Q+A with Jesse Kinbarovsky (M.F.A. in Design, 2014)
Tue. November 24, 2015
Jesse Kinbarovsky completed an M.F.A. in Design in 2014 from The University of Texas at Austin. He answered questions by email.
When you completed the graduate Design program, you were working on GlucoCue. Where is that project now?
Jesse Kinbarovsky: I continue to work on my diabetes ‘internet-of-things’ project, and have gotten a decent chunk through development. The utility patent was filed this year but will take a few more months for approval. I’ve pivoted a bit to account for gaps in the market and competition, but it’s more or less the same sort of thing I presented in grad school. I wish I were further on this, but given my schedule I’m happy that I’ve at least gotten this far. In the fall, I partnered with UT School of Biomedical Engineering to help develop, which was a good experience. I recently found a business partner, and it’s looking good for product release sometime in 2016, if I can focus enough time on it.
What work have you been doing since graduating?
JK: After graduating in 2014 I worked as a contract designer, playing lead design roles on a few projects. I spent much of the time focused on a really cool touch wall at a large hospital complex in San Francisco, developing a series of physical and music therapy games and interactive experiences for the Children’s Hospital there. I was extremely gratified to learn that the therapists walk groups of kids to the wall every day for therapy. Following that I moved to Precocity, LLC as a Senior UI/UX Designer on some large-scale software products. After a few months I became Creative Director, leading design and development teams in the U.S., Ukraine, and India on a suite of immigration, investment and tax compliance applications for Deloitte, Apple, Facebook and Google—about one billion in contracts altogether.
It was a real learning experience and full of big problems to solve, but in October I was invited to be Creative Director of UX for North America with KUKA Systems, a robotics and automation firm headquartered in Augsburg, Germany. In this new role I am helping launch a new R&D branch and working with some fascinating emerging technologies to define how people experience and interact with robots and automation systems in a wide range of settings. Starting in 2016 I will be building teams in Austin and San Francisco to design mobile and cloud solutions for industrial robotics applications in general, and healthcare automation more specifically.
It's only been a short time, but what has been the most exciting thing about your work for KUKA Systems?
JK: It’s been thrilling and demanding working with some very sharp people who are building some amazing technologies. But even more than that, it’s energizing to work in a very entrepreneurial environment at this early stage. All of us have the sense of urgency and excitement that comes with the start of a new thing.
How would you describe your practice before you entered the M.F.A. program in Design and how has it changed since you completed the program?
JK: All of the work I listed above has been a direct outgrowth of my grad school experience and output. UT Austin has dramatically improved my career trajectory, and the last year and a half have been filled with rapid growth. Before grad school I was pretty hemmed in to my specific design practice, stuck at a certain level and quite honestly too timid to venture into new areas. But the amazing professors and availability of great courses helped me tailor my education to expand my skill set and build confidence in my abilities. I learned how to think in new ways and engage with a wide variety of subjects, and the result has been having a meaningful impact on people’s lives through my design work.
Q+A with Alexis Kraus (M.F.A. in Design, 2014)
Thu. October 29, 2015
Describe your background. Why the graduate program in Design at UT Austin best fit your goals?
Alexis Kraus: I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and my experiences there continue to influence my values and goals as a designer. Although I still live and work in Austin, I maintain creative ties to Memphis and have a couple of projects in mind that I would like to live in that city.
My creative background is in both fine arts and graphic design. My undergraduate concentration was in printmaking. After college, I worked for a non-profit organization with an emphasis on public art and education. I chose UT Austin’s Design program for graduate school because I was attracted to the notion of a more holistic learning experience that aims to get designers, makers, engineers and artists out of our silos. The program encourages the creation of a theoretical framework to help position our work.
How has your work shifted (or not) from what you focused on during your graduate studies?
AK: I graduated last year (2014). So, that work is still fresh in my mind. I still consider the values that were established during my M.F.A. in all aspects of my creative work. I’ve shifted back towards agency work and art-making for the time being, but I’m also constantly revisiting a lot of the writing that I did while in the graduate program. I think these shifts have been natural so far.
Where are you now? What about your work excites you and keeps you engaged?
AK: I am currently balancing a full-time job at a digital agency here in Austin (Monkee-Boy Web) with a steady stream of freelance design work and more personally fulfilling art-making. If that sounds like a lot, it is!
At the agency, I work directly with our content strategist, conducting a lot of research into our client stakeholders and their numerous audiences. We take that research and use it to make the best creative decisions we can, based on both quantitative and qualitative analysis. That research is what I love and what I hope will continue to excite me.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
AK: I have been experimenting with laser-cut posters and books over the last couple of months. I have titled this series Tactile and will be showcasing these works at a house show during the East Austin Studio Tour. This is a singular event, one day only, to take place from 7–10 p.m. on Friday, November 14.
Beth Ferguson selected as American Arts Incubator Artist
Fri. October 23, 2015
Beth Ferguson (M.F.A. in Design, 2009) has been selected as an American Arts Incubator 2015–16 Artist. Ferguson will spend four weeks in Indonesia leading workshops to teach specific skills, develop project ideas with community participants, and execute a micro-grant program to fund the development of community driven art projects.