As a visual communications designer and design historian, Dr Griffin occupies a disciplinary space informed by both practice and scholarship. Her design research focuses on popular visual culture and the narrative construction of social and personal identity. Through this research, she probes the evolving aesthetic and theoretical relationships between visual culture, cultural identity, and image narratives. Graphic design's history is an emergent field of research with an extensive body of unexplored practices and artifacts awaiting scholarly attention. Griffin’s research is situated at the convergence of commercial graphic design practice, the artifacts of popular print media, and their associated inter-cultural narratives. Her forthcoming book Type Specimens (Bloomsbury Academic, 2022) features 250 color illustrations of type specimens from 24 countries and in 15 different global scripts. As both a visual format and professional practice, the type specimen has facilitated global typographic exchange, shaping today's design landscape. This book explores that process.
Using transdisciplinary research strategies informed by visual communication design practice, Griffin has also documented and deconstructed the graphic narratives of twentieth-century cultural landscapes. She considers messages constructed by and reflected in popular, mass-produced, and ephemeral artifacts like maps, posters, periodicals, advertisements, and commercial illustrations. Her early publications explored popular cartographic illustration in the context of twentieth century domestic tourism, including her first book, Mapping Wonderlands: Illustrated Cartography of Arizona, 1912-1962 (University of Arizona Press, 2013). More recent publications explore how the artifacts of popular visual culture, and the practicing designers who produced them, have participated in global social dialogues. These visual conversations engage diverse issues such as cultural identity, cross-cultural communication, access to health care, and envisioning a more environmentally sustainable planetary future. Her publications include articles in the Journal of Design History, Design and Culture, the Journal of Communication Design, Imago Mundi and Literary Tourism and the British Isles: History, Imagination, and the Politics of Place. She has presented at conferences including the Design History Society conference, the College Arts Association Conference, and the Popular Culture Association Conference.
In dialogue with her historical research, Griffin also presents and publishes research related to design pedagogy. This research centers around shifting the narrative of graphic design education away from aesthetics and toward a historically contextualized and critically informed praxis capable of solving important contemporary problems in a global context. Her pedagogical research has been published in Dialectic and Visible Language and presented at conferences such as the College Arts Association, the Southeast College Arts Conference, and AIGA Design Educators conferences.
PhD: Arizona State (2010) | MFA: University of Florida (2006) | BFA: UT Chattanooga (2003)