When J. Tanner Cusick took a class called Social Architectures, he never expected that the trajectory of his career would change forever. While pursuing his MFA at UC San Diego, Cusick explains that it was in this class that he and his classmates designed “interventions” around campus. "Basically, we would change the environment and see how it influenced human behavior,” says Cusick. “I did a piece under Geisel that challenged people to use the space differently by creating a game of human Candy Land. I colored all the blocks beneath the library, and everyone came in costumes.” He reflects that what he didn’t realize at the time was that they were really practicing experience design.
It was the combination of this event and Cusick’s experience as a teaching assistant (TA) that taught him what User Experience (UX) was. “While I was a TA, I taught a digital art class and students were assigned The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman. I'd never read the book before and I was amazed by it," said Cusick. It was the ideas in the book that influenced Cusick to shift the context of his work. “I ended up teaching myself about the discipline and doing a lot of UX design and content design. And that's what I have been doing since then."