Chad Von Borstel’s career got rolling at a Chicagoland skate shop, where he worked when he was in high school.
Chad, Well Done Marketing’s newest production designer, was so fascinated with the graphics on the skateboards at that shop that he started considering how to turn his part-time high school job into a full-time profession.
“I would take a plain, white skateboard and try to paint my own stuff on it,” he said. “It was just awful-looking. But that’s where it all started.”
Before he arrived at our front door, though, Chad’s career path took a few twists and turns. We sat down with him to learn how he pointed himself in our direction.
Q: How did you expand your interest from skateboards into the rest of the design world?
One of my professors at Indiana Wesleyan University saw the passion I had for illustration and art and showed me how they can be incorporated into so many different industries. I started learning about as many creative media as I could and found out that I love the intersection of design and illustration.
Q: How did you start putting that passion to work?
Our design program at IWU is really interesting. Our professors started a design studio outside of school. It’s called Marion Design Co., and they let their students, including me, work there. It gives them free labor and allows students to have the opportunity to work on real design jobs.
Q: Tell us about one of those projects.
Marion Made is a market for people in the city of Marion, Indiana, where IWU is based, to sell handmade goods. We created a fashion show that became a community event. It was just an eye-opening experience because I learned how many facets there are to design and illustration and how you can impact a whole community with it. So I got even more passionate about it, and I added in an independent study in photography, too.
I did an internship with Wil Foster, a photographer in Noblesville whose business is called Rockcandy. He helped me pick out a camera and my first lenses and taught me how to shoot in the studio. It was really impactful and important.
Q: By then, you were getting close to graduation. What did you plan to do?
I was thinking a lot about branding and packaging for the spirits industry because I was working as a bartender in the summer, back home in Illinois. I started noticing that all of the liquor bottles have interesting labels and glass molds. That’s something I’d like to try, eventually.
But I graduated into the pandemic and had a lot of jobs fall through. I was thankful to get some freelance work. At the same time, when Hotel Tango here in Fountain Square reopened after being closed because of the pandemic, they hired me as a host. Then they shut down again and I went to production—I was even a distiller for a month or two, which was super interesting. They asked me to join the marketing department when, apparently, they discovered I had design experience. Anyway, I was really happy to be on the marketing team.
Q: How did you start thinking about working at Well Done?
I knew I would need to work at an ad agency or a studio and learn as much as possible if I wanted to get better. So I started looking around. When I read the client and employee reviews of Indianapolis agencies, there were a few that were highly acclaimed, and Well Done was one of them. At the end of the day, I got an interview and an offer and I jumped at the opportunity.
Q: What are you hoping to accomplish while you’re at Well Done?
I just want to soak up as much knowledge as I can and do some really great work for our clients. I’m doing a little bit of everything right now, but I’d really like to do illustration work and learn how to include that in branding projects.
Q: What do you want to do in the future?
I’m still interested in the spirits industry—branding and packaging. Maybe the fashion industry. I’ve just always been enamored with that stuff, I guess.
Q: Enough about work. What do you do when you aren’t designing?
I’m working on developing the next classic cocktail! There’s a genre called Modern Classics—it’s all of the cocktails from the early 19th Century that are getting modified into fun, new concoctions.
That’s perfect for Well Done! We’re always interested in treats we can share at our 3:37s—when we stop working at 3:37 p.m. and hang out. Do you have a great cocktail recipe we could use?
Sure! I love to make Negronis. It’s one ounce of London dry gin, one ounce of sweet vermouth, and one ounce of Campari. Put that together and stir it with ice. Pour it into a rocks glass, ideally over one large, square ice cube. Garnish with an orange peel and enjoy!
Q: That sounds fantastic. Would you bring some of those in some time—at around 3:37 p.m. of course?
Cheers to that idea!