No Pattern for Chuck Anderson: Graphic Art by Design

If you click this link, you, too, will come to the startling conclusion that Chuck Anderson's art has permeated your everyday life. Originally from Chicago, Chuck Anderson is THE graphic designer, with a client list of the who's who of commercial products: Adidas, ESPN, Google, Honda, Microsoft, Threadless, Vans and Virgin Records. And, the two current contracts he's just adding the finishing touches to.
"Once I'm done with Under Armour and Target, I'm not too sure what's next," poses Anderson in the nouveau-craftsman office of NoPattern studio on Ionia St. in the heart of Grand Rapids' downtown.  Looking at the shelving on the wall, a varied display of Anderson's graphic genius sits. Each bit has an active and ethereal quality, regardless of the item in question, whether it's a snowboard or a Mt. Dew bottle or a coffee table book. Even the new MadCap logo has his fingerprints, with collaborator Seth Herman. Anderson muses over the shelves, but not on what they hold; rather, how his office was once a lavish executive business suite for a law office. It is now symmetrically, yet chaotically organized with his creations. He laughs himself back to conversation and it's obvious he's very down-to-earth.
There certainly is no pattern for Anderson, 25. With the support of his parents, a liberal high school education and a touch of independent study, he realized what he wanted to do for a living. Rooted in his knack for drawing, Anderson transferred his talents to the computer.
"By my senior year, I was proficient in [Adobe] Photoshop and narrowed my focus. Electives and independent studies… I had a lot of practice in by then," he recollects. "The ease of technology, things as simple as Microsoft paint and its ability for color fills at the click of a button as opposed to erasing," and literally starting over on the drawing board propelled him to art design via the computer even more.
Whether he was exposed to the right technology at the right time or not, the fact remains: while taking a year off between high school and college due to financial hardship, Anderson built a portfolio for himself and sent his pieces off to everyone everywhere. Part of his success may be credited to the Internet and letting his visions speak for themselves. Hours spent freelancing for bands and clubs in Chicago while supporting himself as a bookstore clerk only drove him further into developing his craft.
"I was doing flyers for $50 a piece, realizing 'hey, $300 isn't a lot of money, but if I do bigger projects and keep building up my portfolio, something will happen.' Projects kept coming and coming."
Refining his camera skills with a good eye, he utilizes a Canon 5D for capturing live images and then draws on his Wacom tablet, whether for the theme of Windows 7 or a Reebok advert that seems pulled from a Marvel comic. Working with such a high profile network of clientele is hectic and demanding, even though he occasionally receives instructions as intricate as 'here's a skateboarder doing something -- make it cool.' Family life is his priority, which grounds him. He is married to his high school sweetheart and she helps keep him in check.
Anderson does not cite an advanced artistic genius or an over-educated background in oils as reasons for his quick growth.  Asked about his creative processes and the varied form it takes is of, what else? NoPattern.
"Other than my wife, Ben Gott [creator of Boxed Water is Better! and the influence on Anderson's move to Michigan] and [collaborator] Seth Herman are who I go to for input. Aside from that, I do whatever."
When it comes to the growth of Grand Rapids, Anderson believes the thing it's missing is a large anchor store or three in downtown Grand Rapids. 
"It's nice there are all of these little boutiques, but they need something larger to draw people in," he points out. "There needs to be something more, something prominent. In a big city on a Sunday, it's still busy. Here in Grand Rapids, a Sunday is the only day you notice the conservatism of this town. Grand Rapids is the bridge between a large, popular city suburb and a large city."
A viewpoint worth considering.

Eventually, Anderson would like to step back from his clients and focus on his own works. A dream that will materialize, preferably in hometown Chicago, is his own gallery opening. It can't be that impossible; one of his Absolut Vodka pieces is visible on the back of what could be any popular magazine's back cover. Chuck Anderson designs quality art with an impact words can't describe. Follow Chuck on Twitter here:

Matt Simpson Siegel is a Michigan-based writer whose work has appeared in many magazines and websites, on stages, screens, and radio. His most recent works include the nihilistic comedy "GR30K" and an acerbic dining column with REVUE magazine.


Chuck Anderson in his office at 15 Ionia Ave., SW (3)

Various samples of Chuck's designs (5)

Photographs by Brian Kelly - All Rights Reserved
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