“I wanted to create a space where it didn’t feel like we were at work. It has to be fun, otherwise what’s the point?” says Chris Eichenseer, founder of the graphic design studio and branding agency Someoddpilot. In 2011 the company set up shop in a historic building next to the el tracks in Wicker Park. The loft had a past life as Weirder Park, an underground party space known for keggers and general art-student mayhem. Eichenseer and his team revamped the raw space themselves, sanding the floors and painting the walls, but he consciously decided to keep some of the rough edges, eschewing the sleek interiors typical of design agencies. “You can roll up your sleeves and make a mess or do whatever you have to do,” Eichenseer says.
Someoddpilot got its start in the late 90s with a few music- and art-minded friends designing record covers and websites for Empty Bottle, Drag City, and Pitchfork. (The company was behind the logo that still defines Pitchfork’s identity today.) Over time, the studio attracted apparel companies looking to reach creative types. “Music audiences don’t accept bullshit. They want to see the real thing and know that it’s real,” Eichenseer says. “A lot of the companies we work with now have that same inclination.” Someoddpilot now does branding for Merrell, Patagonia, Saucony, Sperry, and Peoria-based Caterpillar.
The half of the studio not used for production is occupied by a sun-filled art gallery called Public Works. The space often serves as a conference room or a photo studio, but it’s mainly Someoddpilot’s source of connection to the greater arts community. Seasonal shows highlight artists whose work straddles both the commercial and fine-art worlds, and have included work by Pink Floyd album designer Storm Thorgerson, LA photographer Andy Mueller, Ukraine photogs Synchrodogs, Québec-based design duo Seripop, and local favorites Sonnenzimmer and Cody Hudson. And from time to time Public Works and Someoddpilot produce exhibits and create art installations around the city. Check out their next collaboration at Via Fest, an art and electronic music festival, at Canvas (2314 W. North), October 9-10.