10 Questions for Aliceje Keyburn
By Douglas McColloch
"There is a certain vibe and energy in the sports industry that you can't get anywhere else," Aliceje (pronounced Alicia) Keyburn says. A powersports lover and a whiz at Creative Suite, she brings her enthusiasm for racing and an eye for design to her current position as Senior Graphic Designer for Race Winning Brands. In the past five years at RWB, she has designed everything you can think of: From websites to print catalogs, apparel to booth displays, and banners to vehicle wraps, there's scarcely an automotive design element missing from her portfolio covering RWB's line of products, which includes Dart Machinery, Wiseco and JE Pistons. She has also worked with Yamaha, Malcolm Smith Racing and DragonFire Racing, among others, and she continues to expand her horizons by "getting out from behind the computer to work at trade shows and events."
SEMA News spent a few minutes with this multitalented individual, to find out the secret of her creativity. What follows has been edited for clarity and length.
SEMA News: What's your latest project? What's new in your studio?
Aliceje Keyburn: Latest projects include working with SBN to plan our All Female Bronco Build 2023 event list. I recently had the opportunity to host an incredible panel of women at the SEMA Businesswomen's Network Women's Leadership Forum. I'm working on a cool packaging project with a big-name shoe company coming out soon for a motorcycle grip company.
SN: What first attracted you to the powersports/off-road world?
AK: I grew up going to Speedway races with my dad and going to car shows on the weekends, it was something I enjoyed with my family. My dad used to race dirt bikes and was part of a car club. Powersports and off-roading just looked like a fun thing to be a part of.
SN: When did you know that it was going to be an essential part of your career?
AK: It wasn't until college that I realized the doors available to me with graphic design. My eyes were opened to just how many things required a designer—whether it was giant action shots on a window front of a dealership, websites, catalogs, sales flyers, apparel, etc. I could utilize my passion for motorsports and fuse it with my passion with design. I could create those "Whoa, look at that" moments.
SN: You started working in the automotive industry straight out of art school. How did that come about?
AK: I took a risk when I decided to make my graduating portfolio heavily focused on action sports. A few teachers warned me that I'd be smarter to widen my portfolio, but I was also told to do what you love—I didn't want to work in a field that I might consider "boring." I was fortunate enough to catch the eye of an art director who happened to work in the aftermarket motorsports world, and after a few interviews, I received a job offer.
SN: Where do find your inspiration when starting a project? What fuels your creativity?
AK: I start with a little research and investigation into a project: Who is the main target audience, and what has been done in the past? What is the main message we are trying to get across or the action we want to see from it? I pull inspiration from different types of sports, magazines, social media, design forums, etc. It gets tough to turn on a creative switch with tight deadlines, but knowing that what I am doing is going to be seen by hundreds or thousands of people pushes me to make sure I give it my all.
SN: Describe your first SEMA Show. What do you remember most about it?
AK: Nerves. It was my first time working on some large displays and product displays; it was going to be my first time seeing it all come together in person. I remember thinking, 'What if something didn't print right? What if the pictures or pixelated or the colors are off?' I was told that all the big bosses were going to be at the Show, meeting with important clients, so I was really hoping to be able to impress them. Luckily, everything turned out great and we received nothing but great feedback.
SN: What's the most challenging project you've tackled thus far, and what did you learn from it?
AK: Catalogs are always challenging. For anyone that has ever been involved in trying to put a large catalog together, especially with heavy data, it can get pretty complicated and stressful. I have learned that communication and keeping people accountable is important. You can't just wait for assets to come to you, especially with tight deadlines, which is why I learned to become vocal and stand up for the things I need in order to get projects done in time.
SN: What's your daily driver, and what do you like best about it?
AK: I have a pretty sweet 2013 Ford Edge. It's Kodiak Brown which almost looks like a copper metalflake in the sun. It gets the job done and can carry my dirt bike. My weekend driver is a 1970 Chevy C20. The neighbors love us when we fire it up.
SN: What's on your personal bucket list?
AK: Travel the world more and enter a motorcycle race. I think travel is important not only to avoid burnout but it is a great way to see what others are doing and think about what creative things can I incorporate in my next project.
SN: When you're not working, where can we find you and what will you be doing?
AK: I work a lot and I have been trying to be better at balancing work and personal life. My fiancé and I both have motorcycles, and I've been trying to learn mechanics and tinker more on mine. I enjoy going to the beach, still love going to motorcycle races and hot rod shows, or just enjoying those rare days of staying home and binge-watching the latest crime shows.