Bold and one-of-a-kind — just like the art she creates.
Meet Alexis Mahrus, RALLY’s witty, straightforward, and endlessly creative Director of Design. Based in San Francisco, Alexis is RALLY’s design guru, working across a wide range of our firm’s client teams to deliver stunning, dynamic creative work.
From studying under world-renowned artists to owning her own mural company to becoming Program Chair of the Illustration Department at the California College of the Arts, Alexis describes her career as a zig zag.
Where are you from and how did you first get involved in design?
I was born in Hawai’i and grew up in Los Gatos, California. One day after high school, I bumped into John Pugh, a world-famous muralist from my hometown that I have admired for a long time. He offered me an internship and I painted my first mural just a year out of high school. I learned a lot from John and ended up opening my own mural company, which I owned for ten years while pursuing my degree in illustration. After graduating college, I designed political mail while I was kicking off my career in freelance illustration.
What design services do you offer RALLY clients?
We offer a wide range of services for clients including concepting and designing logos, infographics, print ads, direct mail, and websites. Our design work follows a rigorous process that starts with a deep-dive into our clients’ communications goals, desired target audiences, and brand challenges. We believe that partnering with clients to understand their goals allows us to create design work that is unique and inspires action.
What inspired you to pursue a career in design?
My experience attending and eventually teaching at the California College of the Arts was life changing. One thing that never changed was that I loved being challenged by my teachers and students there. One important mentor and friend was distinguished artist Dugald Stermer. After I graduated, Dugald pulled me aside one day and told me, “I have this class and I want you to teach it.” I felt too young to teach, but Dugald told me to just trust him.
So I took the job straight out of college and kicked off my career teaching illustration at the same school that helped me grow as an artist. I worked my way through the program, becoming a professor and eventually the Interim Chair of the Illustration Department after Dugald’s passing in 2011.
I remember coming across some of his never-before-seen pieces in his studio after he passed. It was a full-circle moment where I felt like he could somehow see that I finally understood why he was so tough on me after all these years. He really believed in me and challenged me to think about the rigor, patience, and humility it takes to be an artist.
How would you describe your style?
My work is focused on clarity and consistency, and my approach is becoming more minimalist. Design is about telling stories, evoking emotions, and sharing a message. Creating work that is elegant, timeless, and simple is top of mind.
The logo below was created for a coalition of celebrity activists working to end neighborhood drilling. The story behind this logo is that it represents a growing grassroots movement. The high contrast and bold type was inspired by protest signs used by community activists and I wanted the logo to communicate a sense of urgency and unity.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
I am proud of a sculpture painting I once created, called Intrusion, that depicts the resilience and courage of a woman fighting breast cancer. I’m passionate about how art can tell powerful stories and reveal the strength of people fighting cancer. I am inspired by the possibility of a cancer-free world for my two twin boys.
If RALLY gave ‘senior superlative’ awards, what would yours be?
Professor Snarky Pants. It’s actually a name that gets mentioned in the office every now and then and it brings me back to my teaching days. Glad I could keep my ‘tough but fair’ reputation.
Reach Alexis at AMahrus@wearerally.com.