RINGLEADER, FIFTH LETTER, WINSTON-SALEM NC
Elliot is a designer, business owner and entrepreneur. He founded Fifth Letter in 2005 (after ten years of learning from others) and enjoys working with clients in areas including apparel, arts organizations and nonprofits, education, finance, food and beverage, furniture, media production and delivery, new business launches, publishing, and technology, among others. He has taught design courses at the collegiate level, and lectured at colleges and universities in Ohio, Kentucky and North Carolina. His work has been featured in several books, recognized with awards by AIGA, CA, CUNA, GDUSA, GAM, Graphis, HOW, LogoLounge, Neenah Paper, Print, Step, Type Directors Club and UCDA (among others), and is in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress. Elliot co-founded the AIGA Triad NC chapter in 2014 and enjoys giving back to the design community by providing internships and networking opportunities for students and young designers, as well as providing tools for them to succeed.
WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
Born in Rhode Island and now live in North Carolina, although my formative years were spent in Ohio
DID YOU GO TO DESIGN SCHOOL?
I have a BFA in Graphic Design from Ohio University (Go Bobcats!)
LEFTY OR RIGHTY?
MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL?
I’m a reformed night owl
FICTIONAL OR HISTORICAL CHARACTER YOU IDENTIFY WITH?
Sherlock Holmes. His critical thinking allowed him to reach conclusions that were magic to everyone else, and I see a parallel with great design.
My favorite genre is biographies and I really enjoy origin stories.
Based on movies I quote often, four I always return to are Airplane!, Animal House, The Blues Brothers, and Caddyshack with Coming to America and A Christmas Story as runners-up
FAVORITE TV BINGE WATCH?
Storage Wars and Pawn Stars, with American Pickers up there as well
FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM?
A tie between Instagram and Pinterest
FAVORITE FINE ARTIST?
Far too many to list, but I’d include Norman Rockwell, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
We have worked with several nonprofits, but my favorite has been Providence Restaurant, a local nonprofit providing commercial kitchen training that helps students change the trajectory of their lives.
FAVORITE FREE TIME ACTIVITY?
Traveling with my wife and son
Several things. Two of my favorites are fruit crate labels and letter E’s (hence our firm’s name)
DOES PRINT HAVE A ROLE IN YOUR DESIGNS?
Absolutely. About 50% of our business is some sort of printed materials
I have been very lucky to have met many of my heroes and have worked for a few of them: Todd Coats, Hayes Henderson and Troy Tyner
GREATEST STRENGTH/WEAKNESS AS A DESIGNER?
I decided to ask my team to answer this question for me. Strengths: business sense, ability to “connect the dots” to look ahead, and transparency when working together. Weakness: I tend to get excited about what’s new when we still need to wrap-up all the things in progress
ADVICE TO A YOUNG DESIGNER JUST STARTING OUT?
Be a lifelong learner. Ours is a dynamic and passion-fueled profession existing at the intersection of art, business and technology
IF YOU WERE NOT A DESIGNER, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
Unemployed! Actually, a cultural anthropologist
A MANTRA OR SAYING YOU LIVE BY?
Curiosity, hunger and grit. These are the three keys to success. It’s written on the wall in our office.