Lisa Peña

The Design School, ASU

Lisa Peña is a visual communication designer with twelve years of experience in design education. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate and AIGA student group advisor. Her research focus is historic information design from the 18th and 19th centuries. Additionally, she has strong interests in inclusive design and professional development. 


Get to know Lisa

Tell us about a project or accomplishments from the past 10 years that had a major impact on your life or career.
Similar to many in the design field, my career started by working as a freelance designer. However, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue down that path as I knew, unlike others, I had certain limitations. After earning my Master’s degree from ASU, I met with my mentor, Mookesh Patel, to discuss my future. He suggested I give teaching a try. I was hesitant to follow through on his suggestion, but decided I had nothing to lose. Little did I know how much this decision would change my life. For the past 12 years, I have been teaching for ASU’s VCD program and I absolutely love it!

What is your favorite color, and why?
Blue is my favorite color. No particular reason, I just find that I’m drawn to it. 

What keeps you going when you’re focused on a project? Is there a particular saying or song that gets you moving?
There is a saying that I tell myself. I don’t know who said it, but it helps me when I feel stuck or need to keep going. “If Plan A didn’t work, stay cool… the alphabet has 25 more letters.”

What’s your superpower, or one you wish you had?
I wish I had the superpower to manipulate time. That way, I can get a lot more done in a day and/or extend vacation days.

What design or career advice would you give to your younger self?
Stop worrying so much! Life is full of twists and turns. Oftentimes, you can’t prepare for these things, so stop worrying and, instead, find ways to adapt, learn from change, and don’t be afraid to fail because you’ll learn a lot from the things that didn’t go as planned.

If you were given the opportunity to see into the future, what would you want to know?
I’d love to know if technology has advanced enough to make travel more accessible so I can visit the places I’ve always dreamed of going.

How do you think design impacts your everyday life? The community?
Design impacts my life greatly. As someone with special needs, I rely on good design to help me accomplish daily tasks and activities in order to live my life to the fullest. Bad design challenges me to think of better solutions and allows me to see where, in design, we are succeeding and where we’re missing opportunities for improvement.

If you hadn’t ended up in the career you are in, what do you think you’d be doing?
You’d probably find me working in the medical field. For years, I’ve been fascinated with how the human body adapts as we age, heals when we’re hurt, and relies on senses to interpret everything we encounter. 

Attend Lisa’s breakout presentation “Information Design: An Evolving Story” on Sunday, October 13 at the PHXDW Evolve Design Conference.