Designing for a Cause

By Alejandro

In college, I was told time after time that we should always first try working for a small company. Allegedly, this is because you experience all of the aspects that make up a company; in other words, you are not confined to your sole area of work.

For me, this turned out to be true. Now that it’s two months into my internship, I can confirm that I learned something about everything from web design, to coding, to public speaking while working on ThinkShout Cares. This internship has been an amazing experience. I am not exaggerating when I say that what I learned in two and a half months is equivalent to a whole year of school… assuming that everything I learned in school would actually be useful (I’m looking at you, Geology 101).

As the web designer for ThinkShout Cares, I was responsible for desinging a t-shirt and website that would fit nicely with p:ear’s message. You know, the shirt you probably ordered by now… right? I really enjoy the design process. It is a world of its own where you’re always learning. I think it is one of those professions where you have to reinvent yourself or you might not stick with it. I love the challenge it provides, as it energizes me to continually venture out of my comfort zone. For this project, I was challenged to create a shirt that people would like enough to want to buy.


When looking at the past ThinkShout shirts (I’ve heard they are pretty popular at conferences), I was amazed at the beautiful typography and messaging in each of them. Jessica Tate (my manager) is an avid typologist who, beyond being an amazing UX designer, makes reading delightful and easy by perfectly matching fonts. Knowing this, I knew that I should probably stay in my lane and do what I do best: illustration.

The designer has the same job as the writer: to communicate something. However, the beauty of design is that you have the power to communicate widely and personally. I completely understand that today, the web is a behemoth. Intended or not, the surplus of media we consume is enough to make us slam the laptop closed and walk away.

I had to split my time between designing a shirt and the website where we’d sell it. To achieve harmony, I was careful not to let them differ too much visually. The shirt and the website are authentic on their own; they are related, but they aren’t siblings. They’re more like cousins.


My goal was to create a serendipitous experience, something you did not expect, but you’re glad it happened. There are a few visual surprises throughout, connected by a theme. I chose the Universe as a theme because it is as beautiful as it is scary. I integrated hand drawn illustrations because there is an undoubtedly charismatic aspect about them. The more I drew, the more I discovered a sequence in my drawings. The top of the page marks the beginning of the sky. As you scroll down, you progress through the sky all the way down to the Portland skyline.

Sometimes, we need to slow down to appreciate web imagery; images often tells stories all on their own. When I was creating the t-shirt’s tropical pattern, I was unaware of how personal it was for me. In it, I was representing my home, a tropical town in Mexico on the coast of the Pacific Ocean where you see whales jump in the winter and you can find shells in the sand. For me, the beach is this place where you leave all of your worries behind and gorge yourself on the sun. It is one of the very few places where you actually stop and absorb the present. I am pretty content about how my design turned out. For me, the only thing missing there is a Ceviche. Too bad Ceviche isn’t aesthetically pleasing as the jumping whales.

I hope you enjoy the design as much as I do; it was such a fun process, and I’m especially happy that I was able to turn it into something that helps such an awesome organization like p:ear.