Evan Gendell

Graphic Designer
Chicago, IL
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My name is Evan Gendell and last May I graduated with a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) with a focus in Visual Communication Design. Before SAIC, I worked in management consulting at Accenture out of their Chicago o􀃞ce after completing my BBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. These two rounds of undergraduate education describe me well: I love trying my hand at new arenas of knowledge and earnestly soaking up new information, I enjoy bouncing between analytical and creative modes and I can pretty often be a wide-eyed optimist. I also have a huge passion for learning languages and I have been studying French, Italian and Brazilian Portuguese for a number of years, practicing with native speakers over Skype. Spanish, Greek and Japanese are all on deck!

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Work Experience
Sep 2018 – Dec 2018
Chicago, IL
Double Trip Press
Independent Contractor
May 2018 – Present
Chicago, IL
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Photography Lab Assistant
Sep 2018 – Dec 2018
Chicago, IL
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Processing, openFrameworks, VBA–Excel, HTML+CSS, Maya, Unity, SketchUp, Logic Pro X, Letterpress, Risography, Photography, Cinematography
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You should select me because

I feel I am one of the best candidates for WGI because of my unique interdisciplinary background that I bring to the design process and in my interactions with others. My strength is in my attention to the balance between the micro and macro. On top of my technical design skills that range from typography to creative coding, my language abilities deepen my understanding of the translation process in communication design and reinforce how I connect with people. My experience in my previous corporate job also prepared me greatly in terms of time and project management. I learned to adapt on the fly to new teams, constraints and modes of working while sticking to being kind and showing up, both literally and figuratively.

1. Why are you interested in wgi?

I am interested in WGI for the unique opportunity to be immersed in a number of different environments, each with its own educational experience. It is inspiring to be able to potentially learn from and contribute to different teams that turn grit and curiosity into arresting, concrete and thoughtful projects. The chance to travel and be outside my comfort zone as well as to both broaden and deepen my practice are also big draws to WGI.

2. What are you looking to gain from an experience such as WGI?

In addition to deepening my craft in terms of design principles, typography and execution speed, I hope to get exposure to realms where I have strong potential to learn, such as web and UI/UX. I am also looking to continue improving my ability to work laterally and to try out different ideas before deciding on a path. I would like to get more familiar with moving intuitively/“non-intellectually” in some stages of the design process and more intentionally/consciously in others. How do these complementary stages play out in a commercial setting with a host of client demands and constraints? I would love to learn the various methods in which the different teams I would interact with through WGI generate their concepts and then translate them into final deliverables.

3. What would be your goals after completing WGI if you were selected?

After completing WGI, outside of my central goal of finding a full-time design job (potentially in a different city than I had anticipated), I would love to develop the breadth of my practice, particularly in motion graphics and sound design. I would like to revisit my senior capstone project on mapping the boundaries of the ‘happy place’ (the self-described world of the Hallmark Channel) and turn my research and explorations into a short film.

4. How did you hear about wgi?

I heard about WGI from a friend/fellow graphic designer and from an article posted on AIGA Eye on Design.

5. Share an example of a time you were most motivated and a time you were most demotivated.

After deciding to quit my job (and the security that accompanied it) and start the BFA program at SAIC, I was zooming with a brand new excitement for and commitment to a variety of completely unfamiliar courses. From working with my hands in the studio to being introduced to contemporary philosophical and political topics I had never been exposed to, I felt like a happy sponge. While I was incredibly excited to pursue graphic design and a second undergrad degree, it was a long process of introspection to arrive at this decision after a significant period of feeling demotivated at my former job. Not only were the physical/mental demands hefty (i.e., taking two flights a week), but the emotional energy of feeling burned out and stuck in a path and environment where I did not think I fit in or had enough of the same value system was tough. I dug deep into where my lack of motivation was stemming from and realized that I was not fostering the more creative side of my brain/soul or being challenged in more holistic ways. After much research, I discovered design as a path where I was much more confident I would feel a strong kindredness with the types of projects I would be working on and would be active both analytically and creatively.

6. In your opinion, what creates a great culture at a company?

I believe a great company culture is founded in a diverse community of talented, integrous and hard-working individuals who are as dedicated to one another as they are to clients. Strong, but empathetic leadership is also a key factor. A balance between having an edge and being down to earth also makes a company’s culture stand on its own.

7. What brands and companies do you admire and why?

At the risk of sounding a bit idiosyncratic, two brands I admire are MALIN+GOETZ and Aldi. For the former, I appreciate the immediately-arresting design of their packaging that both feels contemporary and references traditional apothecary vocabulary. I also appreciate their dedication to inclusivity (i.e., all skin types, gender-neutral) and to using high-quality, natural ingredients. Even the descriptions of the different levels of fragrance notes in their products are truly poetic. I admire Aldi for their balance between cost and quality (organic grass-fed beef for $6!) where you truly get the biggest bang for your buck. I respect how efficiently and streamlined they run their operations and the value of their private label products. Aldi is unassuming and unapologetic about it. I also admire the Chicago salon and barbershop Art+Science where I currently work as a front desk coordinator as I take on freelance design projects and refine my portfolio. The stylists, barbers and colorists are all immensely talented and passionate about their craft and it is inspiring to be in an environment teeming with so many dedicated characters. Being a bit of a school enthusiast myself, I admire Art+Science’s commitment to education. They require all new hair professionals to complete a rigorous apprenticeship program for about two years prior to being put on the floor. Everyone is super dedicated to learning and improving together, from the barbers on the floor to the administration staff which I am a part of.

8. What do you do to stay sharp and improve your craft?

To keep improving, I avidly research within, around and outside of graphic design. From older textbooks on postmodern graphic design and trendy contemporary design blogs to film, sound, sculpture, photography, painting, et al., I love archiving sources of inspiration. Recently, I have been making daily or near-daily loose sketches with typography and illustration in Photoshop, Maya and Processing and am looking to introduce other software as well as analog techniques into my practice so as to push my craft even further. I also enjoy meditating and stepping away to relax the mind, to socialize and to exercise.

9. What’s your favorite quote?

“I compare a lot of life to looking at a map through a straw. The less ability you have to see life in a humorous way, the smaller the straw is that you're looking at the map of life. You're not looking at the whole picture. You can't see the whole topography without it, and it can help you to make better choices.” — Reggie Watts

10. If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

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