studio/ Our Team

Steven Rank

Founder + Chief Creative Director

As a champion of both small businesses and blue-chip companies, Steven believes that inside every small business are the ingredients of a powerful brand, and that large companies can thrive with a dose of small-brand passion. Merging his big-agency experience and design studio training, Steven formed SARANKCO: Creative Studio in 2007 to offer best-in-class creative with a roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic and relationship-focused personal service. His vision has led to an influential cross-industry client base and an impressive list of long-standing relationships.

Whether the assignment is a complete brand refresh or a modest communications piece, Steven leads SARANKCO’s talented team of designers and writers on every project. Together, they help clients build standout brands and inspiring creative communications.

Steven’s skillset is expansive, his charm contagious, and his devotion to his employees, clients, and studio nothing short of respectable. At his core, Steven is a hard-working Midwesterner with East Coast style. Although the studio has grown from a fifth floor walk-up in Chelsea to a bustling Flatiron suite, he keeps SARANKCO dedicated to its humble roots.

Steven is not one to rest on his laurels. His command of design and attention to detail are surpassed only by his humility. His work has appeared in and been recognized by publications and organizations such as Print, HOW, AIGA, REBRAND, Michael Evamy’s book Logo, and Graphic Design USA. He has been asked to judge industry competitions and has lectured student groups from Ohio to Italy.

A long-time Manhattan resident, he lives in a renovated pre-war apartment in West Chelsea. His devotion to SARANKCO and his love affair with New York City are only trumped by the thrill of a good practical joke. At any given time, you can find Steven traversing the streets of Manhattan with his trusty toy poodles, Madge and Roger, in tow.

​Joanne Gaccione

Director, Strategy + Content

As the second full-time SARANKCO hire, Joanne has been an invaluable member of the team since the studio’s early days. With a background in writing, publishing, and account management, her leadership as the director of strategy and content enhances every project we work on.

Joanne started her career on the editorial team of an upscale consumer lifestyle magazine, working with brands such as Bally’s, Harrah’s, MGM, Caesars, and Hard Rock. After a stint in B2B publishing, producing digital and print magazines with NASA engineering content, she shifted her focus to marketing communications. Putting her editorial experience to good use, Joanne managed the production of premium communications for the Centurion and Platinum Card from American Express accounts at Underline, finishing her tenure there as Account Director.

A proud Syracuse graduate with a masters in publishing from NYU, Joanne is always brimming with suggestions of the best spots to visit and things to see in New York City. Passionate about her work, she loves the moment when design, copy, and client approvals come together to create a compelling, creative piece that exceeds expectations.

Johnny Ich-Tu Lim

Creative Director

Known for being cool under pressure, Johnny has worked in agencies big and small, from established firms to startups. Most recently he worked at Siegel+Gale as creative director. Over his 18 years of professional experience, Johnny has produced brand solutions and experiences that include visual identity systems, brand strategies, brand architecture, and brand training across print, digital, and architectural spaces. His proudest professional moment was designing the identity for the United States Mint.

In his role as creative director at SARANKCO, Johnny is a mentor, designer, architect, educator, teammate, and partner. His ability to work across all disciplines and his strong belief in simplicity, strategic design, beautiful craftsmanship, and attention to detail ensures our clients succeed with strategically grounded and visually powerful solutions. His mantra of “doing better, not more” inspires everyone to strive for improvement with each new challenge.

With his deep passion for traveling, Johnny has aspirations of making his way around the entire globe. A huge Star Wars and Star Trek fan, he reports that his massive collection of Star Wars prop replicas is worthy of a small museum! 

Eric Swenson

Director, Project Management

Eric is one of SARANKCO’s secret weapons. His combination of strategic prowess and awe-inspiring organizational skills makes magic happen for our clients every day. By working to map out the various communications needs of every project, Eric ensures that our team is well equipped to help each of our clients meet their objectives. Hailing from the ad agency world, Eric has successfully managed complex creative projects in both traditional and digital mediums for leading brands, including Northwest Airlines, NYSC, Macy’s, Yale University, and Scholastic, Inc. In addition to his superior project management skills, Eric also has extensive copywriting experience and has been trained in UX, video editing, HTML, and Adobe Flash. He has a degree in communications from Bradley University where he also studied business management. A wine connoisseur, Eric helps the team select the most interesting variety of vino for our weekly “wine down” Friday tradition. 

Jessica Fantz

Design Director, UX + Digital

Jessica eats, sleeps, and breathes UX design. She cut her teeth at Siegel+Gale, where she started out working as Steven’s intern before rising up the ranks to become a design director. She has also worked as a freelance designer and consultant for a variety of small agencies and branding firms; past clients include Citibank, Motorola, SAP, AARP, and About.com, among others. A self-professed tech junkie, Jessica loves reading up on the latest developments that will change the way we interact with technology. She is an avid outdoorswoman who can be found snowboarding on the slopes in the winter and camping in the Catskills in the summer with her wife and son. She is also passionate about LGBT issues and organizations, and is devoted to her rescue pets: mutt Hank and cat Reese.

​Susan Hildebrand

Design Director

Susan is an experienced art director and designer. She loves the creative process, bridging mediums, and working collaboratively to deliver great work. Susan’s portfolio includes an impressive range of projects in book, identity, and web design as well as animation. She’s worked with Curran & Connors and Waters Design, in addition to consulting for top brands in finance, pharmaceuticals, publishing, and entertainment. Susan is also an avid gardener, which perfectly suits her nurturing personality.

Karen Spinney

Design Director, Digital

A tenacious problem-solver and voracious learner, Karen loves meeting the challenges of new design work. She brings a fearsome number of skills and specialties to her work at SARANKCO, from print and production to web design and coding. Karen’s worked for clients spanning the non-profit, automotive, and pharmaceutical industries. Before joining the team, she was a graphic designer and manager for Max Mara Fashion Group and international travel network ASMALLWORLD. Karen loves cracking wise, and is always good for a laugh. She is dedicated to her volunteer work serving on the Family Advisory Council for the Komansky Center for Children’s Health at New York-Presbyterian, as well as the youth scholarship she started in honor of her daughter. Karen has come a long way from her steel town roots in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and counts among her top accomplishments climbing the five flights of stairs to her apartment, multiple times daily.

Lucas Chilczuk

Senior Production Designer

A quiet and kind presence in the studio, Lucas is a creatively versatile member of our team with deep experience in the retail advertising industry, most recently with Medallion Retail. He is an accomplished professional photographer specializing in dance whose work has graced the covers of several national and international magazines and newspapers. A true Argentinian at heart, he loves coffee, wine, and a nice steak. In his spare time, he can be found watching football matches; River Plate is his favorite team, though he has been known to cheer on Barcelona and Inter Milan as well. He puts his passion into every creative undertaking, whether it be the projects he crafts for our studio or the pro bono work he does for small dance companies and ballet students.

Cristin Luck

Senior Designer

Cristin is a talented brand identity designer with broad experience that includes food and beverage, technology, and financial projects. She came to SARANKCO from Siegel+Gale with a master's degree in communications design from Pratt and a bachelor’s degree in art history from Boston College. In her free time, she replaces home items that have been chewed by her pug, Murphy.

Patrick Luckett

Senior Production Designer

Known for his technical expertise and thoughtful execution, Patrick’s meticulous attention to detail is put to good use at SARANKCO. He has spent over 20 years flexing his production skills in the pharmaceutical, real estate, advertising, and financial services industries. Patrick thoroughly enjoys helping designers execute their ideas by prepping and releasing assets that are watertight. He finds the repetitive nature of production to be an interesting challenge, and especially loves finding new ways to streamline his process. When he’s not running a fine-tooth comb through an important file, you can find him out on his bike exploring different neighborhoods. One of his most memorable jobs was his childhood paper route—he loved being credited for spreading knowledge without having to actually know anything. 

Brenda Miller

Senior Designer

With years of art direction and design experience under her belt, Brenda is a creative visionary, whose experience includes work with Siegel+Gale, Wunderman, and Digitas. As a senior designer at SARANKCO, she particularly loves the beginning stages of a project, when she excels at asking just the right questions to bring to life an effective and compelling concept. Brenda is a soft-spoken yet determined idealist who is passionate about the environment and admires activists who fight to protect wildlife. Her sidekicks, Madge and Roger, are devoted to her and can often be found sprawled across her desk or lap while she is hard at work. When she isn’t in the studio, she can be found with her hands in the dirt, volunteering in her local community garden.

Justin Winslow

Senior Designer + Illustrator

Though Justin may be a laid-back Southerner at heart, there’s nothing low-key about his love of art and design. A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, he has worked in multiple design disciplines, including environmental display, animation, motion graphics, mobile app design, television character design, and advertising. When he’s not applying his skills to SARANKCO projects, Justin enjoys writing, drawing comics, and attending weekly “Drink ’n’ Draw” events in Brooklyn, where he gets to hone his craft while savoring a cold brew or two. 

Elaine Yee

Senior Production Designer

Elaine is known for giving her all to every undertaking, whether she is using her precision and sharp eye in production or wearing a full bear costume in extreme heat at our studio Halloween party. As senior production designer at SARANKCO, she puts her valuable years of experience to service in creating impeccable communications. She’s worked for global advertising agencies, boutique branding firms, and design-driven marketing companies such as Siegel+Gale, Landor, and VSA Partners. Elaine is a devoted Star Wars and Godzilla fan; she has also finished over fifty 5K, 10K, and 12K races since she turned 30 years old. When she retires, she would like to become a volunteer National Park Ranger, or a furry mascot at sporting events.

Janet Chung

Lead Project Manager, Digital

Janet approaches her role as digital project manager with a perspective informed by her comprehensive technical expertise and deep design knowledge. She spent most of her early career working for architecture design firm NBBJ, managing and creating marketing and communications. After a stint managing digital products and website development with TMP Worldwide, for clients including Nike, VMware, and Nestle, Janet sought out our studio, eager to get back into the design world. Born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario, she loves the challenge of maintaining thorough, detailed work for complex projects, while collaborating with a diverse group of people and professions.

Kevin Clements

Lead Designer

In the time that Kevin has been with SARANKCO, his design prowess has consistently impressed our team and clients. We were lucky enough to interview him the day after he arrived in New York City from his native Massachusetts, where he earned a degree in graphic design from the New England Institute of Art. He joined our team as a junior designer, and since then has quickly risen up the ranks to his current role of lead designer. Kevin’s greatest strength is his ability to communicate an idea creatively through purposeful design that complements a piece's messaging.

Geronna Lyte

Lead Designer

An experienced and talented designer, Geronna believes great design is smart, artful, and purposeful. With a background in fine arts, her experience spans across ad agencies, magazines, book publishing, and digital marketing firms. Clients she has worked for include the NYC Department of Education, Kraft, Shiseido, Jergens, Louis Vuitton, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, to name a few. An unflappable perfectionist, Geronna particularly loves leveraging typography and color theory to develop powerful communications that can provoke change and influence perception. She is also passionate about education, social justice, and music — especially the kind she can dance to. 

Ximena Ramirez

Editorial Manager

Our resident do-gooder, Ximena spent the early part of her career honing her communication chops in the non-profit sector before striking out on her own. After several months freelancing at SARANKCO, it became clear she had to become a permanent part of the team. She is now our editorial manager, a role in which her love of turning a beautiful phrase and using red pens is well served. Ximena earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications with a minor in women’s studies from Boston College. When she’s not crafting effective messaging for SARANKCO clients, she is busy working with high school students on their college admissions essays or spending time with loved ones — especially her adorable nephews and rescue pup, Teddy. 

Amy Spelman

An experienced brand builder and project manager, Amy’s focus on the details and calm confidence as deadlines approach are admired by everyone who works by her side. Previously she served as global brand design specialist with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, where she managed design projects for luxury brands the St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, and W Hotels. Other experience includes account executive roles with SS+K (working with clients like Wells Fargo and E*TRADE) and Hill+Knowlton Strategies. She is known for giving 100% to her work and building positive relationships between design and marketing teams. A graduate of Northwestern University, Amy is also an avid runner, having completed the Chicago marathon with her brother and sister in 2011.

Laura Stauber

Lead Designer

Laura came to SARANKCO after relocating from Miami. In search of like-minded designers, she headed to New York City, where she found a home at SARANKCO. Her experience includes Crispin Porter + Bogusky and the Jeffrey Group. Laura has a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Central Florida. She’s a fan of chocolate hazelnut ice cream on hot, sunny days.

Laura Conway

Project Manager

As president of the SARANKCO Entertainment Committee, Laura loves bringing our team together for monthly gatherings. An expert multi-tasker and organizational wizard, she is perfectly suited to the role of project manager. She loves seeing a project through from start to finish, and putting a smile on the face of every client we work with. Prior to joining the team, Laura honed her project management skills at mcgarrybowen and Hogarth Worldwide, where she worked with a range of clients, including The Wall Street Journal, Verizon Wireless, Staples, Disney Theme Parks, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. When she’s not at work, you can find Laura out on Long Island at the beach or working on a performance for the Blue Hill Troupe, a non-profit musical theater company that raises money for charities with every production.

Wendy Herlich

Copywriter + Editor

An eagle-eyed editor and writer with extensive experience spanning the advertising, publishing, small business, pharmaceutical, and non-profit sectors, Wendy has worked with several prominent brands including American Express, The New York Times, IBM, Delta, and Pfizer. Her technical prowess with language mechanics and grammar combined with her ability to write compelling creative content make her a versatile and valuable asset to the team. A seasoned performer, playwright, and self-producer, Wendy brings a unique perspective and skillset to her work. In particular, her background in improv has given her the uncanny ability to pivot between different client assignments and industries. When she’s not working, you can find Wendy exploring the city with her daughter or cheering for the Mets. 

Justin Lucey

Designer

Justin’s mellow and honest attitude has made him a welcome addition to the SARANKCO family. His great affinity for drawing fed his childhood ambition to be a cartoonist, although growing up he had stints as a lifeguard, barista, and bartender. After being accepted to the Parsons School of Design, however, he set his sights on graphic design. An ambitious and pragmatic designer, Justin enjoys instilling a dose of himself into every project he works on. Justin loves a good cup of coffee as much as a shot of whiskey, but not as much as he loves his dog, Moonshine. 

​Kristen Morici

Designer

A graduate of Syracuse University, Kristen’s passion for branding and design is what drew her down to New York City from her native upstate. Most recently she worked for Major League Baseball, designing environmental graphics and collateral for special events. What most excites her about her work is the process of helping a company build their brand and partnering with them to develop a visual identity that really stands out. Always up for an adventure, Kristen loves spending her free time discovering new spots in the city, taking in comedy and improv shows, or trying out new recipes while listening to her favorite tunes.

​Midori Nakamura

Production Designer

Multi-talented and fiercely intelligent, Midori can be counted on to ensure that every piece of communication we release brings the designer’s vision to life and meets the client’s exact specifications. The precision she commits to prepping every asset she touches is admired by many. Her work experience includes production design, graphic design, and art direction for diverse clients, including Barnes & Noble, Canon, and Kaplan. A distinguished alum of both Yale and the University of Chicago, Midori is also an accomplished actor who has worked with such talents as Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, and Jennifer Aniston. She enjoys exploring the creative impulse across disciplines, and believes in art as a spiritual pursuit on the journey of individuation. Despite her varied skillset, she still can’t knit, which will forever disappoint her mother.

Emanuel Solis

Project Manager

Admired for his sunny disposition and great sense of style, Emanuel has a knack for seamlessly driving a project forward. Prior to joining the studio, he worked with clients such as American Airlines, the U.S. Postal Service, General Mills, and Similac on refreshing their brands and launching integrated marketing campaigns across digital, social, print, and broadcast channels. Providing meaningful value to a client’s targeted consumer is something he finds incredibly rewarding. An activist at heart, he especially loves when the projects he works on incorporate a healthy dose of social consciousness. In his free time, he can be found teaching immigrants English to help them navigate their new lives here in New York City, a place he himself always dreamed of living. 

Cori Stadler

Designer

Cori inspired us from day one with her polished work and unique style. A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she has designed for clients across a range of industries, from real estate and banking to non-profit and publishing. She loves unifying all parts of a communication — typography, color, imagery, and messaging — in an elegant, refined way. With her social media savvy and modern aesthetic, Cori takes on her role as our resident social media photographer and stylist with ease. Every Sunday afternoon she can be found exploring a different neighborhood in the city with her husband and their much beloved dog, Fox.

Sarah Trull

Lead Project Manager

Trustworthy and dependable, Sarah can be counted on to jump in and lend a hand in the face of any challenge. Previously she led creative projects with a digital focus at PR firm Ketchum, and her work experience also encompasses the fields of floral design, fine jewelry, interior design, and advertising. A native of Dover, Delaware, Sarah always told her parents that she would one day live in New York. She lights up like a kid on Christmas whenever the topic turns to travel, and is already nearly halfway to her goal of visiting all 50 states. Sarah is also the proud owner of Miro, a dachshund who frequently visits the studio and makes everyone smile with his full body-wagging tail.

​Suzanne Coldwell

Bookkeeper

Suzanne loves to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. As SARANKCO's financial genius and left brain, she keeps our books in perfect balance. Prior to joining the team, Suzanne spent years working in theater as a producer and stage manager for the Juilliard School and Big Apple Circus. She also has experience as a film/video producer and production manager. Suzanne and her husband, Kenny, enjoy the great outdoors at their upstate cabin along with their menagerie of dogs and cats.

Allison Kulik

Studio Manager

Allison keeps the SARANKCO studio running smoothly with precision and flair. She coordinates with everyone from IT consultants to vendors, onboards new employees, and enriches our company culture with her flawless event planning. She’s a true Jill-of-all-trades — we’re constantly doling out new challenges and have yet to find something she can’t do. Before coming to SARANKCO, Allison worked as a production manager and administrative professional in the printing and events industries. She’s a graduate of Wilkes University, where she studied communications, and is an enthusiastic skier, football fan, and baker. Her contagious laugh brightens our day and her can-do attitude is an inspiration to us all. 

​Kelly Conway

Studio Assistant

Kelly is a powerhouse when it comes to organization. Whether she’s color coding calendars or keeping our digital files shipshape, she is a master at tidiness, and can claim a home that is ready for guests at all times. A native New Yorker and graduate of the University of Connecticut, Kelly has spent her career supporting creative branding agencies and media production companies. At SARANKCO, she helps to make sure that the studio functions efficiently and that our staff has everything they need to succeed. A perfect day off for her would involve snacking on cheese while watching Murder, She Wrote or reading a non-fiction book about World War II.

​Madge

Laptop Consultant

Between melting hearts, perching on laps, and following our fearless leader from meeting to meeting, Madge keeps herself busy every day. As the founding member of SARANKCO’s toy poodle team, she takes her role very seriously — providing constant laptop support to staff while still squeezing in time for the occasional nap. After being rescued from a Midwest puppy mill, Madge was adopted from Eve’s Pet Sanctuary. She loves duck treats, fashion, and a cozy bed. 

Roger

Chief Playtime Officer

When you visit SARANKCO you can look forward to being greeted by the second toy poodle to join our team, Roger. Adopted from Eve’s Pet Sanctuary like his sister Madge, Roger is in love with New York City and life at the studio. When he’s not shadowing Steven or keeping a watchful eye on Madge, he can always be counted on for a game of fetch or an afternoon snuggle. A sharp dresser, Roger loves his newfound fame as a doggy model, recently appearing on The Today Show modeling the furry fashions with Madge.