Years ago, I bought a teeshirt from Dave Nelson (@secretpenguin) – partly because I liked the shirt – mostly because I wanted to have an excuse to say ‘hi’. In my early days of learning design, Dave was someone I admired for his work and design process. He has always had a great sense of what makes good design as well as owning his own personal style with confidence. That’s something I’ve always wanted for myself.

Earlier this year, Dave asked if I would help on a few projects at Secret Penguin, including the new website for Core Bank, which Dave and his team were in the process of branding. It has been an honor to work alongside his amazing team and see that they really are as fun, cool and creative as their social media feeds suggest.

Here are just a few examples of why I love Secret Penguin:

1. They do good work
Dave and his team insist on working with businesses and organizations that do good and have similar values—as they say it, “to make the world a better (and more fun) place”. Their work with Skate for Change and the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce are just a couple examples where I saw first-hand how much they genuinely care about investing in organizations they believe in.

2. They work hard and play hard
While there are times where they rely on Red Bull to stay up working into the wee hours, they also know how to take a skateboard break, rolling through the halls of the Mastercraft Building or playing with the various nerf guns lying around the studio.

3. They really love their clients
During the Core Bank project, Dave and Ellen took an entire day to teach and help Sophia, their client’s daughter about how to make a brand for her family. Their authentic interest and attention to helping this young artist was truly inspiring and it resulted in a pretty sweet logo.


Dave Nelson and his team are some of the best around. If you have the chance to collaborate with, hire, or just say ‘hi’ to these guys, you should definitely go for it  – or just buy a tee shirt.