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What does it mean to be a leader?

Since taking on a leadership role in the design field (be it as a lead designer, a studio owner, a teacher, a mentor, a team member) one of the things I am always most excited about is the opportunity to work alongside and mentor young creatives. While I always welcome the opportunity to roll up my sleeves to get the job done, it is often more rewarding to be the person who helps the person who ultimately gets the job done. To me, leadership means sharing my knowledge and using my expertise to help guide people to the best possible outcome for the situation- whether it be helping a student become a great designer, helping a mentee build a stronger portfolio, helping a client get the most impact from their logo/website/promotional materials, or helping collaborate with colleagues to effect change in the design industry.

…he has been, by far, the most influential professional mentor in my life.

Melody Pohla, kickass designer, amazing student, good friend.


I am a designer and I care about education, women leadership, and connecting with people. Currently working as a freelance art director, I’ve previously worked as a creative director at a small package design company and both assisted and led social media campaigns, traditional fundraisers, brand identity systems, and marketing campaigns. While not working, I’m involved in the AIGA Chicago Mentorship program, ISH (Illustration Society Here), and student mentoring via Flashpoint Chicago.

At Flashpoint, Kieran was my first contact with design as a profession and has been my mentor ever since, even after my studies have ended. Our first conversation about design immediately led me to book an appointment with the registrar to change my major from digital art and animation to graphic design. His enthusiasm for design is tangible in his lectures and conversation, and the knowledge that he brings to the table is inspiring. I’ve witnessed his unparallelled leadership ability in multiple situations, from individual direction to entire teams. Not only has he taught me and many other students with his extensive original curriculum, but his impact with his portfolio development mentees through the AIGA Chicago mentorship program is thoroughly impressive. Kieran possesses the ability to guide creative endeavors with finesse and passion. With incredible artistic talent, experienced logistic ability, and seasoned experience, he has been by far the most influential professional mentor in my life.

Kieran kicked my ass in the best way possible.

Brad Mortenson, kickass designer and illustrator.


I am a 2016 Flashpoint GDIM graduate. Since graduation, I did a brief stint at Ideology as graphic designer working on advertising, social media, and menu design & layout. I’m currently a lead designer for an organization where I recreate books and turn them into visual experiences. When I’m not at work, I’m at home working on my passion projects — creating alternative movie posters which have been featured in several local art shows recently.

During my time at Flashpoint, I only had Kieran as an instructor in my second year, that being said, it was the most I’ve learned in a single year. Kieran kicked my ass in the best way possible. Designs that I thought were good, he would always encourage you to take it further, because he knew it could be better. And consequently, I am a better, more thorough designer because of it. I think the best thing he did for me, was help me find my “voice” as a designer. He would also always help out when you asked for it, like staying later after class or coming in early for additional tutoring sessions. Kieran was one of my most memorable teachers because of his passion for teaching and mentoring new hopeful designers.

He's obsessed with delivering quality design work…

Jason Kunesh, Design Director - City of Chicago, design/product/UX/CEO roustabout at Public Good, Obama for America, and more.


Kieran is an energetic, empathetic, and gritty design leader who combines a deep knowledge of craft with a fluid, creative drive that yields results. He's obsessed with delivering quality design work by empowering teams to do their best. He goes the extra mile, and it makes the products and the teams he's on better for him having been there.

Jason Kunesh, Design Director - City of Chicago, design/product/UX/CEO roustabout at Public Good, Obama for America, and more.