Jonathan Knecht | Vice President, Marketing & Creative Services of KCADC

Jonathan Knecht for AICAD website

KCAI alumnus helps brand Kansas City’s bi-state metropolitan area

Jonathan Knecht, who graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1995 with a B.F.A. degree in illustration, and his wife owned a design firm called 5 Creative when they started handling projects for the Kansas City Area Development Council in 2000. Three years later, they were asked to work on a rebranding project for KCADC, at which point they developed a brand program centered on a clean and simple red circle with the letters “KC” reversed out in white. The circle was a graphic device that visually addressed the organization’s challenge of presenting a bi-state community as a single entity.

“Our red ‘KC ball’ was a huge hit, and before I knew it, KCADC had created a position for me to join the organization and help roll out the brand campaign,” Knecht said.

KCADC’s mission is to market Kansas City as a great place to live and work and to attract business investment, jobs and talented people to the region. To that end, Knecht and his team create a variety of marketing and media projects across all media platforms: print, online, video, events and more. He serves as the creative director for the team and the creative vendors with whom they partner. A recent campaign, “America’s Creative Crossroads,” is one of his favorites.The campaign focuses on real people and their stories, spotlighting some of the region’s most inventive, prolific and influential personalities.

“Much like the transformation Seattle went through in the 1990s and Austin in the 2000s, Kansas City is becoming a much-talked-about arts and technology destination,” he said. “It’s not a fluke that Google Fiber chose Kansas City to launch its super-high-speed gigabit Internet service. It will be exciting to watch Kansas City’s creativity at ‘light speed.’”

Having grown up in New England, Knecht initially studied at Syracuse University in the Visual and Performing Arts School. Later he attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. On a visit to Florida, he met his future wife, a Kansas City native who told him about a great art school there: the Kansas City Art Institute. He followed her to Kansas City and enrolled at KCAI, completing his B.F.A. degree in illustration in 1995. He’s been in Kansas City ever since.

Knecht advises high school students thinking of studying art and design in college to be confident. “There are no wrong answers,” he said. “Trust your work, follow your work. I was too hesitant going into art school. I needed to let go and be more passionate about expressing myself. The world needs artists. I would tell them, ‘Go for it!’”

By, Anne Canfield
Vice President for Communications
Kansas City Art Institute