Chad Michael

A man of few Google Search results, Chad Makerson Michael the man, has been a mystery to the digital world as we know it, but his work speaks volumes to who he is and his capabilities. Under the design studio of Chad Michael Studio he has developed brands for a vast array of spirits companies such as Jack Daniels, St. Laurent, Gold Bar Bottle Co. and nearly 75 more. His work has a way of pulling you in and giving your eyes the chance to journey through all the nooks and crannies of his intricately designed work.  

We had the opportunity to sit down with Michael and dig a little deeper, get to know the man behind the design. From childhood cologne preferences, to his middle name, to his thoughts on pumpkin flavor trends, we asked enough dumb questions so the internet will never have to wonder about Chad Michael again.

Q: You’re going on a road trip- Who is in the front seat, back seat, trunk: Chad Michael Murray, Michael Scott, Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers?

Okay, uh, Michael Scott in the front seat. I’m gonna say Chad Smith from RHCP in the back, I think it’s a nice balance between the two. Chad Michael Murray in the trunk. I don’t think we’d have a lot to talk about even though he’s probably a great guy.

Q: What’s the last music station you listened to?

Actually this morning at the gym I was listening to hard R&B hits from the 90s. It was called Throwback Workout (on Spotify), so it’s got a little bit of Lil Wayne, Kayne, old Eminiem and Rick Ross. It really gets the blood pumpin’ while also hitting the nostalgic button.

Q: Shoes, tie them every time or slip into them?

My day-to-day shoes are pre-tied. I skip it and force the shoe on and most often bend the backs of my shoes. However, my boots are always treated with love. Unlaced then double knotted.

Q: Have you ever cheated on anything?

In high school I cheated on a few tests here and there but after high school, never. I’m a huge believer in karma, I do think that anything you put out there really does come back to you in some way so I make a point to not cheat or lie.

Q: If you could have one blowout party during any decade, which decade would it be?

Oh man, I’m hugely inspired by both the 1920s and 1860s eras. It would be a lot more dangerous than having a party now (laughs) but I would do something big, you know? Barrels of booze, secret speakeasies, but check your irons at the door kind of thing.

Q: What cologne did you wear when you were younger?

I went through an Old Spice phase when I was very young, like when you’re just now seeing the opposite sex in a different way. At the time, the thinking was that more Old Spice means “more ladies” but looking back I’m certain it didn’t help any.

Q: Favorite fast-casual chain?

There’s a place here, a childhood favorite, that they probably started shutting down for health code reasons over the years but it was called Pancho’s Mexican Buffet. It’s one of those buffets that only serves Mexican food. Food is delicious but soft, the enchiladas just kinda fall apart. No chewing needed. Sounds gross, maybe it is, but it was a Sunday staple when I was a kid and ate at it religiously during my college years.

Q: Last designer or illustrator that made you go “whoa”?

There’s a woman named Madeline von Foerster who does beautiful acrylic and oil paintings. She’s inspired by reliquaries and some pieces feel as though they were drawn directly from the window of an old apothecary. Another painter, Lee Craigmile, paints still lifes of liquor bottles. There is something about the moody aesthetic of his work that really resonates with me on a deep level.

Q: Have you ever climbed on a roof?

Oh yeah. I haven’t thought about any of that in a long time, but yes. I know when I was younger I would sneak out, we had a two-story house so a roof exit was the only way to break out in the wee hours of the morning.

Q: With two first names, we’re curious, what’s your middle name?

I don’t have two first names but I do go by what was my original first and middle. Chad Michael. It’s what my family called me growing up. My original full birth name was “Chad Michael Smith”. Recently I’ve legally changed my name to “Chad Makerson Michael”, dropping my last name and giving myself my own middle name. I’ve always felt a disconnect with my legal last name of “Smith” and also my first name “Chad”. Albeit I could not bring myself to change the first. Smith is one of the most common last names in the world and that has always bothered me. So given my love of the antiquated, I went in the direction of how last names were originally created, based on your trade or profession. I make things, I always have, whether that be physical bottles, sculptures, custom engraved furniture, etc. Makerson felt right. Felt more “me”. It’s a name I’m going to pass on to my children and maybe they can pass it on to theirs.

Q: You join the Adobe team, what’s the first request you make?

I don’t know a lot about the ins and outs of Adobe, but if I were to join the team, I would suggest – and they may already offer this – to develop a masterclass type program. Reaching out to designers, covering all the costs for putting the actual video together. Adobe would then split the profit with the designer. It would then enable a window of opportunity for myself and others to teach people without going through the hoops to set it up and do it yourself.

Q: Emboss, Deboss, or The Boss?

(Laughs) I don’t know a lot about Bruce Springsteen to be honest. I’ve been a more avid fan of Stevie Nicks and other artists from that era – but Bruce Springsteen is not one of them. I would say if I had to choose between emboss and deboss, it would definitely be emboss. Deboss has the tendency to not be as prominent.

Q: It’s Friday at 9pm, what’s your drink of choice?

Old Fashioned. That’s always my go-to. I’m also a huge tequila fan so sometimes I switch it out for a chilled shot of Jalisco’s finest. I don’t enjoy excessive additives or sugars in my libations so it’s typically one of the two.

Q: Favorite Pumpkin flavored item?

Mhmmm. I mean, I love pie and cake, so I’m just gonna go straight for pumpkin pie.

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Chad Makerson Michael
The Complete Series of Interviews