“Always a peacock.” Recent advertising graduate Brandi Keeler (’11) has nothing but love for her alma mater. She credits the foundation she established as a student at CCS for the success she now enjoys as a junior art director at Team Detroit.
“My time at CCS has honestly been the best five years of my life,” said Keeler. “I couldn’t stand here as the successful, creative person I am today without attributing a vast amount of my success to CCS.
“The school was the key to my current success as an advertising professional—
unlocking my ability to creatively process and solve marketing problems and helping me to win several awards. The College contributed to my personal advancement as a leader in my community by unlocking opportunities to learn from great leaders and become a mentor and role model myself. Now, as an alumna, I feel CCS has been instrumental in building and maintaining connections with other successful artists, designers and creative minds.”
As a student, Keeler won the “I Love Detroit: Believe in the D” video contest with her rap “My Home” as well as top prize (the coveted Gold Cube) from the annual Art Directors Club (ADC) 2011 Student Brief Competition. She was the only American student who received the award that year.
Keeler’s entry, the “Add Flavor to It” online video, featured an original song and choreography. She performed her winning piece live at the 90th Annual ADC Awards Gala in New York City where she was awarded a scholarship. Keeler’s work was included in the 90th Art Directors Annual, the Annual Awards Exhibition at the ADC Gallery in New York (as well as the subsequent global travelling exhibition), permanently highlighted in the ADC online archive and used in future ADC advertising and promotional materials.
“There is not a day that goes by that a CCS lesson has not paid off!” said Keeler. “In a binder on my desk at work, I have just about every syllabus and worksheet I was ever given in my ad classes (and some of my liberal arts/extra curriculars too). My office bookshelf is full of CCS textbooks. I’ve even given some ‘lessons’ to some coworkers!
“CCS might have ‘over-prepared’ me for the work world in some ways! But seriously, my education definitely was worth every penny. The school instilled in me the importance of relevance as an artist. I feel that now I create work that not only looks nice, but also matters to people. CCS has also boosted my artistic confidence. Not that the school has filled my head with compliments (because that is far from the truth), but CCS helped me to create work that is on par with world-class creative minds.”
As a junior art director at Team Detroit, Keeler has a wide range of responsibilities. She uses her marketing insight to come up with relevant and engaging concepts for everything—billboards, TV commercials, magazine layouts, videos, websites and ad campaigns.
“After coming up with ideas, it is my responsibility to work with and guide graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, producers and a bunch of other people to make that concept come to life visually in the best way possible,” she explained. “It’s my duty to solve the problem of helping companies sell their products and services in an exciting and creative way!”
While working at Team Detroit, Keeler has worked on several major projects. She is on the national team for Ford as well as the group that put together the viral ad campaign for CCS (the “Talk to your kid about art school” posters). She has also worked on pieces for the North American International Auto Show, Ford Mustang, the Woodward Dream Cruise and the Ford Fiesta. One of Keeler’s favorite projects involved conceptualizing music videos for the final 12 contestants of American Idol (Ford is one of the television show’s biggest sponsors). The music videos will be shown every week during the spring (2012) season.
“One really cool thing about Team Detroit is that we do a lot of pro bono work,” said Keeler. “It’s really awesome to reach back into the city and help folks out. I’ve done some really fun stuff for/with the Detroit Children’s Choir, The Greening of Detroit and local musicians.
“What I love most about my career is the opportunity to work in a fun, creative environment. I can wear what I want to work and have awesome co-workers (many are CCS alumni). Most people go to work and take orders from someone. I go to work and imagine, think, play, solve problems and then make my vision come to life! I love that I’m doing something creative.”
One of Keeler’s long term goals is to establish a creative mentoring and life planning/coaching business in the city of Detroit. She currently meets with students every week to tutor, give advice, mentor and critique work.
“I’ve discovered that I’m most creative when I’m helping other people be creative,” Keeler said. “Eventually, I’d like to take this type of work outside of my home and work in junction with creative institutions, like CCS, to help young people to think proactively and creatively about their present life decisions and their futures!
“My advice to current/aspiring students is to take advantage of everything CCS has to offer. The College is teeming with resources and opportunities—president’s coffee hour, drawing clinics, RA programs/trips, culture shock, student government, Toyota lectures, professors’ office hours, the counseling center, career services, the student success center, all of it! I’ve dipped my hand into about every metaphorical cookie jar on campus. That’s why I feel like my education was worth every penny. Too many students come to campus, go to class and leave. You can do that at any school. The difference at CCS is that everyone on campus is there to help you!”
- Graduation Year: 2011
- Employer: Team Detroit
- Title: Jr. Art Director
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