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Element Designer Series: Q&A with Creative Director Mike Tessmer

For the month of September, our Designer Series brings us the “leader of the pack,” Mike Tessmer.

Mike is Element’s Creative Director. As an experienced art director, he works closely with the design team and helps conceptualize many of the amazing ideas we bring to life for our clients.

mike tessmer
Mike Tessmer

As you’ll learn, Mr. Tessmer is also a car guy. He drives a Prius to work because he needs to get good gas mileage due to a long commute, but he’s a fan of fuel-guzzling machines of all shapes and sizes.

For last year’s Element Holiday Gift Guide, Mike even suggested high performance motor oil as an ideal present.

(Word to the wise, this is probably not a good choice for wives and girlfriends.)

Mike’s September cover image for Element’s Facebook page also has an automotive theme.

Start your engines, and get ready to find out a little about Mike Tessmer’s creative process!

Mike’s Facebook Image Design

Q: What inspired your design and what tools and techniques did you use to create it?

Mike Tessmer: I’m an old car guy, and I spend a lot of my free time going to car shows, looking at pics online, and sketching custom car ideas. So the Element logo as a hood ornament is a natural fit. After all, the hood ornament was originally intended to proudly display a symbol of the marque.

I almost always start my illustrations by sketching on paper, ideas and lines flow easier that way. Then I will scan it in and use Adobe Illustrator to build the finished look.

Q: From a designer’s perspective, what is it you like about cars?

MT: Cars have many facets and lines that need to work together to make a pleasing visual statement.

The best brands have a “look” that makes you identify with that marque. Both in a pragmatic sense like “that looks like a Mustang.” And, also in an emotional sense like “that car looks fast.”

Editors note: Speaking of cars and design … don’t miss Art Director Aaron Graff’s AutoType infographic showing the relationship between typefaces and different kinds of vehicles.

Q: What’s the most satisfying part of your job at Element?

MT: I enjoy working with smart people who can understand things beyond what is right in front of their faces.


Well gee, that’s got to be one of the sweetest things he’s ever said about us!

We’re glad our lack of stupidity and ability to see past our noses makes you happy at work, Mike!

Check out some of the incredible design work Mike Tessmer and the entire Element creative team has produced when you visit our Portfolio page.

Fun fact: The song “Mustang Sally,” was almost titled “Mustang Mama” after singer Della Reese who wanted her own Ford Mustang. Soul singer Aretha Franklin was the one who suggested the name change.

You’re probably most familiar with the Wilson Picket version of that song. However, it was written and first recorded by Sir Mack Rice. Take a listen to the original version in the video below!


Be the most enlightened person around the water cooler.