BlackPaint is a Milwaukee-based independent art and design studio led by creative duo Katie Mullen and Jordan Pintar.
It started like this. Two art activists met working at a traditional ad agency where the combination of their skills and styles created some of the freshest, most meaningful work they’d ever done. Besides their crazy 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 women and young people in the industry, it was on them to do something about it. So they quit and started BlackPaint Studios.
That was 2015. Today their work spans mediums from murals to graphic design, all of it rooted in cultural intelligence and human connection. Some of that work is done for clients. Some of it’s self-directed and centered around social commentary.
Along with producing exciting creative work, the studio is on a relentless mission to make their field safer, more equitable and inclusive by: making noise about it in public spaces using humor, design and other artistic expressions; working to increase the number of women and people of color in leadership roles through their Creative Leaders Fellowship Program; and by educating students about their power as change makers as part of their college speaking series, Unspoken Truths About Working in the Creative Industry.
Their dedication to that mission has earned them a national reputation as advocates for industry reform and opportunities to spread their message of radical change from platforms like the TED stage, Creative Mornings and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
BlackPaint is the proud winner of Planned Parenthood’s Voices Award for their work as one of the organization’s key creative partners and for being outspoken community activists in the fight for reproductive rights.
They work best with brands 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 covert mission to challenge the creative industry’s ancient power structure by working to increase the number of women and people of color in leadership roles and by educating students about their power as change makers. 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’s power structure. Her hallmark is vibrant design work rooted in human connection and cultural commentary from a feminist perspective. 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.
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 documentary short and is now showing at select film festivals. See the trailer HERE.
CHANGING THE AD INDUSTRY THROUGH INFORMED ADVOCACY
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, The BossLady Project 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 Unspoken Truths 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.