The newest addition to Zoltun’s team, graphic designer Jen Brown brings her unique perspective and vivacious personality to every project she’s involved in.

Who’s your favorite artist?

My favorite artist… my thoughts and feelings about that fluctuate all the time. Past favorites have included Georgia O’Keefe, Thomas Cole, and M. C. Escher. Right now, my favorite is Shepard Fairey — he did the famous Obama “Hope” portrait. Graphically, I love the patterns and textures he uses in the work. He’s not afraid to do pieces that depict touchy political or social issues. A year or so ago, Pittsburgh was blessed with about 20 Shepard Fairey murals in conjunction with an exhibit at the Warhol. There are six in the Southside alone, and I see several of them on my way to work every day. They provide a bright splash of color against many dreary walls and buildings.

What’s your favorite part of graphic design?

I like the problem-solving aspect. The fun and rewarding part is to dissect a project and understand the needs of the client, and also the needs of their clients. I like to come up with a solution that solves the problem and conveys the message in a creative and effective manner.

To do this involves drawing, playing with toys, reading magazines, making origami, etc. Great ideas don’t happen by just sitting in front of a screen. They happen when you’re engaged, interacting, dialoguing, and just having fun.

Sometimes we don’t pick the ideas that you (as the client) like. We’ll pick what we think is the BEST solution, what we think will lead to the best outcome, and that’s where the problem-solving comes in. There’re many ways to achieve your goal, but what’s the most efficient way to get there?

I think a big misconception about this field is that designers just move text around or make pretty pictures. Yes, designers do those things, but there’s a lot of thought that goes into that arrangement or creation. I enjoy exploring, studying, brainstorming, drawing on whiteboards, and scribbling in my sketchbook. When working with a team, I ask questions and enjoy the discussion, the debate, the exchange of thoughts — and playing with all of that.

You’re very outdoorsy. What’s your favorite sport?

Wow, that’s tough. Right now I’m going to say biking. If you ask me in six months, I will probably say downhill skiing. I also love to hike and kayak. And I run all year round… but is running a sport? I like watching football, and, contrary to my “outdoorsyness,” I thoroughly enjoy being on my couch to watch the games.

What are a few interesting facts that people wouldn’t know about you?

I hate cilantro, but I’m trying to like it. After 15 years, still no success.

I spent a month hiking in the wilderness areas of Olympic National Park in Washington state. No running water, no electricity, no cars. Just a tent, a pair of boots, and a lot of rice.

I volunteer at the Animal Rescue League Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Verona about once a week.