November 23, 2020

Graphic Design Alumna creates Biden campaign branding

Aimee Brodbeck
(’08 Graphic Design) 

The following story is a celebration of the exceptional career of an alum of KCAI and should not be viewed as a political endorsement. 

Social impact work has always been important to Graphic Design Alumna Aimee Brodbeck, so when she got the chance to lead the design for the Biden campaign, she jumped on it. She volunteered her time and designed the iconic, patriotic red, white, and blue logo. And, she didn’t stop there. She created a complete marketing suite of SWAG, GIFs, yard signs, emails, and other materials that helped to position Biden for the win. The brand was used by the campaign from April 2019 until Kamala Harris joined the ticket in September.

How did you get involved with the Biden campaign?
I was working for the ad agency Mekanism, and I received a text from Tom Lyons during a meeting asking me, “how do you feel about politics?” The opportunity came through the agency’s relationship with Creative Alliance, a foundation that donates creative efforts to social impact work. They previously worked on the It’s On Us campaign, an Obama-Biden initiative that raised awareness and fought against sexual assault on college campuses for both men and women. 

Tell me a little about the design strategy behind this project.
The strategy for the brand was simple – how do we reunite the country again? There was already talk from the media about how Biden was too old to run, and our goal was creating work that made him feel relatable, ready, and invested in America. The logo incorporates nods to the American flag — the three stripes represent the branches of government and the potential unity Biden offered to the country. Read more about the design process here.

Why was this project so meaningful to you?
In 2019, it became obvious to me that the country was being divided more than ever and I wanted to do something to make a difference. I read Joe Biden’s book and felt like I understood his character. My father raised me as a single dad in the 80’s and it’s really hard for a guy to do it alone. I read about Joe taking the long train back home every day so he could be with his sons after his wife and daughter died. Anyone coming out of a tough situation like that develops a type of empathy that you can’t teach. I knew he was what the country needed. 

How did the Art Institute prepare you for the work you’re doing now?
The Art Institute has helped me in a lot of ways starting in freshman year. I went through Foundation with Brett Reif, who has a background in sculpture and spatial design. He helped broaden my perspective and think more freely on finding solutions.  At the end of the semester, he would tell each student which department they should be in but he didn’t know where I should go. His honesty did more for me than he realized. It gave me the opportunity to think I could be anything and do anything. 

I also want to give a shout out to Tyler Galloway who was my most influential teacher. He taught me so much about the value of design advocacy. He said, “Use your talent — it’s the most valuable tool in the world.” Tyler helped me learn that it’s my duty to share my talent with the world in ways that can impact and disrupt. He empowered me to think that I could make things that were not client-based, but could still have an impact on the way people think. In the same way that Brett encouraged broad strokes, Tyler reinforced the idea that I can change the world with my work. 

What are you currently working on?
My social impact work is a full-time job and client work is my side hustle. 

I helped to create Allyship & Action. After George Floyd was murdered, four of us pushed on agencies and brands to hold them accountable for inclusion. We are a two-part system: A summit for learning and certification for companies. We just had our recent summit and had over 3,000 people attend. Here is the link to the recordings. I find this recording to be my favorite and most meaningful from the summit a few weeks ago.

I also started The Avail List – a free service helping creatives and other people working in advertising find jobs during COVID. We post daily jobs on LinkedIn and also feature a monthly top nine of available talent that we push out to recruiters. This deck does a great job of explaining the project and our journey. So far, we’ve helped about 100 people find full-time jobs. 

Currently, I’m freelancing at an ad agency, McKinney, working on Samsung and Protect our Winters, a pro-bono client that helps create advocacy for climate change through athletes. 

What advice would give KCAI students?
Don’t let the critics get you down. Remember who your audience is.  Remember why you made the work and keep the faith. 

Remember to sketch. Although it’s not instinctive for all designers, I can’t emphasize sketching enough. Some people are so used to working on the computer that they want to jump into it. But sketching is so important — I created the Biden logo through sketching. 

If it’s meaningful to you, don’t be afraid to do free work. A lot of established designers will tell you to never give away your work for free, but I disagree. If I followed that advice, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work on the Biden campaign. Some of the biggest clients that have knocked on my door come from free work. If it’s a meaningful piece of work, don’t write it off. Give your heart to it, give your talent to it, and give your time to it.

And lastly, always remember that you deserve recognition for your work. The Biden project was different because I wasn’t able to tell anyone about it for a very long time. Now that I can, I’m proud to tell people I created it.  Don’t be afraid to talk about your work. If you see someone repost your work on social media, ask for credit. Credit is free! Fight for it! 


December 9, 2020

Julie Farstad Awarded The Rosser Biennial Faculty Fellowship

The Rosser Biennial Faculty Fellowship Endowment was created by Professor Emeritus Warren Rosser to promote the advancement of individual artistic practice and its application to the pedagogy of painting at KCAI. Its purpose is to encourage and support individual research in one’s studio practice and to develop outcomes that relate and promote excellence in one’s teaching practice. This year’s recipient of the Rosser Fellowship is Associate Professor of Painting, Julie Farstad! Julie’s proposal for the Marlborough Native Plants and Pollinator Public Art Project aims to make her Marlborough neighborhood become a place full of color, art, and nature. In recent years, Julie has been researching and practicing ornamental and native gardening and using her plants as subjects for paintings. “Unfortunately, the area I live in has empty concrete lots, boarded-up houses, and vacant storefronts. People dump their garbage on these sites thinking it won’t matter or no one will notice. These visual signifiers overwhelm the identity of our community, and I want to change that,” said Julie. She hopes to replace the visual symbols of blight using native flowers and pollinators as motifs. According to Julie, “I would love to collaborate with other artists, schools, and community centers in the read more…

December 9, 2020

Tony Jones Receives AIAKC President’s Award for Advocacy

Nerman Family President Tony Jones’s unwavering support of the local architecture community was recognized yesterday when he received the President’s Award for Advocacy of Architecture from The American Institute of Architects Kansas City (AIAKC). Over the past five years, KCAI has used local architects and contractors for five major campus projects including the Barbara Marshall Residence Hall, Wylie Dining and Café Nerman (Helix); Paul and Linda DeBruce Hall (Hufft); The Tony Jones Studios (Gould Evans); David T. Beals Studios for Art & Technology (Gould Evans); and the restoration of historic Vanderslice Hall (GastingerWalker&). The campus transformation caught the attention of AIAKC Board of Directors President Ryan Warman who created a special award to celebrate Jones. “We honor the Kansas City Art Institute as advocates of architects and architecture, as they demonstrate the value of collaborating with design professionals in our community to enhance the experience for their students, faculty, and staff,” said Warman. Helix Principal Alissa Wehmueller admires Jones’ devotion to Kansas City architects and his collaboration with neighborhood and community groups. “Tony is the best kind of client in the way he both challenges and trusts the people he works with. It’s a gift that he gives his trust read more…