THOUGHTMATTER, NEW YORK NY
Jessie McGuire is the Managing Director at brand design studio ThoughtMatter, leading a diverse team of artists, writers and strategists to create daring designs and identities for global brands, local communities, art museums and foundations, institutions and non-profits. Jessie has been integral in shaping the purpose and creative vision of ThoughtMatter, spearheading projects and campaigns that reflect the agency’s culture and mission, including a modern redesign of the U.S. Constitution and the For The People docuseries. She has raised awareness and support for socially progressive causes such as March for Our Lives, Girls Write Now and The Joyful Heart Foundation as well as on community-minded efforts for The New-York Historical Society, Downtown Staten Island and The Center for Arts Education.
Jessie holds a BFA in Communications Design and Advertising Art Direction from Pratt Institute and a MPS in Branding from The School of Visual Arts. Before joining ThoughtMatter, she produced and designed projects for billion-dollar brands owned by Kimberly-Clark, P&G and Colgate Palmolive. In addition, Jessie formerly served as the Advocacy Chair on the board of directors of the New York chapter of AIGA, and is a regular speaker at conferences across NYC.
How did you become involved in socially responsible communications and why do you believe design can be an effective tool for this goal?
I have always thought about what it means to belong and how to contribute to something bigger. For me, the answer was creativity and design. Designers shape the world around us. At our best, we’re not spectators; we’re in the trenches, contributing to the community. It’s why I’m always asking: “Who am I designing for?”, “How can I deliver content to them that will move us forward?”
That’s where designing for good comes in. ‘Good’ may have dozens of definitions, but what they all have in common is they’re about what’s positive. Designing with the future in mind, therefore, demands that we strive to imagine ‘good.’ And designing for good challenges us to carefully consider our audience, to come up with a version of ‘good’ that both honors and addresses people’s needs.
A recent project I am proud of that speaks to those themes is the visual identity and website ThoughtMatter created for NKG PACE, a world class, one-year, paid training program that offers Black Americans the opportunity to become quality specialists in green, or raw and unroasted, coffee. With so few Black Americans currently in decision-making jobs in the US coffee industry, NKG PACE offers them an entry point that otherwise wouldn’t be there.
Our goal for the project was to build a sense of belonging at all levels of the industry through the design lens of curiosity, openness, and care, creating a brand identity worthy of the NKG PACE program’s mission.
Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does 2021 present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good?
The world right now requires all design to be ‘good design’ carried out with purpose and intention. It’s the only way to move forward. There’s an urgency to use our design practice in new ways and ask ourselves how to design for a world where we care for each other, for our future, for something other than ourselves. Designers have earned a seat at the table. We grow profits, drive growth, create change. So it’s time to cash in. This moment requires courage, resiliency and imagination, and I couldn’t be more excited or up to the task.