An Outpouring of Creative Brand Strategy from Ashley Isenhour's Art Department Studio

September 29,2021

Photo: LmSorenson.net

This article was originally published in SLUG Magazine.


After over a decade of experience with creative art, design and photography, Ashley Isenhour created the Art Department Studio. With this business, she works with local businesses to fine tune their voice, outreach and overall business strategy. Through this process, Isenhour boosts digital and in-person traffic to the business she works with. Heavily influenced by her background in fine art, Isenhour uses her unique and bold romantic style to bring businesses to life through visual storytelling.


Isenhour’s talent pours into every aspect of the customer-facing visuals for the local businesses she’s worked with, Studio Ramiii, Marina Williams Photography and Loren B Photography among them. Working as her client’s photographer, brand strategist, graphic designer and creative director, brands come to life with great intentionality. “One brain is touching all of those elements, and it creates a beautiful and cohesive result,” Isenhour says.


When a business approaches Isenhour, she asks them to do visual research on the kinds of aesthetic they envision in their head. Together, they work to understand why those particular images, designs and fonts were selected. “I ask what has been working out for their business and what hasn’t. Then, I work to solve problems using design,” she says. Once the overall tone and business strategy has been established, Isenhour formulates a mood board based on that conversation. With feedback and an open dialogue, Isenhour then creates the logo, color palette and all-encompassing visual elements.


“One brain is touching all of those elements, and it creates a beautiful and cohesive result.”


The bold logos that Isenhour designs for her clients reflect the brand’s mission in a subtle, eye-catching way. Most often, the neutral tones Isenhour gravitates toward flow into the romantic themes with which clients want to align themselves. “These traits are coming from my identity but also represent the clients’ business identity. It’s successful when it feels like both,” Isenhour says.


Through her experience with businesses spanning fashion, jewelry, beauty, children’s clothing and more, Isenhour has seen the pendulum of design swing at a constant. Many businesses pay homage to the natural beauty of Utah’s landscapes through their products, and her brand design reflects that. “Color diversity is coming into the design world, but strong naturals will always have a strong footing,” she says.


No brand design is complete without the formulation and arrangement of text in the visual components. Typography makes up a large percentage of the brand identity, so Isenhour deeply considers the font, size, spacing, colour and layout. Having the eye for design requires micro and macro-attention to each component involved. As someone who observed the impact of typography back in middle school, Isenhour has an innate “gut feeling when text design looks right or when it doesn’t.”


“The bold logos that Isenhour designs for her clients reflect the brand’s mission in a subtle, eye-catching way.”


As a photographer herself, Isenhour’s business attracts a lot of photographers who are looking to create a website for their work. Product-based businesses, however, compose most of Isenhour’s work, many of whom are female identifying–owned businesses. Isenhour for example laid Studio Ramiii’s earrings, ‘Matisse blue nudes,’ overtop Matisse sketches of a woman’s face to emphasize the feminine motif in the company’s earring design.

As a pinnacle of creative design capability, Isenhour has the opportunity to work with brands that she believes in. Many of those brands have similar aesthetic goals that speak to Isenhour’s artistic speciality of bold, romantic neutrals. Isenhour demonstrates how integral brand design is to a business’ success with artistic fervor. “I’m a big believer that really good design is both beautiful and intentional. Hiring a professional is worth it because their experience allows them to do all of those things at the same time,” she says. Isenhour says she feels energized by the collaborations to come and can be reached through her Instagram (@ike.studio) and the Art Department Studio’s upcoming, revamped website.

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