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PEOPLETOWATCHLinda Henneman

Linda Henneman, born and raised in New York, moved to the Midwest and opened her own design studio just two years out of design school. Self-assured? Independent spirit? You bet. The same qualities she cultivates in her clients, knowing fully it leads to good design and an amazing product. For more than 13 years Henneman has been the principal of Minneapolis-based ThinkDesign Group, specializing in strategic, thoughtful design solutions, with a diverse client list including many nonprofit organizations working for social justice. So what's it like to work with Henneman? Her clients will tell you to prepare to be challenged. To work with an unflagging resolve until the result is focused, compelling and assuredly impactful. Her work is a reminder of what design can do to connect an audience to a message. A powerful interplay of text and design is central to her creative process, where visual language speaks with the same voice and power as the word. Definitely not a cookie-cutter approach, and often challenging. But once the project is complete, her clients thank her. Always.

This year alone, Henneman has won six awards for her work, including Communication Arts, Graphic Design USA and The Black Book AR100—four out of the last five years. Step Inside Design, AIGA Minnesota, the International Association of Business Communication, and the Association of Women in Communication have also recognized her work. She's an active member of the design community and a past officer of AIGA Minnesota. Her designs are characterized by a crafted elegance of vision—a balanced approach that undoubtedly comes from her passion for the outdoors, whether it is rowing on the Mississippi or biking in Thailand. As an athlete and world traveler, she lives as self-assuredly as she designs, with an innate sense of balance, energy and independence of spirit.

In this economic downturn, name one thing you have done to weather the tough times. We have streamlined with the departure of a partner and a staff designer and the decision not to hire but to bring in talent as needed.

If you weren't a designer, what would you be? I haven't thought about it much because I really enjoy what I do. First thought would be an adventure travel guide so I could travel and be active. Or on a beautiful Minnesota day I think about what it would be like to be a bike messenger.

What's the one thing ALWAYS in your bag that you never leave home without? iPhone, lipstick, cinnamon Altoids

If you could spend 15 minutes talking to any person, living or dead, who would it be and why? Living? It would be President Barack Obama. If it had to be just one, then definitely my mother who passed away in 1991.

If you could work for anyone, a client or on a project, what would it be? Some amazing project that would bring attention, or better yet, real change to a social justice or environmental issue, something like the We Campaign — working to protect our climate.

ONE THING I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IS Minnesota Public Radio and my running shoes.

STAR SIGN
Gemini

READING
I'm finishing some fiction on Chinese culture—something I was reading during my recent honeymoon in China. Next up: A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink

FAVORITE TV SHOWS
Amazing Race, Project Runway, Survivor, 30 Rock

FAVORITE MOVIES
Just one? My recent favorite that I just watched is Once. Other favorites I've seen this past year would be Into the Wild, Mostly Martha and Freedom Writers.

FAVORITE MUSIC, BAND, SONG
All time favorite is Marc Cohn. My iTunes recent most played are KT Tunstall, Corrine Bailey Rae and Amy Winehouse.

STRENGTH & WEAKNESS AS A DESIGNER
Details (ie: perfectionism)

NEW YEARS' RESOLUTIONS
Eat less, see friends more, be more organized are constant goals for me.

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