When Guiding Stars Collide

Alumni in Action

At different times, in different places, and for different reasons, each followed her guiding star. Those stars led to a love of nature, then careers in graphic design, and then to the MCAD Sustainable Design program where eventually their stars collided and formed Humbleweed Creative.

Ask one of the partners at Humbleweed Creative what brought them together, and she’ll say it was their shared values of environmental and social responsibility. For Amy Dritz, Rita Penrod, and Shannon Rahkola, the MA in Sustainable Design program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design offered a way to incorporate those values into their design work. They left the program with new tools and a deeper understanding of how design and systems thinking can create positive outcomes for the community and environment. Feeling a consistent pull to do more, the three designers joined forces to use their skills for even greater impact.

Humbleweed’s clients share several of those same values and commitment to sustainability. The partners find that many businesses and organizations are taking action on environmental and social justice issues, but are not necessarily communicating those efforts well with their internal or external audiences. Seeing an opportunity, Humbleweed Creative goes beyond marketing and persuasion and one-off projects, to instead focus on telling a great story for their clients.

“We love our clients for the positive impact they are having on the community and environment, and we want others to love them for it, too.”

Humbleweed Creative’s knowledge and commitment to sustainability also lends credibility to their clients’ work. The partners at Humbleweed find that having a deep understanding of sustainability and systems thinking helps them to weave their client’s sustainability efforts into a larger narrative about values and purpose. They help their clients cut through the jargon and complexity of sustainability and turn it into creative communications using easy-to-understand illustrations, compelling infographics, and a cohesive brand identity.

“We want to tell our client’s story in a way that connects with customers, inspires employees, and sets an example for other companies. We want to make sustainability the NORM, not the fringe.”

Humbleweed Creative embraces sustainability in everyday business decisions, from office supplies and print vendors to their website host and local bank. They also created the Humbleweed Gives Back campaign, in which they donate 5% of every dollar earned to local non-profits they feel passionate about. This past year they chose three organizations that focused on empowering and educating youth through healthy food systems, conservation programs, and artistic expression. The partners feel it is important to support the local community and those businesses that are trying to have a positive impact.

Amy, Rita and Shannon stay current on sustainability issues through various news sources and organizations, and are in the process of becoming certified ISSP Sustainability Associates.

You can connect with Amy, Rita, and Shannon here.

Amy Dritz

Amy is a creative professional who advocates for deeper design thinking. She has a natural curiosity about the world and how things work, and tries to understand any problem from multiple viewpoints. She is cofounder and design partner at Humbleweed Creative, helping eco-minded organizations to stand out and connect with their audiences through creative communications and design. Before joining Humbleweed Creative, she worked for many years in the public sector using her visual design and communication skills to engage people in activities and lifestyle choices that she feels passionate about: green spaces, nature conservancy, sustainable transportation, and healthy, livable communities. Amy has been an advocate for sustainability in the workplace, her community, and the profession of graphic design. She has served as Associate Director of Sustainable Design for AIGA Minnesota, and Chair of the 2013 AIGA (Re)Design Awards. She also coauthored Ecosketchbook: Design for Sustainability (2017). Amy graduated from MCAD with a MA in Sustainable Design in 2014. Amy is based in Minnesota.

Thesis Title: Closing the Sustainability Gap: The emerging role of sustainable graphic designer