Paul Ahern is a graphic designer based in Chicago whose work includes corporate, artistic, experimental, and nonprofit designs that are thoroughly researched and thoughtfully executed.

Recent work at JNJ Creative
Recent work at JNJ Creative, continued
BFA Thesis Project: An Draoi
Stylus: Object Edition
Stylus: Object Edition, continued
Lissitzky Type Project
Other Editorial Work From Parsons
Early Work

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Englewood Music Fest 2023 EAC Arts Village

While working at JNJ Creative I provided design support on a variety of deliverables for the 2023 Englewood Music Festival. 

Here are a few samples of designs that I created using an existing design framework and guidance from my boss Janell Nelson. 

All work in this section is the exclusive property of JNJ Creative LLC and Englewood Arts Collective, special access granted for portfolio use only.

At JNJ Creative LLC

EAC Arts Village Sponsorship Deck
EAC Arts Village Sponsorship Deck
EAC Arts Village Sponsorship Deck  
Zoom Background for Official Planning Meetings
Instagram Promo Post - 1 Month Countdown

Other Work at JNJ Creative

Other projects that I provided design support for include various Instagram posts, posters and fliers for museums, an event map and mailers for Harris Theater, and a board reporting package for a notable non-profit. Much of that work is protected by NDAs except for the sample work shown here.

All work in this section is the exclusive property of JNJ Creative LLC and 
Englewood Arts Collective, special access granted for portfolio use only.

At JNJ Creative LLC

BFA Thesis Project:  An Draoi

My thesis project, An Draoi: Irish Cultural Resource, is an experimental and concept driven project rooted in deep research and personal connection. 
    Inspired by my experience growing up in the heavily Catholic Irish-American community of Chicago and my journey rediscovering my ancestry and cultural roots, this project eventually took the form of an archival website meant to re-establish long lost connections and give a clear, comprehensive, and decolonial view of Irish history and culture.

The website is still live on Github and can be accessed here.

At Parsons School of Design

Stylus: Object Edition

This experimental editorial design project was created in my Editorial Experience class at Parsons. Using a strict grid-based editorial system of my own design this 80-page booklet runs it’s stories opposite to said stories’ associated images. 
    All of the stories relate to the notion that technology and development can solve any problem; from getting your nature fix from a Nintendo game to the controversial observatory atop Mauna Kea to the “Peace” Walls that divide Belfast, these stories are meant to inspire curiosity and wonder as well as scrutiny over the current trend of always designing and chasing progress when the best solutions are sometimes the simplest.

The full booklet can be accessed here. I highly recommend two-page view to see the cross-page interaction.

At Parsons School of Design

Stylus: Object Edition Continued, Biosphere 2

Featured in Stylus: Object Edition is the awe-inspiring Biosphere 2. As if pluck straight from imagination this self sustaining man-made series of ecosystems was originally intended to serve as a model for human habitation in outer space but after a series of scandals with the original 1991 crew who lived inside for two years the site was acquired by the University of Arizona and repurposed for further scientific experimentation that takes advantage of the marvelous fully functioning but enclosed ecosystems. 
    As soon as I first read about Biosphere 2 it completely captured my imagination with its contrast of lush natural environments and metallic space age architecture to its very 90’s series of scandals and of course because of what it represents: not only is it a milestone in the human understanding of our planet but it is also a testament to our unbridled imagination and optimism as humans, it is a structure and an accomplishment that speaks to our belief that anything is possible. 
    And so years after finishing this editorial project I took the opportunity while traveling in the Southwest to visit Biosphere 2. It was as incredible in person as I imagined it to be and I was elated to see how many scientists and university students were using it as a gigantic earth science labratory. These are just some of my favorite photos from that visit. 

On the Road

A Joshua tree with Biosphere 2 in the background
Biosphere 2
The new food forest biome within Biosphere 2
The desert biome in Biosphere 2
Research students seen meeting in a classroom from within Biosphere 2
The ocean biome with scientists chatting on the beach
A view of the ocean and mangrove biomes with the desert biome in the distance
The rainforest biome at Biosphere 2
During the “Lung” tour beneath Biosphere 2

Lissitzky Type

In this project for a typography class at Parsons I set out to create a font inspired by the work of the Russian artist and designer, El Lissitzky. I based this font on Lissitzky because I was also taking a course titled Inventing Abstraction with the art historian Masha Chlenova in which I was captivated by Lissitzky’s work and his role in art, design, and history. 

El Lissitzky and Kazimir Malevich hold a unique and important place in the lineage of modern art and design, inventing styles and a visual language that are ubiquitous today. Their contributions are as gargantuan as they are unknown, for their patronage under Vladimir Lenin later became the subject of state censorship in favor of the later style of Soviet Realism that Joseph Stalin preferred. 

At Parsons School of Design

Further Editorial Designs from Parsons

Other work that stands out from my time at Parsons undergrad is this mock Friedman Benda index of artists and this design showcase booklet of The Crouwel—Van Toorn debate transcript.

These exercises in editorial design helped me to further develop my understanding of the grid and typography. Using a strict set of rules of my own making I was able to design within a framework that allowed for growth, experimentation, and the ability to occasionally break said framework for interesting and engaging pages and flow throughout each booklet.

Both booklets can be accessed in full here:
(Unofficial) Friedman Benda Index of Artists
The Crouwel—Van Toorn Debate Transcript (two-page view recommended) 

At Parsons School of Design

Early Work

Here are two year-one exercises from Parsons and a few screenprints from a series I did before starting at Parsons. 

At Parsons and Before

Parsons First Year Collage
Parsons First Year Continuity MET Sketch Exercise
Screenprint from Heat Flash Series at Phillips Exeter Academy
Screenprint from Heat Flash Series at Phillips Exeter Academy
Screenprint from Heat Flash Series at Phillips Exeter Academy