Curiosity Drives Designers

By Kristin Lam

cindy tsuiCindy Tsui, an alumna of the Graphic Design Bachelor’s of Fine Arts program, describes her approach to her design career and education at SJSU similarly: she’s taken time to explore her curiosities.

“I don’t see myself as a designer with one focus or specialization—at least not yet,” Tsui says. “Currently, I am really into branding. Some might say that’s the cheater’s way of saying ‘all types of design,’ but I think that’s what excites me—branding touches everything!”

Now a senior brand designer at Hired, Tsui has done many different projects. Some of her previous work includes leading digital marketing projects at Apple and an in-store digital experience for Old Navy. She finds telling meaningful stories about products fun and challenging.

“You really have to think about how all the experiences will come together to evoke an emotional connection, so it requires knowing a bit about product design, marketing, service design, and messaging,” Tsui says. “When done well, it can make for some really memorable experiences—and that’s my ultimate goal as a designer.”

Tsui’s design work is driven by people. As a self-described highly empathetic person, Tsui aims to to create experiences that improve people’s quality of life.

“Whether my design is used to inspire, teach, or redefine the status quo, I want to create things that do good for others,” Tsui says.

To her, artistic creativity is the match that sparks ideas and communication is the tinder that grows them. She encourages new designers to remember that “there are no wasted experiences, so don’t be afraid to try and fail” and that “unbridled passion is infectious.”



elise granadosWhen graphic design alumna Elise Granados considers someone to be a creative thinker, she believes they are also a problem solver.  

“I think that they are someone that can look at a visual or conceptual problem and address it in different ways, see all the various angles and aspects of how it can be solved,” Granados says. “From a technical standpoint, as well as from a design, emotional, or conceptual standpoint, there’re so many facets of design that we have to consider. And I think creativity is a large part of that.”

At Odopod, she leads digital projects as the Associate Design Director. Granados believes it’s her job to maintain the vision of the project so that the final product is functional, beautiful, and meaningful. She describes project management to be more abstract than technical skills in programs such as Illustrator.

“When you can’t actually have your hands on it yourself, that’s when training your design eye and brain and those skills that you learned in school are really important,” Granados explains. “You have to be able to look at something, understand, and sense that something isn’t quite there yet. And be able to then give feedback of why and what to do next.”

Working in digital design specifically presents what she considers to be a fascinating challenge: thinking of the larger user experience. Along the user journey, Granados says that design, product, and, interface should change and speak to the user in different ways. Connected scenarios, multiple entry points, and how people plan to use it need to be considered.

Granados still finds learning about a wide variety of subjects to be one of the most exciting aspects of design. In order to create meaningful work for clients—whether it’s a long- or short-term project on luxury watches or multiple sclerosis—developing understanding and expertise inspires her.

“If you’re a curious person, if you’re someone who is interested in learning different aspects of the world and life and how they work, then that’s one of the cool benefits of this career,” Granados says. “You really get that exposure. For me, those types of projects—something where I can learn something new, stretch my brain, and do something different than I’ve done before—is something that I’m always looking for.”