My name's Tanner.

I disobey. Not in the sense that I won’t listen, or hear your brief, or respect guidelines, requirements, and deadlines, but in the sense that from concept to completion, it will be my goal to craft design that is boldly new.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a sort of nearly destructive curiosity, treating my “comfort zone” with reckless abandon. It began with exploring the woods of Maine, then directing short films on rooftops under moonlight, on riverbanks, and outside abandoned buildings. On my journey to university I chose a school 700 miles away over the one just 5 and, after my freshman year, I reached out blindly to design firms, received multiple offers, and secured a Junior Designer job. I participated in a design studio in Vienna, Austria, without a lick of German and having never before left the country. 

My obsession with challenging the status quo has created a designer in me that builds iteratively – obsessively, until my desire to be expressively bold and new is met. I am not afraid of my flare for the dramatic, and I firmly believe it is that style of experimentation which breeds truly original and affective ideas. 

With experimentation and unfamiliarity comes humility. I have failed plenty of times, as all those hoping to be successful should admit. But I am not discouraged by my failures, rather fueled –always eager to learn why something wasn’t enough. 

This is how, and why, I disobey – to craft design that is boldly new


Tanner Leslie is an interdisciplinary designer raised outside Portland, Maine and living in New York City. He studied graphic design and studio art with concentrations in environmental design, typography, photography, and screenprinting at James Madison University, School of Art, Design, & Art History. He is available for freelance hire. On a more personal level, he's a bit of an audiophile, loves good black coffee, enjoys travelling, and is always seeking adventure.

curriculum vitae


2019  –  Tytano, "umbau studioKrakow Poster Exhibition," Krakow, Poland
2019  –  Duke Hall, “HUSH: Guerrilla Exhibition,” Harrisonburg, VA
2019  –  ArtWorks Gallery, “DESIGN,” Harrisonburg, VA
2019  –  Endeavor RVA, “Ltd. Print Show,” Richmond, VA
2018  –  ArtWorks Gallery, “NEOS: Kappa Pi Popup Show,” Harrisonburg, VA
2018  –  Arts Council of the Valley: Smith House Galleries, “Rising Juried Show,” Harrisonburg, VA
2018  –  Pale Fire Brewing Taproom, “Kappa Pi Mini Show,” Harrisonburg, VA
2017  –  ArtWorks Gallery, “Word & Image,” Harrisonburg, VA
2017  –  ArtWorks Gallery, “Undergraduate Juried Show,” Harrisonburg, VA
2017  –  ArtWorks Gallery, “Metal Shed Collab: Present,” Harrisonburg, VA
2017  –  Ruby’s Arcade, “Kappa Pi Artist Showcase,” Harrisonburg, VA
2016  –  ArtWorks Gallery, “Ways of Worldmaking,” Harrisonburg, VA


2019–Present  – Wilson Associates, Brand Designer
2018-2019  –  The Breeze, Photography Editor
Spring 2019 – Spark Collective Non-profit Student Design Agency, Designer
Fall 2017  –  Memorial Hall Arts Complex, Equipment Manager
Spring 2017  –  Memorial Hall Arts Complex, Darkroom Lab Technician
2017–2018  –  Artworks Gallery, Gallery Intern
2017–Present  –  Pulp+Wire, Junior Designer
2016  –  Pulp+Wire, Design Intern
2015–2016  –  The Breeze, Staff Photographer
2015–Present  –  James Madison University Athletics Communications, Senior Staff Photographer
2014–Present  –  Freelance graphic design

member + positions

August 2019–Present  –  Design Director, Umbau
July, 2019  –  Studio Krakow Screenprinting Residency, Krakow, Poland, Participant
June, 2018  –  Umbau ’18 Design Studio, Vienna, Austria, Participant
2018-2019  –  Kappa Pi: Gamma Kappa Chapter, President
February, 2018  –  a2ru Research & Design Conference, Invitee
2018–Present  –  Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD), Member
2018  –  James Madison University, Creative Fellow
2017-2018  –  Kappa Pi: Gamma Kappa Chapter, Vice President

awards + honors

2019  –  James Madison University, SADAH, Senior Achievement Award: Graphic Design
2018  –  College of Visual & Performing Arts Research Grant
2018  –  American Advertising Federation, ADDY Gold
2018  –  American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA), Flux Winner
2015–2019  –  JMU, SADAH, Dean’s List, President’s List

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