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Visionary, award-winning designer to give talk, lead two-day workshop
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

John Bielenberg, Visiting Artist

John Bielenberg, whose fascinating journey as a designer, entrepreneur and imaginative advocate for a better world now includes a prestigious design-industry award, will share his insight into creative problem solving during a three-day Visiting Artist Program role at SUNY Fredonia starting Thursday, May 2, at 8:30 p.m. at 209 McEwen.

In addition to his talk, Bielenberg will also work with Design students and community members on a two-day “Future Blitz” workshop that offers a quick introduction on the process of utilizing the idea of “thinking wrong.” The workshop, limited to 20 participants, will be held on May 3 and 4. The fee to join the workshop is $20 for students, $40 for community members.

Bielenberg’s visit through the SUNY Fredonia Visiting Artist Program comes just weeks after he received a 2013 AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) Medal in New York City. The honor is bestowed by the world-wide organization to recognize exceptional achievements, services and other contributions to the field of design and visual communication.

Bielenberg has been hailed as one of the most influential graphic designers of the last decade, a transformational period for the industry. A key factor driving much of the positive change that occurred was Project M, a program and a movement Bielenberg launched 10 years ago to expand and promote the idea that young people could make a meaningful and lasting impact in the world through collaborative, creative and immersive experiences.

For Project M, Bielenberg assembled young designers in a crusade to make design really matter in promoting conservation, social responsibility and social change. Students under his guidance found ways to support forest conservation in Costa Rica, raise funds to bring clean water to rural homes in Alabama, and establish a community gathering place in an abandoned Detroit inner-city lot.

Bielenberg also co-founded a for-profit organization to help corporations, foundations and other institutions develop ingenious solutions to their most severe challenges and problems.

SUNY Fredonia Graphic Design professor Jason Dilworth says Bielenberg’s message is immensely relevant to all students, regardless of major. “Any student, or rather any one, interested in pushing their own creative problem solving methods should attend,” Dilworth said.

Early in his career, Bielenberg founded a very successful design firm in San Francisco. He has personally mentored hundreds of young designers and artists, working with students at California College of the Arts, and served on AIGA’s national board. Bielenberg earned a degree in Design from Binghamton University.

Bielenberg believes students should be trained not just to design beautiful corporate logos, ads, websites, but also take social responsibility and use their design skills to make a positive impact on people, communities and causes.

“He has overseen countless projects focused on design for social good. He works selflessly, honestly, and wrong. Taking the last attribute on as a mantra John believes in ‘thinking wrong’ and practices it as a way to liberate ideas and move beyond the status quo,” Dilworth said.

Bielenberg’s talk is free and open to the public. For more information about the talk and/or workshop, contact


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