5-ish Questions: Drawing From What You Love with Ethan Keister
5-ish Questions is an ongoing series in which we introduce you to the people and personalities that make ZG such a fun and unique place to work.
Although he may be the newest addition to our team, Art Director Ethan Keister is far from a stranger to the ZG family. As a junior at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD), he was a design intern within our creative department. After graduating from MIAD and traversing the Himalayas, he decided to move back to Milwaukee (and back to his old cube). These days, you can find Ethan working on his illustration skills and indulging in the finer things in post-college life like instant ramen. (Side note, he’s a genuinely good dude and we were all super-excited to hear he’s rejoining the team.)
Welcome back, Ethan. You were an intern here not too terribly long ago and decided to come back. (Which is awesome, by the way.) What did you do in your time between ZG stints?
Glad to be back.
Well, I just graduated this past May with a BFA in graphic design. During the summer I had the opportunity to travel abroad to Northern India where I did design and marketing work for a very small family-run tourism business. After spending the summer exploring the Himalayas, I came back to the States – and back to ZG.
Speaking of, what made you decide to come back?
I’ve loved Milwaukee ever since coming out this way for college. Originally I’m from Upstate New York, and there’s not much opportunity there in regards of what I want to do (make cool stuff). So it was a no-brainer on where to go after graduation. My internship with ZG was such a great experience – I made really good friends with my co-workers and loved the agency vibe – so when I heard of an opening for an art director position, I just had to go for it. Some things have changed – there are some new faces and all the desks are occupied now, but that sense of camaraderie and teamwork is still here. I’m just happy to have the opportunity to make cool, creative work with great people.
I know you’ve been in touch with various ZG-ers since your stint as an intern, myself included. You’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with illustration recently. How’d you get into that?
I’ve been drawing since I can remember – mostly crude cartoons to make friends laugh and superiors roll their eyes. I was big into the Sunday comics and biographical graphic novels. One of my earliest influences was Gary Larson – the dude behind “The Far Side” comics; I’m a sucker for sick and twisted humor. Some others are Kim Jung Gi (fine artist), George Watsky (musician/author), and Neil Blompkamp (film director) to name a few. I’ve always appreciated the value illustration brings to storytelling.
And how do you hope to draw (no pun intended) from your fondness for illustration in your work here?
It’s hard not to put your own experiences and likes and dislikes into your work, and ZG seems to encourage that. I mostly work with pen, ink and marker, but I’m still experimenting with different mediums. I don’t want to have a certain style I have to adhere to; I like versatility (though I’m far from that) but I know what I want my work to say. Like I said, I love satirical humor and good characters behind a story so that’s what I want to develop and integrate into my design work.
Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got in store. Well, that’s about all I’ve got for you, intern Ethan. Any final thoughts you’d like to share with your new adoring fans?
Do creative things with good people. Oh, and, as it turns out, if you work at the right place, the free food doesn’t have to end at college, kids.
You’re gonna go far, my dude.