Kirby Stephens Design

Monday, 23 January 2017
Published in Blog: Design
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Ah! Super Bowl LI. That's Super Bowl 51 for those of us not still in middle school. The use of Roman numerals has been mathematically obsolete for more than 1,100 years. But hey, they look important. Google "Roman numerals" and you will see people also searched:

People also asked

Last year the NFL broke a 48-year tradition (the first game had no number) and branded the big game with a radical change to Arabic numbers, or as we call them, "numbers." This made sense as the Roman numeral for 50 is just "L". It would have been obviously weird. 50 is cool. It's a nice number.

SB logo 50

So I have to wonder who had the bright idea to change back to Roman numerals this year? 51 would have worked so much better than LI, and certainly made things easier for future Super Bowl fans. —Quick, figure out what XCVIII is.

I'll have to admit I do like the letter X. It's always been a favorite. I think the broadcasters like it too. It looks powerful on a TV screen. At least, it usually does.

SB logo IX


SB logo XIII

Super Bowl logos used to be unique, each year offered a new design. They weren't always beautiful or elegant, but at least they had their own personality. In recent years, they have unified around the trophy, with only the number, and in some version, the host stadium architecture added for distinction. I blame the "L." It just messes with you. The only way to make it work is to give it context. 

SB logo L group


So I believe we can look forward to making fun of Super Bowl LIX in eight years. There should be almost as many jokes as the pornographic Super Bowl logo in 1996.

SB logo XXX

Wednesday, 26 October 2016
Published in Blog: Design
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Alumitech Honda wheel

An aluminum wheel produced by Alumitech. Photographed on 4x5 black and white negative film.


Graphic design studios typically hire photographers as needed, but KSD produces the majority of our photography in-house, and has done so for almost 30 years.

The technical side of photography has changed dramatically during this time (primarily film to digital), but the skills required have not changed. Exposure, focus, composition and a sense of timing are still critical to creating strong images. We disassembled our darkroom almost a decade ago and now use a vastly more efficient digital workflow.

The primary job of photography in marketing is to make something look beautiful, look interesting, tell a story, evoke a feeling, or all of the above. A drug testing kit with urine can be photographed by anyone with a smart phone, but to make it look striking requires control of the light, the background and the perspective, as well as meeting the technical requirements for print or web publication.

Below are a few samples of photography KSD has produced for clients.

Monday, 31 October 2016
Published in Blog: Design
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KSD carved pumpkins.

A few of the carved pumpkins at KSD on Halloween in previous years.

I'm a Halloween baby and over the years we've celebrated at KSD with costumes at work, pumpkin carving contests or masquerade parties. However, this year’s celebration holds more meaning.

During the last 30 days, the designers at the studio have shared memories and images of some of our favorite projects and people from the past 30 years; projects and people that have been essential to the formation and growth of KSD.

As the years have gone by I have been fortunate to learn a few lessons along the way.

Wednesday, 05 October 2016
Published in Blog: Design
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Dan Dutton owl nest

“When I was a child, I heard my parents sing songs telling of marvelous things that happened long ago.” — Daniel Dutton

This is the opening line from artist, composer and storyteller Daniel Dutton’s Ballads of the Barefoot Mind, a catalog designed by KSD for his opening exhibition at 21C Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. For 30 years, we have collaborated with Dan to share “marvelous things” from his creative world, through posters, catalogs, album art, photography, websites and more. A true renaissance man, he is an accomplished musician, painter, poet, sculptor, writer and storyteller.

Monday, 24 October 2016
Published in Blog: Design
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ksd illus group image

A catfish playing basketball; a college student in a circus cannon; a movie director framing you for a close-up — this is what 30 years of illustrated solutions at KSD looks like. Imagery that’s full of metaphors or incongruous mashups — sometimes bold, sometimes quiet, cartoonish, business-like or elegant — but always driven by the needs of the message.

Monday, 24 October 2016
Published in Blog: Design
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Malcolm Grear portrait COX6703 1200

Malcolm Grear at The Center for Rural Development in 1998.

I enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky in the fall of 1977 thinking I would eventually go to law school. By the summer of 1979 I had officially turned away from the idea of a legal career to a path in journalism. I landed a summer internship at The Commonwealth-Journal (a rural, community newspaper in my hometown) working in the copy editing and typesetting department.

One afternoon looking over the press release basket in the newsroom, I saw a release from the Veterans Administration (now the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) announcing the agency’s 50th anniversary. To commemorate the event, they had designed a new stamp that was being issued by the U.S. Post Office. Attached to the release was a color PR photo of the stamp sheet.

Friday, 30 September 2016
Published in Blog: Design
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Amon's with giant donuts

Many of my early lessons did not come from a master of design.

They came from a master of donuts.

On January 18, 1951, my father gave my mother a bakery. It was her birthday gift, one she often told people kept her in a job her entire life. From an early age, my brothers and I learned to get up early and go to bed late, that hard work and making a quality product were required for success, and that it’s not enough just to make the product — you have to sell it.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Published in Blog: Studio Life
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Today was a perfect day for a little high-definition drone video! Videographer Ramie Hutchison skillfully captured some beautiful aerial footage as part of a corporate video for one of our manufacturing clients.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Published in Blog: Studio Life
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Kirby Stephens in helmet getting ready to race.It is certainly not every client meeting that ends with go cart racing, but this sort of thing just emphasizes how much we enjoy our work!

KSD is developing a new name and brand, website and marketing solution for Visual Risk Technologies headquartered in Nashville. After a morning of concept presentations and photographing staff for the project, Kirby, Bill Jones and William Cox were invited to join the company in an afternoon of (relatively) high-speed laps at an indoor track. Much fun was had by all.

Thursday, 18 September 2014
Published in Blog: Life in General
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Saturday is the 25th anniversary of the Lake Cumberland Cleanup, a group effort by hundreds of folks all around the lake to rid our beautiful shorelines of everything from bottles and cans to old tires and used appliances (yes, appliances).

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KSD is a results-oriented, full-service design, marketing and communication firm located in Somerset, Kentucky.

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    219 E. Mt. Vernon Street
    Somerset Kentucky 42501
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