A couple years ago, along my commute home on Interstate avenue, there was a large billboard strategically facing one of the busiest intersections that read, “Congratulations CLINT.” The billboard, a thoughtful dedication by some Portland government office for their employee of the year (last name: Clint), had been unthoughtfully designed so the very vital space between the ‘L’ and the ‘I’ made their prized employee’s last name into something very different.
Design is tricky. Designers can somehow see things other people cannot. Often, bad design just feels weird, or, in the case of Mrs. Clint’s unfortunate dedication, a hilarious traffic hazard. In the time I’ve been married to a graphic designer, I’ve learned a lot about design. But no matter how much I may learn, I will never have that weird designer perspective, which I imagine is like a reverse color blindness—a special paradigm that accentuates smaller details (often mistakes) others can’t see.
Today is Jaclyn’s last day at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, where she’s worked as OMSI’s graphic designer for over twelve years. Mostly, Jaclyn designed the graphics for OMSI’s educational exhibits. She’s worked on a diverse range of projects, from Animation Land and Under the Arctic, OMSI’s permafrost exhibit, to Mindbender Mansion and Sherlock. The exhibits she’s helped create are, at any given time, anywhere in America, as they are frequently rented by other museums. So we’ve run into her work in both San Diego and Saint Paul.
Jaclyn has also been the museum's go-to designer of everything from instructional signs to various displays. The work Jaclyn has contributed to OMSI over the years is an impressive body of work. But Jaclyn’s contribution to OMSI is something other than just work. It is a feel. It is an atmosphere, or an elegance. It is a smell you can’t smell, or kerning that is (you don’t know why) soothing. Her work is fun to look at. It is visually engaging. It is both simple and clear. And I know, first hand, how difficult it is to create something that is both clear and beautiful.
Of course, Jaclyn is squirmish of that word, ‘incredible.’ She says her work is not incredible, that, too easily, she gets impatient and frustrated with her work. That may be true. Work is hard. Especially creative work. But the impressive level of detail I’ve seen in her work indicates she spends much more time and attention with the tiny details than she lets on.
If I seem biased in praising Jaclyn’s work, it’s partly because I am her husband, yes. But also, I’ve been allowed a unique opportunity to not only become familiar with her work, but to watch it actually grow over the weeks and months of its production. Additionally, I’ve been in close proximity to Jaclyn’s weird designer paradigm for long enough to know I should respect (and be impressed by) its handle on the world. So, I don’t see any bias in lavishing her and her work with praise.
Today, a lot of people will be shaking her hand and wishing Jaclyn all the best luck on whatever lucky project she’ll work on next. It must be a weird day for her—twelve years—and everything to show for it.
This is why Jaclyn is OMSI’s Person of the Year. Congratulations Jaclyn!