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October 18, 2011
by: Dollie Cromwell

Deb Gilbertson, Design Teacher

While Deb Gilbertson is relatively new to teaching, she brings more than 25 years of design and marketing experience into the classroom.  

“By sharing my background in design, graphics and marketing, I help my students transition into their life choices,” explained Deb, who will be teaching Design Concept Development at both Mosaic and IDEAS.

Deb is all geared up to tackle Materials and Mechanisms for the first time this fall at Mosaic, where she will also teach Graphic Design and Product Design courses. At IDEAS, she says she plans “to pack a lot of fun into the fundamentals of 2D and 3D Design.”

“My background is mainly in graphics design, where I’ve applied it as a packaging and printed marketing materials designer for my own business, The Gilbertson Group,” said Deb, who started the business in 1995 and continues on a free-lance basis.

A native of Sheboygan, Deb attained a bachelor of fine arts degree from Cardinal Stritch University and her Art 550 Certification (birth-21 years) from St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis.

She began her career at Sargento Cheese Company in the Marketing Department. One of her projects was the original packaging for Ziploc bags. She also worked with international companies while employed at Chicago-based Smirfit-Stone Container. There, she designed the original pre-printed packaging for brands like Panasonic microwave ovens.

“I’ve also worked on redesigning graphics for Sheboygan’s own Palo Popcorn packaging,” added Deb, who noted she’s had too many jobs and clients to mention them all.

She said her interest in teaching came as a way to give back. “I get excited to share my background and discover new design applications every day.”

Deb started teaching art in the 2008-2009 school year at Horace Mann Middle School. The following year, she taught at North, Farnsworth, Horace Mann and Sheridan – kindergarten through 12th grade and all in the same year!

Being a new teacher and with educational cuts by the district, she was laid off last year by the SASD and spent that time working as a paraprofessional with special education students at Cedarburg High School. She’s happy to be returning to the district this fall to combine her two careers: design/marketing and teaching.

She and husband Tom, vice president of application engineering for Enercon Industries, make their home in the Cedarburg/Grafton area, where she says the three acres of yard work seem to never end. When she needs a break,  she likes to bike or paint with pastels.

An ideal day for Deb would be hanging out on the beach, eating some Mexican food and listening to Peter Gabriel. And someday you just might find her in New York designing packages for a design firm with food industry clients.

“Design can be as aesthetic as it is functional,” Deb reflected.  “By teaching this to my students, they can apply it to any 21st century career.”

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