Marilyn Jones

My first introduction to design was as a college intern in a small advertising agency in Pennsylvania. At the time, I was in an undergraduate program preparing to become an art teacher. The internship provided many valuable experiences, but it wasn’t until the creative director encouraged me to look through the design annuals in the agency library that my career plans began to change. Seeing award winning designs and illustrations ignited a passion in me that has driven my career for more than 30 years. It was in that inspirational moment that I realized design would be my life long pursuit. Years later, my career brings me back to my roots in education. Teaching gives me the opportunity to be an educator while continuing to pursue design through my research. It also allows me to utilize design as a platform for self-expression, social advocacy and entrepreneurial ventures. I bring my experience to the classroom and share my passion for design. I hope I can inspire students to make design a meaningful part of their lives and careers.

Since those very early years, design has evolved and now partners with a broad spectrum of disciplines. More than ever, design has a chance to make the world a better place as we face many challenges in our society. Innovation, creativity and design process will play an important role in solving those problems. I hold personal concerns for the environment and the impact modern society has had on our oceans and wildlife. As a designer, I seek ways to raise awareness of those issues in order to create a sustainable earth for future generations.

I believe fervently that client based projects are the essence of design. Problem solving and working within specific parameters has, for me, been the enticing part of design. 


Thinking, designing, creating can happen anywhere and is more a state of mind than a location. I have many places I call my studio. It depends on the task at hand and the materials needed. However, ideas happen anywhere and come to the surface sometimes when you least expect them. The mind works best when it is relaxed and has had time to understand the problem and consider solutions. Sometimes ideas need to simmer.

Inspiration is everywhere and as designers, we need to look beyond the obvious sources. I love to collect old typography books, magazines and ephemeral materials and they frequently find their way into my designs. I’ve come to realize that looking for inspiration in unusual places yields the best results.

So, I can say that my studio is a state of mind, a place for making, creating and looking for unexpected opportunities. It is where I feel relaxed, inspired and sometimes frantic as I work to meet a deadline.  


I teach three levels of Graphic Design at Lehigh University.

The introductory level of Graphic Design is based on core knowledge. I believe there is a defined knowledge base needed by a good designer. In the first level class, I expect students to not only understand the basic elements, but also be able to apply them consistently in their projects. In the second level of Graphic Design, we look at the various vehicles for design and design as self-expression. It connects design with art. We explore materials and traditional techniques. The third level class provides students with insights into the business world, focusing on defining and redefining brands. Students are introduced to professional practice, strategy and promotion. While these three courses provide a solid foundation, I believe students learn best by “doing.”  I emphasis how important it is to apply their knowledge to real life experiences such as internships and involvement in our student design agency, Fusion.

My students bring many different types of creative intelligence to the classroom. That is one of the things that makes teaching at a liberal arts university very special. I believe that innovation combines both creative and analytical thinking. At Lehigh University many students combine Graphic Design with such disciplines as business, marketing, journalism, product design and engineering. Their curiosity inspires them to be better designers and their incredible motivation, drives them beyond what is expected. As a result, they find success in a wide range of design careers.