There’s an obvious wisdom to learning from professional design experts versus professional educators. It’s a philosophy that’s propelled SVC since the School’s founding in 1971. But what do we do when we get requests for a class where there is no top-level pro sitting on the bench?
We go find them.
That was the case in 2015 when the suggestions started to roll in that we offer a workshop on the then-emerging field of infographic design. A review of SVC’s design faculty turned up some familiarity with infographics, but not what you’d call head-of-the-parade leadership. So then it was LinkedIn to the rescue, revealing that one of the country’s top infographic specialists was a mere 4.2 miles away, on Ballard Avenue.
A round of email introductions later, SVC director, Larry Asher, was sitting across the conference table from Amy Balliett. She had co-founded what was then known as Killer Infographics in 2009, after putting her BFA in cinematography and film production to work as a product manager for a collection of lead-generating websites serving the education industry.
Amy had tinkered with using infographics in social media to drive traffic to the sites, and they worked beyond expectation. A lightbulb — looking very much like the kind you might see in an infographic — went off, and a company was born.
In the nine-plus years since Killer’s founding, the company has completed more than 7,000 projects and worked with more than 100 Fortune 500 companies, including American Express, Ford, NBC, Nestle, Samsung, Toyota, and VISA. After moving into the CEO role at Killer, Amy engineered the sale of the firm, a name change to Killer Visual Strategies, the continued expansion of the team, and an office move to Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Somehow, miraculously, she still found time to speak at more than 175 conferences around the world, including SXSW and Adobe MAX. Oh, and one other thing: She’s a regular workshop leader at the School of Visual Concepts.
The expertise she brings into the classroom has not gone unnoticed by SVC students. As one student put it, “Amy’s very knowledgeable and she’s able to convey that knowledge clearly and concisely.” Another put it even more succinctly, saying, “She definitely knows her stuff and is super insightful.”
Like many SVC instructors, Amy says teaching has been very much a two-way street. She credits her teaching with directly bringing new clients into the Killer Visual Strategies fold. And she’s a believer in the adage, “If you really want to learn something, teach it.”
Amy’s entrepreneurial chops and visual communication brilliance aside, SVC, along with our students, have fallen in love with her high energy and inspiring positivity. When “smart” and “delightful” show up in one person, that’s usually a winning combination.
On behalf of the countless students she’s taught over the years, we’d like to extend a gigantic round of thanks to Amy. And, also, to LinkedIn.
If you’d like to look into the workshops on infographics, motion graphics, and visual communication Amy Balliett teaches at the School of Visual Concepts, keep an eye on our current daytime workshop offerings.