Membership Spotlight :: Ben Gelnett

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Q: How and why did you get involved with AIGA? Approximately how long have you been involved with the organization?
A: I’d been aware of AIGA and attended events, etc. for sometime but didn’t officially join the organization until 2008. I was working for an in-house marketing department that valued AIGA and encouraged us to get involved. The local chapter is full of inclusive / great people with so many interests outside of design that it keeps things interesting and fun. Two mandatories for this sort of thing.

Q: What attracted you to the design profession?
A: It was the proper allocation of whatever sort of “natural talent” I might have inherited. Having spent most of 4-12 grade perfecting my fine art chops through magnet programs and AP classes, I knew I could draw and sculpt but I didn’t know how to cultivate those skills into an actual career. As high school approached my work became increasingly graphic and I began to create hand drawn logos for surf contests and local surf shops. After one particularly popular shop refused to credit me for an identity they created around a sketch I provided on yellow notebook paper, I decided to get serious and look into the design program at SCAD in Savannah, GA. That was it. I had simultaneously found a way to channel my creative energy and silently avenge the shady surf bros.

Q: What would people be surprised to know about you?
A: When I was growing up my mother ran a christian / straight edge music club that would have alt rock, punk, metal and hardcore shows. Since there was no booze, the shows were available to underaged kids, a rarity. She would stay up for hours visiting Kinkos, doing cut and paste flyers and promos for events. Textbook awesome 80’s DIY style graphic design type stuff. The venue itself was in a dodgy part of the oceanfront and also did soup kitchens during the day so it naturally attracted the more discerning patron. That being said, a typical Tuesday in our house included MXPX coming over for dinner while the homeless dude that crashed on the couch was talking to the pots and pans in the kitchen. On Thursday, Sixpence Non the Richer is sleeping in the living room and we are feeding another teenage runaway. That sort of upbringing gives you an appreciation for all sorts of characters and different ways of living life.

Q: What sound or noise do you love?
A:  Yeah, so… probably the sound of guitar, drums and bass pummeling out songs with wreckless abandon and some level of skill. Too much polished talent and it becomes pretty lame, pretty quick for me. Of course I don’t have what one would call an ear for the hits or even the most basic musical training so this approach to creating noise suits me best.

Q: What are you currently working on?
A: Well, becoming a better person for my family and co-workers is probably my biggest undertaking at the moment. I have 9-month old twins at home now and at this point in my career I owe it to the both of those parties to really buckle down and focus. Having kids is like getting punched in the face–it wakes you up and immediately changes your priorities, but in a good way. I definitely have a better understanding of basic humanity and its needs and patterns now. Insights that, if properly applied to design thinking, can also be beneficial. Because whether it’s for your kids or for your client, you want to create something unique and something that’s fundamentally honest and true. Now if I can only figure out a way to bill my kids.

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About AIGA Charlotte’s Member Spotlight
Each month AIGA Charlotte interviews a selected AIGA Charlotte Member. It is a great opportunity for the Charlotte design community to see who AIGA Charlotte is along with all the amazing things our members are doing. If you or someone you know would like to be interviewed and appear on AIGA Charlotte’s Member Spotlight, please contact Kevin Brindley, Membership Director.

By aigacharlotte
Published January 26, 2012
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