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Karen Backe is an independent Environmental Graphic Designer joining forces with talented partners to help museums and businesses tell their stories and build their brands by designing memorable spaces, exhibits, interpretive signage, event collateral, and wayfinding. Her innate understanding of how people use and move in spaces, and — with an eye on beautiful aesthetics — that ultimately the goal of design is communicating clearly and with intent make her a powerful asset to projects.
Prior to environmental graphic design, Karen’s education was in film theory and graphic design, setting a foundation in story telling and visual communication. She began her career in Chicago advertising and marketing agencies, where she credits her calm under pressure and unforgivingly meticulous eye. Serendipity led her to the world of environmental design and wayfinding in 2004, and she instantly fell in love with creating compelling experiences, eloquent dimensional design, and spaces that tell stories. Shifting her craft from a 2D format to a 3D landscape, she gained an array of skills and techniques, learning from the collaborations with experts in architectural detail, lighting, a/v, artifact conservation, and fabrication.
Karen is as resourceful and versatile as she is creative, and brings passion for greatness to her work. Her creative approach is to onboard a project with listening and observing, that way the creative ideas and solutions come from thoughtful concepts. So, from spending time with Navy recruits to help create an immersive visitor center, designing an 11’ clock that became a Chicago neighborhood’s instant and beloved landmark, to being the environmental graphic lead on the acclaimed National 9/11 Memorial Museum’s permanent historical exhibit, Karen does not shy away from a challenge.
Karen’s design philosophy is:
• Random decisions don’t yield strong design.
• The client and I are on the same team.
• Ever serious about the job, but not myself.
…and always, always good typography.
Karen’ spends her free time laughing at the constant witticisms of her husband and son, rowing on the Chicago River, swimming in Lake Michigan, and feeding her Hart 2 Hart obsession. That show is insane.
Visit Karen Backe's website, https://www.karenbacke.com/