunity to work with Liz OgbuMarc O’Brien and Mike Weikert was just what I needed to wrap up my graduate research at Purdue.

We worked as a team to understand Waters Avenue. The area had been a throughway for many decades. With transportation changes, the area was declining. Our team identified the Assets, Challenges, and Opportunities of the area and designed a plan to help local residents and officials revitalize the area. Following the 3 day weekend Do-Ference in 2013, the Waters Avenue area is now under a multi-million dollar Streetscape plan to revitalize the area. The plan is anticipated to begin in 2015.

Huntingdon Humane Society

This branding package came about as a pro-bono design project with the goal of affecting my local community. The Huntingdon County Humane Society is a 501(c) 3 non-profit working to find forever homes for stray, abused, abandoned and surrendered animals from Huntingdon and Mifflin Counties. In order to build their visibility the Huntingdon County Humane Society was in need of designed materials that better communicate their organization. The series includes the new logo, brochures with business information and new member sign up form, business cards for shelter volunteers, and envelopes for membership mailings.

Black/Inside Zine

In the summer of 2012 I participated in Camp Firebelly. During the 10 day camp, 10 campers live and work with Firebelly Design to craft a strategic design solution for a non-profit client, from initial research to final implementation. Focusing on socially responsible design, this years camp consisted of several surprise clients including Project Nia.  We worked for a short few days on this project focusing on the long-term goal of ending youth incarceration through education.

This zine documents important writings from prisoners essential to both racial equality and human rights. The lettering focuses on hand scratched and form based treatments, capturing the same textual experience that prisoners were confronted with. This methodology is used throughout the book in everything from text to image. This was a collaborative project where each of the campers worked on multiple forms of the project and would often share ideas that would be continued and combined with other ideas. With past experience on pre-press and digital file setup I worked on helping all campers save files for print and then completed all pre-flighting of the documents. Below are photos from the creative process and final designs. For a full booklet pdf preview click here.

The zine was used as an educational handout for the opening reception of the Gallery Exhibition titled Black/Inside at the African American Cultural Center Gallery held on October 22, 2012. For photos from the opening reception click here.

Project Details:
8.5 x 5.5 32 pages + cover
Black and Metallic PMS 876 U
500 Copies printed Salsedo Press Chicago, IL

Anu Murthy        Audrey Green
Ivan Alonso        Mai Nguyen
Mei Hsieh           Michelle Wu
Noel Rivard        Quinn Keaveney
Sam Snyder




Layout photos courtesy of Quinn Keaveney.
















































Close youth prisons

Collaborative poster for Project NIA to get the word out on their mission to close youth prisons in Illinois. Technique for creation included multiple layered hand cut and spray painted stencils scanned into digital format.

• Inspire action among adults
• Simultaneously engaging the youth
• Advocate for Project NIA and their goals

• By simulating prison bars over the state of Illinois we identify the state-wide epidemic facing our youth
• The number 8 ties into the idea of imprisonment of our youth, which is the number of youth prisons currently in Illinois.
• The imagery being presented as a spray painted stencil reflects this poster’s accessibility. It relates the viewer to rally/protest/street art

Anu Murthy        Audrey Green
Ivan Alonso        Mai Nguyen
Mei Hsieh           Michelle Wu
Noel Rivard        Quinn Keaveney
Sam Snyder

You Are Beautiful

With access to recycled materials at the Rebuilding Exchange in Chicago, each Camp Firebelly camper and studio team member muscled up to construct one letter. Two days were spent selecting materials, working with power tools and finally displaying the entire saying You Are Beautiful. These images document my contribution to the alphabet.  The final letters will be featured in a Illinois based youth prison in a central area as a form of restorative justice through Project Nia.

The ongoing 10 year You Are Beautiful project and anniversary exhibition has been featured on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network.

Use what you have

The intentions of the series Use What You Have was strictly adhered to. This series of prints used materials that were given to me or already in my possession of art supplies. At the end of this print run every last sheet of paper was used, all ink on the printmaking matrix was printed whether on paper or newsprint. In the end each print was then turned into a multimedia print with additional materials that were applied to the original press print. The main intention of the series was to remind designers to use the skills, materials, network and local materials. Materials included paper leftover from local printer recycling bin, laser cut cardboard that the paper was transported in, laser cut OSB board from a recent home roof project and other various art supplies. For a full list of supplies please read below.

Not all prints are shown here. Please contact me if you are interested in seeing more of the series.

White 100lb Cover Stock Hammermill paper All prints 20 “ x 30”
     used leftover paper that was purchased at the start of the year to print Say What You Mean series

Pantone Process Inks
     supplied by local printer The National Group

Laser cut OSB board
     from last springs home roof redo project

     That my paper came in at the start of the year

Bubble wrap
     My books were wrapped in from Amazon

Black matte board tape
    From my associates degree…. too many years ago!

Krylon furniture spray paint
    Found in the spray booth in PAO Hall 1119 at the end of the semester

    From my undergraduate degree at SCAD


Inked Laser cut OSB board

Consecutive prints from one ink run until ink ran to faint grey

My favorite prints of the nearly 40 prints that came from the Use What you Have Series were created on the very first run. While testing the pressure on the press I used the laser cut OSB sprayed with a fine mist of water and a single piece of paper. Below are the limited edition prints that came from this process. Only 4 prints were made from the OSB wood  matrix before it was inked and used for all other prints in the series.


One of the prints from this series was accepted into the 2012 Westwood Competition. This semiannual juried art competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue. Artworks are judged by Westwood staff and residents, and accepted works are exhibited at Westwood, the residence of Purdue University’s president. Westwood is a private residence and is not open to the public, but private viewings are available, and Westwood hosts a reception for the accepted artists and their friends and family each semester.

IMG_5113 copy

Say what you mean series

As a graphic designer my goal has always been to communicate and solve a given problem. Artists such as (psychedelic poster designers) are just that, artists. In my mind the difference between communication in art and design is experiment. In this series I have focused on experimenting with materials, messages, and content.

Think about all the times you have sent an email or a text message to only find out that your message was clear to you and only you. When sent beyond your control the message is taken out of context and taken into the reader’s context. If you are in a work environment that emails and printed communications are your main form of communication you can bet that a large percentage of what you write is taken at least slightly out of context.

A negative issue with this method of communication is that there is no visual interaction and miscommunication can result. In general the nation seems to be in a general form of confusion. How have reality shows become a higher priority than voting? How have we placed more importance on our social lives than on our family and overall well-being? Technology has helped push our world into a social monster of sorts.

During a year of experimentation of different techniques and methods this series has come about as a transitional body of work in my career. Working with the traditional idea of wood type, a printing matrix, and a press I have crafted a body of experimental prints focusing on visual communication, or the lack thereof. The idea that any word has a different meaning to each person based on their personal experiences in life, education, demographics, and language barriers is the main interest of this series.  The goal of this series is to question how do designers use communication effectively? How do we communicate as designers and how can we successfully make messages when they can be differed to so many different meanings dependent on the viewer. With the use of Microsoft Word Synonyms, I have chosen specific words within sayings, which precisely highlight the issue of multiple meanings.

Working in the design industry has proven to be a smorgasbord of mixed messages. This issue is most prominent between clients and designers, designers and managers, and in general: society. Why when communicating do we tend to use the softer side of the terms we are really trying to say? Why not just say what we mean and mean what we say. You know what I mean, right? Check out the visual journal of my processes throughout this experimental series here: YouTube


Say What You Mean Process Journal