Group Creative Director by trade … photographer and road trip fool by passion.
• Group Creative Director at Merkle
• AIGA-KC President Emeritus
• Former program head and assistant professor at the KCAI Graphic Design program
• Author and developer of “Detour Art” an online resource for outsider and folk artists and visionary environments.
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Merkle (formerly DEG)
Group Creative Director
2021 — Current
2017 — 2020
Associate Creative Director
2016 — 2017
Serving flagship brands, including LVMH (Chandon, Hennessy, Veuve Clicquot) Purina, AMC, Hallmark, HUB International, Party City, Terlato Wine Group, Focus Brands, Salvation Army, PepsiCo, Walmart + Sam’s Club, Hershey’s and many others. I manage a team of designers, UX designers and art directors, writers, and collaborate with strategists, UI development teams, contractors and senior leadership.
I believe that the role of a Group Creative Director is to not only provide creative guidance but to also support the team, elevate their work, clear roadblocks, recruit and nurture. While this looked different during the Covid lockdown, I learned quickly how to promote our culture remotely, and became an even better manager.
Along with being in the business of creative direction and new business initiatives, I also am on the business of creative management, developing protocol and process, restructuring the teams, seeking efficiencies and collaboration internally, improving our external impact. Doing so increased the design team’s utilization rates over 15% in the first year alone. I have also led the charge mapping roles and responsibilities, as we navigate our second company-wide intergration within the dentsu family.
Chief Design Officer
1987 — 2015
Years of experience in creating award-winning designs and managing teams specializing in marketing strategies, brand identity and development. I provide creative direction to a wide variety of clients and design consultation to advertising agencies, design studios and broadcast producers.
Deeply rooted in human-centered design processes, I can move quickly between the tactical, strategic and creative roles. Collaborative and focused on understanding the needs and motivations of the audience, I approach challenges with a strong background in design thinking.
Today I specialize in branding and identity programs, UX/UI design, book design, marketing and promotional materials, design for WordPress and Squarespace, and design consultation.
Kansas City Art Institute
Kansas City, MO — 2009 – 2016
The promotion of a positive creative and learning environment for students and fellow professors was a key goal as the department underwent the challenges of significant and frequent transition.
As the senior faculty member in the department, I organized curriculum, managed daily operations, as well as developed and presented courses at the sophomore, junior and senior levels including Human-centered Design, Online Presence, User Experience and Professional Practice.
Community outreach and connecting educational outcomes with professional practice is a passion. Partnerships with the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and the Folly Theater were incorporated into the curriculum. Students were also encouraged to partner with local community organizations, utilizing design thinking for social good, and creating a positive social impact. These initiatives have also resulted in a significant increase of the program’s visibility, strong internship program, and approximately 90% of the students finding work in their chosen field.
Emphasizing our curriculum, I also lead the initiative to strengthen our presence in the design education community, including the development of the depart website, www.kcai-graphicdesign.com, resulting in an increase in enrollment.
2015-2016: Assistant Professor
2014-2015: Program Head, Assistant Professor
2013-2014: Assistant Professor
2010-2013: Adjunct Professor
Director of Mobile Products
Kansas City, MO — 2010-2012
Specializing in Apple’s iOS mobile platform, I have successfully implemented my own mobile apps as well as worked with others to bring them to fruition.
Combining my love of visual design and brand experience with the latest strategies in information architecture for both mobile and desktop design. While at Propaganda3, I streamlined and standardized the bidding and production processes (website and mobile development) to maximize efficiency.
Well-versed in Apple’s iOS mobile platform, I have successfully created and implemented mobile apps, working with producers and developers to navigate the mobile technologies, and strategies. I am adept at:
- UI/UX design
- Site maps, wire framing and prototyping
- Use case scenarios
Vice President of Marketing and Production Management
Kansas City, MO
Part of the launch team for a weekly tabloid-style magazine on race and ethnicity. Distributed through national newspapers, including the Washington Post, I developed the marketing and sales materials, strategy as well as production scheduling and management of the teams.
Kansas City, MO
I oversaw art direction and production management for a small advertising agency specializing in consumer food products. Duties ranged from art direction to traffic management for print advertising, package design and fleet graphics.
JR Navarro & Associates
Los Angeles, CA
Starting as an entry level production person, I quickly evolved to production and traffic management as well as art direction.
OK, I am not a minimalist.
I began designing professionally since graduating from the University of Kansas with a B.F.A. in Visual Communications. Before joining DEG, a Merkle Company, I was at the Kansas City Art Institute as an assistant professor. Prior to that I launched Ludwig Design, a graphic design and marketing agency, with clients ranging from new business to major pharmaceutical, as well as book design, publishing and app development.
My design work has been recognized in many national and international publications and award shows, including: Print Regional Design Annuals, the Rx Club of New York, Print’s Best of Logos and Symbols, Society of Illustrators, as well as Kansas City’s Art Directors, Omnis and Addys.
I have blended my passion for photography, design and travel experiences with the latest technology, and created two travel apps for the iPhone, the award-winning “Best Road Trip Ever” and “Road Trip 66.” Detour Art, Travel-o-Pedia, and Home Court Advantage are just a few titles in the long line of books, design and marketing projects I have authored. My photographs have been exhibited in a number of museums, magazines and books.
My love of self taught and folk art has led me to all regions of the country — collecting art, meeting artists, and photographing the visionary sites. This passion has resulted in authoring the 2007 book Detour Art, Outsider, Folk Art, and Visionary Environments Coast to Coast. My extensive folk art collection just returned from a two year nationwide tour.
I also share my knowledge and expertise in design and art direction by working with students in the classroom and the field. I was an assistant professor and program head of the graphic design department at the Kansas City Art Institute.
the full darn list
2013 Gold, OMNI (Kansas City Advertising), Mobile and interactive, Best Road Trip Ever iPhone app
2010 Key to the City of Lake Charles, LA. In honor of Detour Art exhibit
2005 NETA (National Educational Television Association) Website design, KCPT’s Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations
2005 Bronze, OMNI (American Advertising Federation/Kansas City), Advertising for Arts and Sciences, Website design, KCPT’s Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations
1997 Design Excellence, Print Magazine Regional Design Annual, Logo design for Corinth Square Chiropractic
1997 Design Excellence, Print Magazine Regional Design Annual, Logo design for Havana Moon
1997 Merit, Society of Illustrators, Art direction
1997 Bronze, OMNI (American Advertising Federation/Kansas City), Elements of Advertising, Logo design for Havana Moon Cigars
1996 Bronze, OMNI (American Advertising Federation/Kansas City), Promotion, CD cover design for B.U.G.
1995 Gold, OMNI (American Advertising Federation/Kansas City), Direct Marketing, T-shirt design for Reggae Music Festival
1995 Prism Award (Public Relations Society of America, PRSA) Brochure for Charlie Parker Memorial
1994 Gold, OMNI (American Advertising Federation/Kansas City), Illustration (art direction), Poster for River Valley Music Festival
1994 Award of Excellence, RX Club of New York, Logo design for Medi-Flex Surgical Products
1994 Award of Excellence, RX Club of New York, Direct mail for Medi-Flex Surgical Products
1993 Silver KCAD (Kansas City Art Directors), Poster for River Valley Music Festival
1993 Design Excellence, Print Magazine Regional Design Annual, T-shirt design for River Valley Music Festival
1993 Design Excellence, Print Magazine Regional Design Annual, Logo design for SS Galamba Construction
1993 Design Excellence, Print Magazine Regional Design Annual, Logo design for SDI (Strategic Dance Initiative)
1992 Gold KCAD (Kansas City Art Directors), Graphic Design, Poster for Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival
1992 Gold, OMNI (American Advertising Federation/Kansas City), Advertising for Arts and Sciences, Poster for Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival
1992 Certificate of Design Excellence, Print Magazine Regional Design, Poster for Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival
1992 Certificate of Design Excellence, Print Magazine Regional Design, Logo design for Rebeka Czufin
1992 Gold KCAD (Kansas City Art Directors Award), Graphic Design, Logo for SS Galamba Construction
1992 Silver KCAD (Kansas City Art Directors Award), Logo design for Rebeka Czufin
1992 Merit All Time Classic, KCAD (Kansas City Art Directors Award), Promotion for Deborah Tudor
1991 Silver, OMNI (American Advertising Federation/Kansas City), Outdoor advertising, Plaza Association
1991 Silver KCAD (Kansas City Art Directors Award), Illustration/Art Direction Poster for River Valley Music Festival
1990 Silver KCAD (Kansas City Art Directors Award), Graphic Design, Logo design for The Phoenix Bar and Grill
1990 Silver, OMNI (American Advertising Federation/Kansas City), Print material, Logo design for New Riddim
1990 Bronze, OMNI (Kansas City Advertising Awards), Print material, Logo design for Phoenix Bar and Grill
1990 Bronze KCAD (Kansas City Art Directors Award), Outdoor advertising, Plaza Association
1990 Bronze KCAD (Kansas City Art Directors Award), Wild West Enterprises
1990 Bronze, OMNI (American Advertising Federation/Kansas City), Print material, Logo design for Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival
1989 Gold, OMNI (American Advertising Federation/Kansas City), Print material, Promotion for Deborah Tudor
1989 Silver KCAD (Kansas City Art Directors Award), Graphic Design, Promotion for Deborah Tudor
1989 Bronze KCAD (Kansas City Art Directors Award), Graphic Design, Logo design for Hair by Julie
1989 Certificate of Design Excellence, Print Magazine Regional Design, Logo design for Hair by Julie
1986 Bronze, OMNI (American Advertising Federation/Kansas City), Self promotion, Kelly Ludwig Design
- 2020 “Pieces and Patterns: Quilts of West Alabama” Montgomery Museum of Art, February 13, 2020 — May 10, 2020, Montgomery, Alabama
- 2018 Roadside Attraction, American Folk Art Museum, Long Island City, Queens, NY, October 15, 2018—January 3, 2019
2016 Journeys into the Outside, Museum of Everything, London, UK, Sept 25, 2016
2016 Kansas City Flatfiles Exhibition, H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, July, August & September selected artist, west wall 2. People’s Choice winner
2015 Futuro World exhibition, WeeGee Exhibition Centre, Studio Suuronen, 16 June 2015–31 January 2016, Espoo, Finland. Photography featured in exhibition.
2014 Kansas City Flatfiles Exhibition, H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, September selected artist, west wall 2.
2014 Kansas City Flatfiles Exhibition, H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, July selected artist
2011 Second Chances: Folk Art Made from Recycled Remnants SFO Museum, San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California (photography)
2011 Detour Art Kimball Art Center, Park City, UT (photography and folk art collection)
2010 Detour Art Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, MI (photography and folk art collection)
2010 Detour Art Historic City Hall, Lake Charles, LA (photography and folk art collection)
2009 Rare Visions, Detour Art Belger Art Center, Kansas City, MO (photography and folk art collection)
2008 “Sidewalks to Rooftops: Outdoor Folk Art” ongoing exhibit, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Williamsburg, VA (photography of Robert Howell environment)
About travel, technology and folk art:
- 2021 Kansas Citians Celebrate the Art the Helped Them Weather the Pandemic Julie Denesha, KCUR.org, May 20, 2021
- 2016 Celebrating Our National Parks KSHB-TV, June 30, 2016
2016 Eating our way through Kansas KSHB-TV, April 12, 2016
- 2016 Spring Break Road Trips, KSHB-TV, March 1, 2016
- 2016 Kelly Ludwig’s Outsider Obsession, KC Studio Magazine, Jan.-Feb. 2016
- 2015 “Art in the Heartland: Lucas, Kansas and the Grassroots Art Movement” “Art Is …” The 29th Annual National Conference on Liberal Arts and the Education of Artists.
- 2015 Fall Foliage, KSHB-TV, October 6, 2015
- 2015 Of the People, KCUR, July 2
- 2015 Folk Art in Wisconsin, KSHB-TV, June 11
- 2015 Road Trip Apps for Spring Break KSHB-TV, March 5
- 2014 Offbeat Kansas City (weekend road trips) KSHB-TV, September 23
- 2014 Folk art sites in Missouri (weekend road trips) KSHB-TV, July 1
- 2014 Best Road Trip Ever (Iowa) KC Live, KSHB TV, June 30
- 2014 Featured speaker at the inaugural AAF-KC Gas Can Creative Conference Kelly Ludwig at Gas Can: AAF-KC Creative Conference 2014
- 2014 “Gas Can Creative Conference” Kansas City Business Journal, Leslie Collins, June 23
- 2014 “Gas Can Recap” Eric Melin, June 24
- 2014 Weekend Road Trips (Kansas) KC Live, KSHB TV, June 11
- 2014 Latest in Tech, Anything Goes, KKFI, June
- 2009 Driven By Vision – Of Castles, Kings and Jesters, Markham Street Films
- 2008 Tin Sheet Tombstones – Horace McAfee “Deserts & Canyons & Vegas, Oh My!” Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, Kansas City Public Television
Cited resources on self-taught art
- 2015 Robinson, Shannon, Outsider art: Online sources for research Coll. res. libr. news January 2015 76:43-46 Review of best web-based resources on Outsider Art, College and Research Library News
- 2014 “Self-Made Worlds” 50th anniversary of Public Art Review, July, 18, 2014, Erika Nelson (Issue 50, Spring/Summer 2014)
- 2014 “Folk Artist’s work lives on at Missouri State” Springfield News-Leader, Christine Temple, September 8, 2014
- 2013 SPACES archives Margaret’s Grocery
- 2012 American Folk Art: A Regional Reference by Kristin G. Congdon, Kara Kelley Hallmark – March 19, 2012, pages 39, 87, 123, 153, 209, 215, 241, 297,304, 376, 385, 435, 463, 520, 570, 608, 695
- 2012 “Giant Bull Head Draws Drivers to SD Sculpture Park” Washington Times, May 23, 2012, Dirk Lammers (picked up by AP, carried in multiple newspapers)
Reviews of Detour Art & lectures about self-taught art
- 2011 “Fall Exhibits at the Kimball Center” Historic Park City Utah, Alison Butz, September 27, 2011
- 2011 “Dazzling undiscovered art from America’s back roads” September 23, 2011 Salt Lake Tribune, Glen Warchol
- 2011 “Detour Art is a little left of center” Scott Iwasaki, The Park Record, September 9, 2011
- 2010 Muskegon Museum of Art, September 16, 2010
- 2010 Good Reads, “Detour Art”
- 2010 Art Found Out, Scott Rothstein
- 2009 KCUR Central Standard, March 26, 2009 Folk Art Talk with “Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations”
- 2009 Kelly Ludwig: A Rare Vision, Pepperdine and Associates, February 27, 2009
- 2009 Belger Art Center
- 2009 KCUR Arts, Belger Art Center Presents Large-Scale Folk Art Show, March 26, 2009
- 2009 “Detour Art”, Raw Visions, Issue RV63, Summer 2009, Raw Reviews
- 2009 “Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations” Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art,
- 2009 “Best Outsider Art” Pitch Best of Kansas City 2009
- 2009 “Belger Arts persents works collected from folks along the “Detour” route”, Kansas City Star, April 22. 2009
- 2009 Outsider Art Sourcebook, Raw Visions, Ltd, London, contributing editorial/production
Reviews of Best Road Trip Ever and Road Trip 66
- 2011 Cuba, Missouri “Do You Have an App for That?”
- 2010 Largest Ball of Stamps, America’s Strangest Roadside Atractions, Travel + Leisure,
- 2009 “Inside Out” SPACES KC magazine, March 2009
©2022 kelly ludwig, all rights reserved, including all photographs, text and designs unless otherwise noted.