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Get to Know | Cathryn John

Alum Cathryn John (BDes, 2018) is keeping super busy. The designer has a lot on her plate and took some time to talk to us about her recent accomplishments. This is part of our Get to Know Series where we chat with alumni to get a brief insight into their practice and some wisdom they have to pass on. You can see more of Cathryn’s work through her portfolios on the web, Facebook, and Instagram, or through her business site and Instagram.

Who are you and what do you do?  

My name is Cathryn John. I graduated from the Industrial Design program in 2018. In June, I started my own company: Flo. Studios. I offer Illustration and Design services.  I also host paint parties and art classes.

Describe your current practice in three words.

Fun, challenging, fulfilling

What are you most excited about in your work right now?

The fact that, as a visual storyteller, I get to work closely with my clients to bring their stories to life.  I love working with people and I feel so lucky that I get to work alongside them from a project’s conception to its execution.

Next week International award-winning design The Plant Project by Cathryn John is going to be featured at the PNE in the agricultural building. Cathryn will be there working alongside West Coast Seeds to speak with people about the benefits of growing your own food! Did you know that when you grow your own food you’re helping the environment and your health at the same time? Stop by the PNE to come chat with Cathryn about why you love your garden. She’ll be there for a few hours each day from August 21 to September 2nd.

The Plant Project is a support system that was designed to get people interested in growing their own plants so that they can work towards growing their own food.  The end result of this would be that there would be less reliance upon the industrial agricultural system and there would be more food security within cities. The plant stand is designed to be used in office, school and community settings where a group of people can make a commitment to learn more about plants.  The plant stand encourages a sense of community within shared spaces and promotes well-being by providing supporting communities that want to take better care of their plants.

Your grad project is now exhibiting at the PNE which is very exciting! What can you tell us about The Plant Project and how it’s evolved since you graduated? 

I definitely didn’t expect The Plant Project to gain as much traction as it has. It seems like everything in my life keeps telling me not to let it go. First it won a Creative Conscience award for Product and Structural design, which took me all the way to London. Then it was featured in the MOV’s Why I Design Vancouver event. Now, thanks to the support of  West Coast Seeds it will be on display at the PNE.  When I first graduated I wasn’t really sure I would do anything with The Plant Project but since then I’ve found a local manufacturer and it’s almost ready for retail. I’m really excited about the opportunity that it has to make an impact in the greater Vancouver area. I’m currently working on a smaller version for personal use for people living in apartment buildings.

How did the opportunity at the PNE come up?

Uma Sharda, an alumna of Emily Carr’s Communication Design program, saw my project on the showcase part of  ECU’s website.  She reached out to me on behalf of West Coast Seeds.  They were looking to promote local initiatives to get people growing and so my project was a great fit to join them at the PNE.

Also on her plate, Cathryn recently illustrated a book. On August 25, the sequel to the award-winning Don’t Call The Office, is launching at Chapters Indigo in Coquitlam! Cathryn illustrated and designed this incredibly entertaining and imaginative book that Megan Williams and her 12-year-old stepdaughter, Madison co-wrote. It’s a story which is all about friends banding together to overcome their fears. The book I Don’t Want To is truly a summer must read for any kid that’s had to face their fears at summer camp. Cathryn and the authors will all be at the Chapters Indigo from 11-1 signing copies of the book. You can get event updates through Facebook.

You recently illustrated a book. What was the premise of the story?

The story is based on a group of friends that head off to summer camp.  While there, they end up having to face some of their biggest fears without the support of their families.  Luckily, they have each other to help out along the way.

What’s next for you in your practice?

I’m working hard to build my business and client base at the moment.  I’m looking forward to using my skills in visual communication to help people tell their stories and get noticed.

What advice do you have for new students starting at Emily Carr?

Make real connections with people, you never know who in your network might have your next big opportunity.  Treat every assignment as a portfolio piece  — school is the best opportunity for you to work on things that you are truly passionate about.

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