Designing To The MAX With Tad Carpenter

Tad Carpenter, Kansas City MO-based designer illustrator, author and educator, is returning to the Adobe MAX Conference 2018 for the third time as a speaker this year.

Growing up surrounded by visual creativity, it’s no wonder Tad Carpenter pursued a career in graphic design. With a fiber artist mother and a Hallmark illustrator father, Tad was encouraged from an early age to be creative. He found his passion for graphic design in college, following in the footsteps of some of he and his father’s shared illustration heroes from the 1950s like Aurelius Battaglia, Dick Bruna, and Mary Blair. Then, after a few years at a branding firm out of college, Tad began the next chapter in his career: Carpenter Collective.

Originally named Tad Carpenter Creative, Tad took on anything and everything solo for about six years, until he wrangled his now wife, Jessica, into coming on board full-time. On their relationship, Tad says, “We really were always a partnership and collaboration; literally, since the first day we met. When she was not busy art directing photoshoots or designing campaigns of her own, I would twist her arm to help me. Then in 2015, we had landed a big project on top of our already full schedule, Jessica officially partnered with me, and Carpenter Collective was (officially) born.”




Tad believes that as a designer, his job is “to help tell the story for people who don’t know how to, to clearly understand the story our clients want to tell and to do so in the smartest, most interesting, strategic way. We want to partner with people that are passionate, willing to take risks, and provide people something we believe in.” Furthermore, Tad hones his storytelling and craft through a more personal outlet: his SUNday Suns series. He explains, “I wanted to do something that was for me, to create a platform that gave me space to play, space to practice and, ultimately, to make things for myself. I created very simple parameters for myself: create a sun ever single SUNday. That was it. When I started, I wanted it to be an exercise in exploration first and foremost. I wanted to examine my own process and explore ways to make marks and tell stories with zero consequences. We don’t put enough emphasis on the value and importance of practicing our own craft.”

On past projects, Tad finds it very challenging to choose favorites (he compares it to selecting a favorite child,) but he was able to name a few that rise to the top.




Tad will be returning to The Adobe MAX Conference 2018 for the third time as a speaker this year. Tad notes that aside from the amazing speakers and workshops, meeting, being surrounded by, and learning from, so much talent all in one place is his favorite part of the conference. On his session, he says, “I hope people attending my session can take several things away. First and foremost, I hope they have a great time. We are going to move fast, laugh, and cover a lot of different topics (I won’t share too many spoilers.) I hope people attending walk away with some helpful advice, or perhaps I can reinforce something they had forgotten. But ultimately, I hope they leave inspired to go take on whatever it is they have in front of them next. As people working in creative fields, we are so lucky to get to do what we get to do for living, and I want to remind people of that.


CARPENTERTad Carpenter co-runs the design and branding studio, Carpenter Collective with his wife, Jessica Carpenter where they focus on bringing powerful messages to life through branding, packaging, illustration and design. They have worked with clients ranging from Target, Coca-Cola, Macy’s, Old Navy, Conan O’Brien, Adobe, and MTV among many others. Carpenter has worked with numerous bands on posters and tour campaigns for over 10 years, including John Mayer, Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Paul McCartney, and Dave Matthews Band to name a few. Carpenter has written and illustrated over twenty children’s books in our marketplace today intended for adults and children of all ages. Tad also teaches graphic design at the University of Kansas.