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People to Watch in 2012 BACK FORWARD

kevin kearns


As in-house Creative Director for Duke University Health System, located in Durham, North Carolina, Kevin Kearns helps guide the brand development and maintenance for Duke Medicine — a health system made up of over 28,000 employees, 3 hospitals, and over 100 clinical locations, including partnerships in Singapore and Dubai. Kearns moved South after working at DDB Chicago for over 13 years, where he created award-winning campaigns for a host of national brands. He was awarded a Lion at the prestigious International Cannes Advertising Festival for his work on Budweiser. Several of his television commercials for Bud Light were featured during the Super Bowl, one of which was named ‘one of the all-time greatest Super Bowl ads of the decade’ by CBS. Kearns is also Vice President of In-Source, a member-driven organization that aspires to be the global network for in-house creative business leaders connected by common professional experiences, knowledge and best practices. (in-source.org) He earned his B.F.A. from Miami University in Ohio and his master’s degree in Advertising Design from Syracuse University. Kearns is an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, teaching art direction and integrated marketing campaign development.

Where were you born or grew up, where do you live, does this effect your design style or sensibility?
I’m from Oxford OH, a Midwestern college town tucked between miles of cornfields and dairy farms. My father is a ceramic artist, so I grew up making works-of-art out of clay and learning how to fire them in his salt-fired gas kiln. This has influenced the way I approach design because it taught me to get my hands dirty, create something special, then apply heat — lots of heat. A lot of great work gets ruined (or changed) when it is put in 2,000-degree heat. Today, I learn as much from my burned ideas as I do from the ones that make it through beautifully.

If you were not a designer, what would you be doing for a living?
I always liked to think I’d run a small breakfast diner in some remote town.

What is your greatest strength and weakness as a designer or design manager?
Greatest weakness: I hate details. Greatest Strength: I understand the importance of details.

Design Hero?
Howard Roark
Favorite Color?
Green or blue. I’m colorblind
Favorite Typeface?
Helvetica. Pure and simple
Favorite Apps?
Digital - Flipboard Food - Queso
Favorite TV Shows?
Daily Show, Selling New York, Mad Men
Favorite Books?
Anything fun and quick
Favorite Movies?
Whatever comes out this weekend
Favorite Music?
Music that takes me somewhere else
Favorite Fine Artist?
Martha Stewart
Favorite Gadget?
My son (age 4). He’s pretty addictive and the batteries last almost 16 hours a day
Bookmarked Websites?
Uncrate, wwtdd, facebook
Worst Habit?
Not giving myself enough credit
New Year’s Resolution?
Smile more
One Thing You Can’t Live Without?
My wife
Talent You Wished You Possessed?
More talent
Best Gift Ever Received?
One that I haven’t received yet. (I’m pretty picky)
Mantra or Saying You Live By?
“Wonder what will happen today?”