California State University, Long Beach
Ceramic Heads

Design Life

Five questions with College Of The Arts Associate Professor Wesley Woelfel on the life of a professional designer for Greneker Manufacturing.

  1. What shaped your path in design?

My path as a designer and educator was shaped and paved by all of the mentors I’ve had throughout my career and while still in school.  I like variety in what I do.  Working as an Associate Professor and working on professional projects as a part of my creative activity concurrently just about guarantees that every single day will be very different!

  1. What other roles do you work with?

I typically work on thematic and retail oriented projects for clients.  The majority of the projects I work on are developed in teams with other interdisciplinary experts and creatives.  I work with sculptors, carpenters, artists, interior designers, production designers, production managers, etc. to make these ideas happen!

  1. What is your creative process like?

For typical projects I start by learning the objectives and budget we have for a project, and then I figure out the methods that I think will work best to reach them. Many of the projects I work on are with an interdisciplinary team.  Depending upon the appropriate methods selected, I will start with quick gestural sketches, crisp illustrator orthographic renderings, 3D modeling, or 3D mockups.  Sometimes I pick the wrong method at first! Many times I recall situations from past projects to help decide how to shepherd the creative process and approach for a project.  That’s what makes the creative process fun and meaningful for me, overcoming new challenges, and problem solving.

  1. How has CSULB made your work possible?

CSULB makes me a better teacher, designer, and advocate for design.  The faculty and staff throughout the College of the Arts, and especially the Department of Design, are supportive, and a source of learning and valuable mentorship for me.  My work improves the relevancy of my course content, my students inspire me, and my course content makes me a better designer.  At CSULB I am able to balance professional creative activity projects with teaching and service in a synergistic way that benefits all areas.

  1. What’s next?

I really can’t predict what the next project will be, and that makes it fun and interesting.  It seems like every project is something new, fresh, and a challenge.  The more experience I gain, the better I become and the more resources I have, so it’s a good thing to not know sometimes.  Currently, I am working with teams and clients on a few thematic retail oriented projects for a Theme park and am wrapping up a fiberglass photo-op project to be showcased at toy stores throughout the United States.

Wesley teaches in the Industrial Design program within the Department of Design.  His research is focused upon design methodology and sustainability while his creative activity is typically exhibit and/or retail oriented design.