Master of Design
Creative director, illustrator and photographer, Alex Sheyn, grew up in a family of architects, artists and musicians and began developing his visual aesthetic from an early age. Officially, his career path began with a degree in Art and Design, though he found himself flourishing when he started working at Bright Bright Great, a brand and design firm in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago. Since then, Sheyn’s been driven to explore the parameters of design and photography by experimenting across the spectrum. From brand websites to band posters, he’s explored 3D animation, motion graphics, illustration and interactive design to shape and share unique perspectives. His gorgeous Instagram @theonlygoodalex is testament to his stellar vision and style. Here he shares details about his creative process and more.
What artists and designers have influenced you most?
I always have a hard time answering this question, because I’d have to give you a list 100 names long. Narrowing it down feels bad.
I will say the kinds of things that influence me. I am very influenced by work that seems somehow impossible. In illustration, it could be a level of detail that seems impossibly tedious but wholly worth it. In photography, it could be a photo taken at the perfect place and perfect time while also being beautifully composed. In design, a perfect blend of visual appeal and getting the message across, neither one being compromised by the other but instead complimented.
I’m also drawn to the bright and colorful, as well as the dark, stark and grotesque. I love minimalism, texture and detail, high contrast and the extremes of every spectrum.
You’re a creative director and designer by day and also have a beautiful Instagram account @theonlygoodalex is there a different creative process needed for each medium?
The core creative process for everything is the same—start with an idea and see how far you can take it. That being said, the details of that creative process for each medium is very different. In agency design work, you are bound by the needs of the client, and the purpose of the creative work is never to just be visually pleasing/provocative in and of itself. In agency creative work, the creative aspect is a means to an end, whether that be telling a story, informing people, or selling something.
With my personal work, I create to play, unwind and express. I only post things that I’m personally excited to show off or share. I’m my own worst client, and in the past I have been hindered by the fact that since there are no constraints for making and putting my own work out there, nothing ever feels good enough. I’ve since gotten over that, and just take comfort in reminding myself that the reason I do the work is rarely for the praise and more just for the fun and fulfilling nature of the process.
What do you love most about your city? What’s your favorite hood in Chicago and why?
Like I said, I come from a family of architects, so I feel humbled and excited by the amazing architecture in Chicago, which I often try to feature in my photography. I spend a lot of time in Logan Square, Wicker Park and Fulton Market, mostly because my favorite food spots are there. I’ll never turn down an invitation to The Boiler Room for pizza and drinks. Galerie F is an art gallery in Logan Square that always shows work that appeals to all of my sensibilities. I always end up stopping by Rotofugi in Lincoln Park and spending too much money.
Can you share one special place in Chicago that you go for creative inspiration?
I can’t necessarily pinpoint one spot that I return to time and time again for creative inspiration. I will say, however, that I’ve felt most energized and ready to do creative work after long bike rides through the city. Being active jumpstarts my desire to accomplish something, and being able to bike through various parts of the city and watch the neighborhoods and cultures shift and change inspires and informs the content of my work.