Jessica Barness is a design scholar-practitioner whose work has been published and exhibited internationally. Her research focuses on critical practices and the design of scholarship, and the ways these intersect with design discourse in the public sphere. Currently, she is an Associate Professor in the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State University.

Barness has published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Design and Culture, Visual Communication, MATLIT: Materialidades da Literatura, Dialectic, Message, SEGD Research Journal: Communication + Place, and Currents in Electronic Literacy. Her work has been presented and exhibited at venues hosted by organizations such as AIGA, Design History Society, FILE Electronic Language Festival, HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory), ICDHS (International Committee for Design History and Design Studies), SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Design), and UCDA (University and College Designers Association). Her creative works have garnered awards from entities such as Project Passion, College Book Art Association, UCDA, and the STA 100.

She has an MFA in Design with a graduate minor in Writing Studies from the University of Minnesota, and a BA and MA in Studio Art from the University of Northern Iowa. Previously, she taught design courses at the University of Minnesota College of Design, worked in design and research with Conway+Schulte Architects in Minneapolis, MN, and practiced professionally for a number of years as a senior product designer and design development manager in Chicago, IL.

She co-edited Visible Language journal special issue “Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities” (with Amy Papaelias), a project that was awarded the 2017 Design Incubation Educators Communication Design Award in the category of Scholarship: Published Research. Additionally, she was co-chair of the AIGA Design Educators Community conference “CONVERGE: Disciplinarities and Digital Scholarship” (June 2017) at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.

News archive →

GROUND is selected to be screened at the First Annual Small File Media Festival, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, August 2020.

GROUND is selected for the Detour exhibition, Emery Community Arts Center, Farmington, ME, June–July 2020.

Panel co-chair with Amy Papaelias at CAA 2020, "Designing Scholarship: Communication Design and Academic Journal Publishing Practices" featuring panelists Ela Przybylo, Artemis Alexiou, Michael Gibson, and Rebecca Ross. February 2020.

Forme et fonction éditoriales : étude sur le design des revues académiques (Editorial form and function: study on the design of academic journals) with Amy Papaelias in peer-reviewed journal Sciences du Design no. 10, November 2019.


Presentation at American Printing History Association (APHA) conference, University of Maryland, College Park. “Radical Scholarship: The Visual Language of Emerging Disciplines in the United States" with Amy Papaelias. October 2019.


Public lecture “On the Cyberculture of Design Writing and the Visual Design of Scholarship” as part of the CCI Research Colloquium, Kent State University, February 15, 2019.


Public lecture “Designing Language and Keeping Track of Space” at the University of Northern Iowa, in association with the inaugural Elena Diane Curris Biennial Design Exhibition, curated by Roy R. Behrens, October 8, 2018.


Three presentations (“conversation“ format) at AIGA Decipher conference, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “Expanding the Discourse: Future Practices in Scholarly Publishing” with Amy Papaelias; ”In What Ways Does Critical Practice (Re)Invigorate Design Research?” with Steven McCarthy and Rebekah Modrak; and ”The colliding discourse of ‘cutting-edge’ design practice and ‘serious’ design research” with G. Mauricio Mejía, September 2018. Proceedings available at


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jsbarness [at]