Katie Chrzanowski Interview

Katie is a graphic and web designer that hails from Catonsville, MD. An alum from UMBC she was a CWIT Scholar and IRC Fellow during her education. She graduated in ‘07 with a BA in Visual Arts with double concentrations in Animation and Interactivity as well as double minored in Computer Science and Art History.

She enjoys spending time with family, friends, pets, and creates artwork in her spare time.

To see more about her projects and activites visit her site, http://www.katiechrz.com

commonvision: You are finishing up your fifth week at commonvision. What is your role and how is it going so far?

Katie Chrzanowski: My role is Multimedia Coordinator/Digital Designer. This means I’ll be working a lot with the iNet team supervising various projects as well as working on some websites for Student Affairs. It’s going great so far. It has been wonderful to be back on campus and work with the students.

cv: Where did you come from before starting at UMBC

KC: After graduation I worked at a small business called SIMmersion in Columbia, MD. I was a Flash Developer/Graphic Designer that helped present e-learning material for simulated conversations. We created simulated conversations of all types including ways to help police officers interrogate people of interest or a doctor to diagnose a medical condition.

I also worked for the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA). I was a Web Developer/Graphic Designer that worked on helping get the entire campus’ web presence into a content management system so that a redesign could be put in place. I also helped lay groundwork for a complete site redesign.

cv: So, what kind of projects were you working on for the Navy? Do you have any secrets about Area 51?

KC: I mostly concentrated on web migration and design of sites for United States Naval Academy. I did get some opportunities to help develop and design campaigns/branding for the USNA Band such as their CD and even a carpet they use! I did some signage for Admissions as well as developed logos and graphics for a project called “A History of the Navy in 100 Objects.”

I wish I knew about Area 51! As a person with cats named Mulder and Scully you know I’d dive into that if they gave me the chance. But they’d probably know I’d go on the History Channel and tell the world.

cv: Just how obsessed are you with Disney?

KC: Pretty obsessed, though I hope not CREEPY obsessed. I like to learn about a lot about the history and trivia, but I haven’t reached stalker status for any of the Disney Legends or workers yet.

Most of my wardrobe and decor is Disney related. That just even escalated when I started working there and now have a discount, hopefully you won’t see me on an episode of Hoarders in the future.

cv: How did you first get started working with Disney?

KC: I started working at Disney through the Disney College Program. I did it sort of backwards and completed the program several years after I graduated college. I was taking a class to brush up some skills at my local community college, which made me eligible for the program and figured, “Why not?” I had always wanted to do it and it was the perfect opportunity.

I loved the program and my role as a PhotoPass Photographer at the Magic Kingdom so much I decided to stay on as a seasonal cast member.

cv: What is your favorite Disney film? 

KC: This is a very unfair question! There are so many that I love. The two that come to mind are “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “101 Dalmatians.” Nightmare is such a brilliant concept and it has such iconic songs and characters. It’s very well done and borders on the charming/creepy very well.

I love animals, so 101 Dalmatians appeals to me. I also really love the look of the film. It was the first to utilize the Xerox technology where the animator’s actual sketches made it onto the cels as opposed to being reinterpreted by inkers. It helped make production go faster and was easier with so many dogs and spots on screen. This gave the film a very sketchy quality which I’m very drawn to (wocka wocka). With that said I find it amusing that I really admire Walt Disney, yet he really hated this look. Also Walt Peregoy’s color background styles give the film a different and modern feel.

That said I could go on for hours about other favorites like Tangled, Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, Oliver & Company...

cv: Besides the Disney films and working at commonvision, what other things are you interested  in? (lets talk about the real Katie here, all the nerdy stuff...HAHAHAHA...specifically films, animations, artists,, things that are relevant to iNet and your role is good. But also, all the other things you like as well, music food, things like that)

KC: I’m an avid Pez dispenser collector! I’ve been collecting since I was about 9 or 10. What I thought was going to be a cheap hobby that didn’t take up much room has now spiraled into my collection taking up most of an entire room and vintage pieces that cost quite a bit!

I’m always interested in things any studio is creating, not just Disney. Anything from magazine ads, commercials, shorts, motion pictures I think there are so many creative people out there pushing the boundaries of graphic arts it’s astounding to see what they create.

I love pop music, dancing, and painting/drawing. I’ve also started to get interested in the world of 3D printing which is great because commonvision has a printer so I can explore options while at work!

cv: Can you talk a little bit about your work with the Bald Ballerina group? How did you get connected with them and what kind of projects do they have?

KC: Absolutely. The Bald Ballerina, Maggie Kudirka, is my cousin that was diagnosed less than a year ago with stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 23. This process has allowed me to get closer to my cousin, which has been wonderful.

It started when I wanted to design her something to wear to empower her during her treatments. I’ve seen shirts that say things like “I kick cancer’s ass” and I wanted to design something that was more custom for her. So I first created the “I grand jeté over cancer” design (since that is her favorite move) and placed it on a zip up hoodie for her. She loves it and has worn it to all her treatments. I figured since I don’t have the tools to find a cure for cancer I could at least make something that uplifted her spirits.

She created a Facebook page to update all her friends and family about her status and it kind of snowballed into her now having over 5,000 followers. She is using this platform to help create awareness that even young healthy people can get cancer.

I feel very honored that she trusted me with helping with the design for her cause to help tell her story. Maggie asked me to help create a logo, website, and merchandise to help promote her cause. She is using the funds right now to help offset cancer treatment costs. She hopes to create a fund/nonprofit to help other dancers with cancer to help them with their treatments as well.

So far she has gone to various dance competitions and performances to speak and has conducted interviews in several venues to help spread the word about monthly self exams and about cancer for young people in general.

cv: Is there anything else that you would like to add? 

KC: I truly feel that design and art can help change people’s perspectives on the world and the way they even feel about themselves. We too often see companies or organizations cut funding for art or art education because they deem it as unnecessary. To me art and design can help educate or make user experiences easier and enjoyable. Even designing t-shirts and merchandise can bring a smile to someone’s day or uplift them through that day’s journey and I think that is exceptionally powerful. So to anyone that might ever doubt that art isn’t a worthy profession I would tell them to think again and look around, an artist has definitely influenced your life in one way or another be it your attire, your cell phone, or creating collateral for a humanitarian campaign.