I’m Cathryn Ploehn, a designer based in Washington, D.C.

Let’s work together.

Shoot me an email —> ploehn.cathryn[at]gmail.com

Who the world is Cathryn Ploehn?

I began answering this question in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas shortly after I discovered object permanence. Since then, I could be found buried in a book, doodling, or tinkering away with a variety of building toys. Not much has changed over the years.

Some of the things I’ve done

I graduated suma cum laude with a B.A. in Emerging Media and Communication and a minor in Software Engineering from The University of Texas at Dallas. While there, I created a tool for visualizing poetry called Poetry Ribbons as my honors capstone and visualized networks of spam Twitter users. I also founded the first UX club on campus, assisted at the ArtSciLab at the inception of Creative Disturbance, and created award-winning designs and editorial cartoons  (1, 2, 3) for the student newspaper, The Mercury.

Exploring my interest in data visualization, I moved on to intern (and eventually become employed) at the National Institute of Standards and technology, creating a tool to visualize the trade-offs between usability and security of randomly generated passwords. I moved on to study design principles of data visualization for NIST’s Data Science Evaluation platform.

However, I felt compelled to explore working on user experience problems. I served as a designer at Visionist, Inc., where I led design efforts for multiple data-oriented projects. I created style guides for large client projects, including implementation in CSS, designed wireframes and high fidelity mockups and presented design pitches to clients, and designed project logos and icons.

What I love to think about

I’m interested in data visualization as a praxis for exploring topics such as social justice, environmentalism, animal rights, and myself. I recently began focusing on projects that reflect an intersection of data, design, and intellectual inquiry.

Some examples:

I draw intellectual inspiration from contemporary designers, such as Giorgia Lupi and Catherine D’Ignazio, who embrace the humanity (and fuzziness) that can be revealed, embraced, or obscured by data visualization.  What can data visualization and information design, as tools, help us to reveal about humanity, society, or ourselves? Conversely, how are the tools and methodologies of data visualization limited by the way we instrumentalize them to dissect, categorize, and quantify, particularly from our biased political, socioeconomic, and cultural perspectives?

My approach to data visualization is influenced by my love of semiotics and enthusiasm for philosophy, critical theory, and phenomenology. I have a memory as a young child of sitting at our kitchen table, staring out the window at the backyard swimming pool, watching the waves. As they crashed and merged into one another, I became aware of the moments slipping by. I tried to somehow slow the movement, but each moments relentlessly passed by to my dismay. Since then, it’s always been a pleasure to pursue an understanding of the existential.

I developed this website myself

This website is not brought to you by Squarespace (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I combined my passion for data viz, retro technology, and glitch art into the development of this website. I hope you enjoy! Read more about the design / development.