This is the story of how Mess was made

Mess is an independent digital design and development agency founded in 2005. Our neck of the woods — Chicago's Wicker Park — is halfway between Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley. We think that's pretty fitting for a team that acts like a startup most of the time. We believe in pushing boundaries while keeping level heads. We approach each project fresh and plan our attack from the ground up. We do what's right, or at least what we think is right. We're nimble. We're clever. And we manage to make some pretty neat things on time and under budget.

We've had the pleasure of working with:

  • Automata Studios
  • Bar Moxy
  • Blue Man Group
  • Breakthrough Urban Ministries
  • Burger King
  • Chicago CBT Center
  • CircEsteem
  • Disney Interactive
  • EVS Sports
  • Faust
  • Flipboard
  • Good Day Monsters
  • Grassfed Apparel
  • Great Lakes Experimental Arts
  • Hachette Book Group
  • Harper Collins
  • Kawasaki
  • Kumbuya
  • L’Oreal
  • Legacy Marketing Partners
  • Levy Restaurants
  • Little Brown
  • Marketing Drive
  • Microsoft
  • Penguin Books
  • Perkins + WIll
  • Pernod Ricard
  • Premium Surge Promotions
  • Red Bull
  • Riot Fest
  • Static Medium
  • Strangers Music Collective
  • Thompson Flanagan
  • uni-ball
  • World Book
  • Zumur

“Mess has been instrumental in bringing our online marketing to the next level. If you get the chance to work with them, you should. They will make you look like a god damn rock star.”

– Courtney Wood

Assistant Director, Online Marketing Penguin Young Readers Group

The Team

  • Brian Wolter

    Mobile Director

    Brian has spent the last decade building software. Lots of different kinds of software. Drawing on experience ranging from interactive media to hardcore distributed systems to mobile apps of every stripe, Brian loves nothing more than pulling a team together to create something amazing.

    Before joining forces with Mess, Brian founded and ran Wolter Group, a boutique firm which specialized in mobile and web development for clients including Cisco, Ford, Tropicana, McDonalds. Brian refuses to move from Manhattan, and we can’t really say we blame him.

  • Jack Shedd

    Interactive Director

    Interactive Director and Partner Jack Shedd brings a decade of experience building digital platforms to Mess. With expertise in multiple disciplines, Jack leads a team of developers, bridging the gap between engineering and creative.

    Jack's background combines management and engineering roles within design, development and user- experience agencies. His clients have included think-tanks, non-profits, start-ups and enterprises like HP and NEC. Jack has trained developers across the U.S. in modern practices, and collaborated on open-source software projects. His analytical thinking and attention to tech trends facilitates an environment of knowledge sharing that generates leading-edge concepts. In the laughably small bits of free time he has, Jack enjoys fancy food and even fancier whiskeys.

  • Jeff Kelley

    Senior Developer

    Jeff earned a degree in composition and audio engineering at Berklee College of Music before moving to Chicago after graduation. He began learning development skills while promoting the various bands and creative projects he was working on, and honed his Python, Javascript, CSS and HTML skills at another Chicago startup for five years before coming aboard here at Mess. When Jeff isn't coding, he's composing and designing for several Chicago theater groups, running a small local record label and online publication, or making tunes with his two bands, Vaya and New Drugs.

  • Marissa Mare


    Marissa Mare received her BFA in Graphic Design, with a minor in Drawing, from the Savannah College of Art and Design. While at SCAD, she completed internships in the marketing departments of several local architecture firms, and at design firm Working Class Studio. Following graduation, she moved back to her home city of Columbus, Ohio, where she was a graphic designer for CMH Magazine. One year later she relocated to Chicago to work in the New Media department at Victory Records, while moonlighting as a bartender.

    A voracious reader and a self-professed music snob, Marissa also rules at Tumblr.

  • Mary Alice LeDoux

    Office Manager

    Mary Alice has spent the better part of the past 10 years managing the semi-manageable. When she's not dealing with the Mess we've made, she's probably playing dress-up and heading out trying to make the world a more ridiculous place. Or baking.

  • Rob Robinson

    Creative Director

    With a decade of interactive experience, Rob Robinson serves as Creative Director and Partner, leading a team of designers and creating awesome looking social stuff and compelling original content.

    Prior to Mess, Rob was at Leo Burnett and DDB Chicago, working for clients including State Farm, Cadillac and Dell. The agency world taught Rob the value of creative cooperation, and he brings a balance of strategic and business-minded thinking to Mess. He's served as a judge for the regional Addy Awards, had work featured in Communication Art’s Interactive Annual and picked up some Effie Awards along the way. Outside of this madness, Rob digs big interactive art (particularly if it's on fire) and wrestling with his muppet-like goldendoodle.

  • Jordan Johnson


    Jordan attended UNC-Chapel Hill in her native North Carolina where she studied journalism. After mourning journalism’s untimely death she went to the Chicago Portfolio School to study graphic design, a love of her’s since her teenage years. Her mother’s a web designer who helped Jordan design and code a blog in the 7th grade, and she’s never looked back. She resides in Bucktown/Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago where she is proud to own verifiably the cutest pug ever to live, Winston (citation needed) She enjoys crocheting, podcasts, as well as baking and a good glass of wine.

  • Joris Butkus


    Joris is a resident of Wicker Park by way of Lithuania. He studied math and economics and decided to take classes and teach himself programming on a lark. He works in both Python and Javascript, along with whatever other programming techniques Jack is strong-arming the development team into at the moment. He loves soccer and a good game of chess.

  • Tony Nusret

    Copywriter / QA

    A graduate of UIUC Tony holds degrees in Rhetoric and Creative Writing. Tony has created copy as a freelance writer since the days of print journalism, working across every platform and content type imaginable, and a few that you’d have a hard time imagining. He’s done creative development for several ventures in print and online, and loves a good creative challenge. Tony is a native of Chicago who lives on the west side.

  • Dimitry Marchenko


    function DimitryMarchenko() {
    this.skills = 'mad';
    this.demeanor = 'quiet'; = 'the internet';
    this.from = 'former USSR';

  • Jemma Hostetler


    Jemma hails from Connecticut, and has lived all over. She’s built an extensive portfolio as a designer and artistic director working as a judge for HOW Magazine’s Annual Interactive Design Awards, AIGA Minnesota’s Interactive Showcase, and a panelist at SXSW Interactive. She has presented her work in conferences from London to Toronto, none of which impresses her Weimaraner Ely, who defies her commands at every turn.

  • David Wang


    David is a native of NYC where he was educated in public schools until his stint at Boston University. But as a die-hard Yankee fan, he could never become a true Bostonian and returned to Manhattan to work as a back-end developer specializing in Python. He likes sports and food, so places that serve both win big points with him. He holds down the New York branch of Mess with Brian.