“Design is a solution to a problem. Art is a question to a problem.”
J O H N M A E D A
Jon Bjornson is an artist, graphic designer, and visual thinker living and working in Philadelphia. His design work balances opportunity with constraint, strategy with visual expression. By thinking deeply about how design can leverage a client’s brand value, he translates that thinking into creative action. His philosophy is to work with people, not for businesses, and he truly cares about the people who trust him to visually and verbally express who they are.
Jon has spent more than 30 years creating and managing brand communications, serving clients in a diverse range of industries—corporate, technology, finance, consumer, retail, medical, pharmaceutical, real estate, hospitality, institutional, and nonprofit. Jon received his BFA in Graphic Design in 1986 from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, Rhode Island. He has also taught graphic design as an adjunct professor at Moore College of Art and Design, and given talks on design at several institutions.
Jon’s recent artwork includes mixed media, watercolor, printmaking, photography, and digital illustration. His work spans from abstract landscapes and portraits expressing spiritual themes to digital illustrations featuring simple geometry and ambiguous spatial relationships. His artistic sense of color and composition underly all of his work. Jon also creates colorful and dramatic montages that incorporate photography from his various travels.
So Bjornson, what do you do? Mostly, I tell people I’m a graphic designer; my wife refers to me as an artist. To potential clients, I’m a brand consultant. Frankly, I like the universality of the term “creative professional.” I’m also a dad, husband, and certifiable ice hockey nut.
Where do you work? I work in paradise—a 600-square-foot studio in my backyard that I collaboratively designed with an architect friend of mine. Short commute, flexible hours, great view.
Nice. How’d you swing that? With help from family and friends, I decided to simplify life so I could be around to watch my kids grow up. With that in mind, I built the studio in 2012.
What was so complicated? I had run a small firm in Center City Philadelphia for 15 years that employed as many as 10 people. The business was very successful, but the 70-hour weeks were killing me. In 2001, following the dot-com bubble, I scaled back my business and moved my office out of the city. In 2005, through another series of cosmic events, I was offered an executive position with one of my clients and went “in-house” to rebrand the company from the inside. It was an invaluable experience, and I am proud of what I accomplished, but it was pretty stressful. When I finished what I had started, I went back out on my own in 2008. I have been a white-collar fugitive ever since.