“Troublemakers. Iconoclasts. Nonconformists.” This is how one of Chicago’s newest (and most irreverent) group of design anarchists describes itself. Founded by 2009 Academy graphic design graduate Daniel Shaker, Chicago-based Matte Black Studios (MBS) is a thriving hive of boundary-pushing creativity. Two of Dan’s five staff members are also Academy graduates. Anthony Cruz and Meghan Seal both graduated in 2010, also with BFAs in graphic design. Cruz was the Academy’s 2010 class valedictorian.
According to the firm’s website: “Matte Black Studios is a group of individuals who all share the same determination to make art and design and marketing and branding and technology better…Together, we produce unique consumer branding and engagement campaigns – from websites to advertisements to identity pieces to environmental design – that get our clients results.”
“It is the job of our artists and developers to innovate at every turn, and the client should not have to pay extra or fight to get it,” Shaker added. “We are small enough to stay passionate and experienced enough to actually make it happen.”
A recent project Shaker is exceptionally proud of was creating a new identity and website for www.stuskitchen.com. In three weeks, MBS used two designers, two illustrators and two developers to create custom, hand-drawn illustrations and watercolors; SEO friendly coding; creative animation; solid coding; and a fully functional, detached shopping cart. The increase in visitors and sales, and seven design awards were proof Daniel and his team knocked it out of the park.
Shaker’s advice for current students and new graduates: “Trust your intuition. You know more about great design than you think. As long as you can recognize it, you can create it. Also, stay fluid and curious. Keep learning and asking as many questions as possible.”