40 Under 40 The Class of 2011

Peter Ellis: 27

Creative Director, DIF Design

Peter Ellis

Peter Ellis

Peter Ellis grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, where, he said, people were ‘going green’ long before that phrase came into vogue in this country.
“Green came naturally to me — stores didn’t have plastic bags; you had to bring your own bags,” he said of an attitude that prevails in Eastern Europe. “We bought local, fresh produce; nothing was shipped across the country. Green was imbedded in me by default, I guess.”
This background, coupled with his desire to help Springfield catch up with Northampton, Boston, and New York in matters involving earth-friendliness, inspired Ellis, founder and creative director of DIF Design, to create something called the  GreenSeal program for businesses in the City of Homes. Creation in conjunction with the city, it recognizes ventures that are making strides in this realm and fosters a greener, more sustainable community.
The program is one of several factors that helped Ellis — who came to the U.S. to study at a seminary, but ultimately decided to take a much different career path — attain the top score among 40 Under Forty nominees. The growth of DIF Design, and the quantity and quality of his work, especially in Web design, was obviously another factor.
The company, which started mostly as a consulting venture in the broad realm of digital imaging, now boasts a number of clients across several sectors, and with each one, DIF works to identify which message needs to be sent, to whom, and how.
“When someone comes to us for help with their Web site, we strategize with them on how to build that site and reach a certain demographic so that it’s not just out there and looks good. It also functions as a piece of their marketing, rather than as just a brochure online.”
In addition to his family — his wife, Meaghan, and two daughters, Avery, 4, and Emery, 2 — Ellis devotes free time to a woodworking hobby (he builds furniture) … and getting tattooed. Indeed, he said most of his chest and arms are covered with images, something most of his clients would never know, and by design.
“Image is everything,” he said. “That’s what I preach.”
— George O’Brien

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