AIGA FELLOW: NAMED BY AIGA CHICAGO, 2007
Joseph Michael Essex is a critical thinker who hates the “s” that many people put at the end of the word “communication.” He believes communication is a singular process governed by how human beings accept, store and access information. While the methods for delivering information are varied, the function of preparing, packaging and presenting a message is fundamentally the same. This propensity of his to examine and test the most basic of assumptions forms the core of his evaluative and creative process. That process is guided by the following questions: What do you want to have happen, to whom do you want it to happen, and what results do you expect? Since graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1970, Essex has asked questions that provide meanings, reasons and guidance as well as answers.
Before co-founding Essex Two, in 1989, with his partner, Nancy Denney Essex, he was senior vice president, director of design for Burson-Marsteller World Wide and director of visual communication planning for the 17 offices in the Americas. He has received hundreds of awards, from major communication publications and organizations in the United States, Europe and Asia, including medals from the New York Art Directors Club.
Essex became a member of AIGA in 1972, and in 1985 he was part of a small group that formed the Chicago chapter. He has been on the chapter board in one capacity or another since that time. In 1998 AIGA Chicago presented him with its Above and Beyond Award for his extraordinary service to his profession and the organization.
His fine art and commercial posters are in museum collections throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He has lectured extensively to student and professional groups on the business of communication and his own design process.