Engaging an Artist's Perspective in the Office

Recently in the office we came across an article from AIGA that was quite intriguing, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job: 10 Famous Artists + Designers Who Made it Big While Working for the Man,” and it resonated with many of us. Although I personally don’t often feel that I’m “working for the man” (and not just because we’re WBENC Certified) due to the collaborative and supportive environment in the office versus an Office Space-like oppressiveness and mundanity, it is true that most of us (myself included) have personal artistic endeavors outside of our full-time jobs.

The AIGA article describes the different day jobs that several notable artists had and how at times those professions strongly influenced their art. One such artist, Barbara Kruger, was a successful graphic designer as well as an conceptual artist. Even now that she works on her art alone, the impact of her professional experience remains. As the author notes, "Kruger describes her experience as a graphic designer as 'the biggest influence on my work,' noting that it 'became, with a few adjustments, my "work" as an artist.'" With Kruger, and with large format sculptor Richard Serra whose larger than life steel structures are much better known than his time spent working in an actual steel mill, the influence of the day's work on the evening's art is apparent, but for many of the designer-artists at NeigerDesign, the influence might sometimes flow in the other direction.


"Artists and designers are passionate people. Creative individuals have a constant flow of ideas." [Click to Tweet]

There have been times when Carol’s love of painting or Josh’s drawing skills took a client project in a different, exciting direction that suited the work but may not have been possible if those passions and talents had not been nurtured off the clock. As Carol said in her interview with Design Feast, "Artists and designers are passionate people. Creative individuals have a constant flow of ideas." It was this mindset, as well as those instances where a client project flourished under a designer’s practiced artistic eye, that led to the creation of our own art collaborative, Studio//Shift.

The art collaborative allows those of us who are balancing our art with our professional work the opportunity to share our passion projects with each other in a more meaningful way than just around the water cooler. It was a big contributor to why I joined the team, and has been a great way for us to stay connected to past employees. When Studio//Shift took part in Open Studios Evanston in June, four former team members participated with their artwork in addition to the current staff who contributed. (See the photos on Facebook.)

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 With Studio//Shift we bring our artistic passions (and sometimes our actual artwork if it’s a critique day) into the office and encourage and support each other’s pursuits, much like how we support each other with our day-to-day client work. Not only is it great for the company culture, but it also inspires us to push our limits with our professional work. We’re artists, and we are happy—and fortunate—not to limit ourselves to our off-hours.

Read more about Studio//Shift.

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