• UO Interviews: Caroline Renzelman

    This month, we're honored to collaborate with Philadelphia-based organization WOMEN'S WAY on a commemorative pin designed in celebration of 40 years of groundbreaking work supporting women + gender equality through strong communities and philanthropic activity. All proceeds will be donated to Women’s Way in honor of their 40th anniversary. 

    We spoke to Caroline Renzelman, the designer behind the pin, about her inspirations and her process for creating the pin.
    Photos by Colin Kerrigan

    Tell us how long you've been with UO and a little bit about your job!
    I’ve been here going on 10 months now and it’s such a dope job- I can wear overalls and bring my dog every day. There’s so much variety in the projects I get to work on, I can never get bored or complacent. My favorite part is definitely the people I work with, though. Everyone’s so, so incredibly talented, yet super down to earth and extremely supportive. I’m constantly inspired by what everyone’s doing around me. In particular, being able to be a part of UO Community Cares has been really special. Noblesse Oblige has always been an important concept to me, and I’m grateful I work with a group of people who feel the same way, at a company that’s flexible and values employees that take initiative. I’ve watched UOCC go from a loose proposal to a company-wide priority in only a few months, which I think speaks to the passion and eagerness all of us at UO have to do good. 

    What was your process for creating the pin?
    When I get a really vague brief, like this one, I essentially compile two lists: The first one of words and chicken scratch sketches of ideas or associations, rhyming words, whatever. Basically, I just dump my brain out, even if it doesn’t really make sense. I made a list of things that could look like ovaries. You never know what might pan out.

    The second list is simply inspiring visual styles I collect from the internet, books, my own belongings, etc. After I have a big enough bank of things to draw from, I just open an Illustrator doc with a million artboards and start smashing ideas, symbols, type, and styles together until I have a few I like. It’s pretty intuitive. I usually look through about 100 pages of google images for reference to refine my sketches or try to see things from other perspectives I might not have thought of.

    After all that, I take the few I’m relatively happy with and I make multiple variations of them, like trying a different style, perspective, color, font, reference image, line thickness, etc. I am a digital hoarder- I never delete anything either. The pin we finally chose was originally pink, and the female symbols were totally different proportions, and it went through quite a few versions beyond that. There’s a million little elements that can change the mood or message of the design, and I try to be considerate and deliberate as much as possible. I think on this project I ended up with a little over 20 pins in the first round, then down to 6, down to 3, down to 1. I’ve conditioned myself not to be too precious about my designs, because some really rad ones always end up on the cutting room floor (R.I.P. ovary cactus). But that’s the bulk of it. The rest is just editing down and refinements.

    Some of your inspirations for this project:
    It’s such a simple little pin, but my inspiration was pretty intense. The project started right around the time of the Women’s March, and I must have looked through hundreds of homemade protest signs, half for inspo, half because a lot of them were really awesome. I got a little paralyzed momentarily, because It’s such a complex historic moment to be designing a women’s pin. I just think of it like a protest poster, and if a million people wear it, that’s more powerful and realistic than me trying to say it all in a 2”x1.5” design.

    What are some work-related projects you're excited for?
    I’m always looking forward to more projects for great causes with UOCC. Other than that, I’m working on some designs with Teen Vogue, and I’m really excited to see the work we did on Pride come to fruition. Every day is something new here.

    Read more about Women's Way here