Founder + Creative Director

Joe Grossmann

Joe is a designer, a strategist, and a writer. Jell represents the convergence of his interests and experiences — a creative firm grounded in real-world business knowledge, years of technology tracking and development, and a deep respect for research and empirical analysis. He founded Jell in 1993, then under the name Grossmann Design.

Joe is passionate about his clients, his staff, discovering new things and sharing them with others, and contributing to the greater good. He believes that everything happens for a reason and that all human behavior, no matter how odd or unpleasant, makes perfect sense. Our primary job as communicators is to watch, listen, and learn.

Ancient History

Joe authored three books and numerous magazine articles on digital design, was the Senior Editor and Art Director of Digital Chicago and Digital New York magazines, and was Art Director of Chicago Wilderness magazine. He has worked over 20 years as a graphic designer, marketing consultant, and database publishing consultant.

In the early 1980s, he co-founded a software company, Enabling Technologies, that grew to a staff size of 30 over six years and published a series of groundbreaking graphic programs (including Easy3D, Pro3D, and ZING!) for the nascent Mac and Windows markets. After Enabling, Joe joined David Doty’s firm PageWorks in 1990 to learn the craft of design.

Before turning to marketing and design, Joe studied and conducted research at The University of Chicago (B.A. and A.B.D.) under the guidance of Israel Goldiamond, with publications in both behavioral research and auditory neurophysiology. He is still very fond of graphs.

  • free-form

  • learn • umami • content • economy • constructional approach

  • food

  • al pastor • swiss chard • panko • apart pizza • galbi • risotto

  • music

  • Freddie Freeloader • Rise • Sunday Morning • Redemption Song • Gymnopédies • Flash Light

  • books

  • Studs Terkel’s Chicago • A Scanner Darkly • Asterios Polyp • True Believers • After Dark • Tender as Hellfire • Wilson • Kafka on the Shore • Freedom • Gentlemen of the Road • American Tabloid • The Hummingbird’s Daughter • A Conspiracy of Paper • Werewolves in Their Youth • What is the What • Dark Star Safari • The Boat

  • periodicals

  • Wall Street Journal • New York Times • Fast Company • Crain’s Chicago Business

  • casts

  • Freakonomics Radio • Under the Influence • Marketplace • TechCrunch • On the Media • Frontline • Seth Godin • Check Please! • WLUW • CBS Sunday Morning

  • creatives

  • Kurosawa • Amadou & Mariam • Charlie Harper • Banksy • David Lynch • Carter Family • David Byrne • Milton Glaser • Tinariwen