Graphic design professor receives national recognition

Sit and Tell

Sit and Tell

April Leygraaf and April Leygraaf

Jenn Stucker, associate professor and chair of graphic design at the University, was recently named to Graphic Design USA’s “People to Watch List”.

The list is a recognition of people who “embody the spirit of the creative community” and have “a combination of talent, leadership, success, newsworthiness and community service.”

“When you are a faculty member, it’s important that you are still engaged in your discipline and I think it recognizes that I’m still an engaged active design practitioner, not just a design educator and that I’m still making work that’s relevant,” Stucker said.

Stucker is involved in many projects outside of teaching. She co-owns a design practice called SiSu Designs. The name of SiSu Designs comes from her Finnish heritage and means “tenacity.”

“I felt like that was a good thing for a business to have about itself, to be tenacious, to be courageous,” Stucker said.

She is an active member of AIGA Toledo and is involved in many graphic design projects around Toledo. Some of these projects include “Sit & Tell,” “You are Here Toledo” and Urban Forest Projects Toledo.

AIGA is a national organization for professional designers. Stucker and a colleague helped found the Toledo chapter in 2007 and it has since grown to over 100 members.

“Our activity is to really highlight the creative talent that is in the area because sometimes people think you really have to have a big city but great stuff happens here,” Stucker said.

The “Sit & Tell” project is a collection of chairs Stucker designed which celebrate the strength of women. Stucker collected 100 audio stories about women in Toledo and created chair artwork to represent their stories. The chairs went on a rolling exhibition for a few weeks, were exhibited at the Toledo Museum of Art and were eventually auctioned off, with the proceeds going to the arts in Toledo.

“You are Here Toledo” was created to help Toledo citizens get to know their city better. One hundred dots were placed around the city that were all designed by different artists and each dot represented historical and significant areas in Toledo. The dots included QR codes that added to the interactive experience.

“We got amazing feedback,” Stucker said. “People were talking about they were rediscovering their city again.”

The Urban Forest project was a series of 50 banners around Toledo. The banners used a tree metaphor to spread the message of sustainability. Once the banners were taken down, they were recycled into tote bags. All of the proceeds from the bags went to the Toledo Arts Commission.

Stucker also helped found SWEAT in 2007, which stands for Summer Workshop for Experimentation and Thought. SWEAT was created when Stucker and a colleague discovered they had students who wanted to do graphic design throughout the summer. Through SWEAT, she has created projects, including books and murals, that correspond with a given theme.

“It’s just a way to keep ourselves fresh and to do work that isn’t always client-driven work, self-driven, curious work,” Stucker said.

Stucker is a decorated graphic designer and has received multiple awards for her work in graphic design. Her projects have received many accolades and her work has been published in multiple books.