As we welcome a new co-op student, Dennis Limbo, onto the SFU Public Square team this term, we also want to take a moment to recognize the contributions of Cassandra Graves, who we were lucky to have with us as a co-op Design Assistant in spring 2021. We interviewed Cassandra but had such a busy spring term that we haven’t gotten a chance to share it until now!
Chloe Sjuberg: What drew you to want to do a co-op with SFU Public Square?
Cassandra Graves: I liked the idea of staying connected to SFU for my co-op term. Other co-op positions I looked at were focused on only one specific area, like UX or 3D modelling, but I liked that this role at SFU Public Square involved using many different skills, from graphic design to web design. I feel less restricted and more engaged when I can jump between different projects.
CS: What are you most excited to be working on at SFU Public Square?
CG: I’ve enjoyed working on the “Meet the Speakers” social media graphics series, as well as the new drag-and-drop newsletter template. It’s been really cool to see tangible progress on the template, even if it’s been buggy. I’ve also always been interested in event planning and it’s exciting to be part of the process of planning and hosting community events.
We can confirm that Cassandra seriously upped our newsletter game with that template, building on the work of our design lead Geoff Smith to make it even sharper and easier to lay out. It’s an incredible legacy that we’re grateful for every week we put the newsletter together! She also continued to produce beautiful social media graphics introducing the speakers for all of our spring events. And, she always stayed cool and humorous under pressure while being in charge of sharing slides at our events, making for smooth and seamless visual experiences for event participants!
CS: What led you to pursue an education/career in design?
CG: I’ve always been into art. In high school, I was good at math and science, but I enjoyed anything involving arts the most. I’d be the one finishing assignments and asking the teacher if there was anything else to work on.
When thinking about my options for university, I was drawn to SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) because it provided the opportunity to learn about all kinds of different disciplines I was interested in—like design, animation, illustration, and sketching—and see which of them stuck out to me the most. Many of the design programs at other schools were more specialized, and I didn’t want to have to choose one specific direction before knowing how much I liked it.
CS: How do you think design can support community engagement and communication with audiences?
CG: I think design and communication are entangled together. It’s harder to absorb a message if it’s not visually interesting or well designed. I find what makes accessible and approachable design is similar to what makes an approachable person—we’re more open to listening to someone who seems friendly, open, neat and organized.
I also think about the difference between “design” and “art.” Really artistic/”artsy” designs can be interesting and draw people in, but for communication and engagement around an event or initiative, the audience also has to be able to discern the message easily. The design shouldn’t be too distracting or leave the meaning or important details ambiguous. If the information isn’t communicated effectively, people may appreciate the design but will quickly move on.
CS: What are some of the things you’re watching, reading or listening to these days?
CG: I used to watch a lot of mysterious, intense shows, but right now I need shows that are more lighthearted and easy to process. I’m sad that I'm almost finished my rewatch of "Merlin." I’ve also started binge-watching "Survivor" this past year. I was never much of a reality TV person, but now I will die for "Survivor"!
As you can see, Cassandra made lasting impacts on our work that you’ll have experienced yourself if you attended our events this spring, followed us on social media or read our newsletters. Join us in extending a huge thank you to Cassandra and wishing her all the best in her future pursuits!