Justin Dauer

is a multi-faceted, multi-pierced, multi-tattooed designer, author, and speaker from Chicago.

Denim. Coffee. Tattoos. Design. These are nouns with two syllables. They also summarize a man with a beard with (a semblance of) a plan who values the gift of fatherhood above all else.

He graduated the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a BFA in Visual Communications at a time when the job title “Web Designer” was an ethereal mystery to our moms and dads. The implications of graphic design upon the digital world captured his fascination; self-teaching code and development, he sought to marry visual communications with a raw and unshaped Internet. Moving to the East Cost at 21 and taking a job as the first web designer for the now defunct Interface Monthly Magazine in Portland, Maine, he had found his calling: the infusion of design with the digital landscape.

Returning to Chicago a couple years later and with Josef Müller-Brockmann and user advocacy claiming equal parts of his creative heart, he’s since crafted digital experiences for clients like Sony, Chase, SRAM, IBM, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Throughout his creative journey and with bloodshot tunnel vision, he’s had the innate need to take on roles that were projects; teams to be built, processes to be defined, practices to be championed.

He’s drawn from these career’s experiences across agency side, client side, product-side, and pure tech toward fostering healthy, dynamic, supportive creative cultures. The concept of putting people first  – in both design and workplace – keenly informs his design philosophy and creative mindset. Human-centered connection must be at the core of our design process as well as the cultural interactions at the office. It’s this vision that fueled both editions of his first book, Creative Culture, informs his presentations (Midwest UX opening keynote, AIGA Portfolio Festival, Big Design conference, etc.), and underpins his role as the Vice President of Human-Centered Design and Development at bswift.

Justin with his son on his back Justin standing at the podium while giving the MidwestUX opening keynote presentation
a behind-the-cameras photo of Justin while filming for MentorBox

The concept of putting humans first  – in both design and workplace – keenly informs his design philosophy and creative mindset.

His personal creative outlet is pseudoroom design (re: the site you're currently on). Pixel design as a creative outlet, and the inherent constraints of the medium, has long been near and dear to his heart. He founded The Dead Pixel Society with some of the world's best icon designers to carry on that tradition.