Design visionary Margo Chase, founder and chief creative officer of Chase Design Group, was killed in an aviation accident on July 22, 2017 in Apple Valley, California.
Chase was born in 1958 in Los Angeles. She grew up intending to become a veterinarian, and received a BA in Biology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She then began a medical illustration program at University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. It was at that time that she enrolled in a graphic design course and first fell in love with the discipline.
Upon graduating, she expected to be hired by a studio. When that proved difficult, she started freelancing. That work started to grow and led to her founding her own studio, Chase Design Group. Her interest in letterforms, gothic architecture and medieval manuscripts, along with advancements in digital technology, contributed to her unique style, and she quickly made a name for herself creating iconic typography for Madonna, Prince, Cher and the television show logo for Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
In an effort to create work in which the design would sell the product, and not vice versa, Margo brought her distinctive talent to consumer packaging. Her work for P&G, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Mattel, and Target only brought her more attention. She did what few others could do: make mass-market brands beautiful. In an interview on HOWDesign.com, she stated, “We fight for the work, and a lot of that work then gets into the mass market still has high design quality. It’s a battle … forever. We’re always challenging, ‘Have you thought of this?’ ‘Are you sure this is what you want?’ I think it’s that level of dedication to quality first that separates us—we spend a lot of time talking about that around here.”
Chase’s influence and creative integrity resulted in winning nearly every major honor in the design field and being recognized by HOW, I.D., Communication Arts, Graphis and others. Chase was selected as an AIGA Fellow, an I.D. Magazine “I.D. Forty” and was featured in Radical Graphics/Graphic Radicals, New Design: Los Angeles, and “Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000: Diversity and Difference.” She was also named one of the most influential graphic designers of our time by Graphic Design USA.
Margo began flying planes recreationally about 10 years ago. She was first introduced to flying by her father, a private pilot. “I draw in the sky,” she said in a Lynda.com video. “I love the idea that there’s this goal of perfection that I’m striving for, cause it keeps the challenge there since perfection is something you can never really achieve.” She was flying her beloved Panzl Aerobatic Airplane when she died.
Chris Lowery, President of Chase Design Group, stated that the company will continue to be driven by the insatiable curiosity and love of design Margo Chase embodied. “Everyone in the Chase Design Group family has been touched and inspired by Margo’s creativity, generous spirit and love for design. We will all miss her brilliance and incredible energy, but will carry her vision for the organization forward as she would have wanted.”
Michelle Hoffman, Account Director at the firm stated, “If only she had taken up knitting or mahjong … but then, she wouldn’t have been Margo. We lost an amazing female force and just an overall wonderful human.”
Margo Chase is survived by her husband, Patrick Dugan, and a community of fans, friends and clients.