Sponsored Studio

Real-World Experience Sponsored By Local Businesses

We recognize the importance of providing students with real-world, hands-on experiences and enhanced training for successful careers.

Sponsored Studio creates partnerships with local businesses to provide unique educational experiences for students while also assisting business partners with a fresh approach to their research and development, creative communications, and business challenges.

By participating in a Sponsored Studio, your company will be recognized as an official KCAI sponsor and will gain a unique creative perspective on your business challenge.

For additional information contact sponsoredstudio@kcai.edu or call 816-802-3527.

If your business is interested in participating in Sponsored Studio, fill out the partnership form and a member of our corporate programs team will contact you.

Partnership Form

We are proud to be involved with educational endeavors like this that support the arts and the education of young people who we hope will someday join our industry.

Norm Young
President and CEO, Weld Racing

Kansas City Regional Simulation Alliance

COVID-19 has turned children’s lives upside down. It’s been over a year since their world changed, but they still can’t grasp why they have to wear a mask, wash their hands over and over, and can’t play with friends. As they get ready to return to in-person school, a new book sponsored by the Kansas City Regional Simulation Alliance (KCRSA) and designed by KCAI students helps make sense of COVID 19 through a universal language – coloring. 

The 16-page coloring book, COVID-19 Around the World, explains in age-appropriate ways why kids have to protect themselves and covers common pandemic themes like mask-wearing, sneezing into your elbow, and air high fives. The children featured are ethnically diverse so every child can see themselves in the drawings. Each book comes with a box of multicultural skin tone Crayola crayons.   

The coloring books and crayons were delivered to the Kansas City School District last week. Soon they’ll be in the hands of Pre-K through third graders who can have fun coloring and learning more about a topic that’s rocking everyone’s world — COVID-19.   

School of Economics at UMB

When elementary school students visit the new School of Economics at UMB, they’ll learn business and financial skills in colorful storefronts and cityscapes designed by students from KCAI’s Micro Studio. The challenge for this project was to come up with designs that would set the stage for financial learning, while at the same time bring a sense of fun to the audience of fourth through sixth graders. From the initial concept presentations to the install of nine storefronts and cityscapes four months later, Micro students went through several rounds of design revisions based on input from UMB and the School of Economics.  The final result is a lively, vibrant environment perfect for learning business basics.

Independence Center's Colorful Pillars

Visitors to Independence Center have new art to admire – four 40 foot pillars wrapped in designs by Lacey Vonderschmidt (Senior, Illustration) and Nehemiah Cisernos (’20 Painting). Vonderschmidt’s design depicts local plant life and Cisneros’ abstract approach uses both positive and negative space to create movement without a single focal point. The pillars, which bring color and energy to the popular mall, are just one example of the ways KCAI students bring public art and beauty to locations all around Kansas City through Sponsored Studio.

Events By Elle Something Old...Something New

Events by Elle, a Kansas City planning and design boutique, asked nine Fiber students to use re-purposed materials to create wedding gowns and the results are both amazingly artistic and eclectic. From Obinna’s Nigerian inspired wedding dress with a feather collar to Hannah Morrison’s bustier romper and clear acrylic coat, these gowns rethink wedding attire conventions. The gowns were on display in Epperson Auditorium at the End of Semester Exhibition and Sale.

This project is co-sponsored by The Gown Gallery, Claire Ryser Photography, Ashley Backs of Hello Lovely, Charles Belger, John W. Belger, Jerad Gentry, John Belger & Associates, Karbank Real Estate Company and Donald K. Snyder.

Monarch Bar's Chandelier Project

When our friend and world-famous architect David Manica wanted to create a cocktail bar reminiscent of the great ones in London and Moscow, he turned to KCAI. He knew that the extraordinary creative talent of our students and the high-tech capabilities of the Beals Studios were the perfect combination to realize his vision of the chandelier. The shimmering chandelier made with over 1,000 acrylic butterflies is the first thing to catch your eye over the main bar. The butterflies were all laser cut and kiln formed, heated and melted to give them shape, then sand blasted and etched to catch the light. They were hung in columns on a grid to give the illusion of butterflies in flight. Specially-designed lighting changes the colors of the butterflies. The result is an exquisite, unique chandelier. This collaborative project is just one of many that our students are doing with the Kansas City business community through our Sponsored Studio program. This marvelous installation was designed and built by Studio Coordinator Nathan Neufeld and a team of students in our very own David T. Beals III Studios for Art & Technology. The Monarch Bar is on the Country Club Plaza at 4808 Roanoke in Kansas City.

Kansas City Streetcar Poster Design project

When you traveled down Main Street in downtown Kansas City last spring, you saw a colorful streetcar poster hanging at every stop along the new streetcar’s two-mile route.  The commemorative streetcar poster was a partnership between the Streetcar Authority, KCAI’s Sponsored Studio and MICRO Agency, a KCAI class that functions as a design studio/advertising agency.  Junior Madison Crabtree’s design, which features iconic KC landmarks like the Western Auto sign and Union Station, was chosen from six entries. “It’s my first real break as a student.  I’ve never really had my work out there. It’s kind of surreal actually,” said Crabtree.


Children’s Mercy Hospital – Medical Illustration Project

KCAI’s course on biomedical visualization is a three-credit-hour elective offered through the college’s illustration program and taught by Stan Fernald. Fernald (’94 industrial design), is a research associate at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Fernald said he is excited about the potential for linking KCAI with Kansas City’s burgeoning biotechnology sector.

Incorporated into the class was a Sponsored Studio project in partnership with Children’s Mercy Hospital, which contacted KCAI for help in visually interpreting medical research concepts for low-literacy and illiterate populations in the U.S. and abroad.

“The No. 1 goal of all medical illustration is to convey abstract technical concepts to a public that may not know very much about the topic,” Fernald said. “It’s exciting to work with students to produce solutions for real-world applications — communication that goes beyond language and cultural barriers.”

Fernald noted that the field widely known as “medical illustration” has evolved beyond just drawing from observation, although drawing is still important. Tools of today’s medical illustrator include animation, vector art and 3-D printing, among others. According to Fernald, the successful medical illustrator needs to be adept in a variety of disciplines: graphic design, photography and illustration, to name a few.

“KCAI has always had a nice mix of fine arts, applied arts and conceptual thinking,” Fernald said. “When I am working with someone from this kind of fine arts background, compared to someone who has only been technically trained, I find they produce a deeper, richer, more nuanced solution.”

Over the last three years, students have worked on various projects with Children’s Mercy Hospital, including creating visuals to break down cultural language barriers. As they look to the program’s future, the students are up to the challenge, according to Fernald.

Lead Bank - Public Art Project

The Lead Bank Community Art Wall is a rotating exhibit of artwork expanded to a large format for outdoor display in the bank’s parking lot.  The artwork changes four times per year and features student work for different areas of the college. It is even featured at First Friday. Image of the Community Art Wall featuring the work of Gabbi Brandini, currently a senior in Illustration.

Image: Artwork courtesy of Gabbi Brandini, KCAI senior in Illustration.