The Carpenters

The Creative Heart of the Heartland

Tad and Jessica Carpenter are building a thriving brand, design, and illustration business from their live / work space in downtown Kansas City. Their brilliantly creative and dynamic portfolio of work can be spotted all over the country in bookstores, your favorite burger joint, and within the never-ending aisles of retail giants. This powerhouse couple officially partnered in business recently, and are actively investing in expanding their firm. They focus on bringing messages to life through design, packaging, illustration and mobile design. Their process is effective, artistic and honest. And both truly feel lucky to call their collective passion a career.

Skirting just beyond the heart of downtown Kansas City, I make a hard right off the main drag onto an idyllic neighborhood street lined with a towering canopy of oak and sycamore bathing brick, stone, and tudor homes in a cooling shade. Did I drive through a time warp?! Based on the surroundings, one would assume it to be 1927. How is this right in downtown KC? Weaving my way through the sleepy streets, rolling over one knoll to the next, I’m on the hunt for an architectural anomaly — a wildly fantastic minimal, modern home nestled among large-cut sandstone bungalows and tudor homes fit for a hobbit king.

Tad and Jessica welcomed us into their home so that we could learn more about their passions and vision for the future of their business. They designed and built the house to serve as a wonderful and functional live / work space. An environment that strikes envy within any creative that enters, or even simply drives by! When inside you’re literally surrounded by visual inspiration and creative stimuli, yet it is a perfectly balanced and peaceful environment. They’d likely build a successful business as interior designers. They designed and built the home with a good friend that’s a local architect.

The son of two artistic parents, Tad literally grew up in the arts. His mother a talented fiber artist, and father a 40 year illustrator and creative director veteran of Hallmark. When an early stage entrepreneurial endeavor, JC Hall invested in the city more than a century ago, and helped build a foundation for creatives in the midwest. Thanks to Hallmark’s commitment to Kansas City and the creative industry, there is a flourishing creative community today. One that Tad is a proud participant, advocate, cheerleader, and thought leader. In conversation his passion and commitment to the creative community in KC is immediately evident. And infectious!

I’m a firm believer in taking risks as an artist. If you just sit back and play it safe all the time, your work’s going to be pretty vanilla and your life might be as well.

Tad Carpenter

Recently Tad and Jessica launched a new endeavor, Made in the Middle, to educate, inspire and bring awareness to the creative talents in their hometown. In love with the city they call home, they are always wonderfully inspired by all the creative talent in KC. When Tad leaves town for speaking engagements he consistently surprised more people were not aware of Kansas City and it's rich history as a creative town. The genesis for the creation of Made in the Middle. They are building community and commerce with creators and makers in the mid-west, and welcome recommendations on who to feature. Their goal is to feature creatives who are taking risks and making what they love to make. With a variety of printed t’s, pendants, patches, and serigraph prints, there’s plenty to purchase to show off your midwestern pride. They’ll be expanding products as more makers jump on board, and plan to feature the best restaurants and watering holes that all the locals love.

Through making, you find yourself. The more you make, the more you identify with who you are as a designer and creator.

Tad Carpenter

Tad also highlights a geographic perk. “We have clients all over and on both coasts, so I can be in New York or San Francisco in a quick two and a half hours, door to door.” They had considered moving to a larger city – either east or west coast – given so much of their business is based in those markets. Yet it’s quite practical to stay geographically neutral. Their roots in KC are deep, both familial and professional. And possibly more importantly, it’s home to the Royals!

All images provided by Tad Carpenter

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