ABOUT

Who we are. Our culture. Our people.
Learn what makes us tick.

WHO WE ARE

AND WHAT WE'RE ALL ABOUT

CIULLA is a full-service branding and design agency providing a comprehensive array of strategic and creative design solutions for our clients. We are comprised of highly experienced design and marketing professionals who apply a deep knowledge of markets, consumer behavior, trends and design to achieve remarkable results.

FROM THE CITY OF BIG SHOULDERS...

Comes big ideas. We work in a lakefront city with a rich artistic heritage, vibrant neighborhoods, groundbreaking architecture and a 'make-it-happen' work ethic. It inspires our wide-angle perspective and sparks our creativity. We speak plainly and to the point. We're practical. Innovative. And passionate about what we do.

WHO'S ON THE TEAM

SERIOUSLY SKILLED

Smart, creative, passionate, collaborative, optimistic, accomplished and driven to achieve the best. CIULLA people are skilled strategists, managers and design professionals who contribute the perfect mix of skill-sets, experience and personalities that drive our vibrant culture.

OUR SIZE IS OUR STRENGTH

We combine the resources, skill sets, portfolio and global reach of a larger agency together with the agility, close client interaction and extensive principal participation of a smaller design boutique.

Not too big. Not too small. We're just right.

Sam J. Ciulla
CEO, Executive Creative Director, Playground Coach

 

Luis Izaguirre
Design Director, The Mentor

 

Chris Ciulla
Account Director & Brand Strategist, Office DJ

 

Sandy Summerbell
Account Director, Early Bird

 

Randy Toltzman
Production Director, In-House Bartender

Tina Zenzola
Designer

KC Bauer
Director of Finance, Social Director

 

 

Salman Ansari
IT Director, Guru

 

WHO WE'VE WORKED WITH

Sam J. Ciulla
CEO, Executive Creative Director, Playground Coach

My mom was a painter, she taught art classes in our basement to a number of crazy characters! Henceforth, the youngest of four boys, I was the only one who liked to draw, paint and build things. She also taught me how to cook and bake. Approaching college, I wanted to be an architect, but as I viewed classes with massive drawing boards and people starring at slide rules I got cold feet and decided to be a graphic designer.

Born and bred in Chicago, except for a year in NYC, I’ve worked at a small, medium and large firm, the last one, LAGA as the Managing Director of Creative. We grew the company to three offices, 200 people with global affiliates. We won tons of awards and received many accolades, but at a certain point, too many layers, buyers and opinions drove me to start my own firm. Born out of another landmark Chicago firm, MLR Design started in 1965, I took over in 2006 and we revitalized the firm to become CIULLA ASSOC.

I have had the opportunity to see this business go from T-squares to Macs. From ordering type to designers having to wear multiple hats! I’ve had the honor to work on some of the world’s biggest brands such as; Coca-Cola, P&G, Kraft Foods and a number of great start-ups, born out of someone's kitchen or garage. What I love about what I do is that I get to learn a different business multiple times a year; it gives you the opportunity to experience a new trade, how it’s made and how it’s marketed.

When I am not creating, mentoring or building, I love to sail with my wife and best friends on Catamarans around the world, I get to be the cook and art director!

Luis Izaguirre
Design Director, The Mentor

I grew up in a south suburb of Chicago, where my parents, from Mexico, immigrated in the early 1960’s. Thanks to their selfless hard work and insistence to better our family through education, I was able to pursue a career in the arts. I chose to be a graphic designer in part to ease the worries of my mom, who had visions that I would end up as the proverbial starving artist, and because design appealed to the analytical, logical part of my brain.

My career began when pencils, markers and T-squares when the primary tools of the trade. At my first job, I distinctly remember being shown the computer room, which contained this small clunky gray box that “great things were expected of.” I have seen that if there is one constant, it is change. With my experience, I have developed a unique ability to adapt to and to lead change in our ever-evolving design process. My eye for detail, calm demeanor and professional manner have made me a valuable team member and provided me the opportunity to work with some of the largest most successful companies worldwide.

My professional career is only part of what defines me. I have had the good fortune to marry the woman of my dreams, ran the Chicago Marathon, saw the White Sox win the World Series, and become a proud parent to my son Carlo, who has made me an expert in all things involving dinosaurs, model trains, sharks, natural disasters and of course Godzilla.

Chris Ciulla
Account Director & Brand Strategist, Office DJ

I was quite literally born into the design business and have been surrounded by a very creative family since my earliest memories growing up in the Chicago area. After an education in Business Marketing, time spent in Europe and a few marketing gigs after college, I dove head first into my father’s business. Each day I like to challenge our team to think with a fresh perspective, create strong ties with our clients, and bring creative opportunities to the CIULLA team. Whether working with a Fortune 500 company or a early-stage start up, creative problem solving and helping our clients get to a better place reminds me why I love our agency and the culture we have created.

Each year I like to attend design conferences, expos and events to stay on top of trends and of course to eat all the delicious food samples! When I’m not in the studio, I love traveling, playing and listening to music, and experiencing the incredible food scene in Chicago. Time spent with my wife and dog Jagger, cruising my bike throughout Chicago neighborhoods, being out along the lake where I grew up, or a warm sunny day at Wrigley Field reminds me of why I love this city and all it has to offer.

Sandy Summerbell
Account Director, Early Bird

After 20 plus years of experience working within the packaging, branding and design space with clients big and small, I enjoy getting to the office early. I take a leisurely 20 minute walk from the train station to our office. Always a great time to marvel at the beauty of the city and be surprised by something that catches my eye in a thought provoking way or an inspirational way or in a way that just makes me smile – the smile part usually involves dogs that are being naughty on their walks! It’s a good primer for my work day...listening, becoming immersed, getting inspired, having fun, heading towards a destination. Hmmm similar to the phases of a design project! Being open and aware is essential when helping a client develop a new brand or when strolling to work – it’s all about being receptive to the adventure at hand.

Randy Toltzman
Production Director, In-House Bartender

Working with my dad in his woodworking shop are my fondest memories I have growing up. Learning at a young age how to begin projects with a creative approach, trying new ideas that give a unique product to the customer that reflect their ideas, personality and needs was always the goal. Keeping an eye on detail and design from start to finished piece was expected. The real reward was delivering the work and receiving a heart-felt thank you!

After high school I attended a university that offered a 4-year degree in industrial design and architectural model building. My education allowed me to work in Dallas and Chicago as an architectural model maker. I made the transition to graphic design as a production artist for MLR Design. I still find it rewarding today managing production art for clients, designers and printers.

When I’m not at the office I enjoy projects around the house and project homes. My wife and I have renovated two homes and our friends keep asking us when we are going to move into that third fixer upper. For now we are enjoying where we are and travel at home and abroad as much as possible to fill the need for adventure.

Tina Zenzola
Designer

I grew up in Buffalo Grove, Illinois and stayed there until moving five and half hours away to attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I spent five incredible years there developing my skills as a graphic designer in the tight knit but competitive graphic design program. During my time there, I was introduced to letterpress printing and fell in love. I’m the proud owner of a tiny press that I use every chance I get!

Outside of design, my favorite things in life are dogs, food, and wine. When I’m not in the office, I’m either binge watching the latest hit tv show or spending time with my friends and family.

Salman Ansari
IT Director, Guru

Born in Bhopal, India, I migrated to the United States about a quarter century ago. I did my Masters in Micro-Paleontology, but switched fields after being fascinated by the world of computer programming, and learned to program in several languages.

I have a unique distinction of having worked on every model of Apple computers, from Lisa to Apple II, and Apple soft Basic Programming to Desk Top Publishing, to DTV, remote access and to streaming. With more than 37 years of experience with computers and computing technologies, I have installed, developed, serviced, networked, and provided support on virtually every model of Apple Computers. Having a background where a multitude of regional languages are spoken and written, I was one of the leading developers who introduced and facilitated the use of more than 15 regional languages of the Indian subcontinent on computers.

I am an avid reader, a Poet of distinction in Urdu and Hindi Languages, and a short story writer. A collection of my first Poetry Book was published in 2013 and a compilation of my short stories, also in Urdu, are slated to be published in the last quarter of 2018. I have received numerous awards for creative writing and my work has been published in leading newspapers and magazines in the Indian subcontinent.

My hobbies include, music, camping, fishing, cooking, crafting, pottery and being an activist for women’s and LGBTQ rights. I am currently being trained in instrumental Indian classical Music on Sarod, a Stringed Instrument from India. I am proud to be associated with CIULLA for more than a decade and continue to support and enhance our IT strategy.

KC Bauer
Director of Finance, Social Director

I am a Southern California native who grew up playing soccer, golf and spending time outdoors. After high school I packed my bags and moved to Switzerland. Soon, the real world called, so I made my way back to the U.S. and was college-bound. I started my college career with a focus on commercial interior design, however I soon realized I had a greater passion for people and public service and switched my path to Urban Studies & Planning. Many years later, my interest in finance set me on a path that lead straight to CIULLA ASSOC.

My role at CIULLA revolves around the day-to-day operations and financial forecasting.

When I’m is not at work, I volunteer time with the Make-A-Wish foundation, spend time traveling, meeting interesting people and eating great food!