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Symbols Design Team Bios

Symbols Design Team

Jack Biesek, Biesek Design

Since founding Biesek Design in 1980, Jack has become and industry spokesman, recognized for his wayfinding and signage solutions as well as his ability to manage large scale institutional projects. He has developed time-saving techniques for planning and implementing architectural signage master plans that have set new standards for the profession. Biesek Design has had the privilege of working with some of the world’s greatest clients including architects, universities, hospitals, museums and national parks.

Jack is a member of the Society of College and University Planners and is a past president of the Society for Environmental Graphic Design, a non-profit organization that embraces many design disciplines including graphic, architectural, interior, landscape, and industrial design, all concerned with the visual aspects of wayfinding, communicating identity and information, and shaping the idea of place.

Gladys Brenner, AB Design, Inc.

Gladys Brenner, President of AB Design, Inc. brings sixteen years of experience in environmental and graphic design to the team. Gladys’ educational background includes a Master of Fine Arts degree in Design & Visual Communication from Virginia Commonwealth University as well as Master of Fine Arts in Architecture & Bachelor of Arts in Graphics degrees from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. As such, she has a profound knowledge of the relationship between building architecture and wayfinding.

Gladys has knowledge of six languages including English, Spanish and French and her exposure to diverse cultures during her educational trips proves useful when approaching a signage project that will impact visitors from a diversity of backgrounds.

She is eager to expand on her success in developing effective communication systems which concentrate on the needs of a variety of users through her participation in this project. Gladys has successfully conducted research, developed surveys and performed brief interviews with patients, visitors, staff and other individuals of medical facilities to evaluate the use of medical function definitions and terminology, pictograms and numbering systems related to signage to address the needs of users with poor English communication or knowledge of medical terms as well as illiterate users. Based on her research, Gladys has developed icons for medical facilities as well as research laboratories.

Margaret Faye, FayeWorks Design

FayeWorks Design is a firm specializing in the planning and design of custom architectural signage, with a special emphasis on health care environments. Margaret Faye, Principal, has a background that is rich in experience relating to all phases of environmental graphics. Her experience with identificational, informational and wayfinding signage for large scale projects provides FayeWorks with the expertise needed for complex and constantly changing environments. Meg’s years of work as a designer and project manager in a large architectural firm, design studios and the signage fabrication industry provide her with the necessary knowledge in the areas of planning, design, budgeting and signage technology.

Meg has over twenty four years of experience in the field of architectural graphics. Clients include those in both the public and private sectors. Prior to opening her own firm in 1996, Meg was design director/ project manager at Weidner Architectural Signage and at ASI Sign Systems in Sacramento, for a period of ten years. She started her career as Senior Designer at the architectural office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in San Francisco. Meg received her Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design from Stanford University in 1977, with concentrations in architecture and art history. She is a member of the Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD).

Heather Merrifield, Pictoform


Kate Keating, Kate Keating Associates

Kate, President of Kate Keating Associates, has been integrally involved in the design of signage and wayfinding systems for a broad range of market segments for over fifteen years. Her experience spans healthcare, civic, academic, and corporate markets.
Kate is responsible for business development, marketing and strategic planning for the firm. As president of a thriving environmental graphic design firm, she believes graphics truly impact the built environment. Kate is a graphic designer and hands-on principal fully engaged in leading a team of design professionals. Her goals are two-fold: one, to ensure color, typography, materials and scale are seamlessly integrated with architecture and environment; and two, to ensure client and project goals are met.
Kate has a Bachelors of Science in Design from the University of Cincinnati. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Environmental Graphic Design as well as the AIA and SMPS.

Wendy T. Olmstead, Ivy Tech State College, Lafayette, Indiana

Wendy is a multi-disciplined designer and educator with over twenty five years of experience. She has designed interiors of hospitals, banks, restaurants, showrooms and office complexes, and monitored the purchase, shipping, delivery and installation of furnishings. She has worked as a graphic designer in-house for IBM and Arizona State University designing graphic identity programs and print collateral. Her work has been exhibited twenty-four times nationally and internationally, including two solo and sixteen juried exhibitions. Wendy has received eighteen graphic design awards. Two pieces of her graphic design and one sculpture are in public collections. For twelve years Wendy was a full-time professor, teaching a variety of Visual Communications classes to both graduate and undergraduate graphic and industrial design students at Arizona State and Purdue Universities.

When Wendy began her master¹s thesis on wayfinding at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, she was awarded a research grant from the SEGD Education Foundation. Her thesis concerns the meaningful communication of messages across cultures with public information symbols. This research has continued for nine years and involves user surveys in various countries with quantitative analysis by culture, gender and age. Wendy has given fourteen presentations regarding her research, eight of which were refereed and four at international conferences. She has published eleven times nationally and internationally in a variety of academic disciplines. Wendy has been a wayfinding consultant for Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona and FHP Fountain Valley Hospital in San Diego, California. At present she is the Assistant Director of Marketing and Communication at Ivy Tech State College in Lafayette, Indiana.

Wendy has earned three design degrees: a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Southern Illinois University; a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the University of Arizona; and a Master of Science in Design in Design Theory, Methodology and Criticism from Arizona State University.

Todd Pierce, President of Pictoform

Todd Pierce, President of Pictogram, is a recognized leader in the field of graphics and wayfinding design. With over twenty years of design and project management experience, he has created signage programs for some of the world's largest and most complex environments - from the redesign of the New York City subway system signage program to identity and signage programs for major colleges & universities, hospitals, cities & government agencies and commercial & residential real estate developers.
Todd has won numerous design awards for his work and has lectured around the world as an expert in wayfinding and visual communication. He is the past president of the Portland Chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild as well as previously serving on the National Board of Directors. In 1999, Todd was selected as one of Oregon's "Forty under Forty" community leaders.

Todd created and taught the first-ever college course on environmental graphic design at Parsons School of Design, NY and is the author of The International Pictograms Standards. In 1992, Pictogram, Inc was relocated to the Pacific Northwest and named Design Pacifica International.

Team Staff

Jim Bolek, JRC Designs

Jim Bolek has over eighteen years of professional experience in graphic and environmental graphic design. He is experienced in all aspects of the creative process including the initial programming and design, as well as planning and coordinating between clients, municipalities and fabricators to oversee projects to their successful completion.

He has developed sign systems and designed interpretive trail signs for large master planned communities, juvenile detention facilities, hospitals, office complexes, and resorts. In 2003, Jim researched and co-authored with Jamie Cowgill the report "Symbol Usage In Health Care Settings for People with Limited English Proficiency," which evaluated the use, or lack of use, of symbol graphics in health care settings throughout the world, and also made recommendations for improving implementation and use of new symbols.

Jim has coordinated all phases of environmental graphics projects for office, retail, and residential environments, and has taught classes in EGD at the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University.

Jamie Cowgill. JRC Design

Jamie established JRC Design in 1988 with a philosophy “responsible design: Design packages should be responsible to the client and responsible to the end user while maintaining the integrity of the design”. Jamie believes that understanding construction and code compliance issues is the responsibility of the designer. Design is not just the creation of concepts and ideas, but the follow through of those designs into tangible and functional information and signage systems.

Jamie’s environmental graphic design expertise stems from more than twenty years of professional experience in the graphic design field. Since 1983, she has been devoted almost exclusively to environmental graphic design and corporate identity/communications for the built environment. JRC Design's projects include comprehensive interior and exterior signage systems, wayfinding, construction drawings and management, design guidelines, code compliance and municipal representation. Jamie has extensive knowledge of the various municipal sign codes and design review processes. She helped initiate and write the first comprehensive sign package review request for a special use permit process in 1986 with the City of Phoenix.

As a professional design member of SEGD (Society for Environmental Graphic Design) since 1983, she has also been Southwest Regional Representative since 2001. She and the firm are all active in SEGD, ASA (the Arizona Sign Association) and Valley Partnership organizations.