El Jefe Design

El Jefe Design is the secret code name for successful designer, illustrator, author and failed-rock star Jeffrey Everett. Located outside of Washington, DC, El Jefe Design has had the pleasure of designing and illustrating for a wide variety of entertainment, corporate, and non-profit clients. Jeff's work has been published in numerous books such as New Vintage Type and Design Entrepreneur, and seen in major magazines including Print, HOW, and Step Inside Design.

He is the recipient of gold and silver awards from The Art Directors Club and a best-in-category from the AdClub (Addys), and is included in the AIGA Fifty Show. His work has been stapled on walls of dingy rock clubs and framed in high-end galleries around the world. Jeff is the author, curator, and designer of "1,000 Garment Graphics" for Rockport Press, and has taught and lectured for American University, University of Baltimore,
and the AIGA.

El Jefe Design works tirelessly with its many clients to ensure that each product exactly fits each client's needs. Ranging from stationery, posters, annual reports, and music packaging to direct mail and websites, El Jefe Design's sensibility is proudly distinctive. Using humor/irony, smarts, fringe culture iconography, and handcrafted work in contrast to the overwhelming homogenization and conservatism that characterize committee-created corporate products. Simply put: El Jefe always delivers heavy-weight design.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft, Jeff.
I started doing screen prints while getting my Master's Degree in Design from The School of Visual Art (SVA) in NYC. While taking a class on printing my teacher instructed us to "JUST PRINT SOMETHING!." Luckily, one of my favorite bands, Firewater, was playing and I arranged with them to do posters. I ended up designing and printing the posters, getting into the show for free, and hanging out backstage. I was hooked. 

Design is usually about interpreting what the clients want. SVA taught me to be independent and to use my own voice when designing. I create what I want to see and have. I entertain myself and hope others will come along.  So far, there seems to be a few people who like what I have to say. 

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Wow... hmmm... I find making my kids laugh and smile to be pretty much the best. They are touch to crack so I feel I accomplished something and they have the sweetest laughs. 

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
People wanting me to do work for free because it is "punk rock." I have learned when people say need to be more "punk" and to "keep it real" it usually means they are trying to scam me. Though I enjoy the work I do it is work - it takes time to do a piece. Though I enjoy what I do I still like to be taken seriously and compensated for it. 

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I originally wanted to draw cartoons and comics but realized I was not able to draw the same thing over and over and have it look consistent. I knew I wanted to do art but I was scattered on what kind. I also wanted to be a Reverend more because they always wore black which was rare in the small town I grew up in. 

What item in your collection would you like to receive as a gift if someone were shopping for you?
Tough question. I always have a special place for the Bouncing Souls poster I did for their show at the Black Cat in DC. In contains so many of my favorite things - pretty lady on the metro, DC related pieces like the map, cool bands on the back pack, argyle, and reminds me of all the times coming home from shows. This was my ode to how awesome DC is. 

What other artists out there do you love?
Chuck Sperry, who is one of the few people I buy posters from

Hero Design and StrawberryLuna are just all around good people doing great things. 

What does your future hold?
More and more work which we are thrilled about. I am working on a few projects for SideOneDummy, I have a small gallery show in DC [ at Bella in DC that runs May to June], and lots of posters for bands like Jenny and Johnny, Man Man, Dengue Fever, and Gaslight Anthem. I am currently working on FOUR new album designs. Caffeine is your friend!
We will be at Art Star Craft Bazzar in Philadelphia, PA on May 14-15, Hand Made Mart in Silver Spring, MD on May 22, and Artscape in Baltimore on July 15 - 17.