Ryan Clifford

Ryan Clifford
  • Assistant Professor, Visual Communication Design

Contact Info

Chalmers Hall, Rm.


Ryan Clifford is an Assistant Professor of Design and is the faculty lead for Ampersand, a new process-based interdisciplinary sponsored design studio in which student designers utilize design thinking and apply their skills to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems. Ampersand engages students, partners, and the community at multiple levels: from a Downtown Lawrence design studio focused on community engagement through radically inclusive collaborative co-design to funded sponsored research and undergraduate design studio courses. Through Ampersand, Ryan also directs a team of undergraduate Design Research Fellows, who are focused on working directly with professional partners to develop and implement research-based communication strategies and human-centered design solutions. National Partners include the Crop Protection Network (CPN), North Central IPM Center (NC IPM), and the Tactical Sciences Network (TSN).

Previously, Ryan was the Co-Director, co-founder, and Chief Instigator of the Think Wrong Institute at the University of Kansas, which focused on disrupting design education and empowering designers to become creative change agents for the greater good.

Before he joined KU, Ryan was an Assistant Professor in Graphic Design at Iowa State University, where he focused on design for social impact. He also taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he was the Associate Director of the Center for Design Practice, a multi-disciplinary project-based studio that engaged students and outside partners in socially conscious projects with the goal of making a positive impact on society. Professional and community partners included Whole Foods, the National Wildlife Federation, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore City Health Department, the Maryland Energy Administration, and Baltimore City Schools. Projects focused on innovative solutions to wicked problems such as Food Deserts and Food Insecurity, HIV/Aids Prevention, Urban Vacancy, Lead Poisoning, Addiction, Smoking and Tobacco Cessation, Urban Farming, and Underage Drinking Prevention.

Ryan has worked professionally in corporate design and advertising and was a creative designer at General Motors in Detroit, Michigan where he was responsible for branding implementation, identity design, and environmental graphics. 

His work has been recognized by Core77, How International Design Annual and Print Regional Design Annual, National Paperbox Association, and the Rochester Advertising Foundation. Ryan’s work has been featured in the books Just Design: Socially Conscious Design for Critical Causes, Designing for Social Change, Fingerprint 2, and Indie Publishing.


MFA, Maryland Institute College of Art, 2007