About Innovatemap — 07.08.2021

The People and Processes that Inspire Our Design Team

Innovatemap Team

Before the Innovatemap team helps clients find the best brand to communicate their vision or design a product with intention, they start at the source: what inspires them. The search for daily inspiration keeps them on their toes and ahead of what’s current. 

So, we asked our designers to share what influences shape their approach to work. From grandmasters like industrial designer Dieter Rams to provocative ads from Gucci, here’s a sampling of the players and processes our designers admire. 

Sketch it Out  

Many of our designers pointed to sleek drawings as sources of inspiration. Tressa Janes (Brand Designer) highlighted work by Nick Slater. Pulling from animal influences like tigers, herons, and toucans, Slater pairs elegant scripts with dynamic centerpieces to create whimsical flat illustrations. Janes also lauded more complex illustrations from Deborah Lee, which have been featured in a 2020 Adobe commercial, Scientific American magazine, Procreate, and more. “I like to get a big range of styles because that helps me mix and match and learn new ways to design,” Janes said. “So seeing work like this, something wildly different from my own, helps me realize the potential of what I can do.” 

“Path to Decay” by Deborah Lee, as featured in Giant Robot’s illustration gallery in Los Angeles last year. Shared as shown on Deborah Lee’s online portfolio, available here:

TJ Nieset (Marketing Designer) learns from Aaron James Draplin about leaning into illustrations with “tight grids” and “blocky designs” that have been used by the Obama administration, Esquire magazine, and more. Nieset first saw Draplin give a lecture in Bloomington about his work and has since incorporated his advice about bringing a range of ideas to the design table. “He’s so easygoing about throwing things on the page and seeing what happens. He really pushed me to show up with 10 ideas when two are asked for,” Nieset said. 

A deft hand for illustration can also be found in typography, which Parker McCullough (Senior Brand Designer) admires through the OH no type company’s catalog. 

Products For Social Good 
At the heart of Innovatemap’s mission is helping businesses develop products that have a tangible impact. Innovatemap NYC’s Diana Jeong Ro (Product Designer) gets motivated to do this work by looking at the likes of George Aye, co-founder of innovation at the Greater Good Studio in Chicago. Working at the intersection of storytelling, public policy, and research, Aye and his colleagues design solutions for a range of social issues like food insecurity and healthcare access. The studio’s projects have included a human-centered design training for Chicago Public Schools employees looking to respond to an old problem, student misconduct, in better ways, and creating a digital platform to support formerly incarcerated teens through the arts with The Chicago Community Trust. For Diana, designers at the Greater Good Studio “pioneer conversations about the influence of power in design.” 

The Greater Good Studio in Chicago developed a human-centered design training to help Chicago Public Schools leaders respond better to student suspensions. Screenshot pictures a case study on the project, available here

Go Bold or Go Home

Jessica Hemesath (Brand Design Intern) finds wisdom in the unconventional. One of her insights came from a 2019 Gucci lipstick ad campaign featuring models with missing teeth, a moment that sought to provoke how audiences understand conventional beauty. “The product itself is placed in a very real context that embraces natural human beauty, or what some may consider a question of beauty,” Hemesath said. “Implying a deeper connection to lipstick is something that I can’t say hasn’t been done before, but this offers a modern incarnation of what lipstick can possibly represent or empower today.” She also praised the ad for motivating designers to go bold with a vision: “Taking risks for attention is big, but making a product connect with a deeper meaning that resonates with its audience is huge,” Hemesath said. 

One advertisement part of Gucci’s 2019 lipstick campaign. Photo by Gucci, obtained from The Cut

Innovatemap designers also look to industry leaders who are pushing boundaries in corporate settings. Yhareli Chamboneth (Motion Designer) admires Nando Costa’s motion graphics and commentary on innovation while he serves Microsoft, a globally recognized brand, as partner director of design. Sometimes, breaking the rules is the way to stand out, as Andy Kennedy (Principal, Brand Strategy & Design) highlights in work from the Day Job design firm and influential campaigns by WK.  

Back to Basics 

Like most great things, amazing digital products begin with a few core ingredients. The same is true for design. Innovatemap’s Piyush Dawande (Product Designer) says German industrial designer Dieter Rams’ 10 rules of good design remain a model today. “A lot of modern digital designs are inspired by Dieter Rams’ work,” Dawande said, as his portfolio shows how to make products that are “functional, aesthetic and timeless.” 

Jon Moore (Principal, Product Design) looks for best practices from designers at Tailwind Labs, who opt for a clean visual style and intuitive, user-centered designs. Moore highlighted work from James MacDonald, whose portfolio features iconography and user interface design. “He’s greatly influenced my personal aesthetic and I’ve learned a lot of visual design tricks from his work,” Moore said. 

James MacDonald featured this bills and planning page in his Dribble portfolio. Innovatemap’s Jon Moore (Principal, Product Design) celebrates it as an example of MacDonald’s “clean visual style, attention to detail, and UI intuitiveness.” 

Want to get (and give) some inspiration of your own? Innovatemap is hiring brand designers, product designers, and product marketers. Consider joining our team by visiting