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Why The Designer Of Kansas City’s Official Seal Only Charged The City One Dollar To Make It

Sharon Harter

City of Fountains. Heart of the Nation.

For more than 25 years, those words and an illustration of a blue and fuchsia fountain have served as the official seal of Kansas City, Missouri. It's been such an enduring logo that its designer, Patrice Eilts Jobe, was honored with a proclamation from Mayor Sly James on March 2.

But the design almost didn’t happen.

In 1991, the city was aiming to rebrand itself under then-mayor Emmanuel Cleaver II and held a contest for a new logo. Octavio Viveros, who'd been tapped to lead the rebranding committee, asked Jobe to enter the competition.

At the time, Jobe was president of the Kansas City chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). She declined to participate due to a lack of payment.

“Basically, she said, ‘I really can’t do that as president of this association. I need to get paid for my work,” Rachel Eilts, Jobe’s daughter, told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Jobe recently retired, and Eilts helped organize a show in honor of her mother's work; it's up through the end of April at the ArtsKC Gallery in the Crossroads.

Credit City of Kansas City, Mo.
The official seal of Kansas City, Mo. created by graphic designer Patrice Jobe.

As Eilts recounted her mother's story, Jobe jokingly told Viveros to call her again in a year if the city couldn’t find a proper design.

Despite 120 submissions over the course of 10 months, the committee did not have a design it wanted to present to the city council.

“They did reach back out to Mom,” said Eilts. “She said, ‘Well I can’t do it for free. But I’ll do it for one dollar.’”

Jobe designed the logo using two colors: blue for the fountains and fuchsia for the warm personality of Kansas City’s citizens.

The seal was approved unanimously by the city council. Jobe, who has recently retired, has since designed other notable images in the Kansas City metro including work for the Kansas City International Airport, Powell Gardens and the Johnson County Parks & Recreation district.

“I’m so proud of my mom,” said Eilts. “It’s a joy to walk around and see her work everywhere.”

Listen to the full conversation here.

‘Iconic: Branding A City’ is an exhibit displaying the work of Patrice Jobe at ArtsKC in the Crossroads through April 26th. The event is free and open to the public. For more information visit ArtsKCGo.com.

Coy Dugger is an assistant producer for KCUR’s Central Standard. Reach out to him at coy@kcur.org.

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