Connecticut Art Directors Club

Panelist Bios

Keynote Speaker: Karl Heine

Karl is the Founder and Solutionist at creativeplacement® — a cultivated, curated, hard-to-find talent consultancy for the entire design industry with a focus on packaging, print, interactive, experiential and multimedia professionals. His firm represents all disciplines from senior level through emerging professionals in full-time opportunities, off-site projects and on-site freelance engagements in the Greater New York area and throughout the US upon request. Heine has more than 30 years in the industry as a creative activator — designer/fabricator and speaker/educator. Karl currently teaches Graphic Design Applications / Entrepreneurial Portfolio at SUNY New Paltz and Design Thinking and Methodologies at Anhui Polytechnic University in Southern China, and Product Innovation at Miami Ad School New York in 2016 with kHyal. He is also is a practicing designer recognized by industry competitions and publications including: CreativePro, FPO, Communication Arts Magazine, Felt & Wire and the Dieline. In addition to teaching, Karl lectures frequently at design-focused institutions and industry associations including: AIGA: UpState, Rhode Island and Connecticut, AMA, AWNY, Graphic Artist Guild, Fordham, Pratt, SVA, RISD, FIT, Syracuse University, State University of New York at New Paltz, Creative Circus, University of Hartford, University of Connecticut, Syracuse University and Carnegie Mellon. At present, Karl is a Director-at-Large / Type Directors Club (TDC) — Membership and Scholarship Chair. Prior industry activities: Founding Board Member of the AIGA Metro-North Chapter (now AIGA BrandCentral), Board Member of the Connecticut Art Directors Club from 1995–2000 and 2005–2008 with on going contribution for their Student Conference and out reach programs.


Small: kHyal, Fizz Agency

kHyal is an award-winning creative director, marketer, designer, writer, speaker, author, artist and educator. She founded fiZz Agency, a boutique design and marketing firm, in 2007. She has been a creative director in large agencies, including what is now Havas Worldwide, spearheading projects for UPS, BMW and GAP — and, partner in blowtorch studios, a 20-person interactive agency and software development that developed its first client FinTech product in the late 90s.

kHyal is currently Chief Marketing Officer at Impesa, a SaaS Fintech company headquartered in Costa Rica with a US office in Stamford, CT. She was hired in the fall of 2016 to help the company launch their products globally, and fiZz is the organization’s agency of record.

kHyal creates fashion, illustration, character design and art under the names MegaGlam and Super Fake Cult. She is also the creator of The Weather sKwirl™ (her alter ego) and produced an original cartoon every day for two years straight between 2010–2012 that garnered her media attention, inclusion in art books, public art commissions, private art sales, and a product line that has been featured in stores, galleries, art fairs and street art worldwide.

kHyal’s art and products are have been sold at P!Q Grand Central, Rockefeller Center, Universal Walk Orlando and Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas. She has been a featured designer at New York Comic Con, and her products can be found at the Con Artist Collective in New York’s trendy Lower East Side.

kHyal is a pioneer in the merge of technology and art, and has worked on projects for Lincoln Center of Performing Arts, the new Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), BRIC Arts Media, and the New York Public Library with Metropolitan interactive. Her agency was a media partner for the inaugural Leaders in Software and Art conference at the Guggenheim Museum, and she designed and produced a technology fundraising event for the flagship edition of New York Creative Tech Week. kHyal is a founding member of the Women’s Internet History Project; and co-founder of Techo-POP with Miles Rose of, a group that brought together early adopters of the internet for deep learning and collaboration opportunities.

kHyal has taught Design Thinking and Methodologies at Anhui Polytechnic University in Southern China, and Product Innovation at Miami Ad School New York. She has been an invited “Industry Hero” in residence at Miami Ad School in Wynwood for the past two years. Most recently she has been an invited judge to University of Bridgeport’s Faculty Research Day and a speaker at Fordham University.

As a small agency, kHyal structures her work at fiZz to align with her passions, which since 2007 have included international projects in Argentina, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, England, Canada and Costa Rica. 

Medium: Erich Davis, The Visual Brand

Erich Davis

Erich Davis is a multidisciplinary artist and designer who’s proficiency for solving design challenges transcends many genre of creative projects and professional roles ranging from custom fabrication and corporate sculpture commissions to innovation consulting and creative direction. His entrepreneurial experience and spirit have offered him many fruitful opportunities to both evolve his work and explore new media while balancing the responsibilities and joys of family and fatherhood.

Erich’s client experience as a designer includes such brands as Pepsi , Mountain Dew, Nascar, Major League Baseball and Wrigley in his early career at Tracy Locke to more recent projects with New York Power Authority, X-Rite Pantone, and Singer Sewing. He has worked on pr ojects that range in scope from large national promotions, marketing campaigns, and brand activations to experie ntial environments and digital training apps for pharmaceutical employees.

As a fabricator, sculptor, and artist, Erich’s work has been collected and commissioned by private and corporate clients from Maine to Florida with existing sculptural installations at the University of New Have n and the corporate headquarters of General Reinsurance in Stamford CT and a recent renovation of Man Made Music’s commercial sound recording studio in lower Manhattan where Erich designed an fabricated over 50 pieces of custom fur niture.

Erich is currently the Creative Director at The Visual Brand, a branding, innovation and design firm in Westport Connecticut.

Large: Emily Russo, Blue Buffalo

Emily Russo

Emily Russo has built her career by helping global brands make a big splash with creative ways to capture their consumer’s imaginations, and brand loyalty.

As an experiential art director, Emily got her start building large-scale hospitality experiences for MasterCard sponsored events for brands such as The NFL, MLB, FIFA and the PGA. She then moved on to creating mobile experiences and designing uniquely-engaging events for the USTA’s US open, art installations for the Manhattan office of MetLife and Merrill Lynch sponsored PGA tournaments.

Although experiential design is one of Emily’s most sought after strengths, she has also developed a reputation as a digitally-focused problem solver, and a print design expert.

Over the years, Emily has also developed her skills behind a camera, founding her own photography and design studio, Mootsa Design. Having this outlet allows Emily to mix and match her talents to create innovative and versatile imagery that engages consumers in novel ways, making it easier for them to understand the brands they love.

Currently, Emily is a senior art director at Blue Buffalo, Co in Wilton, CT. While working within the 20-person creative group, she has developed immersive brand environments, launched mutli touch-point consumer facing events and even taken over Manhattan with a Times Square ‘redesign’ for Blue Buffalo’s NASDAQ public stock offering.

XL: Keith Stoeckeler, MKTG

Keith Stoeckeler

As VP of Digital at MKTG, Keith Stoeckeler is charged with developing digital that aligns with brand objectives, and ensuring work is within strategy and measurement goals are achieved. A 12-year veteran of advertising, Mr. Stoeckeler is responsible for all Digital clients and the 17-person team at MKTG.

With a background in digital strategy and brand planning, before joining MKTG, Keith was a VP, Digital Strategist at CDM NY where he led digital for healthcare and pharmaceutical brands Novartis, Pfizer, and Takeda. Keith helped build out the digital offering at Fleishman-Hillard, and spent over two years at Publicis in New York focusing on Proctor & Gamble brands. Before returning to New York, where he was born, Mr. Stoeckeler worked on Harley-Davidson and Subaru during three years at Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis.

Additional clients include: AT&T, Citi, FedEx, Hyatt, IBM, STIHL, SUNOCO, Toyota, and Wounded Warrior Project.

Career Panel

Jamie Esposito, Go

Jamie Esposito

Jamie’s her name; digital media is the everlasting game. She’s an architect of robust digital communication strategies tailored to clients’ business initiatives. Jamie helps clients maintain a steady, but non-intrusive, presence across all social platforms. Certified in Google Adwords, Jamie is able to construct digital campaigns which allow a client to appear in front of potential customers searching for a specific product or service. Furthermore, she constantly monitors various web analytics and follows the latest trends in digital media.

Michael Barnes, Madison Mott

Michael Barnes

I am a designer and illustrator living and working in Bridgeport, CT.

I am an associate Creative Director at Madison Mott in bridgeport, where I focus mainly on web design and brand identity. For my freelance work, I specialize in design that relies on rich, textured illustration and typography, employing a range of styles that best suits each individual project's needs. Telling stories visually is a lifelong passion and challenge I continue to pursue and try to perfect every day.

Christa Tubach, University of Connecticut

Christa Tubach

When I'm not drinking iced mochas, searching for the perfect outfit at a thrift store, or obsessively checking Instagram, I'm designing and art directing the UConn magazine. I've dabbled in packaging design, letterpress design and blogging, and I'm always up for a new challenge. In my free time (ha, what even is that?!) you'll find me volunteering as the Vice President of the Connecticut Art Directors Club, trying to snag freelance jobs whenever possible, and making tasty homemade pizzas with my fiancé, Curtis. 

Ty Morin, 179 Pictures

Ty Morin

Ty Morin is a photographer, filmmaker, and self proclaimed chemist. He graduated from the University of Hartford in 2011 with an undergraduate degree in physical therapy (which hasn’t been used since). He came into photography almost by accident during his senior year of college. He has since formed 179 Pictures, a production studio in Collinsville, CT. 179 Pictures produces creative content and develops social media strategy for brands, small businesses, and musicians. His documentary film work has been featured on NBC’s “The Today Show, Good Morning: America, BBC News, and NPR. Ty was the Director of Photography on “The Carousel”, a short documentary selection of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. His photographic work utilizes the wet plate collodion process, as well as traditional film and darkroom printing.

Recent Grad Panel

Moderator: Jack Tom,

Jack Tom

Jack Tom is an award winning graphic designer, illustrator and educator. He was born and raised in San Francisco and move to New York City in 1977. His first big break in New York City was working at McCall’s Magazine, as a staff Designer where he was art directing and designing the Right Now section. It was an unexpected opportunity to work for a major magazine that allowed him to work with some of the best illustrators and photographers in the industry. After three and a half years at McCall's, he was given another great job opportunity, working for the legendary Lou Dorfsman at CBS as a Senior Designer from 1980 - 1984. After a few years at CBS, he went back to the magazine industry and became the Graphics Art Director at Business Week Magazine, where he art directed, as well as creating information graphics for the weekly publication. In 1985, he left the corporate world and started Jack Tom Design, working out of his home in Queens. A year later he moved his studio to a loft space in SoHo. After several years working and living in the city, he moved to Connecticut with his family.

Jack joined the CT Art Directors Club in 1994. In 2001, he served as the President of the Club and during his time on the Board he produced and coordinated special events with guest speakers such as Lou Dorfsman, Paula Scher, Roger Black and Marshall Arisman to name a few. He was one of the early Board member that help pioneer the CADC Student Conference and he is also on the CADC Hall of Fame Committee. After his tenure with the CADC, he was asked to join The Illustration Conference as an advisor and coordinator and served on three conferences; ICON 3, 4 & 5. He is now on the Executive Board with the AIGA CT Chapter as the Education Director.

As an educator, Jack has taught at the University of New Haven, Fairfield University, New York University Continuing Education Program, Marywood University, Syracuse University and now a full-time Professor of Illustration and Design at Western CT State University.

Leonardo Magrani, Freelance Graphic Design & Web Designer,

Leonardo Magrani

Leonardo Magrani works too much and doesn't sleep enough. One of his many jobs is at Dorel Sports in Wilton for Cycling Sports Group. As the Photographer and Archiver for Cannondale, he is responsible for product photography for B2B sales and digitizing negatives for marketing purposes. Also, he works for UpDesign Media as the Senior Graphic Designer producing website mockups as well as branding campaigns for local companies and businesses, big or small. After the 9-5's, he picks up freelance projects in web development, branding, logo design, and photography. Leonardo graduated from Western Connecticut State with a BA in Art and hasn't caught up on sleep ever since his Senior Thesis. During his time at Westconn, he interned for a wedding photographer and with Ross MacDonald, Illustrator and Prop Maker, putting together props for movies such as Joy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight. Outside of work, he is passionate about music, hiking, and meditation. Future plans include working towards creating his own Design Firm and after a long career in design he plans on pursuing a masters degree in photography to teach at a university.

Paige Grant, Freelance Illustrator,

Paige Grant

Paige Grant is a freelance illustrator living and working from Danbury, CT. Before receiving her bachelor’s degree in illustration Paige worked on designing and executing interior murals for Bounce! Trampoline and Sports. She also provided portrait work for the National Association of Rare Disease. After graduation Paige went on to showcase her illustrations on the cover of Connecticut Magazine for the February 2017 issue. Her current work is focused on community events that honor individuals and their achievements at the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury. When not focused on community galas she focuses her time on story illustrations and reimagining beloved children’s books. Paige has a deep appreciation for design and layout and strives to create vivid works that have a beautiful narrative and presence.

Jackie Chakar, Staff Designer,

Jackie Chakar

Jackie is a Graphic Designer, Illustrator and Prepress Artist at Up With Paper, the original pop-up greeting card company. She is responsible for creating illustrations, catalogs and signage for the range of greeting card lines within the company and it’s subdivision, UWP Luxe. In addition to that, her duties include prepping the files of each product and working with many vendors to get them produced correctly. When she’s not wearing many hats at work, she is finding inspiration through hiking trips or rummaging around in thrift stores, as she is constantly on the search for new ideas.

Nabila Hasan, Designer

Nabila Hasan

Nabila Hasan is a Designer at Bauer Publishing, the #1 seller of magazines at retail in the country. She is responsible for designing layouts for magazines such as InTouch, Life&Style, Closer, and others. Prior to joining Bauer Publishing, Nabila worked at Scholastic, Inc. as a Junior Graphic Designer. Nabila graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a bachelor's degree in Art. While in school, she interned at Viacom (Spike TV) and NBC Universal, and served as Vice President of Prisma. Outside of work, she has a passion for photography and videography, and aspires to leverage that passion in projects that challenge others to question their perspectives of how they see the world.