Michael Ortlieb

Product Design • User Experience • Brand & Visual

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I’ve been creating pictorial, whimsical things as long as I can remember. As early as the first grade, I was drawing panel comic strips, and dreamt of being a cartoonist for my local paper, the Chicago Tribune. As we approached middle school, my brother and I pooled our allowance and lawn-mowing savings for our first computer, and while he wrote most of the game code, I oversaw art direction.

I’m still that kid fascinated by art, illustration and design. By the beauty and force of thoughtfully rendered work, and the mechanics that power and sustain it. That’s what makes me comfortable bridging the role of designer and developer: I’m fascinated by both the art and the science of everything I design.

But I’m not just an art and tech geek, I’m also an extrovert: communicative, collaborative, transparent, with an ace track record in customer service. I take every project seriously but keep the creative process lively, satisfying a client’s targets while fostering a spirit of symbiosis and fun. Be that client a major film or television studio, a national nonprofit, a boutique hotel, a political candidate, or a tech startup, I shine in making the client a part of the conversation… on time, on budget, and on the strategic mark.

I love sharing knowledge with others, and have taught quarterly classes in HTML and CSS, guiding students with a design background to create their first website. I’ve mentored interns and new entrants to UX to deep dive into user research and interviews. And I’ve run design thinking workshops in the United States and India to move engineering-forward mindsets towards creating products that advocate for the customer voice and provide a feedback loop for continuous improvement.

Having relocated to Chicagoland from Seattle in mid-2016 (just in time for the Chicago Cubs historic World Series win), I’ve been inspired by the tech renaissance in the Windy City, coupled with Midwest ambition and upfront communication. I’ve also been a proud member of 1871, Chicago’s Center for Technology and Entrepreneurship.

When I’m offline I enjoy running (I’m a two-time BofA Chicago Marathon finisher), biking, illustrating, exploring Chicagoland with my family, and belting out a ballad or three at karaoke.