Stubble: How did you and the candidate meet?
Andy: I met him in a hospital room in the fall of 1979, so I’ve known him for a very long time. I am sure you’ve worked this out already from the title, but Steve Sturdevant is my dad, and he’s running for representative in Kentucky’s House District 48.
Stubble: Why were you selected to be the campaign designer? What made you say yes?
Andy: The selection process was somewhat informal. I knew I had a set of skills I could bring to the campaign, and there was a need. Really, dad needed a design for the buttons, and I’d always wanted to design a button. So it seemed like an easy call. Still, I didn’t want to make any assumptions. I made a pitch, came up with a few drafts, they were approved, and he signed off on the project.
Stubble: What was your process for making the design?
Andy: Dad and mom were visiting a few weekends ago, and they stayed with me. The topic of the buttons for the campaign came up, so we both looked at a few designs, and then sat down in my living room and banged it out. I think we were eating leftovers from Quang on Nicollet Avenue. I’m not really a designer in the formal sense, but I can generally work with a template and text. And I know the history of political campaign ephemera design.
Stubble: Are there any past campaigns you draw inspiration from? Would I be wrong to say your design has a sort of retro feel?
Andy: You wouldn’t be. There’s definitely a retro quality. I have a big collection of campaign buttons, mostly from the ’60s and ’70s. There’s a cleanliness and clarity to those designs that avoids a lot of the political cliches you see in many contemporary buttons. Instead, you get solid colors, Helvetica typeface, some playful design elements. So we drew on some of those — some of them even still look pretty modern. Dad’s a big fan of commentator Ken Rudin, too, who has a political button-themed segment on his podcast, so he’s looking at buttons regularly. I hope it stands out a little bit from the campaign-related design elements you usually see.
Stubble: Tell me more about House District 48, what kind of leader does that part of Kentucky need?
Andy: District 48 is the district I grew up in. It’s a very quiet, pleasant part of the city — very residential. The longtime representative is retiring after many years, so there’s an opportunity to bring in some fresh perspectives. Dad’s lived and worked in that part of the city for three decades, so he has a handle on the issues and challenges in the area.
Stubble: What should a Minnesotan visiting Kentucky know? What do you recommend they do?
Andy: It’s been a while since I’ve lived in the district, so a lot of my favorite restaurants and establishments have since moved on. As far as things to see and do in Louisville, though, there’s a couple of places I am always sure to visit while in town. Carmichael’s Bookstore on Bardstown Road and Frankfort Avenue is one of the great independent bookstores in the U.S. Underground Sounds, across the street from my first apartment, has been selling vinyl since before it was cool. While we are on the topics of Sturdevants, I would also send people to my brother Nate’s restaurant, New Wave Burritos, which has just opened on Preston Highway. And my mom is having an art exhibition at Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church this fall, which is in the district. These are very family-specific recommendations, but I’d like to think the Sturdevants are an attractive part of the cultural landscape of Louisville.
Andy Sturdevant is a Kentucky Colonel currently living in Minneapolis.