Amy Bakke is the creative director at the Stanley Foundation. Being a good problem solver, Amy listens deeply and supports the translation of a cluster of ideas into a cohesive message and design. She works with program officers and support staff to motivate and guide the design strategy for all foundation graphics, and she manages the work flow of publications, promotional materials, and the Web site. She also serves as the foundation’s photographer. Prior to joining the foundation, Amy was a shadow-box designer for a custom framing business.
What do you do at the foundation and how long have you been here?
I came to the Stanley Foundation in 1994. I’ve provided art direction, from photographers we sent to the Middle East to middle school students learning to use a camera. Now trained in all the major design software, I use my problem-solving skills a lot and photography a little to present the foundation’s big ideas in ways the audience can grasp.
What do you like most about your job?
Early in my college career, someone redirected me—I won’t say they squelched my dream because who knows if it would have worked out—from biology major designing natural history dioramas to art major focusing on graphic design. The common theme was design. These days I can honestly say, “Design is my passion.”
Every day I’m doing what I love in an organization that strives for world peace. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Where are you from?
I remember a childhood of doodling, drawing the little deer from the drawing contest in the back of magazines, and inventing cartoon characters with huge noses. Our family moved many times during those years, but the majority of that time we lived in the Midwest. I am so glad, because I could never be a designer in a big city; my creativity is fed by the shadows, colors, and textures of nature every day when I drive into Muscatine from our home in the country.
After I graduated from Luther College with a degree in art, my husband and I settled in northern Iowa, where I designed for a magazine that catered to Black Angus ranchers. Cutting my teeth on X-Acto knives, waxers, Rubylith, and drafting tables, I developed a perfectionist’s attention to detail and annoying skill of noticing when something is crooked. In a couple of years we moved to southeast Iowa, where I stayed home to raise our youngest daughter and dabbled as a freelance designer. The last move landed us in Muscatine.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Photographing interesting, rundown tombstones as well as flowers, animals, and people. The museum curator dream still comes alive when I get to design museum exhibits as a freelancer. I read and draw as often as time allows and love to travel.