Job Opportunity Outside Milwaukee

Hi design community.

I’m a recent MA grad and am moving forward in the job application process with a company outside (North) of Milwaukee. I can’t say who it is as I’ve yet to receive an offer, though the application process has been a very positive experience and I’ve already been flown out for an interview. Though I’m currently freelancing and running my own design studio in Boulder CO, I am weighing the pros and cons about this intriguing opportunity in Wisconsin. This would be my first “corporate” position, though it would start out as contract…

What’s it like to be an industrial designer in Wisconsin? I’ve lived in CO, CA(SF), and Sweden, though don’t have much experience in that part of the country. Is there a good ID community? Any opportunities for moonlighting collaborations or visiting teachers in ID at local uni’s?

I’m excited to learn about the area and, if I’m offered the position, meeting up with fellow designers in the community for a pint or some Pong!

feel free to contact me at and if you like we can set up a phone call I have been living and working in WI for the last 12 years 8 of that in and around the Milwaukee area.

If you do happen to take the position, you’ll have to try the local fare. Some of my favorites, in no particular, are as follows:

Butch’s Old Casino Steakhouse: Butch used to man the grill himself, don’t know if he still does but it’s an awesome spread.

Zaffiro’s on Farwell: still the best thin crust pizza I’ve ever had.

Kopp’s Custard: burgers are very good, oh yeah and they have frozen custard, too!

Silver Spring House on N. Green Bay Rd.: great fish fry or at least they did.

And don’t forget the brewery tours. I’ve heard they now have a distillery that offers tours as well!

Ah, Milwaukee. How I miss thee. So many fond memories in that town.

i am going to assume this position is in the sheboygan area, if its who i believe it to be DONT do it! they got through designers like they are going out of style! STAY IN CO!!

Are you thinking this place is in a village west of Sheboygan?

yes, yes it is.

I did about 10 yrs in Milwaukee in my adult life and will gladly vouch for what an awesome city it is. From the food to the art / design scene, to the nightlife, to the sports - its a great place to live! Think of it as a little version of Chicago - all the culture and lakefront views you could want, except in a manageable size. The following list is drawing from my knowledge as of seven years ago, but some of my favs include:

  • Milwaukee Ale house
  • Wicked Hop
  • BBC
  • La Perla
  • Ballistreris Pizza (spelling???)

As for design connections, I would highly recommend you meet and network with the crew at Flux Design - they do amazing work and often host fashion shows, gallery nights, etc.

Now as to some of the recent postings about location of your potential new job - I’m not sure that “a village west of Sheboygen” is going to be a very fun commute from the Milwaukee area. Thats quite a haul even on a nice day, I don’t even want to imagine how rough it would be on an average day in February…

But that being said, best of luck to you and I hope it all works out to your liking!

Not Sheboygan. It’s at the Foot of the Lake. They are constructing an offer and if it meets our needs and is on par for the area, we are Wisconsin bound!

You two should probably PM about this more than posting. One of you is talking about Kohler and the other is Brooks Stevens, that would be my guess. WI is nice. Milwaukee itself is nice like the town from the Stepford wives. It looks all good, but they red line the hell out of the Black community, and that’s effed up.

I’m thinking Mercury Marine.

brooks is not in fondi. and i dont think what we are discussing is wrong to talk about on a board. Good luck with your opportunity!
let us know how it pans out.

Living in Milwaukee is like living with a bunch of truck drivers. Or, your third cousin who you only see at family reunions that lives in the basement and creeps out everyone else in the family except his parents.

-It’s a blue collar town, so you’ll find a lot of cultural norms originate from the plant floor.

-Very few people are “traveled” most have never lived outside of WI and consider Milwaukee the “big city”. There are literally no transients here that have not been brought here by a significant other or spouse. If they have no personal connection to WI, they’re here less than 5 years. I have yet to meet someone here that’s been here longer than 5 years that didn’t grow up here or brought here by a loved one. Those that are here without a love connection are here because of a job. Definately not for the WI lifestyle.

-I’ve come across folks that refuse to leave WI because they “need” to be within 6 hours driving distance of their family. (normal for most but this seems on the verge of really dependent on family)

-It’s one of the most segregated areas in the US. Not only do folks live seperately from each other, but it’s the same when you go out on the town. With that, you often get a very narrow perspective from folks around you.

-WI is not for you if you’re a fan of sports. You’re either a Packers fan or a Brewers fan, nothing else exists.

-Winter lasts two months too long.

-Folks drink heavily around here, so keep an eye out when you drive home late at night any time during the week.

-I hope you like drinking, Packers and the Brewers cause that’s about it up here. Oh yeah, and cheese… An beer

-Milwaukee is just large enough to be a PITA with things like winter parking rules and noisy drunk people all over the place. But not large enough to get the benefits of being a large city (no big attractions come here).

-I hope you like pretentious stuck up people that move to MKE and think they’re the jam because they live in MKE and not some po-dunk farm town. There’s actually a “VIP” line with ropes and everything at one of the clubs in MKE when there’s literally less than 5 people waiting to get in.

-Folks are tight knit here. They’ve grown up, gone to school with and worked with the same people all their lives. It’s challenging to meet people and fit in.

-When you do meet new folks the question is “What high school did you go to?” If you can’t answer this with a local school it will totally derail the conversation.


-It’s not Chicago so cost of living is lower.

-People seem to be genuinely nice

-The outdoor parks are awesome, great mountain biking if you’re into it.

-The small resturants are great.

-Traffic dosen’t exist here.

-The few months of warm weather are great.

Having an office in Denver and being based here, I would say the culture is completely different. My cohorts from Denver would have a very hard time adjusting to the area.

One thing to note, IDSA is all but dead in the area. If you are willing to travel to Chicago the chapter there is pretty active.

But there are lots of IDer’s in the area and if you find them they are more then happy to have a pint and share a conversation.

Wow, a lot of negativity for the Cream City. I guess everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but I’d like to at least provide somewhat of a counter to the bad vibes.

Sports: MLB, NBA, NCAA are all well represented in town while the NFL team does require you to drive up to Green Bay (but hey, it’s Lambeau Field – it doesn’t get any more iconic than that)

Food: Tons and tons of great local places all over the city. There is absolutely nothing missing in this department.

Culture: Major concerts = yep. Local art scene = yep. Theater = yep. Architecture = yep. I guess I’m at a loss as to what else one could be looking for in terms of “culture” that Milwaukee doesn’t have in droves.

People: Very nice and genuine people though I will concede that it took me some time to adjust to the “rhythm”(for lack of a better word). I came from south and west of Wisconsin and found the people to be frosty at first, but after a while I finally understood that they weren’t aloof, they were just running at a little different speed than I was used to. Once I changed my own attitude, I had a blast meeting tons of people of all walks of life.

While Milwaukee has traditionally been a very blue collar manufacturing town, I’d say it’s been one of the few rust belt cities to successfully rehab itself into a city equipped to engage with the modern world and the ever evolving economic realities that come with it. Is there still a lot of the blue-collar influence to be found? Of course there is, but that in no way takes away from the fact that you can have a world class lifestyle in Milwaukee if you choose.

As to the entire town being one giant frat-house beer party all the time – what can I say other than I wholeheartedly disagree. Do a lot of people drink in MKE? Sure they do. Probably a little above average, but honestly I’ve lived all over the country and can’t say that I thought MKE to be any more outrageously full of drunkards as anywhere else. If you want to go out and get hammered after work, there’s plenty of places that will be happy to indulge you. If you want to hit a trendy club or lounge – there are places for that. If you want to hang with hipsters at ironic dive bars, TONS of options there. Whatever your style and whatever scene, I can attest that MKE has got it covered.

On the other hand, lets say you don’t really like going out to bars / clubs at all and you are into other pursuits. Well fret not, you can find anything and everything in Milwaukee. I say this from experience as I fancy myself as being the odd bird who enjoys mixing up my social life on a regular basis and try to keep a very diverse network of friends and acquaintances… a habit I picked up in… Milwaukee!

To be perfectly honest, I never ran into the whole “high school clique” thing In Milwaukee. Ever. In fact it wasn’t until my stint in Des Moines Iowa that I first encountered that whole business. I found it just as frustrating as Boosted apparently does and really soured my own attitude on that city… I just find it curious that somebody is having a similar experience in Milwaukee. It honestly bums me out a little that somebody can be having that rough a go of it in a city that I’ve hold very near and dear in my heart.

I guess to wrap this up, I strongly recommend Milwaukee as a great city for anyone with the caveat that you learn to appreciate it for what it is – a former rust belt city that is remolding itself into a great place for artists, designers, doctors, students, entrepreneurs, etc. If you come looking for another Denver – you will be disappointed. If you come expecting it to be NYC – you will be disappointed.

But if you just absolutely have to have your fix of super-city craziness, Chicago is only a 90 minute drive away… yet another awesome perk I loved about MKE.

Anyway – good luck in my former town. Try to keep it in good shape for me as I’d like to get back for a visit in the spring.


Some things may have changed since you’ve lived in MKE and I’d love to learn more about how you got by up here. Maybe I can find more positive things in MKE.

I really don’t agree with the sports thing. The Bucks are on their way out. Herb Kohl has put them up for sale and chances are high he won’t find someone willing to buy the franchise and keep it in MKE. So, based on attendance at their games I’m pretty sure we will not have an NBA team in MKE in the next five years. Marquette is awesome and packs the arena most games, so I agree on the NCAA and Brewers games are great. The Packers are two hours away and they play in the tundra. Good luck if you like another team and hope to watch a game in a local bar. If there’s not a WI team involved, there’s absolutely no interest in the event itself. When I go to watch the NCAA championship football game, I’ll prolly be the only on there actually watching the game.

Totally agree on the food. :slight_smile:

Outside of Summerfest, I don’t see any big attractions coming here unless you consider the Transiberrian Orchestra something big. Cher and Pink are prolly the only big names that have come thru here outside of Summerfest since the 90’s. Proximity to Chicago makes up for this though.

Maybe I’m still resistant to the “rhythm” and it could be because of all the off-color humor that I’ve run into that has my wall still up.

I see MKE a few steps behind Detroit. I disagree with them “keeping up”. They have done nothing since I’ve been here to be competive for industry when you match them up to other cities. If anything, they have doubled down on keeping manufacturing afloat because they can’t transition the population into other careers. With little to no transient talent coming in or retention, it’s near impossible for them to consider anything else. They have a really strong medical technology prescence and higher education community, but nothing is done to drive those industries to the forefront. They often pander to the entrupenurial community in a superficial way. I’ve been involved with MiKE (Innovation in MKE) and other entities in the area and they specifically cater to the young startup that knows how to write an iphone app. In the three years I’ve been here, I have not seen any other type of startup embraced. The Grand Avenue Mall in downtown MKE can’t even attract an anchor store. So now it’s just this mish mash cluster of a mall. When walking thru that mall, you could tell it was a really great place that’s fallen on very hard times. They’ll rent out space to these lil self serving groups that just leech off the community to sponsor “cultural events” like drinking together but in a larger group setting. WHOOPIE!

I’d love to get your input on things to do that don’t involve a bar/hipster art gallery. I still can’t even find a legit bowling alley (not the skeezy bowling alley in Bayview) or anything childishly fun to do for example.

I’ll put in my .02 because I lived there for almost 3 years.

A couple a caveats - I grew up in Madison and I haven’t lived in Milwaukee for 25 years. I expect things have changed. But on the other hand, I have visited and some things are exactly the same - the club sandwich at Elsa’s and the chocolate malt at Ted’s. Both well worth the visit.

For sporting events, is everyone forgetting about the Badgers? While they have a difficult time winning it, the football team regularly attends the Rose Bowl, they are a great team. The basketball team is also excellent. In my day, it was all about hockey. They were great back in the day, not so much now. I live in Chicago and still hold season tickets for Friday night hockey games. Even though I think they should dump Eaves and hire Johnson for the men’s team, the band keeps you well entertained while they lose.

Also back in the day, the social scene was in the bars, no doubt. But I knew many folks who would go to the bars and not drink. It is possible you know. I tended to be either in the Water St. area or on the near south side/National Ave area. The bars used to throw Christmas parties with a free spread of food. You would eat well for 3 weeks in December. Also in the fall, the bars would start serving homemade chili. We would try all of them to find the best.

I lived on the fes (pronounced fez) - fashionable east side. Third ward was for the hipsters, don’t know what it is now. Everything was convenient, I mostly rode a bike, clean and cheap.

Summer was great. And it wasn’t only Summerfest. Don’t forget Bastille Days, Festa Italiana, Irish Fest and 20 other festivals lasting all summer with music, food and beer. A great spot was a rooftop bar at the Aster(?) hotel. Never crowded and had a view of the lakefront fireworks with a bartender and no crowd.

As for people, people are people. The pace of things may be different from place to place, but the people in my view are pretty much the same.

All in all, a great place by a great lake.

Thank you all for the replies and insight. My wife has joined me in Fox Valley now that I am happily employed as the newest industrial designer at Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac. I’ve been at Merc for just over a month now, and am happy to report that it is an enjoyable place to work with inspiring and hard working colleagues directed by solid management.

Right now, we are living in Neenah, WI, so I am commuting about 75miles a day, though this is not a big deal for me. Moving van comes tomorrow, so the lawn-chair-in-the-family-room days are nearly over. We are renting for now but will look for something more permanent once my wife decides on her future career, so there are many locations in and around Fox Valley that we may yet call home. For now, Appleton is our closest spot for culture.

So while we are here, does anyone have any advice on the local scene for Appleton? Any other ID guys up here? I’d be interested in getting together with you if there is anyone in the area. As for Milwaukee and the ID guys down south, I’ll write again soon to meet up with you once life settles down a bit up here.

if you wanna hook up for a drink let me know and i can give you the lay of the land in fox valley. Im just in Appleton, 15 minutes north of you.