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15 Artists Under 30: Amy Schwartz

This is the third year we’ve run our New Visual Artists: 15 under 30 issue. What was once a highly edited list of 20 of the best and brightest young designers is now a deeper exploration of 15 of the most original talents working in visual communications today.

This issue of Print comes at an interesting time. This new group of designers, while undeniably adroit, is part of a generation fully proficient in the art of self-promotion in a digital age. Getting the word out about one’s work is now de rigueur. But at a time when new work is relentlessly blasted out on platforms where seemingly everyone in the room is shouting, is it really possible to break through the volume of voices all vying to captivate and capture attention? Moreover, in the Insta-culture of the early 21st century, how does one navigate through the metadata to find the meteoric? As in years past, that’s exactly what we’ve sought to do here. We’ve gone in quest of craft and cunning ideas and ideals. We’ve looked for substance and style and star-power. The list of Print’s New Visual Artists has become a who’s who of the industry’s leaders, and includes Scott Dadich, Eddie Opara, Alan Dye, Jessica Walsh, Jessica Hische, Frank Chimero and, more recently, Zipeng Zhu, Joe Hollier and Joey Cofone. This year’s 15 New Visual Artists are bold in name and in voice, and are bravely making new work in a new world.

“We’re staking our territory and waving our victory flag.”

Meet New Visual Artist Amy Schwartz

Age: 27.

From/current city: Chicago.

Education: Cranbrook Academy of Art; MFA, 2D Design. DePaul University; BA, art and design, BS, interactive media.

Earliest creative memory: I remember drawing outfits for my dolls. I would design clothing with chunky Crayola markers and use my special stamp markers to create patterns on the outfits.

Path that led you to design: I was editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper for two years. I became editor-in-chief of design my senior year, which allowed me to focus on the production, layouts, photographs and infographics. I was so fascinated by the idea that design could impact the reader’s understanding of the content. That’s how I realized my passion lay in graphic design and not journalism.

Career thus far, in a nutshell: Designer at Bright Bright Great > designer at Skidmore Studio > interaction designer at Gravitytank > design director at Cards Against Humanity > product director at Blackbox > creative director at Bright Bright Great.

The key to good design: Iteration and experimentation.

Photos of Cards Against Humanity, taken in Chicago, at Some Office, IL for Cards Against Humanity’s use. brentknepper.com All photos ©2016 Brent Knepper

Motto/design philosophy: “If you’re gonna flip burgers, flip burgers like a motherfucker.” —Elliott Earls

Work of which you’re most proud: I’m proud of the overall body of my work because it can be judged not purely by its aesthetic quality, but on its impact and implicit value system. As a commercial designer working in a capitalist sphere, all of my work is inherently political. This is true for all of us. By working for companies who economically devastate whole cities, build internal applications to avoid law enforcement, have sexist and racist hiring practices or financially support fascist policies, you are co-signing that behavior. You can’t condemn a company on your Twitter on Monday and work on their new app on Tuesday.

Biggest influence: The Cranbrook Academy of Art.

How you would classify your style: A Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper full of riot grrrl zines and Tales From the Crypt comics.

Design heroes: Nicole Killian, Robyn Kanner, Amélie Lamont, Nancy Skolos.

Favorite writer: Shonda Rhimes. (Not everything has to be about graphic design, people!)

Cause that means the most to you: Fighting fascism and white supremacy and protecting the lives of people of color, trans men and women, and religious minorities. It shouldn’t be a radical belief that the most marginalized people in our country should not be murdered, attacked or made unsafe in any way.

Biggest fear: Making life worse for another person, in any way. What you want to accomplish before all is said and done: To leave things in better condition than I found them.

Your idea of happiness: Eating a Mickeyshaped food product and riding Space Mountain. Walt Disney World is a special place to me. All of my childhood vacations were to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Now that my parents no longer own my childhood home, I have few physical places that hold intimate childhood memories.

The future of design is: Ethical designers with strong backbones.

Websites: www.amynicole.co; www.brightbrightgreat.com

Anything else: I walked away from a dream job this year to take a risk on myself. My end goal has always been to run my own design studio. It’s important for me to work with clients whose values align with mine. I also take seriously my responsibility to mentor young designers, to foster a healthy work environment and to build a diverse team. Self-employment means controlling these factors and practicing what I preach.

Photos of Cards Against Humanity, taken in Chicago, at Some Office, IL for Cards Against Humanity’s use. brentknepper.com All photos ©2016 Brent Knepper

Photos of Cards Against Humanity, taken in Chicago, at Some Office, IL for Cards Against Humanity’s use. brentknepper.com All photos ©2016 Brent Knepper

Meet more of PRINT’s New Visual Artists in the Fall 2017 issue of PRINT.

PRINT’s 2017 New Visual Artists Are Here!

Get the latest issue of PRINT to discover our annual list of 15 of the best creatives today under 30. Plus …

  1. A look at the rebranding of an old industry made anew: marijuana

  2. A Manifesto from Scott Boylston on the dire need for sustainability in design

  3. Paul Sahre’s memoir/monograph Two-Dimensional Man

  4. Debbie Millman’s Design Matters: In PRINT, featuring Jonathan Selikoff

  5. And much more!

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