This article originally appeared in the summer 2019 issue of Harker Magazine.
Dav Yendler ’03 arrived at Harker his sophomore year and quickly found his happy place in the theater department.
“From the beginning his choices were always interesting, his performances always memorable,” said Brian Larsen, K-12 production manager. “His dentist in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ was menacing, his grandfather in ‘You Can’t Take it With You’ was warm and engaging, his Oberon in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ commanding and regal.”
Yendler, a member of the second graduating class at Harker, remembers that his class felt like a bunch of middle children, but they all loved each other.
“Our class got really up on ourselves, and we would put on whole productions to win rallies, complete with dance routines and life-size UFOs,” said Yendler with pride.
Yendler said his passion for all things creative was nurtured at Harker, and performing arts chair Laura Lang-Ree taught him discipline and how to be a responsible artist.
“Dav was a wise soul from the time I met him and was able to throw himself fully into whatever the moment or character called for – be it sincere and serious, or wildly physically fun,” said Lang-Ree. “Dav can do it all. His sincerity and interest in others and curiosity about life makes him a wonderful person and artist, and one I’m now proud to call friend.”
Yendler loved theater and attended the University of California, San Diego, where he immersed himself in the global scene, including living in the international dorm his sophomore year and studying in London his junior year.
After graduating, he headed to the Actors Theatre of Louisville. Following a yearlong internship, he moved to Chicago to pursue theater. While in Chicago, he started working as an illustrator to pay the rent, and in it he found success. His humor, talent and creativity landed him a job in Groupon’s humor department (which no longer exists).
After being laid off from Groupon, he went out on his own as an illustrator and designer, and has since done work for BuzzFeed and Cards Against Humanity.
Yendler was in the right place at the right time when the opportunity to do work for Cards Against Humanity presented itself. A fellow graphic designer who worked at the company offered to take Yendler on a tour of the office. They cruised around and were headed down the stairs when Max Temkin, a company co-founder who had seen Yendler’s work, approached him and said, “We just bought an island and I was wondering if you could draw a map of it.”
This was part of Cards Against Humanity’s holiday promotion in 2014. The company started self-described weird holiday promotions in 2012 and has pulled off wildly hilarious stunts every year since. Yendler has drawn three different maps, including “Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa” in 2014, “Eight Sensible Gifts” in 2015 and “Cards Against Humanity Stops the Wall” in 2017.
In addition to maps, he’s helped design a card game for the incoming freshman class at University of Chicago, done a short animation for the Los Angeles Tourism Bureau, and is now a resident at 72U, which explores the intersection of art, technology and culture.
His group at 72U is working on a program to create awareness around homelessness and dispel myths about shelters. With the support of the city of Los Angeles, the group will create murals in several neighborhoods that will juxtapose letters from homeless people as well as activists who are against shelters in their neighborhoods.
This work is important to Yendler, who wants to spend his life doing creative and meaningful things.
“My passion right now is illustration, but my bigger passion is anything creative,” said Yendler. “Right now I’m passionate about bridging reality, journalism and news reporting with creativity. Stay tuned for some cool work about Russia in 2019!”
Vikki Bowes-Mok is also the executive director of the community nonprofit Compass Collective