I am a cartoonist-turned-designer. My passion for cartooning started young with crumpled Calvin and Hobbes books and grew into design when I realized that designing something great can make more people genuinely smile than the punchline at the end of a strip. And it’s not just about smiling, it’s about improving the quality of life for everyone. Design is powerful like that. I love karaoke, video games, cartooning, traveling, and risk-taking. Speaking of risks—I graduated from Carnegie Mellon and lived abroad in Japan for a year. はい、日本語を話せる! (Yes, I speak Japanese!) Living in Japan completely changed the way I looked at human relationships and what I thought was “normal” by American standards. I currently work as a UI designer for websites. In my spare time, I run a cartooning club in Austin called Koumori Comics and make video games with my intelligent and amazingly supportive boyfriend, Matt. When I first walked into AC4D, I felt like I was charged with the same electric shock when I stepped off the plane in Tokyo. It was a mixture of anxiety, excitement, and a voracious desire to learn and do everything in this new and incredible place. I have a dream to change the world and myself for the better, and I think AC4D is where that is going to happen.


Recent Tweets

@chostett: RT @alex_wykoff: A robot just propositioned my design partner for 'non-committal sex' over the phone...I think I was just witness to a grad…

@chostett: RT @jamesdnesbitt: What's the best thing about making cool shit? You suddenly see all of the other cool shit around you that you never noti…

@chostett: RT @danritz: Still one of my favorite design stories captured in two images by @worrydream http://t.co/n972kI9F6E

@chostett: @ixKylie Wow. SMH at the people who are saying, "I have no problem with trans folks, but…" No, you do. You do have a problem.

@chostett: @Randomizer9 I'm listening to the podcast right now -- you're great!

Recent Blog Posts


Motivation, Context, and Their Relation to Both Designer and Design

For the past few weeks in our Theory of Interaction Design class, we’ve been talking about the cognition of design, sense making, and the way that it interacts both in a visual stage but also in a business environment. Our task this week was to create a 2×2 diagram and place each of the authors on this diagram.

The readings seemed at first, disparate, and organizing ten disparate things proved to be a challenge. However, as I started distilling what all of the readings had in common, I came to a few key conclusions:

1) There are three direct actors in the process of design:

  • The user;
  • The artifact (the design itself);
  • And the designer.

All three of these actors seemed to have an affect on the process of design; in human-centered design, the user is who is considered first and foremost; but once research is complete and sense making begins to occur, there is a dialogue between the memory of the user, the designer, and then, eventually, the artifact.

2) That these three direct actors were indirectly influenced by two things:

  • Personal motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic and
  • The context of the situation.

In my last theory post, I talked a great deal about context and why it matters; this post, I will take an ancillary view to context and use it as a means of influencing the user, artifact, and designer in the process of design.

Click here to view the full PDF.

The axises are – Context drives the creation of new design vs. design drives the creation of new context, and that design is inherently extrinsically motivated (for users) vs. Design is intrinsically motivated (by your own mind).

I’m going to zoom into two people who are on opposite sides of the spectrum—Edward De Bono and Charles Pierce.

Edward De Bono writes about his colored hat system, and how “the ritual and artificiality of the hat system is its greatest advantage.” He uses an artificial constraint (hats) to help facilitate conversation with others around design because in many business settings, it is difficult for users to understand the meaning behind design thinking, but easier to understand, “I put my red hat on and now I’m talking about emotion.”

Though it is an arbitrary constraint, De Bono’s idea was brought on by the fact that not many people in business could interpret what people meant by “creativity” and “design.” There was a certain intangibility to it that was not understood by people in the business world, and by developing the hat system, De Bono is allowing others to experience design thinking.

This is a great example of design that is created both by context and extrinsic motivation to help out others—he saw a problem in understanding, ideated around the best way to express design thinking, and came up with a hat system.

Pierce, on the other hand, is a logician by trade, and argues that the thought that occurs behind design is abduction, which is closely linked to perception (so much that distinguishing between the two might be difficult) and is an interpretation of the intent of someone/something.

For Pierce, perception and abduction truly are what influences our context (indeed it is the lens through which we see the world), but to tease out abduction from perception is what occurs in the sense making process, formed entirely inside our own minds.

There is a tangibility that we can see in De Bono’s case (we physically have colored hats we can “wear”), and an intangibility in Pierce’s argument, but both are strong ways in approaching sense making in design.

My personal view on the diagram is that we as designers must be able to move around to multiple places on the chart; we must be able to be both intrinsically (for carving out sense making) and extrinsically (to work with our users to make a usable product) as well as allow ourselves to be influenced by the context of the world and “the ‘talk back’ of our design” as Shön calls it. The ability to hold multiple conflicting truths in their head, similar to Pierce, is a mark of a talented designer.

Posted in Theory | Leave a comment

AC4D Speaker Series Graphic Recording: “Aging in Place” by Jon Freach

At AC4D’s last Speaker Series, Jon Freach spoke about his research around Aging in Place and taking the design research he did into concept.

I did a graphic recording of the talk for your viewing pleasure, and I hope you enjoy it!

If you haven’t already, go check out the AC4D Speaker Series! This Wednesday is Leah Bojo talking about Policy Values and Getting Results. And if you want to see more of my graphic recordings, check out my site at chostett.com.

Posted in Design Research, Interaction Design | Leave a comment

queery: “Is it working…?” and Our Ponderous Process

Hey everyone!

Alex and I have been touch and go on the blog posts, and I do apologize—today I’m making up for it by posting some progress shots to show you where we’ve come from, and what we have so far.

As Alex mentioned, we’ve come out of the end of this developer hole that we put ourselves through trying to build the application from scratch. Not a good idea, and I’m sure that the lesson Alex learned from that is when prototyping, build fast, and then iterate.

I’m pleased to say that our Google Forms, while perhaps too argyle, is working well:

So far we have a few responses, and enough to pair folks together via interest, so I’m looking forward to having folks meet with one another and gauge their feedback on the meetings! Functionally, it is doing what we want it to do, on a low-fi scale, and in the next four weeks, I want to bring up the fidelity of this bit by bit.

So about that argyle…
Currently, queery is lacking in visual design. Google Forms can only do so much, and in order to change the argyle pattern in the forms, we would have to host the form somewhere else and dig into the CSS. While it is possible, it’s not something I’d like to get into in the first version of our prototype, so Alex and I mutually decided that the next phase of queery will be built on top of a WordPress framework, which allows for decent customizability.

As a teaser, I’ll show you what we have in store for queery.

Our logo has shifted slightly, but has gone from this:

…to this.

We’ve shifted from charcoal and turquoise to navy and teal; our color palette is currently this:

We wanted to take the idea of the transgender pride flag and modify it slightly from baby blues and pinks to stronger, more mature teals and corals. We’re hoping that this palette conveys the friendliness and encouragement that we desire in the application while still maintaining a sense that this is a trustworthy, safe process.

What I’ve learned so far is to trust that we will probably not get it right the first time.  I have a lot of anxiety about how the coffee meetings will go because I so badly want to make a positive impact in the community that piloting this is a big deal for me. I also know that the designing process is an iterative one, and that through the stumbling and falling, we’ll pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and keep going.

Incredible thanks to the folks who are currently using queery—we wouldn’t be able to do this pilot without you. And to those of you who are in the LGBTQIA community in Austin, if you want to pilot queery, get in touch with me via chelsea (at) getqueery.com.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the coming weeks will hold.

Posted in Interaction Design, Methods, Reflection | Leave a comment

New Quarter, New Queery

Welcome to Quarter 4, everyone!

Alex and I last posted, Queery was a fully fleshed-out design concept that we presented to a panel of entrepreneurs and designers. The initial response we received was very positive, and overall, we’re pleased to see that Queery is resonating not only in the hearts of trans* folk, but in people who are interested in being allies to the trans* community.

As a reminder, Queery is an invite-only safe space for trans* and gender variant folks to discover their local community through face-to-face meetings. Queery aims to create a community around get-togethers and fuel connections through matching folks by common interest.

Where are we now?
For the past two weeks, Alex and I have been working on developing a pilot program that we can work with the community. We are looking to test out Queery with people who want to provide feedback on the service so that we can make it better. It’s one thing to test folks with paper prototypes, but another to test with a working website.

Below is a peek into the finalized wireframes for the Queery website.

Since we have started our piloting, Alex has been hard at work setting up an EC2 instance and a GitHub repository to make sure that we have all the development tools we need for future coding work. I’ve been working on making sure that we have all the pages and styling we need to match the wireframes.

Going forward, we are seriously thinking about our business plan and how Queery will sustain itself. Will we be receiving grants from LGBTQIA organizations for assistance, or will this be powered by its amazing users? We are hoping the latter.

Want to Help?
For any of you who identify as trans* or gender-variant, we would love your help in piloting Queery. Would you like to meet new people in the Austin area? We can set you up with one on one meetings with other folks based on interest. Please reach out to us at spectrumproject@ac4d.com if you are interested.

Posted in Methods, Startups | Leave a comment