Creative Showcase

Joerg Metzner

Joerg Metzner is Design Director at Rand McNally, where he and his team tend to all design and branding needs, ranging from corporate identity, product development to product marketing, in print and online. When Joerg isn't nose deep in design work, he's restlessly pursuing his love of photography.

Where are you from originally?

Osterode, a small town in the foothills of the Harz Mountains.

How did you end up in California?

After my arrival from Europe in 1988 I lived in Los Angeles for four years and then moved to Chicago where I've lived since. How did I end up in Los Angeles in the first place? That is a long story which started when I met my wife in Ireland, where I was living at the time. She lived in LA and so, after crisscrossing Europe together I followed her to California.

As a designer, what do you like most about living in Los Angeles and Chicago?

I loved the eclectic nature of Los Angeles, the openness to anything new, the constant experimentations. The sense that anything is possible. I also loved the geography.
In Chicago I enjoy the close knit design community and the focused energy that helps me get my work done.

Did you attend a design school?

I attended Santa Monica College of Design, Art and Architecture then transferred to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I finished my BFA with a double major in Visual Communications and Photography.

How did the college experience affect who you are today?

Santa Monica College of Design, Art and Architecture was a pivotal experience, one that still guides me today. It was the interdisciplinary approach, in the tradition of the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College that still affects my work today.

What was your first design job?

While I was a student at the School of the Art Institute I worked in the school's publication department.

How do you describe your work?

Straightforward, simple, clean, unexpected, interdisciplinary.

What inspires you most?

Nature, my children and the friends that are tirelessly pursuing their calling against all odds.

When did you first become interested in what you do?

At the age of twelve my grandfather, who was a painter, gave me a sketch pad and a good pencil. Soon after I picked up my first camera and built my first darkroom.

What has inspired and shaped you the most as a designer?

Santa Monica College of Design, Art and Architecture.
My photography. It constantly opens my eyes to the world around me. And teaches me to see.

Who and what are some of your biggest influences?

Roland Young my graphic design teacher at SMCDAA, Deborah Sussman, John Heartfield, Eric Spiekerman, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Ray and Charles Eames, Dieter Rams, David Byrne, Wim Wenders....

What are some of your favorite books / sites?

Codex Seraphinianus, and illustrated encyclopedia of an imaginary world by Luigi Serafini. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Ways of Seeing by John Berger. The New Vision, Photography Between the World Wars. Taken by Design, Photographs from the Institute of Design, 1937-1971. Designing Design by Kenya Hara. The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Hapiness on Two Wheels by Robert Penn. Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers.
Designobserver.com, journal.davidbyrne.com, Good.is, Walterkittysdiary.com, Blurb.com, Lens.blogs.nytimes.com, NPR.org and Gizmodo.com.

What are you currently working on? Anything fun and exciting you'd like to share?

Next generation Truck and RV navigation device ID, branding and packaging. A new series of photographs.

Can you tell us about any projects you've been involved in that you're particularly proud of?

Various cover designs for Rand McNally's Series of Road Atlases. Creating the brand identity for GoCard Free Postcards. "Unmoved" a book of photographs of Rand McNally's old offices. The first Harley Davidson Ride Atlas of North America by Rand McNally.

What is a typical day like for you?

My days start with feeding the cats and making school lunches. Then before everyone else in the house gets up I exercise and meditate. After that I see the kids off to school and finally enjoy my breakfast. Can't function without a good breakfast. Most days I ride my bike to the Rand McNally offices. During my workday I juggle meetings, working with my design team and designing projects. Wherever I go I take photographs, this prevents me from taking the world around me for granted or falling into a mindless routine. I savor dinner with the whole family at the end of the day. During the summer that usually means BBQ in our garden. Time permitting I edit photographs in the evening, read or work in the garden.

How would you describe your creative process?

Peeling off all the unnecessary layers in the pursuit of the essence of a given project.

Any exciting upcoming projects?

I just accepted the role as vice president for The Society of Typographic Arts (STA) in Chicago and look forward being actively involved in the broader design community.
I am always working on new photography projects.