The Pixel Questionnaire: Jay Ungar

Words by NJI
Published December 5, 2023
Last Updated June 26, 2024

Our Chief Panda Officer, always near the genesis of an inspired idea (or cocktail), often recalls Marcel Proust’s wit for answering Victorian parlor game questions. Pixel has traveled far from the salons of Paris, but her interest remains piqued in which questions truly reflect a person’s character. Packing just the right amount of punch, NJI created The Pixel Questionnaire to give a glimpse into the inner workings of some of our most intriguing minds.

Pixel’s recent coffee chat with Associate Art Director Jay Ungar revealed some heartfelt insights and jazzy discoveries. Step into the creative mind of Jay.

If you had a superpower?

Probably super speed.

On what occasions do you lie?

I’ve been keeping the magic of the Elf on the Shelf alive for my toddler throughout the holiday season through gentle fibbing – he’s sentient, he’s watching, and he absolutely peer-reviews Santa’s naughty and nice list.

Your most treasured possession?

Our house, for the opportunities and memories we’ve had here. I’ve also learned a lot through all the projects and renovations I’ve tackled so far.

What would you do if you got stuck in an elevator? 

Call for help and pray I used the bathroom beforehand.

What is your favorite drink? 

Coffee for sure, I start every day with a pourover.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

1920s/30s – the golden age of jazz.

If a movie were made about your career, what would be the title? 

I Love It (Just a Few Small Changes).

Garden gnomes — what do you think? 

The Smurfs owe them royalties.

You’ve been given an elephant. What do you do? 

Send it to an elephant sanctuary so it can live its best life.

What one object do you take with you on a desert island (you have water and food already)? 

A hat so my bald head doesn’t fry.

What was the last gift you got someone? 

I’m most proud of one of my son’s Christmas gifts – his own Switch controller for family Mario Kart sessions.

What is your most unusual talent? 

I’m highly adept at making jingles, it’s second nature at this point. I mostly use it to glide past awkward moments.

If you could breed two animals together, what would they be? 

A jackrabbit and an antelope, so the jackalope can finally be real and give the platypus some competition.

If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Pizza. Always pizza.

Do you have any superstitions? 

The jinx. If you say something’s going to happen, does that happen? I’d rather not find out.

What is something you hate but wish you loved? 

Fennel. So many fall dishes, so many missed opportunities.

What is something you get wrong every time you try? 

A failed omelet is also the perfect opportunity for scrambled eggs.

Who would you like to sit next to on a 10 hour flight?

Ideally, no one. All the leg room.

If you joined the circus, what would your circus act be? 

Something sideshow related?

If you could jump into a pool of something, what would it be? 

Jell-O for the sensation, but vegan, so it’s not a morbid animal byproduct situation.

If you could talk to one species of animals, which one would it be? 

Dogs, mostly so mine will understand that dinner is, in fact, coming and that pawing at me doesn’t make the serving process go any faster.

Who inspires you? 

Illustrators and designers that are confident in and dedicated to pushing the boundaries of their style. I don’t spend much time on social media, but when I do, it’s in search of creative inspiration. I like to keep the accounts I’m following fairly curated for this purpose.

What’s the greatest length you’ve gone to for a client? 

Holding my newborn son in one arm while drawing one-handed with the pen tool in Illustrator using the other. 3 a.m., 3 hours of sleep on a daily average, still delivering final assets before deadline.

If NJI were a television show or movie, what would it be?

Avengers: Endgame, team members jumping in to save the day like the big portal scene at the finale.