Member Spotlight: Caitlin Parent

Caitlin Parent
Title: Invention Designer/Strategist
Company: GTB
Number of Years in design: 1.5
Past Companies: None! This is my first job.
Education: Michigan State, Humanities and Professional Writing; Creative Circus, Graphic Design
Member since: 2016

Who has been the most influential person in your career?
When I decided to switch tracks from writing to design I returned to school and attended the Creative Circus in Atlanta where I was fortunate to study under the great Sylvia Gaffney. She not only taught me the fundamentals of graphic design and color theory but how to be relentless in exploring design from research to execution. I always find myself referring back to her classes in my daily life at work.

What is your favorite thing about design?
I love how design can have such a profound effect on how we interact with each other and our surroundings. It can be such a subtle and invisible force that can result in such large-scale change.

What is the most memorable moment of your career?
Simply being able to have a career! 

But in all honesty, I graduated a year and half ago and was filled with so many doubts about whether I would ever get hired and being so unsure about moving back to Michigan, blah blah blah. When I started my internship at GTB as a designer I was working with such an amazing and talented group of people who really helped me get my footing. The time I spent there was what really solidified that I was in the right business.

What advice would you give to someone just getting started in the design world?
I’m still getting started in the design world myself, so take this all with a grain of salt!!

If you don’t have a thick skin already, start growing it. Keep discovering and re-discovering what design means to you. Continue to learn and hone your craft. These are all super vague, but check back with me in 5 years and I’ll have better advice.

What is your favorite thing about AIGA Detroit?
The network of designers and creatives that it creates in the city.  

What inspires you as a designer?
I try to look outside of design for inspiration. Especially now, working more in the experiences side of design, I seek inspiration in documentaries and articles. I finally moved to Detroit proper last fall so simply getting to know my new community better has been an amazing source of inspiration.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a designer and how have you handled them?
Switching roles very rapidly has been a challenge. I started out as a graphic designer, then moved to digital art direction, and now I’m in the very mysteriously-titled role of “Invention Designer”. This current role has been my biggest challenge because it’s so new not just to me, but exists in a rapidly evolving space in the agency. It’s also been extremely fruitful because of how it has helped me really assert myself as a creative.

What are you excited to learn or work on next?
I’m always working on improving my craft and expanding my skill set so I’ve been dabbling in a little hand lettering here and a little web dev there. I’m also trying to dive deeper into design theory and philosophy. Human Centered Design has been on my mind a lot lately.

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By Kimmie Parker
Published April 9, 2018
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