THIS ISN’T JUST WHAT WE DO, IT’S WHO WE ARE
BlackPaint is a women- and queer-owned creative advocacy agency that designs unconventional campaigns for causes and organizations we believe in.
It started like this. Two art activists — Katie Mullen and Jordan Pintar — met working at an ad agency where the combination of their skills and styles created some of the freshest, most meaningful work they’d ever done. Besides their undeniable creative chemistry, they’d both had it with the ad world. They were tired of the lack of representation in creative leadership and the condoned culture of misogyny, and realized that if they wanted better for the industry and other people coming into it, it was on them to do something about it. So they quit and started BlackPaint Studios.
That was 2015. Today, BlackPaint blends traditional advertising with grassroots art activism to design awareness campaigns that open eyes, touch hearts and inspire action. Sometimes that means billboards and buttons. Other times, it means projection bombing and pop-up art exhibitions. Whether the project is self-directed or on behalf of an organization, everything we do is grounded in culture intelligence and our belief that art has a way of reaching people in a way that no other form of communication can.
Along with producing standout creative work, we’re on a relentless mission to make our field safer, more equitable and inclusive by: using art to make noise about it in public spaces; working to increase the number of women and people of color in leadership roles through our Creative Leaders Fellowship program; and by educating art and design students about their power as change makers.
Our dedication to that mission has earned BlackPaint a national reputation as advocates for industry reform and opportunities to spread our message of radical change from platforms like the TED stage, Creative Mornings and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
We’re proud winners of Planned Parenthood’s Voices Award for our work as one of the organization’s key creative partners and for being outspoken community activists in the fight for reproductive freedom.
We work best with organizations that stand for something and aren’t afraid to be loud about it. Learn more about BlackPaint’s services here.
Katie is a creative director, artist and writer. Before co-founding BlackPaint, she spent more than a decade working on both the agency and client sides in Milwaukee and New York. As a longtime art activist, Katie leads BlackPaint’s mission to challenge the creative industry’s outdated power structure by organizing with other advocates, leading art actions and mentoring and developing young leaders. She’s also the founder of FROM HERE TO HER, a collective of women community artists. Her Meyers Briggs personality type is INFJ. Exactly.
Jordan, our art director and lead designer, is an artist and graduate of Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. She co-founded the studio with Katie after several absurd ad agency stints that made her want to flip the whole industry on its head. Her hallmark is vibrant, progressive design work rooted in human connection and cultural commentary. Jordan will be black belt in Taekwondo any day now. She’s also the proud-ish owner of Minnie Mouse, a neurotic Chiweenie. Her Meyers Briggs personality type is INFP.
EYES-OPEN WINDOW PROJECT
Before we moved into our visible new location, we were on the fourth floor of a warehouse building. When we felt compelled to ask our community to think more deeply about a social issue that was close to our hearts, we’d hang hand-painted banners out of our windows. But there wasn’t much traffic in that area and not many people saw them. Now that we’ve got billboard-sized windows facing one of the busiest streets in Milwaukee, we’re taking that concept to a new level (and making our dreams come true) with rotating advocacy installations. See the latest installation HERE.
THE GODDESS OF FIERCE PROTECTION
In 2016, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin commissioned us to paint a mural on their headquarters building to celebrate the organization’s 80th anniversary. The image we created for it, known as The Goddess of Fierce Protection, was shunned by a male-dominated review board. The mural never went up. The story of the Goddess’ rejection and resurrection was made into a documentary short and is now showing at select film festivals. See the trailer HERE.
INFORMED ADVOCACY RESOURCE GUIDE
Because we make a lot of noise about our industry’s flaws, we get asked what people can do to help fix them. The answer is: Lots of stuff! But also: There are no quick fixes. Our mentors and heroes taught us how important it is to come at these issues from an informed place before rushing to solutions. That means taking a step back and doing some serious self education and self reflection. To honor their wisdom and to help each of us better understand the depth of the problem and find our place in change-making efforts, we partnered with other advocates to create this Resource Guide.
Launched in 2015, Unspoken Truths is a multimedia campaign aimed at challenging the creative industry’s old school power structure and inspiring a more a new, more inclusive generation of leaders. One of the most notorious parts of the project is our TRUTH speaking series, a radical talk we give to both students and professionals addressing power disparities, harassment and how we can change the culture. We also conspire with other women creatives to make noise about these issues in public spaces using design, humor, music and other artistic expressions.