Several of us Clockworkers had the pleasure of attending the CVA Leaders of Design Series lecture last night at the Minnesota History Center. This year instead of recognizing one leader in design, CVA is honoring 23 women “who’ve helped put Minnesota on the map with graphic design that’s conceptual, meaningful, inspiring, hard working, and pretty powerful.”  

The event last night featured three of these women: Sue Crolick, Cynthia Knox, and Kelly Munson. Each began with a presentation, followed by a lecture moderated by Gail Rosenblum, a social issues columnist for the Star Tribune. 

Sue Crolick

Art Buddies volunteer Jaime Chismar and her buddy scare the world! Photo Credit: William Clark

In describing her journey from art director, to business owner, to creating a non-profit that runs the Art Buddies program, it was clear that Sue Crolick has always followed her heart. Her closing message to us was that we’ll most likely find ourselves needing to make a major change at some point in our careers. And that as designers, we can take these skills that we use to help our clients, and use them to reinvent ourselves. 

Cynthia Knox

Viva La Card, providing customizable greeting cards, is coming soon.

Cynthia Knox has always felt strongly that women are naturals at designing and creating products for women. As president and chief creative officer of Kilter she’s worked with large women-focused brands such as creating a line of office products for russel+hazel and developing a new brand of woman’s beauty products for Avon. After showing her latest venture, Viva la Card, she challenged the audience to be entreprenuers and to find and pursue opportunities in the market to make a difference. 

Kelly Munson

The Real Good Experiment for Blu Dot tracked 10 chairs that were left on the streets of New York to promote the opening of a NYC retail store

Kelly said that what drives her is doing things that have never been done before. And as design has been expanding to include all sorts of digital media, it’s exciting to find the best way to use design and technology. At Mono she’s worked on a bunch of exciting projects, such as the Real Good Experiment for Blu Dot and SoundAffects for Parsons. After admitting her love of cat videos (as she puts it, cats are honest and “you can’t tell a cat what to do”) she explained that true creativity is honest. I took this to mean that as designers we can use our creativity to find ways to make genuine connections with our audiences. 

The night ended with the moderated lecture where they answered questions and expanded on some of the ideas above. It was a truly inspiring evening and I encourage you to check out the exhibition which opens tonight at the CVA gallery from 6-9pm. You can also find more information on the three speakers and see more of their design work.