ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Tyler Paulson (Graphic Design ’11)

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December 5, 2014

Growing up in San Diego, Tyler Paulson (GRPH ’11) was one of those kids who loved math. After high school, he ended up at Art Center and graduated in 2011 with a BFA in Graphic Design emphasizing in Interactive Design. He loves to use both the left and right halves of his brain in his day-to-day work. He is the Technology Coordinator at iEARN-USA and also teaches designers how to code at Shillington School. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Stefanie. More of his work can be viewed on his website at





Project Based Learning and Global Connectivity

It was during a leave of absence between my second and third terms at Art Center that I first traveled to Africa. I was nineteen years old and pretty naive, but something stuck, and I knew that short trip was the beginning of something that would be a part of my life’s calling for many years to come. I went back after my fourth and seventh terms for a longer duration so that I could live a little more fully alongside the locals. It was on those trips that I developed my first substantive relationships with people who were from completely different cultures than myself. Bound by the work before us and a common belief that we’re all just sinners in need of a savior, we spent the summers becoming a tight knit group of people from two different worlds.

Image from Tyler's 2011 exhibit at Art Center, Teed: Portaits of [South] Sudan, sponsored by Designmatters and instructed by Gloria Kondrup.

I shared with them DVDs of Dumb & Dumber and Boise State’s legendary upset in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. They took me to crammed sports bars where we watched soccer matches on tiny televisions. We talked politics after the morning BBC short-wave radio broadcast and we ate rolexes, an omelet wrapped up in a chapati. I call it the Ugandan version of a burrito.

When I returned from my third trip to Africa, I enrolled in my first Designmatters class, Identity Systems with Gloria Kondrup. The sponsor of the project was the USGS‘ Wildfire division and right away I realized I was going to be doing the kind of work that I always wanted do in this studio. We started the project with several weeks of collaborative design-based research, followed by us each designing the concept and execution of a new visual identity, which I combined with my obsession with technology to develop a prototype for an iPhone app that used live weather data to communicate the current wildfire risk level.

Screenshot from video spot for Tyler's USGS Wildfire app prototype.

After graduating, I spent two years living on the West Indian island of Grenada while my wife studied medicine at a university there. I worked remotely for ThreeDev, an agency that builds software to help churches and non-profits better execute their missions, as an interface designer and front-end web developer. There I honed my skills as a developer and got to analyze how the systems I designed fared over months and years of real use, all while having the experience of living in another country full-time.

Once I moved to New York City, I found out about iEARN.  iEARN seeks to give students around the world the opportunity to have the kinds of relationships I had in Africa. Through their online Collaboration Centre where students from different countries participate in project-based learning together and the State Department sponsored physical exchanges they facilitate, iEARN is helping create a new generation of globally competent students.  I joined the team at iEARN-USA as Technology Coordinator in April of this year. My work there has required me to draw from the diverse set of experiences I’ve been fortunate to have, including my time as a Designmatters student. I’m enjoying working alongside other people who have lived and worked internationally and giving students across the globe the opportunity to connect with their peers in another country.

Students in Russia collaborating as a part of the iEARN Collaboration Centre Teddy Bear project.


For more information about Tyler Paulson and his work, visit: