Meet Our Design Volunteers!

September 13, 2019 By catherine-norcott
Local designers, Anna Mort and Lisa Armstrong are two amazing members of Arts of Life’s Design Team.

We often feature studio volunteers, folks who help us out with day to day project development, studio maintenance, and relationship building.  Sometimes, volunteer roles that work offsite get less recognition, even though they do important work to support our mission. Our Design Volunteers provide us with high quality materials to share about the studio, promote upcoming events and exhibitions, and increase consistency and quality in our internal branding.  We’re lucky to have several highly qualified designers on our team, including Anna Mort and Lisa Armstrong. Learn a bit more about them below:

How did you learn about Arts of Life? 

Lisa Armstrong (LA): I actually stumbled on some of the work that was being made here through social media.  It made me want to read more about the organization’s mission. At the time, I had just finished up graduate school and was getting reacclimated to Chicago after having been in California for a couple years. I was looking for some sense of community and thought maybe my skill set could be useful to the organization. 

Anna Mort (AM): I learned about Arts of Life through my good pal, Vincent, the organization’s Art Director! Vincent started inviting me to studio events, and I came to love the energy and environment.

What inspired you to volunteer?

LA: I’ve become increasingly aware of my social responsibilities as a graphic designer. My brother was born with a genetic disorder called Trisomy 18 and I think partially because of that, I feel a need to help those most vulnerable in our society. I would like to think that if he were still alive today, he would have a space like Arts of Life to support him. I want people to know this place exists and to help in any way that I can make sure it’s around for another 20+ years.

How long have you been volunteering here?

LA: I’ve been volunteering just over a year.  

AM: I started volunteering in 2015 by joining the Associate Board.  I did that for about a year. I have been volunteering on and off in various ways since then. 

Do you make art?  What kind of art do you do?  

LA: I do! My background is in graphic design and motion graphics so I do a lot of animation, film work, printmaking, and I also make music as part of an electronic music collective called Chandeliers. 

AM: Not as much as I’d like to, but when I do, I tend to draw or collage. I’m a graphic designer, so I am always making something. 

What is your volunteer role at Arts of Life?

AM: I’m part of the design and branding team!

LA: Same.  We’re a group of designers who update the organization’s branding and create various marketing materials as needed. We meet as a group on a monthly basis to discuss whatever design assets are needed, whether it be exhibition postcards, annual reports, signage, merchandise, etc.

I’m grateful for the dedicated volunteers on the design team. They’ve helped us make great strides in terms of thinking creatively about our identity.  They’ve put in countless hours towards elevating our mission and vision through branding and media assets. They’ve done some amazing work over the past year.  – Vincent Uribe, Art Director

What is your favorite project that you’ve done as a designer?

AM: Putting together brand guidelines for Arts of Life has been one of my favorites — it’s an ongoing project that the entire design team has contributed to. 

LA: My thesis work in graduate school explored the relationship of empathy to social design through the lens of queer feminism and science fiction. I was curious about how to challenge what’s been accepted in the canon as “good” design and to subvert modernist approaches to the field that promote a universal design language. This work ultimately took the form of a series of projects including a soft sculpture workshop, site-specific multimedia installations, a process book, a performance, and a short film. It’s a line of inquiry I still feel like I’m trying to pursue, this idea of design as a tool for resistance and social change.

What do you do when you are not at Arts of Life?  

LA: I’m a full-time Lecturer in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Loyola University where I teach visual communication classes. I also manage my own freelance design practice mostly working with clients in the arts and cultural sector. 

What do you like to do for fun?

LA: I like to go camping, ride my bike, read sci-fi books, play music, go to museums, that sort of thing.

AM: Cooking, reading, and dancing.

You can learn more about our designers’ work.  Lisa can be found printing at Spudnik Press Cooperative sometimes.  You can also see her work at and on Instagram @liselefteye.  Anna is frequently highlighted for her forward thinking fashion choices in Chicago media. She can find her on Instagram @pati_whip.