Eleanor Grosch

So many animals end up in the
Eleanor Grosch universe—on the pillows, rock posters, and Keds
where her designs appear, for instance—that a Dr. Dolittle
comparison wouldn’t be off base. In fact, she named her
Philadelphia studio, Pushmepullyou, after the creature with a head at
each end from the classic children’s book.

Such an animal also
suggests Grosch’s harmonious opposites: commercial design with a
strong commitment to the environment; freelance freedom and fiscal
sense; pop culture and classical influences. Grosch walks a cheerfully
nonchalant line between cute and cool, using a relatively limited
palette and a menagerie of whimsical imagery. Creatures have always been
an integral part of her life, beginning with her earliest memories of
the Lowry Park Zoo in her hometown of Tampa. “I was absolutely in
love with birds when I was small. Going to the aviary was like heaven
for me!” she exclaims. “The roseate spoonbill, snowy egret,
and grey heron were all pretty common sights.”

Grosch got her
B.A. in fine art at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where,
says printmaking teacher Brandon Dunlap, she “asked a lot of
questions. The printmaking lab was available to students at all times,
and she was always in there before and after class. Her work ethic was
hands down the best in the class.” After graduation, Grosch did a
few posters for local bands and uploaded them to Gigposters.com.
That’s when the freelance jobs started coming in.

to the two (or is it many?) heads of Pushmepullyou, where Grosch has
created pillows for Urban Outfitters, skateboard decks for Alien
Workshop, sneakers for Keds, tableware for Skip Hop, and babywear for
Mammamade. She’s developed identities, illustrated PSAs, worked on
websites, and silk-screened T-shirts; her studio is a veritable
Noah’s ark of materials and modes.

Grosch calls Charley Harper,
the similarly animal-inspired painter and designer who recently passed
away, her artistic hero. She’s sunnily enthusiastic about all her
cultural touchstones, which range from heavy-hitting designers and
artists like Dirk Fowler, Tord Boontje, Lucienne Day, Ryan McGinness,
Jeff Kleinsmith, and Sanna Annukka to pop-culture candy like
Domino magazine, Baywatch, and America’s Next Top
. Grosch’s sweet tooth doesn’t exclude
Dunkin’ Donuts, whose motif turned up on her blog’s Color
Scheme of the Day: “I was suddenly taken by the lovely colors in
the logo.” It’s not the kind of thing she shies away from.
“I’ve been inspired by the strangest things sometimes. Once,
I found a perfect owl on the cover of an airline magazine.”

Meanwhile, Grosch is as keen on passing along useful information as
she is about finding sources for her own creativity. Her blog is a
how-to, not just about art and craft making, but also about house
buying, CSS programming, and screen printing in your basement.
“Hopefully my little blog will help demystify some of the things
that I discuss on it. That’s the goal!”

As for her own
fans, the people who buy Grosch’s work are as likely to put it in
the nursery as in the living room. “It’s very important to
me to remain down-to-earth and make my designs something that everyone
can enjoy”—like bedding and plates, categories she’s
“champing at the bit” to take on. Proud former teacher
Dunlap predicts her future: “I think it will just snowball from