Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Johnston.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Lauren. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve been drawing and painting as long as I can remember. I used to sit in my room as a kid and watch anime, draw my own characters and write stories in my head for them. I continued to excel in art in school and eventually went to a technical high school for printmaking and graphic design. It was here I began to develop my design skills on top of fine art.
I went to community college for a few years to save money and then transferred to the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2012. It was there I studied Illustration and Printmaking and honed some of my skills. When I started to feel discouraged; like creating art was becoming a chore, I made the difficult decision to drop out of MICA after only a year. I took a five years hiatus from college, I barely made any art or design in those five years because I was always grinding away at some restaurant job.
When I finally decided to return to school in 2018, I found a program at ArtCenter College of Design for Interaction Design. It was the most eclectic and invigorating combination of skills I desired. Research, design, user testing, VR, AR, motion graphics, storytelling, coding and more. I had never seen such a unique major, and I was instantly hooked. Now I’m currently a junior at ArtCenter, finishing my B.S. in Interaction Design with a minor in design for social innovation.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Absolutely not! Life is good, but not exactly what I’d have imagined for myself. I’m 30 years old and still in school, I thought I would be done much sooner. I have definitely had struggles with my mental health along the way. I had dealt with severe depression when I was a student at MICA, and finally in 2018, I found out I actually had bipolar II and ADHD. I had been on the wrong medications my whole life and stumbling through school without the proper assistance I required to advance. School is still incredibly stressful and challenging, but at least now I feel like I have the tools I need to succeed.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I specialize in research, specifically user research, testing and design. All of my work is performed with ethical design practices and sustainability in mind. My strong belief in designing with the intention of creating social impact has led me to bridge my art, non-profit work and sustainability practices with design thinking. I aim to create innovative, sustainable solutions for the future.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I created a 100 page long, fully functioning, high-fidelity prototype for a farmer’s market app I invented called Unearthd.
- $45/hour freelance contract
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenleejohnston/
Human Inclusivity Group Project – Tim Kim, Saathwik Yadavalli, Lauren Johnston; Unearthd Design System Market Icons courtesy of thenounproject.com