What’s going on, go ahead and introduce yourself
My name is Chuck Anderson. I’m a creative that plays dual roles, as the Creative Director of Design at Havas Chicago and also as a freelance artist & designer through my studio NoPattern.
How was life like growing up?
Life was good. As a kid I was supported a lot by my parents when it came to my interests. I was into both art and sports, when many people were into one or the other. Being into both sports and art was a little odd as a kid but has become pretty cool as I’ve gotten older now and have been able to work with a lot of different athletic companies and sports brands doing the work I love to do.
Explain the meaning behind name NoPattern.
The name came about when I was 16, I’m now 31, so half of my life I’ve been NoPattern. Being young, I needed a name for my portfolio, so I decided to just write a lot of names down, and NoPattern stuck and the domain was available, honestly. I like to dabble with a lot of different creative mediums, that’s the concept behind the name. Now that I’m older I’ve learned to embody the name more than I ever imagined as a kid. The name now to me represents different things as a singular person. When you look through my portfolio, you’re able to see work ranging from style to style, and that’s NoPattern.
When did you begin finding your passion for art?
I could answer this question at two different time periods of my life. I began getting involved with art at an early age; I would draw all the time in school. My parents noticed that I was good at drawing and encouraged me and supported me before art became my career.
I had always known I wanted to pursue a career in art. I really began to take it more seriously when I was fresh out of High school and not going to college. During that time I started getting a lot of work, meeting a lot of people, and started matching the art with the business.
How did you transition from drawing to digital design?
When I was around 14-15, I started to become more aware of graphic design. I started with illegally downloaded copies of Photoshop and went to Borders to find books to learn Photoshop. I’d really just sit there all night and teach myself everything I could.
How important is it to be able to draw when it comes to graphic designing?
It depends on what you do, I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it helps. I think having basic drawing skills in general is helpful to anyone in a creative profession. Having the simple ability to pick up a pen and translate what’s in your head is very important and fundamental. You don’t have to be the best at it, but being able to get a thought or concept out quickly, even if it’s rough, is important.
You’ve discussed on how Ben (Boxed Water, The Brilliance) is a big mentor to you, explain the importance of Ben in your life as a kid.
Ben was someone who was like a big brother to me since I never had one growing up. Growing up in the suburbs, the styles of music or the clothes I had access to always felt so limited. I noticed Ben was into hip-hop and punk rock, and I found it super intriguing. One of the big reasons he was a big influence on me was due to the fact that he didn’t go to college, but ended up quite successful. He was doing his own thing and figuring it out and I really looked up to that. When I started NoPattern, he began to take a pretty keen interest in me as well and the friendship suddenly had a lot more foundation. Ben and I had an instant connection and we still talk almost every day after 12-13 years. We are mentored by each other at this point I’d say.
Lets talk about not going to college, how big of a decision was that at the time?
Now-a-days you hear people not going to college and starting businesses and it’s just kind of this sexy, understood concept. Be smart, work 24/7 on your start-up. It wasn’t like that when I was getting started; college was something that was pushed onto many kids in my particular generation. I didn’t have the money for college and it seemed better to take a year off and figure some things out. It was a big decision to not attend college, it was a decision out of necessity. I feel like it made sense at the time in my head, ha, and luckily I had the support from my parents and high school art teachers. I don’t know where I’d be today if I had gone to school. I do believe I’d still be successful in a creative career, but I just don’t know what. I think not going to school was just part of my path and I really owned that fact and made it part of my story.
Do you think art school is necessary?
I do not, but I also never discourage anyone from going unless the particular situation is going to put you into overwhelming debt. I really don’t believe in debt but I understand its occasional necessity. Right now, in 2016, you can learn so many things in new ways that were previously non-existent. At the same time, I’m sure there is a lot to be said about the experience you gain in art school, no doubt. I just think everyone really has to make this decision for themselves. I didn’t go, but I don’t think anyone should base their decision on what I did. Charles Barkley style, I’m not your role model. Ha.
How did you start getting into the industry right away?
I felt very much like I had nothing to lose, so I started getting my name out there on the Internet. Growing up, my Dad has a subscription to ESPN magazine and every month I would see all of the illustration/design work inside and wonder how these people got these jobs. I dug into the masthead of the magazine, figured out their email address format, and hit up the art director. Like, straight up I started guessing e-mail addresses and sending individual emails out to them and tons of different companies. Many of these e-mails would go unnoticed, but there were a lot that followed up and hired me.
Without a college degree how were you able to get positions?
Honestly, nobody ever asked if I had a degree. I did an ad for Absolut vodka at the age of 19. Legally I’m sure that wasn’t OK, but nobody cared I guess?? When I was living in my parent’s basement, I got hired to freelance for ESPN, Absolut, and Reebok. The cool thing about being an artist is that as long as you’re good at what you do you can get hired. You can be 15 or 75 and if you’re doing good work, who cares?
(Reebok/Absolut Vodka Ads)
What was the first major project you got to work on?
ESPN was big, but McDonalds was the first big name company I worked for. An agency in Chicago, Digital Kitchen, a production/design house that created commercials and TV intros hired me. At the time they were creating a McDonalds McGriddle commercial and they brought me on to create these illustrations that would weave into the commercial. The commercial then aired during the 2005 World Series. I was 19. That is still weird to think about.
You have a famous quote you like to say, “If you do something, something will happen”. Explain this.
It’s about as self-explanatory as it gets. Do something, and something will happen. Do nothing, and nothing will happen. Just try stuff. Make things. Don’t worry about what might happen. If it’s a positive, creative thing, just do it and put it out there, and repeat.
In 2010 you were listed as a design icon for a computer arts magazine, how was that feeling?
It was cool, I’m proud of it for sure. It’s like this little trophy in my mind, but that was 6 years ago and I was only 24! Who cares now, I gotta keep doing my thing for that to matter, you know? I got recognized for things I was doing when I was younger and people took notice, it was validating to my ego, but now it’s just like…ok, move along.
Last year in March, you took a position as Creative director of design at Havas, congrats. How did you meet up with the guys at havas?
Jason Peterson (Havas’ CCO) and I met at an event for our mutual friend Lupe Fiasco while he was in town performing at Grant Park during the World Cup. We both were hanging out, but didn’t have much chance to talk. After the event I felt like I should reach out to him, so I did, I shot him an email, he responded and we met for coffee. Really wasn’t a big deal, I just like to meet up with other creative people in Chicago. While we were talking, I think maybe he thought I was looking for a job? Ha. Maybe not, I don’t know…but I think a lot of people in this town have gone to him expecting something. I really didn’t expect anything other than good conversation about work and our shared love of punk rock and hardcore. Around a month after we went out for coffee, he hired me as a freelancer for some projects over there, and a month after that I they reached out to me about this full-time role at Havas. I truly had never considered taking a full time position working at an agency, but I then took a step back and realized this was a chance to try something else, something new, so I took it. The past couple of years have been a ton of fun. I really have enjoyed being able to work with a team, learn how to trust others in my creative process, and be a part of something that’s bigger than myself. I still get to do pretty much whatever I want with NoPattern, so that’s a facet to the relationship that I’m super grateful for. They trust me and want me to be who I am, not give anything up, and that’s rare and incredibly progressive thinking in agency-world.
What is it about Havas that you guys are currently doing that make so many kids want to work for you guys?
I think it has a lot to do with Jason. People see Jason’s work and see Jason as a huge inspiration. He’s this dude that’s been around in advertising for a while now, kids see that and think, man, I could be cool when I’m older if I follow that path! Ha. Jason has been able to create an environment that is appealing to the creative community in Chicago. Lots of talented people at Havas, and talent attracts talent.
Jason has just been listed in the top 30 most creative people in advertising. How is it being able to work alongside Jason?
It’s cool, I feel like we learn a lot from each other. He also trusts me, which is awesome, and it’s cool to be apart of something he has been able to build. He’s the kind of person who knows if he likes something or not in the first 5 seconds he sees it. I have always appreciated people who don’t linger, who know what they like and can make up their mind right away.
We live in a money hungry generation. Explain the importance of working for free and gaining experience.
It really depends on the work and whom you are doing it for. If you are helping your mom with something, I mean… don’t ask for money. I think it’s important for artists and designers to work for non-profits. Non-profits need good design as much as anyone else, and it’s a great way for younger, more inexperienced designers to get some insight working with clients. You still have to be smart about the work you agree to, never want to be taken advantage of obviously, but it can be good.
When it’s all said and done, how do you Chuck Andersen want to be remembered?
I hope to be remembered for helping others out. Whether it was simply my work and style influencing someone to experiment or try something new or my story encouraging someone to enter a design profession, or just answering someones email to give them some advice…I think that’s what really matters. I had people in my life like that when I got started who I’ll never forget, so it’s only right to pay it forward. My work will get remembered I think, but the most lasting impact I could do is make an impact on the generation below me, not just with art, but how they handle themselves as artists, professionals, and people.
Written By: Nicholas Rud