School of Art, Media, and Technology

AAS GD Alumni Spotlight: Caitlin Owens

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Can you describe your practice? 

Caitlin Owens: “I started at Madewell as a senior print designer, designing catalogs, advertisements, packaging, invitations, and in-store visuals. This was an incredible opportunity to get at the DNA of the brand— I spent almost two years working on the nitty gritty typographic decisions, image selection and general brand voice. I now work as an Art Director—in addition to managing the print team, I am also helping to translate the brand’s visual voice on social media and most recently, through video. Our team is pretty small, which allows for a lot of creativity, spontaneity and collaboration. It’s been incredible to grow alongside the brand as we continue to express our voice through so many different platforms!” 

What’s your background and what brought you to Parsons?

Caitlin Owens: “I studied at UPenn for my undergrad and graduated with a multidisciplinary arts degree called Visual Studies. This is where I first got acquainted with graphic design and fell in love with typography. I’ve always wanted to work in fashion, so moved to New York City about a year after graduating to pursue an assistant design job with a children’s clothing company. After a couple of years there I realized that I was more excited by the work the brand and marketing team was doing than the actual clothing design. It finally occurred to me that I could bring my passions for typography and fashion together in the brand creative side of the industry, so I decided to apply to Parsons to get a more dedicated education in graphic design. Knowing I wanted to combine these disciplines together was helpful in starting at Parsons, because I was able to tailor a lot of my projects with this in mind. I graduated with a portfolio full of fashion-centric projects which was a great leg-up when I started interviewing for jobs after graduation.”

Do you have any memorable moments as a student? 

Caitlin Owens: “I had a couple of pretty gnarly crits that were painful to endure in the moment but were incredibly motivating to me in hindsight. It can be difficult to hear criticism about work that you’ve poured your heart into. But 99% of the time, we are creating work for clients, not ourselves. It took a while to learn that a huge part of the job is about compromise—clients (and teachers!) have preferences, constraints and non-negotiables that are ultimately just as important as our own predilections. I think these experiences helped teach me that a successful job is one in which both sides are proud of the final product.”

 When did you graduate and what was your first job out of school?

Caitlin Owens: “After graduating from Parsons, I started freelancing at Refinery29 on their editorial design team. It was enthralling to be in such an energetic, forward-thinking and professional design team. They were constantly looking for ways to innovate their designs and it was a good lesson in pushing my design sensibility forward (and quickly!) as the pace was exciting and rigorous.”

Do you have any advice for those just starting their careers? 

Caitlin Owens:“Presentation is everything! Our work is so inherently visual; it’s important to give every visual moment the same care and attention that you would your portfolio pieces. Your resume is your first impression, so pay attention to how and what you’re communicating. Same goes for formatting emails and presenting ideas internally to your boss. The way candidates or new hires approach these decisions can say as much to me as their actual designs.”


Follow @cococowens for more adventures! 

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