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Senior Art Director at MMGY Global

It’s funny how small our world is. In a big city with so many talented designers I discovered one designer who grew up in the same small town as myself. We had the same teachers and knew the same people, but never crossed paths until our interview. I’ve been a fan of Amanda Coleman’s work for years, without even knowing it. I’ve bought her t-shirt and chanted her logos and taken selfies in front of her billboards...like most Kansas Citians!
Amanda worked as a Senior Art Director for Walz Tetrick. A local advertising firm. She had been with that company for 14 years which is unheard of in the design industry. During her last four years at Walz Tetrick she spent a majority of her time working directly with the Kansas City Royals on their ad campaigns. During our interview we talked a lot about graphic design, the business world, and of course BASEBALL.

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How and when did you decide to go in to the field of Graphic Design?
I didn’t decide to go into graphic design until the last year of high school. When I was in high school there wasn’t really any information about graphic design. I knew I wanted to do something in the visual field and teaching was not my forte so I just started looking around I looked at KU and found a program I liked. I dived in from there. I was always pretty good at math and logic and graphic design always has a play in that.

I found you on BeHance & LinkedIn. I was fascinated by your Royals billboards is that what you are known for in the industry? Yes, it’s my Royals billboards. When I started my career I would have never guessed Royals billboards would be what I’m most known for.

What are your favorite design projects?
I got to work on fun projects like branding a wine company.



But my favoites of all have been the Royals billboards.When I started working on the Royals campaign our City was on the heels of something phenomenal. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect with the Royals winning the 2015 World Series.

Last year, your Jarrod Dyson billboard had a lot of publicity surrounding the lights. Local news station reported several 911 calls being made saying that the billboard was on fire? Was there any backlash with that billboard?
No, it was all positive hype. I actually joked that my boss called the fire department to get extra publicity.

I had my picture taken in front of your Salvy Splash board, as well as many other people around this city! How does it feel to have such a unique and successful billboard?
It was how we pitched it -as a photo op. We never expected it to take off like it did. I never thought that people would actually line up to stand in front of the sign to take their picture.

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It was how we pitched it -as a photo op. We never expected it to take off like it did. I never thought that people would actually line up to stand in front of the sign to take their picture.
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Were the billboards a group project or was is it your baby?

It was a little bit of both. Media had the first idea. They said, “if we were to get you guys a billboard what would you do with it?” We conceptualized ideas and we thought we could get a pitcher and a catcher, but as soon as the Royals picked up James Shields we knew this was the right direction. The James Shields billboard was a great way to announce his arrival to the Royals. The next year people were looking for our billboards, my boss pitched an idea and I just had a creative hand in it. The Jarrod Dyson billboard was an odd situation where we had an idea and it was going to be downtown. But the city nixed it because of regulations. We always intended to do the lights on the billboard and then we decided that we wanted to burn parts of the billboard to add to the burnt fiery look. We presented several ideas this last year, but the Salvy board was my baby. I’ve had people say, “Oh you’re a graphic designer. Would I know anything you do?” So it’s neat that my work is so recognizable. Funny story… The day the Salvy Splash board was being installed, the news crews were there, Salvy was there, everyone from my office was there but I was stuck in my office because I had a deadline. That’s the life of a graphic designer.

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What has been your favorite client that you’ve gotten to work with?
My experience with the Royals was fun. We were slated to do broadcasts and logos and eventually added billboards. As far as my favorite client, I don’t want to just say the Royals for every answer, but -seriously the last 4 years of my life was so much fun. I think people always see a client like the Royals and say that it has to be a dream client, and that’s not always the case. I find it’s fun to work with clients that you can actually get in there and work directly with them. I did the annual report for the Boy Scouts and they had over 3,500 reports printed and I personally placed snap grommets on each one of the reports by hand because it needed that type of style. I love projects when you get to turn them into something I find my favorite client is always changing and it’s always fun.

What projects are you working on right now and what are your favorite design projects you’ve ever worked on?

I recently changed jobs and I am working for MMGY Global. My billboards caught their attention. I’m currently working on something that’s a little out of my comfort zone. I say that because it’s a lot more of what they consider ideation or brand activation and I’ve been trained on traditional advertising. We are working on Bermuda Travel Authority, Visit Kansas City, and Cheap Caribbean which is an online company.

Do you get to go travel with your new company at MMGY Global?
I’ve only been there for three months but I’ve gone to Germany. I traveled before to St. Louis, Minnesota, and Indianapolis with my old job but with this job it’s a travel company.

So where do you get your inspiration from?
I’m constantly on Instagram and Pinterest I also follow a lot of bloggers and subscribe to a lot of newsfeeds. The bloggers that I follow are a variety of designers, artists, photographers, and typographers.

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Which designers do you admire?
Ann Willoughby. Of course I’d love to work with some of the bloggers I follow like Joy Cho, Jessica Hische, Nubby Twigglet.

What is your biggest strength?
I’m an avid learner. If I could be a perpetual student and afford it I would totally do that because I love learning new things. That is something that you have to do in this industry. You have to constantly be learning new skill sets.

How do you describe your design style? Do you feel like you have a style?
It’s a little bit of both, but I don’t want to say I just take my style from other places. My style comes from directly what is needed for the clients and for who it is. I’m a big believer and a lover of a strong brand and building up a brand. Every brand should be different and have a strong voice. I’m not an illustrator by trade. I don’t bring that kind of aesthetic to the table, but in every project I do have some sort of illustration, photography, something like that. I don’t know that I have a style. I think you can look at my work and see it as a set, but I think every project is designed specifically for the client.

What tools do you use the most?
Everything in the creative suite, my iPad, I carry a sketch book in my purse which has come in handy in random places when you get a good idea.

How does your design direction contribute to solving business problems?
It’s my personality and hard work. I’m logic driven. When you approach each project logically you’ll have much better results solving a problem rather than just creating something cool. You have to approach everything from the beginning and then retrofit the design so that it makes sense.

When you start a new project, what is your starting process?
Well, it’s really immersion you need in order to understand the client, and you need tounderstand their mission statements. You also need to understand why they use the colors they use in their little nuances within their logos. Sometimes, as a designer, you have to just start to get somewhere, but you’re going to be way off base if you don’t start simplyby just doing the research. Get on their Facebook page, get on their Instagram page, and look at their past advertising, who their advertising to, and in what forms. Honestly that’s why my new company MMGY sent me to Germany.

What do you do if your most important client hates your work?
I cry a little, I cuss a little. Everything is subjective, but if you go back to the brief and what you were told and if you have answered everything on the brief and if you’ve solved the problem you can always tweak it from there.

What advice would you give me as it up-and-coming designer?
This industry is all about who you know! However, I’ve found it’s helpful to start networking with people outside of the graphic design world. Pick a nonprofit organization or a cause your passionate about. Get to know people in that community and get your portfolio out there. AIGA is a great organization, but you’re talking to people who are designers like you. My advice is to reach out to other organizations, find other groups you’re interested in, and you’ll open your world to people who need your skill sets.

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