A scalable team of creative professionals
Hard work and passion are important, but don’t underestimate the value of talent.
Thomas Weinkle | principal
“The Vortex process is something like crafting a quilt. Brilliant creative, sound marketing strategy, and the constraints of time and budget are carefully stitched together to assure our clients’ success”
It was Weinkle’s clarity of vision and natural design skills that, teamed with partner Michaala Speijers’ business and marketing acumen, lay the foundation of Vortex more than two decades ago. Back then, the firm was known as Thomas Weinkle & Associates. As it evolved into a full-service design business with major local, regional, and national clients, including many of the area’s advertising agencies, it just made sense to change the name to Vortex Communications. Today, Weinkle continues to contribute his strengths to the creative development process while shaping complex information into engaging and powerful messages. He graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1982 with a B.S. in Industrial Design, and worked as an industrial designer in Pittsburgh before accepting a position as senior designer in a Miami-based full-service design firm that worked with regional and national clients.
In 1984, he formed his own design firm and the rest is history. He maintains his creative and technical edge through a commitment to ongoing learning and training. Weinkle is a past president of the Miami chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) as well as a founding member of the organization. He has contributed his services to several non-profit community and arts organizations including Miami-Dade College’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Tigertail Productions, Temple Israel of Greater Miami, Arts & Business Council of Miami, Royal Palm Tennis Club and the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce.
Tom regularly presents workshops on Branding, Online Marketing, Web Design and Social Media to organizations across South Florida.
Michaala Speijers | principal
“Our success lies in our ability to work collaboratively with our clients. We’re always ready to expose a concept to intense scrutiny, and replace it with something better. We’re known for achieving successful results, always within the established budget.”
Michaala (“Miki”) Speijers is a design and advertising industry professional with more than 25 years of experience. She began her career with Supertype, Miami’s legendary typography and pre-press production company. She later joined a Miami-based design firm and helped grow it from a two-person shop to a 15-person full-service agency.
In 1984, Miki and partner Thomas Weinkle formed Vortex Communications. As a partner and co-founder, she oversees a team of graphic designers, and outside resources along with the daily business of the firm, including management of all production, special projects, client relations, financial matters, and business development. She also serves on the boards of non-profit organizations. She has served as chairperson of The Arts & Business Council of Miami, Treasurer of Access Now, which provides for the disabled, and Vice President of The Rotary Club of Coral Gables, where she was voted Rotarian of the Year 2004-2005. In 2003, she was an F.I.U. finalist for small business entrepreneur of the year.
Miki holds degrees in Business Administration from Miami Dade College and English Literature from Florida International University.
Fäde Zu Grau | senior designer
“If you want to make a mark, you must be open to discovery. Point yourself in a new direction and see where it lands you. You’ll discover a world of creative possibilities.”
Born in Altdöbern, Germany, Fäde is fluent in German, Russian and English. After completing his rigorous primary education in the former East Germany, he spent ten years in Osnabrück, West Germany. For five years, he worked as a senior graphic designer in the renowned and respected German agency, System-Werbung Blavius GmbH, where he supervised a staff of five and developed several highly successful, award-winning corporate identities.
In 1998, Fäde moved to the United States, expanding his broad-based knowledge of design and global communications. Some of his most notable work includes designing the marketing materials and even the flight crew clothing for Grupo Taca, a consortium of Central American airlines. He also created the corporate identity for Vestrust, a leading Latin American investment and securities firm.
Fäde joined Vortex in 2000, and is responsible for developing design and identity strategies for a variety of corporate clients, particularly those either based or doing business abroad. He spends his free time indulging in his passion for clothing design and interior design, and is an avid music collector.
Fäde earned a spot on the 2014 fall season of Lifetime’s Project Runway, and will compete to impress Heidi Klum and her supreme court of fashion judges.
Paula Dare | design consultant
“We understand the importance of a website as a strategic business tool. We combine well thought out design with a friendly interface, creating a user experience that both stimulates and engages the viewer.”
Paula Dare joined the Vortex team in 1995 as a senior print designer and has been working with us as a creative design consultant since 2009.
Prior to moving to Miami, she was a designer for Houston-based JetFill, where she managed the design and production of all marketing and packaging materials for the company and its strategic partners, including Xerox, Nu-kote, Nashua, and others. She also held senior design and marketing positions with such leading technology firms as Microcomputer Power, also based in Houston.
After joining Vortex, she expanded her skill set to keep pace with the growing importance of the Internet, and now is responsible for the development of web sites for our clients. Paula holds a degree in Communications and Marketing from Loyola University in New Orleans. She continues to update her skills with ongoing workshops and professional seminars in technology and web marketing.
An avid sailor, Paula spends as much time as she can on the water and enjoys exploring the Caribbean. When she is not launching a website or her boat, she is creating wheel-thrown pottery at the Ceramic League of Miami, of which she is a member and enjoying time with her family.
We’ve got a few more secret creative weapons “behind the curtain”
Outside of the core Vortex team, we have strong alliances with a number of writers, photographers, and programming teams that we engage on a project basis. This allows us to scale appropriately for every project and maintain a high level of efficiency.