Matthew Bambach

Matthew lives in New York City where he works as a Visual Designer at Pandora Media. At the time of applying to school, he was living in Toronto, working as the Graphics Editor at The Globe and Mail.

When I was around fifteen years old, my mom took my brother and me to deliver Thanksgiving meals to needy families in Detroit. I had not thought much of the gesture beforehand, but upon seeing the families’ expressions of gratitude in spite of their hardship, a wave of humility washed over me. With those images frozen into my memory, I looked for more ways to pitch in, and eventually carried that sentiment into my design interests. More recently, I have made it a priority to recognize my social responsibility as a designer and utilize my visual storytelling skills to help improve my community. Along the way, I have been fortunate enough to learn from an invaluable mix of people and experiences.

Former Newsweek graphics director Karl Gude was the first to convince me that I should pursue information design. As I improved upon this skillset, I sought help from Professor Dan Marsh (MFA Digital+Media, RISD ‘05). Dan challenged me to be more than just “good enough,” which galvanized the work ethic imparted to me by my father. From there, I started to experiment with a variety of media, and discovered that familiarizing myself with an assortment of visual storytelling techniques helped me figure out the best way to reach my audience. My enthusiasm for the craft flourished, and my proficiency landed me opportunities with CERN, The Seattle Times and Bryan Christie Design. Traveling for work enabled me to explore big cities, sparking an interest in urbanism and furthering my zeal for do-it-yourself culture, which was initiated through my participation in punk rock.

Shortly before I graduated, Rebecca Tegtmeyer (MGD, NC State ‘09) introduced me to “design thinking” and “social design,” and my sense of benevolence took over my creative psyche. While at Michigan State University, I reached out to students to design a resource for bicycle safety on campus, and was pleased to observe that it facilitated constructive discussion. Most of all, I enjoyed connecting with real people to help solve their problems.

For the past two years, I have been working with top journalists at Canada’s national newspaper to translate complex, abstract information into concrete, experiential forms. The most fun part of data visualization has been the left-brain/right-brain pursuit of critically analyzing and simplifying difficult material through experimenting with design. I intend to explore this practice even further through studying user behavior and utilizing visual programming languages (such as Processing and D3) to create compelling ways for viewers to interact with a message.

Life in Canada has been different but enjoyable, as the local culture, unfamiliar places, and new friends have given me a more worldly perspective. In turn, I have immersed myself in the local arts community through organizing events, playing in touring bands, and volunteering my design skills. These experiences, in tandem with my previous interests, have encouraged me to someday establish an interdisciplinary design agency that allows me to use visual storytelling to empower my audience and teach digital media literacy to at-risk youths.

mica would be an exceptional place for me to pursue beautiful, meaningful, and smart experiments with intelligent and talented peers. My recent visit and continued conversations with students and faculty have given me the sense that mica has a remarkably friendly, supportive, and cross-disciplinary community that is well-integrated into the vibrant city of Baltimore. I am especially eager to pursue graduate teaching internships, as well as opportunities for social engagement through the Center for Design Practice and local youth outreach organizations including Wide Angle Youth Media and the Digital Harbor Foundation.

In short, I have an innate ability to get at the core of a design challenge and sift through to a simple, beautiful solution, and my personal work has edge, while being informative. Combining these two ways of thinking is what will be unique about my studies at MICA. Most of all, I am excited to be part of a thriving community that lives to take risks and further the craft of visual storytelling. My hope is that personal exploration, combined with the talent, ideas, and expertise at MICA, will extend my own understanding and also generate cutting-edge design solutions that will help improve the welfare of those around me.