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Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) has begun 2012 as every year, by announcing a set of people “who embody the spirit of the creative community” and who are People to Watch in 2012.

The criteria, according to GDUSA, is “individuals who we have come to know and respect for their talent, leadership, newsworthiness, success and community service.” The 19 chosen as 2012’s set are an eclectic assortment. Here is your guide to who’s who in 2012.

Eight Hour Day (KATIE KIRK + NATHAN STRANDBERG)
The studio of husband and wife team Katie Kirk and Nathan Strandberg, Eight hour Day is a design studio based in Minneapolis. Their client list includes Target, The New York Times, Wired, Moët Hennessy and the Walker Art Center. The pair have just completed a yearlong journey to get inspired by traveling around the U.S, working remotely and meeting creatives, blogging the experience as they went on.

Randy J. Hunt (CREATIVE DIRECTOR, ETSY)
Hunt is Creative Director at Etsy, leading a team of designers in creating the on and offline end-to-end experience. He also writes and lectures about design, and has been a visiting designer at many colleges and universities.

Susana Rodríguez de Tembleque (EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR, SYPARTNERS)
Susana Rodríguez de Tembleque is the executive creative director of SYPartners, an organization helping companies design their futures. She is in charge of the originality and creativity of SYPartners’ teams and work, setting the overall creative vision for the firm. Also a member of the board of directors of the AIGA, she is an active voice in the design industry.

Paul Buckley (VP, EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PENGUIN BOOKS)

As V.P. Executive Creative Director for Penguin Books, Buckley oversees the covers and jackets for 12 publishing imprints. His book PENGUIN 75 highlights the good and the bad collaborations with author and designer, with stories and visuals.

Steve Cullen (PRINCIPAL, CREATURE)
Cullen is Principal of Creature, a strategy, design and advertising firm working in digital, film, experiential, print, and anything which requires communication. He is “passionate about his radical change in his work” (via GDUSA).

Karl Heiselman (CEO, WOLFF OLINS)
Heiselman is the CEO of global agency Wolff Olins, and “the driving force behind the company’s ambition for clients and optimism for the world” (via GDUSA). He has over 20 years of brand and design experience and leads the global business by shaping its strategy for growth and encouraging excellence. Aside from creating impactful work for clients including Microsoft, (RED), Skype, GE, PwC, Unicef, Current TV, New York City and Mercedes-Benz he is a frequent media commentator and often speaks on brands and design-led business.

Dmitri Siegel (GLOBAL VICE PRESIDENT FOR E-COMMERCE, PATAGONIA)
Siegel is Global Vice President for E-commerce at Patagonia, overseeing digital properties and online sales for the brand worldwide. Siegel has published widely on the topics of design and digital culture and is a contributing writer for Design Observer. His writing has been featured in Dot Dot Dot, émigré, Creative Review, Utne Reader, Design Issues, and Adbusters and he recently published his first book, Green Patriot Posters: Images for a new Activism. Green Patriot Posters was featured in the 2010 Cooper Hewitt National Design Triennial and the exhibition Graphic Design: Now in Production at the Walker Art Center. Currently a thesis critic for the Rhode Island School of Design graduate program in Graphic Design, he has lectured at many higher education institutions.

Kelly Lappin (CREATIVE PRINCIPAL, GREENBIRD DESIGN)

Lappins award-winning business, GreenBird Design works with clients including Marc Jacobs International, Architectural Systems Inc, The Fashion List, Consumer Solutions Inc., Southampton Chamber of Commerce, Slow Food East End, NY Kids Club, and Rapid Park NYC.

Brian Yap (CREATIVE DIRECTOR, BOXING CLEVER AGENCY)
Brian Yap is a designer, illustrator and creative director at Boxing Clever, a boutique advertising agency. His clients include Brown-Forman, Saint Louis International Airport, Accenture and Adobe Systems. He maintains a respect for what illustrative styles can do for the visual impact of any design. Yap has recently started working with the Adobe touchpad division after creating illustrations using an iPad app called Adobe Ideas.

Jimmy ball (ART DIRECTOR, [X]CUBE LABS)
Jimmy Ball is an art director and producer for [x]cube labs in Dallas focusing on mobile applications. A member of the AIGA since 2003, he recently completed a term as the AIGA DFW chapter president. His work has been featured in publications globally.

Maria Orozova (PRESIDENT AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR, THE MOD STUDIO)
Orozova leads award-winning agency The MOD Studio. Her work has earned several ADDY and GDUSA American Graphic Design Awards. A featured writer for Entrepreneur Magazine and Texas CEO Magazine, she also serves on the board of the Austin Advertising Federation. The MOD Studio philosophy is simple: be smart, strategic and creative.

Drew Davies (FOUNDER AND DESIGN DIRECTOR, OXIDE DESIGN CO.)

Davies is the founder and design director of Oxide Design Co., a communications and information design firm. He serves on the national board of directors of AIGA and is also design director for AIGA’s Design for Democracy scheme. Davies uses design to “solve problems, realize meaningful change, help people, and make sense of the world.” (via GDUSA)

Julie Beeler (CO-FOUNDER, SECOND STORY)
Julie Beeler is co-founder of Second Story, a leader in both online and on-site interactive media design. Beeler has collaborated with many outstanding cultural institutions, such as the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and National Geographic, creating exemplary projects that have been featured in the press and many books. Beeler is a frequent speaker at conferences and schools across the US, and currently serves on the National Board of the AIGA.

Robin N. Colangelo (DIRECTOR, BRAND AND DESIGN, WHITE & CASE)

Colangelo leads the in-house creative and production teams for White & Case, an international law firm and is responsible for visual identity across traditional and digital media. She serves on the board of directors for InSource, and is a member of AIGA. Her work has been featured in industry publications and websites such as Graphis, GDUSA, MarCom and HOW.

Kevin Kearns (CREATIVE DIRECTOR DUKE MEDICINE, DUKE UNIVERSITY HEALTH SYSTEM)
Kearns is in-house Creative Director for Duke University Health System in North Carolina. He guides the brand development and direction for Duke Medicine — a health system comprising of over 28,000 employees, 3 hospitals, and over 100 clinical locations. Kearns is also Vice President of In-Source.

Brian Flynn & Dora Drimalas (CO-FOUNDERS, HYBRID DESIGN)
Hybrid Design is a full-service creative agency with clients including Nike, Apple, TED, Starwood Hotels, Lucasfilm, Genworth Financial, and Juxtapoz Magazine. Founded by Brian Flynn and Dora Drimalas, the pair recently completed work for Nike Inc’s site featured here in Graphic Design.com news.

Fernando Osuna (EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR LOPEZ NEGRETE COMMUNICATIONS)

Osuna is the Executive Creative Director at Lopez Negrete Communications. FerO, as he is known has worked on major brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Compaq, Burger King, Absolut Vodka, Renault, Adidas, MetLife, HSBC, Volkswagen, Axe, Pennzoil, Sol Beer and Walmart. He has also taught graphic design and advertising, and has won several awards for his work.

Stuart Leslie (FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, 4SIGHT INC.)
Stuart Leslie is an entrepreneurial industrial designer, and founder and president of 4sight inc., a New York City-based design firm specializing in Strategic Product Innovation. His clients include: PepsiCo, Samsung, SONY, Johnson & Johnson, S.C. Johnson, Baxter, Honeywell and LG.