RK Venture

Blog Entry

ZeroProof, New Mexico’s underage drinking awareness campaign, is getting national attention. RK Venture’s campaign combats the serious problem of underage drinking which can cause a host of problems including traffic fatalities and crashes.

Last year the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) presented at the 2017 Strategic Communications Forum in Washington D.C. to communicate our state’s plans and network with our colleagues. The National Law Enforcement Liaison Program (NLELP) were impressed by the ZeroProof campaign, its unique positioning and strategy, and chose to publish it as their lead article in the Law Enforcement Liaisons (LELs) newsletter, a publication whose mission is to promote national highway safety programs, initiatives and campaigns.

Some highlights from 2015. Our staff shares some of their professional and personal experiences from the last year.

Richard Kuhn

We opened our doors on July 1, 2014, so 2015 was our first full official year operating as RK Venture and I am proud of that achievement and the work that the team has done. Not only did our strategic creative work hard for our clients and get results, but we were recognized by local and national media (Adweek, Creativity Online) for the great work we do. In particular, while official numbers have yet to be tallied, New Mexico is on track to have a record low number of DWI-related fatalities for 2015. Since we’ve started creating public awareness campaigns to motivate behavior change behind the wheel, DWI-related fatalities have decreased nearly 50%. 

Personally, I’ve had the privilege throughout the year to watch how my therapy dog, Ciskoh, has such a positive impact on the kids who read to him at the Albuquerque Libraries’ “Read to the Dogs” program. It’s a joy to see kids open up in his presence, become more confident and improve their reading skills. Plus the year was topped off with a great adventure to Panama where my partner and I stayed in a jungle at an eco lodge on a chocolate farm. Yum!

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Becky’s Year of the Goat
2015 was a year of learning (trying anyway) to be patient which was a big challenge for the old impatient me. Professionally, the high point was Metrolink’s F125/Tier 4 Locomotive becoming a reality. The opportunity to design this locomotive was exciting, highly unusual and different from the fast-paced, quick turn projects I normally work on –- it took about two years from when we started the design process to the start of production, and I’m looking forward to seeing what started as imagination in 2013 become a finished locomotive in 2016.

I’ve been a runner for a very long time, and it’s always suited my nature. In 2014, I decided to add something new to my repertoire, and decided to give yoga a try. It had never really appealed to me because it seemed like the pace was just too slow, but this time I stuck with it and have found it to be challenging, rewarding, discouraging and humbling all at the same time. Many months, lots of practice and many mini panic attacks later, my personal high points in the endeavor came when I was able to do a headstand and then a forearm balance on my own. And I’ve discovered that I’m still impatient. Namaste, ya’ll.

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My most memorable projects from 2015 are the multiple TV spots we shot for the NMDOT. Starting with “Slang” in the spring, throughout the summer “What’s the Worst That Can Happen?” campaign, the “My Instead” campaign, and finally the law enforcement spots “The Things I’ve Seen.” I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with some of my favorite directors and producers, all of whom share my passion for finding solutions to the problem of drunk driving.

On a personal note, I had the honor this summer to attend a month-long artist residency in Porto, Portugal. The opportunity to take time off from work to focus on my personal photography was one that I will always treasure. We aren’t just creative when we’re “on the clock” and having the chance to engage my muse and grow artistically is something I value highly.
Links: De Liceiras 18 Residency       My website      Some of my Portugal photos

Dianne De Leon

In 2015, as part of the effort to enhance knowledge of the DWI problem in New Mexico, the Department of Transportation and the governor launched an aggressive program to find the top 10 DWI Absconders of the state. 

These are people who have numerous DWIs and have somehow avoided the law. Since the time of the launch, there have been 6 people who have been captured. This fight will continue until we no longer have a list and it feels as though we are doing our part to get the word out and to support the efforts of the state to do and be better. I’ve had the privilege to work closely with the New Mexico Department of Transportation on this campaign that will hopefully make our roads safer.

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If you are a reader of this recent blog 2015 wrap-up post from our staff at RK, then you will note that most are writing about their favorite project and a note regarding something personally stellar that took place in their life outside the firm. I choose to talk about both in combination. 

If you are familiar with our clients, then you know we have had the pleasure of working for the New Mexico State Fair for the last four years. I am responsible for the design efforts for any print and outdoor visuals that help influence the Fair’s success and many of those campaigns involve the myriad of livestock and equine events that are a basic component of every large state fair — the New Mexico State Fair is known throughout the country for their efforts in supporting our New Mexico ranchers and horsemen. 

Outside my work at RK, my husband and I own a feed and supply store in Albuquerque, and our customers are from all counties in the state. My husband, Jim, grew up on a large New Mexico ranch and is not only an avid horsemen but an advocate for kids that are members of New Mexico Junior Livestock Association. Throughout our state the foundation has provided discounted feed and friendly assistance to these kids regarding how to raise their show steers, sheep, pigs and goats — all hoping to win the Best of Show which is an opportunity to put money in the bank for their future education. There is barely a weekend when we don’t have a few kids hauling their prize animals to the store for Jim to take a look in hopes that he can determine what might benefit all their animals in order for them to win in their event. We get involved in their successes and their heartbreaks that all lead up to showing in this once-a-year celebration at the State Fair. 

The fair is also heavily involved in equine shows including Western and English competitions and the hugely popular rodeo events. Many of these horse people are our customers as well. I like horse people. I am one of them. There is always a horse story to be heard or a horse that could use some help with a proper saddle fit or the right feed to keep them strong and healthy. Creating an ad for the Fair is not simply a job that needs doing for our client but a part of my personal life and interest as well.

The successes that are reaped from our involvement at the firm with promoting the Fair go far beyond a design project…  just give me that opportunity to put a beautiful horse on a billboard — not a bad way to combine my work with the things I love to do outside the office. More Fair please.

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As a design and production artist, I’ve worked mostly in print and web throughout my career. Last year provided me the opportunity to put some of these designs in motion. I created animations for both the New Mexico Department of Transportation and Metrolink. Bringing our designers’ creations into motion was a welcome challenge that excited the recesses of my brain. Seeing the final images come to life and reactions to them is one of my proud moments working at RK Venture.

This summer I traveled to Chicago to act in the premier of a new play, A Work of Art, at Chicago Dramatists. Acting was my first love back in New York where I started that career in the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Balm in Gilead, directed my John Malkovich. To come full circle back to the theater world in Chicago was an adventure of a lifetime. I’ve fallen in love with the city (the food!) and will continue my love affair with more visits and hopefully more work. In the summer, that is. 

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The first half of 2015 was dedicated to creating and implementing an identity for the 28th Festival Flamenco Internacional de Alburquerque in June, the largest flamenco festival outside of Spain offering a range workshops, performances and events with the involvement of the highest caliber of flamenco artists in the world. To collaborate and exercise my skills demonstrated my abilities to offer perspective on such a large and complex event.

2015 proved my ambitions of a freelance, traveling lifestyle successful. A year had passed since my friend and I opened our home to AirBnB guests and frequent 4-week stays by flamenco Artists-in-Residence at the University of New Mexico. As our cozy loft was rented, I was fortunate enough to travel and see old friends (a single trip aimed to spend less than $500 in travel, and included ABQ > NYC > Boston > Maine > San Francisco > Portland, OR > SLC), or experience alternative ways of living (January stay at a secluded cabin in the snow-covered Mora Valley in northern New Mexico).

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2015 was wonderful because my beautiful, ambitious, and smart wife and I shared office duties.  Nichole and I where able to work out how to best use our individual and collective skills to work together at RK Venture.  Combining my bookkeeping and accounting along with Nichole’s hard work and bright spirit has made (I believe) the office a better and more exciting work environment!  I was able to build our porch (personal accomplishment) because Nichole has been able to more than just hold up the fort on days I was not in the office.

Finishing the front porch and deck from the ruins of a destroyed addition on our house was a personal accomplishment. Late 2014 was a difficult time because a front room in our house that was destroyed due to a faulty roof. One evening after returning from work on a day that saw a massive monsoon storm that caused much havoc in the area, Nichole and I walked into our home to see that the rain was now coming down harder inside our house then it was even coming down outside!  Long story short, 2015was when we got to replace that leaky, then moldy, room with a brand new, clean and comforting front porch and deck… like a Phoenix rising from the ashes!  This was very much facilitated due to the sharing of office responsibilities.

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I started working at RK Venture in May of 2015. After working for years in my home office, the collaborative environment at RK has helped me hone in on my skills and create better work than when I’m on my own. This has been surprisingly refreshing and inspiring. A highlight was working with Becky on the campaign to launch Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line. There are many different pieces that went into this campaign. Keeping an overall consistency in message and design requires an eye for detail with an eye for the big picture. It’s a challenge I enjoy.

As for personal endeavors, I looked back through my Google calendar and it seems all I did last year was play tennis. (Monday: tennis w/Marina; Wednesday: match at Highpoint Thursday: tennis w/Heidi.) Hopefully I’ve gotten better. 

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Leaving my government job after 8 1/2 years was scary! I slowly transitioned into the position at RK Venture.  I had very minimal experience in this type of work. It was a challenge that I gladly welcomed! I had the confidence and motivation in myself to learn and be the best I can. Now I achieved the training and love my job!

I sky dived for the very first time. For me, this resembled a major change in my life. Jumping into the beautiful sky released a new positive beginning mentally. It was an amazing experience!

Rachel Kennedy