Students in Kristine Mellebrand’s classes not only benefit from her years of advertising experience, but also from the example she sets by her can-do spirit.
“When someone tells me I can’t do something,” offers the Macomb Media and Communication Arts professor, “it usually makes me more determined.”
Mellebrand has been discouraged, in chronological order, from majoring in advertising, becoming a teacher and riding a Harley Davidson. For the record, she has earned two Detroit American Advertising Awards (advertising’s answer to the Oscar), has been teaching at Macomb for nearly12 years and is the owner of a custom-painted yellow Fat Boy, 2003 anniversary edition, which she brings out every spring.
“I like to ride around country roads and to work some times,” says Mellebrand. “It’s just a great feeling.”
Like a Harley, Mellebrand’s career has been fast and intense. She earned a BFA in fabric design (her mom was a custom dressmaker) from the College for Creative Studies and a master’s degree in advertising from Michigan State University. She was the only woman among 65 artists “on the boards” at McNamara Associates, a preeminent design firm in Detroit, which was followed by jobs with a small ad agency, a production house and a public relations firm that counted Ford Motor Co. as one of its clients.
“That was a fun job,” says Mellebrand, whose father was an art director at Campbell Ewald. “We did all sorts of crazy things.”
But of all the jobs that Mellebrand has held, she says, it’s the one a former art teacher tried to talk her out of that she loves most.
“Teaching is pretty darn cool,” says Mellebrand, “I can teach these kids how to do what I have loved doing for the past 30 years.”