By Guest Contributor Tim Newcomb
There was a time when the young Brooklyn-based designer Eric Friedensohn — also dubbed Efdot — wanted to build a little niche in lettering and typography. But he soon realized trying his design hand at different efforts interested him, soon becoming known as a muralist, especially with his current creations for WeWork. Efdot, though, is far more than a lettering specialist or muralist. He’s a graphic designer and artist always looking for growth.
Efdot Wants to Do Everything
“If I call myself a muralist, that is limiting,” he says. “If people start asking me to do other stuff and I say I’m a muralist, I can only do that. Well, you can do whatever you want.”
That whatever has taken Friedensohn, who also runs Efdot Studio where he works with clients from The Food Network to Mozilla, across the design globe, both literally and figuratively. A Westchester, New York, native, he now lives in Brooklyn, but recently served as WeWork’s Latin America art and graphics team lead in Argentina. He now travels between Mexico City and New York for WeWork and in the past spent three months in Lithuania after taking an internship via Craigslist post.
Cultural Convergence and Individual Ideals
In Latin America, everything from the vibrant, colorful culture to the overall “family vibe” affected him both personally and professionally. “Latin America is unlike anywhere else and really resonates with who I am and my values,” he says. “I wanted to be affected as a person by this culture.”
He lets travel inspire his art, soaking in culture and filling up his phone with photos. Along with travel, Friedensohn embraces personal identity — for him, that includes a 15-year love of skateboarding — for additional design influence. “(Skate) is a huge part of my identity and a huge part of why I got into creativity and art,” he says. “They go hand in hand. How much do I want it to influence my work? I like that it just happens. I am passionate about it, and it makes me unique. The hardest thing to do as a designer is make yourself stand out.” Personal experiences — from travel to skate — let him create in a unique style.
That style has shown up through his work, from the “wow” moments WeWork creates in large spaces to murals in Brooklyn retail shops.
Lending a Hand
Through it all, Efdot credits mentors with helping him grow as a designer, inspiring him to do the same for others while running workshops to “remind me of why I’m doing it and help designers a few steps behind me.”
“I had a lot of really great mentors when I was in college and after college, and I’m hoping to be that person in their career,” he says. “It is super important.”
Whether working on a 60-foot-by-20-foot mural for his day job, a lettering project for his personal studio, or leading a workshop, Friedensohn knows the importance of trying new tools and techniques. He believes in the words of Timothy Goodman: if you want to change your work or your look, change your tool. It helps in the constant evolution as a designer. And as a person.
Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.