One of my first jobs was right in The Creek District, but it wasn’t The Creek District then,” recalls Stuart resident and self-taught artist Heather Ivins. “So it’s kind of fun to be working on this project so many years later.”
That project is the rebranding campaign Ivins and her husband, John Ciambriello,
recently created for the city’s colorful downtown region dubbed The Creek District of Arts & Entertainment. The couple was originally tasked with redesigning the Art Walk map—but they immediately saw a bigger opportunity. “We wanted to show the board the potential we saw for the district’s identity and how a strong, cohesive brand could elevate their communication and strengthen their efforts,” Ivins explains. The duo assembled an end-to-end branding sweep, including a map, slight rewording of the district’s name, marketing materials, and signage.
“Heather and John presented their ideas at a board meeting, and we all loved it so much we didn’t even seek out any other design [pitches],” explains Stephanie Hutton, president of The Creek District of Arts & Entertainment board. “One of the taglines for the district is ‘Where creativity flows,’ and their design shows that. They nailed it.”
Ivins and Ciambriello moved to Stuart’s downtown area in 2018 from New York City, where
both had successful careers in design. Ivins—who actually spent her teenage years on the Treasure Coast—worked as a senior graphic designer for AOL in New York before deciding to go freelance as a designer, custom illustrator, and fine artist after the birth of her son. Ciambriello was employed as a high-end photo retoucher for Hearst Publications and has also lent his talents to advertising agencies, pre-press companies, and more (he recently did some work for the upcoming film Wonder Woman 1984).
During his Manhattan-Brooklyn commute, Ciambriello would often draw standing up on the subway; for Ivins, it took a bit longer to return to her artistic roots. “In 2014, I started drawing with colored pencil, but it wasn’t until we moved to Stuart that I started showing my work and getting involved in art events,” she says.
When they began working on the district’s rebranding materials, they looked
to Stuart itself for inspiration. “We were walking around the area, which is really colorful, and something that really stood out to us were the speed-limit signs,” says Ivins. “They’re black and white and really bold sans serif. We took that as inspiration for the branding.”
The logo features a slight curve to the “S” in “DISTRICT,” a nod to flowing water that also stresses the “S” for Stuart. The simple design and color palette were also carefully thought out. “We went strictly with type and kept it black and white so it was strong yet wouldn’t compete with the artwork it might be placed near,” Ciambriello says.
Ivins says she looks forward to seeing more street banners hanging around town once they are all installed. “It’s not that the banners are the most elaborate part of this design; they’re actually the simplest thing we did,” she says. “But having them up there to designate the area—that’s exciting to me. It signifies a major change.”