Kirby Stephens Design

30 Years of Illustrations

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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.

Like photography, illustration is used in design to communicate in a more effective way. In general, photography is a depiction of reality — real objects or people in real settings. Illustration’s strength is in the ability to create without the constraints of reality — from cartoon mascots to visual metaphors. 

For example, here are two illustrated conference themes:

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It’s difficult to imagine a photograph communicating as much in a single image as either of these illustrations. 

On the left, for a conference on exporting from the U.S. to Latin America, the image is fairly simple but it is drawn to touch on several of the points within the theme. Color, line and dimension suggest two hemispheres of the globe, north and south, without depicting any specific countries or continents. The handshake signifies, both, a first contact between the two groups, as well as that final agreement, or contract.

Similarly, for the Kentucky Bar Association conference image on the right, illustration allowed us to tie the imagery much more closely to the central conference theme — examining both the past and future of the KBA — than we would have been able to with photography.

Visual metaphor can be a great way to translate complex ideas into something easier to understand. This is one reason business magazines are full of illustrated images. See some of our other illustrations below and explore the ways we've used them to communicate our clients' stories.

KSD IS 30! We're sharing some of the work and memories that have shaped the direction of our studio. We've been involved with community leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, engineers, manufacturers, architects, writers and many others on exciting projects in Somerset, in Kentucky and beyond. Celebrate 30 with us! #KSDturns30

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The Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen’s Spring and Fall Fairs present a variety of craft in a beautiful setting — with artists' booths lined along a forest path. Our objective with the poster image each year was to inspire people to attend by calling to mind the wonderful setting, the incredible creativity of the artists and the rich variety of styles attendees encounter throughout the fair — all within a single image.

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A logo project occasionally calls for a more illustrative style — though almost always with a certain degree of simplicity, since the image usually needs to be reproduced small.

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Mascots or characters can warm up a brand message. Over the years we have created characters for a variety of clients and products, and antropomorphized everything from a mouse in a suit to a mayfly with a magnifying glass.

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On occasion, KSD has indulged in a little whimsical work for clients and friends. Each of these were produced for team events. 


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About Us

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

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  • KSD  Kinetic | Strategic | Design
    219 E. Mt. Vernon Street
    Somerset Kentucky 42501
  • 606 679-5634