Who are some of the best Kentucky graphic designers?
While many people visit Kentucky for its rich history, green countryside, and
bourbon famous recipes, Kentucky's art scene is also booming. And it's not just the fine arts that are taking over this southern state; graphic designers throughout Kentucky are proving their work is pretty extraordinary. In fact, we've listed 10 Kentucky designers below—designers whose work is inspirational, innovative, and eye-worthy. This list includes:
- Seth Eckert
- Bryan Patrick Todd
- Lafe Taylor
- Jasmine Nora Jones
- Matthew Taylor Wilson
- Ashley Trommler
- Noah Jacobus
- Aaron B. May
- Jeremy Booth
- Rachael Sinclair
1. Seth Eckert
Seth Eckert is owner and head creative at The Furrow, a Lexington-based creative shop. (Be sure to check out The Furrow's animated logo!) His work consistently impresses us with its seemingly simple design and bold colors. Even if you're not familiar with Eckert, you most likely see his work daily on Facebook—he was the animator behind Facebook's reaction emojis. When you hover over the the “Like” button to find that perfect reaction—you're looking at Eckert's animation sequence. In addition to his extensive social media work, he's also done projects for Google's Santa Tracker and Microsoft Cloud. You can see Eckert's full portfolio by visiting his website, Dribbble, or by following him on Twitter.
Eckert's Facebook emojis have been used in promotional videos, and they are available for use on any Facebook post (i.e. you can react to a photo with “sadness” or react to a status with “love.”) With these emojis, you have a broader spectrum of emotional reactions from which to choose. This goes above and beyond a “Like” button (or a “Dislike” button, for that matter). These reactions are a globally recognizable way to channel empathy.
Google's Santa Tracker gives those who celebrate Christmas the opportunity to watch Santa's famous journey as he travels the globe. This is a snippet from a past Google Tracker design Eckert helped create.
This is Eckert's cut of a video he did for Microsoft Cloud. The design is complex and modern, using virtually all the space in the image. Eckert's use of shape is something fellow designers should be studying.
2. Bryan Patrick Todd
Bryan Patrick Todd hails from Louisville and describes his art as a “steak dinner for the eyes.” Todd has a point (as long as you like steak). His murals are striking, but their eye-catching nature is not due to size alone. Todd's murals caught our eye specifically with their powerful aesthetic. He is a master of typography, choosing fonts that will elevate each project. His diverse portfolio boasts local and international work. Whether it's in the Highlands of Louisville or the streets of Japan, Angel's Envy whiskey or Esquire magazine, Todd's art is leaving a very real mark. Like his slogan, his art taps into an old-fashioned sense of quality and charm. Keep up with Todd's new projects by following him on Instagram, Twitter, or Behance.
Nothing says Kentucky quite like KFC! Todd found himself in charge of a mural design for the Kentucky Fried Chicken HQ in Louisville. His piece is a tribute to the company's history and product, and of course, the Colonel himself.
Smirnoff worked with Todd to create a global marketing campaign; the brand is often taking chances with its marketing campaigns, and the company teamed with Todd to make an inclusive piece in Tokyo. Because the piece worked as an installation, it became more than an ad—it became interactive. You can read more about this piece on Todd's website.
Todd's “unapologetically Kentucky” designs have arguably brought him a great deal of success. His murals can be seen throughout Louisville, including at the Angel's Envy distillery downtown. This distillery, which specializes in bourbon barrel-aged whiskey, encourages tourism with its visitor center, tours, and shop.
3. Lafe Taylor
From Lexington, KY is Lafe Taylor, a graphic designer, entrepreneur, and all-around renaissance man. We knew we had to list Taylor in this spread—not only does he specialize in a number of unique design styles, but Taylor also uses contemporary fashion, hairstyles, and pop culture in his art to capture the “here and now” of modern life. In addition to his Dribbble and Tumblr, Taylor co-founded a number of businesses. Don't forget to follow Taylor's Twitter for updates and inspiration!
This piece was created for Taylor's daughters. The wide-rimmed glasses, hairstyle, and clothing give this illustration a modern and relevant feel.
Taylor's ongoing “Brothas” collection features men of color. The illustrations in this collection are profiles of various characters with various looks.
In a commentary about pop culture, Taylor created this piece to discuss the unnecessary but prevalent use of checks. The design is simple, but the message is strong, which can be said for much of Taylor's work. His illustrations are often an indication of what he sees and the celebrities he appreciates.
4. Jasmine Nora Jones
Originally a midwestern girl, Jones settled in Kentucky and consistently creates and contributes to unique projects, ranging from art bibles to custom chalkboard designs to large-scale murals. Among other talents, Jones specializes in script-style hand-lettering. Nature, spirituality, and personal growth each plays a part in her designs, and we feel her colorful, feminine stye makes her a perfect addition to this list. You can see her professional portfolio by visiting her website, and be sure to check out her personal projects on Instagram.
Originally a design done for Studio Calico, this rustic, hand-lettered pumpkin quickly gained popularity, and Jones was approached by Anthropologie to use the design on a tea towel. Jones, Anthropologie, and Studio Calico were able to collaborate to make the design into Anthropologie product.
Through a professional connection, Jones was able to sign on with Zondervan (a branch of a Christian publishing company) for their Beautiful Word Bible. For the piece, Jones initially hand-lettered various verses for one Bible edition, but the company also released other editions, a coloring version, and an inspirational gift book version.
Above is a mural Jones did for Starbucks in Springfield, MO. She was contacted by Starbucks HQ to design and complete the mural. This was especially exciting for Jones, whose home state is Missouri.
5. Matthew Taylor Wilson
Matthew Taylor Wilson, located in Bowling Green, KY, is a freelancer whose client list includes Urban Outfitters, American Crafts, Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine, and more. Wilson's one-of-a-kind style makes him a must-have in our list of Kentucky-based artists. Wilson's illustrations cover a wide breadth of content, and that is no coincidence; Wilson has worked to develop various lines of business. He licenses his patterns and lettering for both products and textiles. Additionally, Wilson is part of the Bright Group International, and Wilson's designs for the publications are not to be missed! You are sure to find something you like on Wilson's site, and you can buy his product on Society6, Threadless, and Redbubble.
The above image is from American Girl Magazine, part of a spread about young girls who are working to make a difference. Wilson's illustration features Mikaila Ulmer, the 6th grader who won $60,000 on Shark Tank with her great-grandmother's lemonade recipe. Wilson has done a number of pieces for the magazine, and it's just one of his many designs that celebrate youth and imagination.
Wilson created a map of Santa's Village, including Santa's house, a candy cane forest, an ice cream skating rink, and more. This illustration is especially fun because the colors and content are made real through the conventions of cartography (e.g. labels, dashes to represent footpaths and trails, etc.).
6. Ashley Trommler
Ashley Trommler works for Fieldtrip, a creative agency located in Louisville. Trommler's appeal, other than her projects and business, lies in her artistic style. Her designs direct the gaze of her audience—a powerful skill she consistently masters. Additionally, her work visually satisfies; she understands the importance of color balance and symmetry. Trommler's portfolio consists of personal projects, company logos, and nonprofit work (including MedWater and City Collaborative, to name a few). You can follow her on Dribbble or Instagram.
Trommler and her agency teamed with City Collaborative, a nonprofit that works toward urban development and cultural enhancement. Last fall, the members on the project repurposed vacant lots into pop-up spaces, encouraging community in the area.
“Together We Can Flourish” was Trommler's brainchild and one of the first murals in Louisville Visual Art's Mural Art Program. The mural took over a year and works to remind Louisville of its power as a city. Check out the full mural and process here.
The above illustration was created for Doc Crows, the Louisville smokehouse and raw oyster bar. Since the restaurant is located on Louisville's historic “Whiskey Row,” they proudly use Trommler's handmade lettering and design on their drink menus.
7. Noah Jacobus
Noah Jacobus is an illustrator and product designer “working amongst the bourbon-soaked hills of central Kentucky.” His minimalist designs, nerd-tech style, and bright color palettes make him an obvious choice for our list of bluegrass designers. Jacobus currently works for MetaLab and freelances as well. Check out his portfolio or Dribbble, or follow him on Instagram or Twitter.
These houses were designed by Jacobus for MetaLab as part of a web app. Jacobus' use of color and space are great, and the soft tones and detail help us to focus on the important content.
Jacobus created an interactive ballpark as part of a fantasy team feature for ESPN.com. Above is just a sample of the entire image, but you can see Jacobus' use of rectangular shapes and how the various parts of the image flow together.
Jacobus created this piece shortly before the 2016 election, encouraging fellow Americans to get educated about their ballot and vote.
8. Aaron B. May
Aaron B. May is a Covington, KY man whose grunge-inspired designs have made him a fresh talent in the world of graphic design. May's punk-rock style caught our eye, especially with his use of polarizing colors and content. We like his art scene designs, and we love good package design, which there is plenty of on his site. (And don't miss his personal projects, shop, and Instagram!)
We loved this design, especially due to its wildly clashing content. “Cute” pastries are dominating the internet, so the shock of the skeleton imagery is pretty rock and roll.
May's designs go beyond the page in several ways, and he has quite a bit of product design under his belt. In the photo above, we see his designs for Mayhem Supply Co.'s skateboards.
This is from a poster May designed for the Midpoint Music Festival. Like much of his art, he uses a limited color scheme and textured designs.
9. Jeremy Booth
Jeremy Booth is Louisville born and bred, and we couldn't help but notice his Mad Men-style, or what his website refers to as “Vector Noir.” Booth's high-contrast, flat still-lifes are wonderfully detailed and vary in color scheme. Booth's appreciation for photography and shadow is extremely evident in his designs, and frankly, we can't get enough of them. Booth has worked with Amazon, Dave Ramsey, Samsung, and more. He has listed a wide variety of work on Dribbble, and you can follow him on Twitter.
Eero, a wifi company in San Francisco, contacted Booth about designing a Christmas project. This is a glimpse of the final product, in which subtle indications of wifi-related products are present. Booth created a Christmas palette using nontraditional shades of red and green.
Booth created a Kentucky poster, pulling inspiration from vintage travel posters. True to his method, this piece has a very basic color scheme (and it's only fitting that the home to bluegrass and UK would have a blue poster.) You can see the full image here.
Recently, Booth did an art exhibit at Sergeant Paper in Paris, France. He had a variety of pieces in the exhibit, including this one. The above design is a perfect example of his “Vector Noir” style.
10. Rachael Sinclair
A Kentuckian through-and-through, Rachael has done a variety of custom designs for various clients. The combination of her vintage style and classic training gives her art a timeless aesthetic. Get a full look at her portfolio, or check her out on Behance, Dribbble, or Instagram!
VisitLex, a program designed to encourage Lexington tourism, approached Sinclair to do the above mural(s). This was a two-part mural illustration installed at UK's Commonwealth Stadium. Sinclair explains the process on her website, which involved designing and combining separate illustrations. To achieve the look of the final product, Sinclair used Photoshop watercolor brushes.
Disney held an “Alice Through the Looking Glass” Art Showcase at Los Angeles' Hero Complex Gallery, and Sinclair was asked to contribute art of her own. For the show, female artists exhibited work inspired by Lewis Carroll's written tales and the subsequent film adaptations.
Sinclair designed Louisville Magazine‘s October 2015 cover, for which she combined vintage style and modern conveniences (e.g. flatscreen TV, cell phone, etc.). Sinclair used painting brushes in Photoshop to achieve the look. Check out the full cover here.
Above are just a few of Kentucky's incredible designers, and we highly recommend keeping up with their innovative work! If you're hungry for more design, be sure to check out more Kentucky artists below:
- Ken Grier
- Chris Nolen
- Jessica McCarty
- Justin Kamerer
- Stephen Lee Ogden
- Annie Erskine
- Brooke Hernando
- Paul Reis
- Madelyne Smith
- Ian Wenstrand