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Creative Inspirations: Margo Chase, Graphic Designer
Illustration by John Hersey
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Workspace


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Creative Inspirations: Margo Chase, Graphic Designer

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Video: Workspace

(Music Playing) Margo Chase: Welcome to Chase Design Group. We are standing in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, which is one of the -- a neighborhood I have lived in for over 20 years. We have been in this building for only two years. I think you can see why I like the building, the sign is amazing. The building was built in the 20s originally, and it was a pest control building, and then it was an art gallery for a while.

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Creative Inspirations: Margo Chase, Graphic Designer
1h 18m Appropriate for all Sep 04, 2008

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Margo Chase is one of the most influential graphic designers of our time. Over the past 20 years, Margo's highly expressive work has been seen in movie posters for Bram Stoker's Dracula; on album covers for top performers like Cher, Madonna, and Prince; and in ads for brands such as Starbucks, Target, and Procter & Gamble. With a background in biology, Margo migrated to the world of graphic design, where she brought a unique, organic quality to logos, lettering, and identity design. Never one to live life passively, Margo has developed a love for competitive aerobatic flying in her own high-performance plane. This installment of Creative Inspirations takes viewers inside the studio, portfolio, and adrenaline-pumped lifestyle of this inspired and inspiring designer.

Subjects:
Design Creative Inspirations Documentaries
Author:
Margo Chase

Workspace

(Music Playing) Margo Chase: Welcome to Chase Design Group. We are standing in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, which is one of the -- a neighborhood I have lived in for over 20 years. We have been in this building for only two years. I think you can see why I like the building, the sign is amazing. The building was built in the 20s originally, and it was a pest control building, and then it was an art gallery for a while.

Then it was another design firm, and now it's ours. This is the first space that people see when they walk into my office. There are some samples around, and there are a series of work posters on the wall behind me, that represent about 20 years of our work; logo work primarily, starting in 1986, and going all the way to now. It's really important, I think, to have the mood of the space reflect the work. I think our work is a little unusual in some ways, and its -- it can be eclectic.

It's always really functional. So I think that's a little bit what the space is like. It's not too fancy, it's pretty functional, and it's a little eclectic, it's got things on the walls. This is a mural that actually represents the scene outside this wall. So there's a big freeway intersection out here with overpasses and things, and it's very sort of classic LA scene. Clark Goolsy: We just played around with some different ideas. We thought it would be fun to kind of incorporate what's outside. So we took some photos, kind of panoramaed them outside, and then I brought them back in, added a few character that I thought were pretty fun.

But, yeah, it was cool, it's a cool project. It's fun too, because we started talking about it like on Monday, and by like Thursday we were painting it, so we defiantly moved fast and did it really quick, but it was fun. Margo Chase: Well, when we first moved into this space, it was completely white. It also had some walls in places that we didn't want. So we spend a lot of time knocking down walls, and we created some doorways to open the space up, so that it was a lot more open, and things -- people could actually talk to each other and work at the same time.

So the space where everyone works, what I call the studio area, there are no cubicles and no interior walls. We did that on purpose. I mean, it's easy for everybody to hear what's going on. So there's a lot of collaboration and a lot of exchange of ideas. I don't think the designers feel very proprietary about their own work too often. We asked people opinions like, here's what I am doing, would you think about this? It helps people to check out with each other, make sure they are not stuck in not doing something that doesn't work, or that someone else wouldn't understand.

This is Elaine. Elaine Suh: Hi! Margo Chase: She is a designer, who is -- do you want to talk a little bit about Margo Chase: what you are working on? Elaine Suh: Sure. I was working on a Disney, vintage holiday style guide. We just had it finished and delivered, so I was feeling really good. Margo Chase: So this is a style guide that we do for Disney, that helps them take there, sort of, Disney characters and make them into something that's a little more vintage, and a little more high end and prestige looking. They give these guides to their licensees, who then manufacture product for the holidays.

I think in this case it's going to be sold at Target. So we create the color palette, the patterns. We select the type styles. We recommend the treatments to the illustrations. That creates a whole, sort of, guidelines book then, that they use to create things from tabletop, Christmas tree ornaments, all kinds of holiday stuff. When we started, it was much less organized, and things were a little bit more free form in terms of, who is managing who, and who is the boss of who.

Usually, we setup a team, it's an account person and a creative person, and they work together on a particular project. But it's not always the same two people. For instance, Shannon is responsible for lot of the style guide project. So she may work with Clark on one project, and she might work with Elaine on a different project. But then if Clark is working on something else, he might work with me, or he might work with Janet. So depending on which client, and which account, and which project the designers are working on, the teams may change.

So it's pretty flexible. My office up here, as you can see, I can see down on everybody, and I can pretty much hear what's going on down there. But I also have enough privacy that I can actually work without getting interrupted. They have to climb those stairs in order to interrupt me if I am working, which is a good thing. The library was -- actually one of the reasons that we chose this space was that mezzanine, because when I walked in I thought, oh, that's the perfect place to put all the books. They are really part of the process. I mean, they get used a lot. I mean, the Internet now is starting to replace the need for traditional books, because you can do so much visual research on the Internet, but books still are really important, especially some of the older ones that I have, because those things are -- you can't find them anywhere but in books.

They are not reproduced even in other books, some of the older -- really old things. I just love books, I always have. I mean, I have design books here, and I have lot of books at my house as well. I just collect them for -- I think they are just beautiful objects; both to read and to look at.

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