Lainie Siegel

brand designer

All images are copyrighted and strictly for educational and viewing purposes.


May 2006

Tell us a little bit about your background? Where are you from originally?

I grew up in Southern California, in Walnut, just east of LA proper. To me, it was an ordinary middle class community and on the verge of massive growth. The adjacent city, Diamond Bar, was also growing so the two communities were tied to each other’s students. Needless to say, it was crowded. Good thing was, high school bored me, as did the small town vibe. Because of the overcrowding, I was able to take accelerated courses and graduate in almost two years. At 16, I started college (Mt. SAC, for those in the know) and then transferred to Cal State Long Beach to study fine art. Long Beach had a thriving artistic community and, I found, it was a wonderful place to be young and creative. After some years in Long Beach, I announced I was going to see the world! Anyway, Europe, at least. So, I jumped on an airplane and headed to London. I loved traveling, the freedom of the wind, the abundance of creativity and the rich diversity of cultures. I traveled through Europe and England for over a year then returned to the States. In 1989, I settled in Los Angeles.

Early influences included Gandhi, John Lennon and many various liberal icons (my parents were hippies). As a child, I was highly creative but my grade school experience with “art” was tragic. Looking back, it was a clear indication of how public schools “support” a child’s creativity. I felt discouraged time and time again. Discouraged from being free form with my creativity; drawing patterns, swirls, abstracts, at the constant disapproval and criticism of my teachers. I remember being told that what I was coloring “was not art”. Told my “abstracts” should look like “something”. I can hear it now, “A tree should look like a tree! A house should look like a house!”. Or the devastating, “What is that?”.

Eventually it shut me down. In 6th grade, I remember I crossed my arms and said, “Art is stupid”. In 7th grade, I recall being forced to go on a field-trip with my class to the Getty (the one in Malibu). I hated it, hated art, and hated being forced to go. I remember, I was in the back of the class and refused to listen to the museum’s docent as she told whimsical tales about the Degas and Cézannes. However, on a far wall, in the same gallery, I noticed a small, framed, print by some strange woman named Joan Miro. I looked long at her painting. It spoke to me in a way I had never experienced. Her visual vocabulary was abstract and emotional, it resonated so deeply inside of me. I was excited. I wrote the artist’s name on my hand so I wouldn’t forget her. From that day forward, my experience with Miro profoundly changed my life. I was suddenly excited about art again and began a journey in educating myself on contemporary art history. Creativity was once again a part of my life. Oh, and I learned that Miro was not she, but he.

For many years I focused primarily on fine art, which led me to an exploration of conceptual and performance art, both of which I am still very involved with.

Okay, to bring this story present, and to the topic of design…we all know the “artists are supposed to starve” concept. In my opinion, I was a conceptual artist but, in reality, I was a waitress. After almost ten years at various jobs I just happened to be a waitress right next door to a brand new startup company called BoxTop. BoxTop designed for this strange thing called the “Internet”. At the time, I’d never even turned on a computer but the customers from BoxTop kept telling me stories about “the Web” and whatever that was, it sounded very exciting.

I talked my way into an interview. They liked me and created a position for me as their first intern. That was my introduction, education and indoctrination to computers, design and “the Web”. After three months at a non-paid position, they offered me a full-time job as a production artist. I worked for BoxTop for three years and rode the initial blips of the dot-com bubble. During that period, BoxTop was acquired by iXL (as part of said bubble) and in that bubble, I worked my way up from production artist to designer to senior designer to art director. Okay?

In the bubble and outside of it, I have worked for high profile companies and equally high profile brands. During the height of the dot-com wave, I helped launch the infamous DEN (Digital Entertainment Network) as their sole Art Director, managing a team of over 35 artists.

Today, I lead the show at the agency, JUNGLE 8/creative (formerly Interactive Jungle). JUNGLE 8/creative maintains a top tier client list that includes: Carsey Warner Mandabach, Korbel Champagne, Fox Home Entertainment, Triage Entertainment, Mandalay Entertainment, and Big Idea. Our focus has included entertainment, consumer brands, and non-profit entities.

During my education, at large, I have always held to the “conceptual art” influence. To this day, I dig deeper and deeper and, in as much, have discovered the art of brand identity and usability. Whatever the project or task required, I’ve always looked into the conceptual foundation through which I define the core creative; the seed from which “a project” will grow.

My visual style does not duplicate anyone else, though it’s inspired by everything around me. I am extremely inspired by what other artists do on “La Web”, but also on canvas, video, film – whatever people are doing. I look to world affairs, spirituality, my son, and the human condition for inspiration; I look at everything.

What has been the most rewarding and challenging project you have worked on?

Given what I have said? They all are. I feel a surge of excitement when any new project starts, no matter the scope or budget. Each project brings its own set of challenges and limitations. Given both of those, my job is to push those boundaries as creatively and successfully as I can while I communicate the core message. Really.

My current passion is brand identity and positioning, creative campaign development and usability design. Oh yeah, and I still love graphic design!

From your portfolio, what is your favorite piece? Why?

All projects at JUNGLE 8 are like children. From conception to birth, to them leaving the nest, so to speak, we pour our blood, sweat and tears into each of them equally. For me, the creative process is a labor of love, which is why I guess it never matters if the budget is high-dollar or not. It’s the process, the anticipation of giving birth, that keeps me energized. And just like a parent with many children, we love them all for different reasons and they’re all favorites, for different reasons.

Now granted, some projects have more exciting “gestation periods”. I tend to favor experiences where clients trust us with their brand identity and are willing to take some risk. More often than not, they find they can communicate their brand through more progressive design than they thought. When that happens, it’s an amazing experience all around!

Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about?

Oh, come on. You know I can’t talk about stuff in development for clients. I assure you, you’ll be the first to know 🙂

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