Design Links: Amy Nicole Schwartz, Keetra Dean Dixon & Elana Schlenker

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Editor’s Note: This is part 18 in Emily Potts’ inspirational series, Design Links. Every other week she features three artists whose work offers fresh, fun, and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the 17th part in the series, featuring Freya Douglas Morris, Lydia Hardwick, and Assemble.

We’re resetting the link this week and bringing it back to Sweet Home Chicago, and someone who inspires me.

Amy Nicole Schwartz

I was first introduced to her at the AIGA conference last fall in New Orleans, when she was competing in Command X, AIGA’s on-stage reality show. I was impressed not only by her presentation skills and the fact that she was being judged by 2,000 of her design peers (that takes guts), but her design solutions were always so good. Seriously, the contestants only had a day to solve a design problem, and each day two contestants were whacked. She not only survived to the last challenge, she won the whole shebang. Amy hails from Chicago where she is creative director at Cards Against Humanity.

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Cards Against Humanity is known for its over-the-top holiday promotions, so last year, they opened up 150,000 slots for subscribers to pay $15 to receive eight mystery gifts throughout the month of December to celebrate Hanukkah. You can read all about it here. Socks were the prevailing theme, with a big dose of humor sprinkled on top. Amy says, “The copywriting behind this promotion borrowed heavily from our childhoods and Yelp reviews of Jewish delis.”

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I love these banners that Amy designed for dscout, a Chicago startup that conducts clever research by capturing peoples thoughts, reactions, and behaviors as they happen through video, images, and text. Her banners promote specific missions, such as people’s thoughts about gum and mints and behaviors of online shopping.

Amy Nicole Schwartz is inspired by …

Keetra Dean Dixon

Keetra Dean Dixon inspires me because she boldly experiments with process and form across a variety of media.

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I absolutely adore her COLORS: Retooling Crayons project. She cast a set of unique crayons that all vary in color and pattern. By custom casting each one, she’s made a tool of production an art item in itself. They’re almost too gorgeous to use; actually using the crayons destroys the art object over time, which is kind of beautiful.

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I also love her editorial lettering, because she so expertly combines typography, color, pattern, and composition to create illustrations that are so lively, they seem to buzz with energy. I could look at them forever.

Keetra Dean Dixon is inspired by …

Elana Schlenker

You can see her love of design in everything she does. She’s a design enthusiast and lets that lead. Not only does she design and direct fan-worthy work via her studio practice—all of it smart, concise, vibrant, and simultaneously forward-looking and timeless—but she’s also created platforms to celebrate the great work around her. She presents these collections in a way that inspires conversation and further connection. Elana Schlenker = Great taste, great work, great impact.

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Elana calls Gratuitous Type  “a pamphlet of typographic smut.” A stunning format for delicious work. Sooooo good!

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Less than 100: is a series of pop-up shops for gender wage equality. This is another space to present beautiful design to a larger community, but more importantly the shop makes an obscure issue more tangible. The pricing of items reflects the income disparities of the shop’s location. For example, the shop in Pittsburgh charged female customers 76% of an item’s regular retail price. Men paid 100%, reflecting the fact that in Pennsylvania women earn 76 cents on the dollar. It’s a potentially confrontational concept with a friendly execution, putting the issue into the hands of the customers. And the reward for participating? Beautiful design. Smart, concise, impactful.

Tune in next time to see who inspires Elana Schlenker.


33011Inspirability gives you a fresh look at how to keep those creative fires burning in the real world through interviews with 40 design luminaries, including Stefan Sagmeister, Paula Scher, Milton Glaser and Chip Kidd, fascinating pictures the designers have taken of themselves and their offices, and samples of their design work.

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