“When your colleagues are doing things like changing education, conducting important research and using art to truly communicate with people, it makes you want to push your craft to the limit as well.”
Tim Ferguson Sauder has lived in the seaside town of Lanesville, Massachusetts, for 10 years, with his wife, Meg, and three children: Cole, Olive and Asher. Now very much at home in this rocky peninsula, they’ve gotten to know not just their human neighbors but the creatures living all around them. "We snorkel a lot as a family just outside of the cove where we live," he says. "We have lobster traps that we pull together. The kids are almost more excited when we get the wrong animals in the traps because they get to see interesting fish, skates, urchins, sea stars, etc. We always go home and research the creatures we see on our trips on the little skiff we take out."
Gordon College is just a 15-minute drive away from Tim’s front door, and he’s well-connected there as both a staff and faculty member. As creative director he helps to steer the aesthetic side of things for the College's in-house design center, helping the school to more effectively tell its story. He is also program director for Return Design, a graphic design studio located on Gordon’s campus and staffed by student interns who work to deliver design solutions to nonprofit and art-related organizations.
"We're committed to using design as an agent of change for the better, whether that’s supporting a non-profit or developing a system from scratch," says Fergsuon Sauder, who founded the internship program in 2004.
As an artist with a social conscience, he’s also very connected with his own professional guilds, and also with organizations seeking to advance the common good, particularly those that promote art and design for larger community benefit.
His latest design project—LOOKLOOK, a set of animal trading cards based on the local wildlife he’s enjoyed with his own children—has him vitally engaged in all three of these communities.
After establishing the main design of the cards and the style of illustration he enlisted the help of Return Design alums and later Return Design itself to help in the ongoing production of the cards and journal. Greg Keller, associate professor of conservation biology and curator of birds and mammals, researched all the animals and provided statistics and facts. Dr. Janet Arndt, associate professor of education, along with others in the education department, is working on educational applications for the system.
Enter the Sappi: Ideas That Matter grant, the design industry’s highly respected grant program aimed at helping utilize design in combination with innovative thinking to solve social problems. Among the lists of recipients for this year is the LOOKLOOK campaign, in partnership with Kestrel Educational Adventures, a nonprofit based in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Kestrel supports science education programs in local schools by teaching students about the animals that live in their area. “From having three children of my own, I know that kids are much more easily engaged in science when it's the bullfrog that lives in their neighborhood."
Though LOOKLOOK is a personal project, Ferguson Sauder emphasizes that its deployment has been a team effort. "This grant was earned by a whole community of invested people who bring different skills to the table but have used them all to achieve a common goal."
“I'm continually inspired by my current students and past interns from Return Design,” he says. “Their willingness to give of themselves and their desire not only to learn the craft of design but also to use their skills to partner with organizations working to help others is so encouraging to see. Their enthusiasm and raw effort is such an amazing resource. It was seeing that untapped resource that inspired me to get them involved and shift what was a personal project into a collaborative effort.”