In its continued quest to get inside the creative and business minds at Chute Gerdeman, The Gist sat down with Elaine Evans, our recently promoted Creative Director. Her spirit and passion are evident on the walls that surround her desk, a 3D Pinterest board of creative inspiration: design, icons, shopping bags, graphic inspiration for this ‘print-cess’ of pattern and letterform. A true artist with a refined aesthetic sense, Elaine has influenced many of CG’s most successful projects.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
I’m a very artistic person and I love exploring different forms of art. I’ve recently taken pottery and jewelry making classes at the local Cultural Arts Center. After a long day designing on my computer, it’s a great outlet for me to work with my hands and create something out of raw materials like metal or clay.
I’m also interested in encaustic painting, which is a combination of raw beeswax and oil paint. I got into it after seeing a really unique painting hanging in a gallery downtown that had beautiful layers and textures. When I found out what encaustic was, I fell in love with the technique. The best part about it for me is that it is a medium that can’t be easily controlled. You just have to work with it and let it be an organic process, and the most amazing results happen.
Have you developed a theory lately? What is it?
Keep it simple. I’ve always believed that the most effective communication is the simplest and most direct.
What’s on your desk? (Be honest…)
Graphic design books, stacks of papers and magazines, “I love New York” snow globe, a jumbo corkboard filled with posters, shopping bags, colorful prints and designs. My favorite print, an Ohio poster made from local company logos, is the centerpiece. I’m from Ohio, so I love showcasing my buckeye pride!
What do you think is integral to the brand experience that CG brings to its clients?
There is no formula for our work. We don’t have a “look” that we apply to our client’s brand. Each project is treated uniquely to meet each design challenge. Our teams really take the time to listen to our clients and understand a brand before the design phase starts. We get to the core of the problem and that drives the design, making our solutions more effective.
How does your work environment stimulate your creativity?
Our office occupies the former Hoster Ice Machines building and it’s the most unique and inspiring building I’ve ever worked in. Located south of downtown Columbus in the Brewery District, the building, built in 1885, originally housed state-of-the-art ice making machines that could produce 220 tons of ice a day. It feels like a big artist loft with high ceilings, huge windows and exposed brick walls everywhere. The character and charm of the environment has even been inspiration for projects I’ve worked on.
How do you find inspiration for projects?
I’ve recently been using Pinterest a lot, especially in the early stages of a project when I need to illustrate a concept. You can create your own online pin boards to collect ideas and inspiration or view other people’s boards. It’s a great resource to tap into because the site’s content is curated by a community of creative individuals. But I still have to say that the best way to be inspired is traveling and seeing what is current in the retail market.
What is your favorite store that you have seen on your travels this year?
Recently on a trip to NY, my team and I stopped at the Flatiron New Balance brand experience store. It was an innovative design with an actual running track inside the store where you can do a test run!A factory room at the front of the store allows customers to watch as custom shoes are assembled by one of NB’s factory workers from Maine. It doesn’t get more authentic than that! A "DNA strand" runs through the center of the store describing the heritage of the brand and leads to an innovative use of projection on their logo. Every detail about this store told a piece of the NB story in a thoughtful and engaging way. It truly was a great retail experience.
Click here for a more in-depth review of the store.
Are you addicted to anything right now?
I have an ongoing addiction to graphic prints. I’m totally attracted to anything with a pattern on it and I love to make them for my projects.
Any words that you live by?
It sounds like such a cliché but it’s “do what you love.” If you love what you do, the passion is there to push you forward, never settling for just getting the job done.