Ten Art Center “bling nuggets” from Student Leadership Award winner Kristina Marrero

Product Design graduate Kristina Marrero

Product Design graduate Kristina Marrero

“I equate designing with cooking,” says Kristina Marrero, who graduated this past Saturday from the Product Design program and also received Art Center’s Student Leadership Award for the Spring 2014 Term. “It’s when I share my creation with others that I see the complete experience come to life.”

Marrero describes herself as an experience crafter, and indeed she crafted an exceptionally full experience at Art Center. She served as Art Center Student Government’s (ACSG) Executive Secretary as well as its Product Design representative.

She attended Tama Art University in Tokyo as part of the Future Craft Student Exchange as well as multiple sessions of the Pensole Footwear Design Academy in Portland, Ore. first as a workshop participant and twice as a teaching assistant.

Marrero interned at both Tesla and at Adidas, participated in several Designstorms, served as co-president of Girls of ID, an industrial design club, and helped many a student elevate their design concepts as a lab assistant in the Color, Material and Trends Exploration Lab.

At graduation, Marrero shared with the audience the following 10 takeaways–or “bling nuggets” as she said her Visual Communication instructor Derek Howard would call them–from her studies at Art Center:

That hideous typeface your friend is using? ”Be honest with your peers. And yourself, of course. Being honest will always pay off.”

What she learned serving on ACSG: “Be a team player. Or as my department chair Karen Hofmann likes to put it: ‘No one likes working with ***holes.’ [That] means putting your ego aside and working together toward a common goal.”

What the Pensole Academy workshops taught her: “Always ask questions. If you don’t ask questions, you’ll never move forward. You’ll never innovate. Staying curious is what keeps our industry fresh and exciting.”

Pensole founder D’Wayne Edwards reminded her: “You are not your work. Try not to take every critique or feedback personally, because otherwise you’ll never move on and grow as an artist and designer.”

On not feeling qualified to intern at Tesla: “Never say no to an opportunity. Even if you don’t think it will directly benefit you in any way, or if you don’t think you deserve it, take it. There’s a reason for everything that happens in your life.”

Also learned during her internships: “Who you work with is more important than the work you’re doing. When you’re feeling out the right fit for your first job after Art Center, it should always be about the people first. As long as you have amazing people to work and collaborate with, the work just becomes an added bonus.”

What she learned while studying abroad in Japan at Tama Art University: “Get out of your comfort zone. Living in Japan was definitely a culture shock, but it gave me a new perspective on culture, craft and who I was becoming as a designer.

Kristina Marrero's Kasané, which she designed while studying at Tama Art University.

Kristina Marrero’s Kasané, which she designed while studying at Tama Art University.

Also learned at Tama: “Don’t design in a vacuum. Aside from being out of my comfort zone of Los Angeles for a few months, I was designing in context for the first time. Whether it’s leaving the Art Center bubble and discovering something new or leaving your own headspace to ask for advice or feedback, collaborating will always make your work stronger and more well-received.

And the flip-side: “Be confident in yourself and your work. Even after all the great feedback you get from friends, colleagues, instructors and family, you have to make that last call. I spent so much time seeking the approval of others on my work until I realized only I’m responsible for reaching full potential and completion. So listen to other people’s advice and feedback, but then listen to your gut and take the leap.”

Finally, her final “bling nugget,” the culmination of all her time spent at Art Center: “Surround yourself with people who bring out the best version of you. Wherever you end up after Art Center, make sure to surround yourself with as many people that push you creatively, that bring joy to your life, and that stand by you regardless of the crazy decisions you make in the future. That’s how you know they’re supposed to be in your life forever.”

Each term, the College presents the Student Leadership Award to a deserving Art Center student. The award is a distinguished honor granted to a graduating student who exemplifies leadership qualities and accomplishments that stand out above their peers. Recipients must have represented student interests by providing leadership through participation in campus life, community outreach, student organizations and department initiatives.


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