Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interviews with People We Love: Elaine Fong

Elaine: YOU reign supreme!

Elaine's "about" section on her website

So the first person that we *loved* on our blog, was our friend, Elaine Fong. Lucky for us, she's still our friend and was kind enough to do a little interview with us. Until recently, Elaine worked full time as a designer for Paper Source Inc. We are so proud of her for starting a new chapter in her life with launching her very own studio. To learn more, check out her site here.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started with your work.

I was born and raised in New Orleans, and traveled from city to city till I ended in Chicago, which is where I've been for the last 6 years. When I was in high school, I didn't know what I wanted to study, so my sister told me there was "this thing" called graphic design, that would allow me to create art and make money. She talked more about website designs and magazine layouts, which I thought was ok, so I signed up as a graphic design major. Going into college, I never fully understood what it was, until I joined a roommate for her smoke break to keep her company. When I picked up her cigarette box to look at it, I was immediately attracted to the design. It was a box of Camel Reds, with a warm color palette of red, orange and black, that emulated a Mondrian grid, and had well placed type. I knew exactly at that moment what design was, and I knew I wanted to do it. I still have that cigarette box to this day. 

Do you have a favorite artist/designer/photographer?

Overall, I've always loved Matisse. Everything he's ever done – paintings, drawings, sculpture, etchings, paper cut-outs. I've consistently loved his work in all periods of his life, and love that his inspiration came from anywhere like trips to Morocco to his grief with WWII. Towards the end of his life, when he was bedridden and nearly blind, he still made art — that's the kind of artistic heart I want to have. 

For design I look up to Ryan McGuinness, Paul Rand, Hella Jongerious, Charles & Ray Eames, Marian Bantjes.

Has there been a certain accomplishment/success that you are most proud of?

Currently I'm most proud of quitting my day job, (last week was my last day!), to start my own studio. People do that all the time, and it's not uncommon I know, but for me it was a big decision that I've struggled with for over a year. I just had to do it when it felt right for myself. I'm excited about the whole thing!

What's your favorite place to go to get inspired?

Hmm... there isn't one particular place. But inspiration often starts out with a jolt of espresso, followed by going into a store that has lots of beautiful package designs. Like any specialty food store, apothecary store, beer & wine shop, or even clothing boutiques. I like looking at labels for their typography and color, boxes for interesting cuts and folds, and clothing tags for finishes like embossing/spot varnishes/diecuts or unconventional production materials.  

 What would you be doing if it wasn't for Elaine Fong design?

Gardening – specifically working on edible landscaping. Having to research and understand regions, horticulture, and varieties of edible plants and then design them in a way that's visually pleasing, is very appealing to me. That's the part of me that wants to do something that requires me to be outside all the time, away from my computer.

Where can people learn more about Elaine Fong?

From my website or blog, (which will both be redesigned in the next months), or over brunch or a bike ride!

Elaine Fong Design t: 312.391.3664 w: http://www.elainefong.com 

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