Ellen Bruss has a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Graphic Design from Michigan State University. She moved to Colorado shortly after graduation and started her career working in the music industry for both Denver-based Fey Concerts and Los Angeles-based MCA/Universal. She opened her namesake design and marketing firm, Ellen Bruss Design (EBD) in 1990 with MCA/Universal, Public Service Credit Union and Janus Mutual Funds as clients.
EBD specializes in the intersection of real estate and retail, addressing branding, corporate identity, marketing collateral, digital design, environmental design and consumer packaging. Clients include Endeavor Real Estate Group, Lone Mountain Land Co., Lennar LMC, Wolff Companies, Hammond’s Candies, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Marczyk Fine Foods, Great Western Sugar, the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver (MCA), Redline Contemporary Art Center, and the Denver Art Museum. A signature project was the Hotel Born in Denver, which opened in the fall of 2017. Ellen creative directed the interiors and art collection, and her firm EBD handled the branding and environmental signage package.
Since the inception of EBD in 1990, the “quality is what quality does” philosophy has never gone away. The firm’s creative efforts have resulted in national and international recognition in over 250 publications including Graphis, Print and HOW Magazines. Ellen was featured in GDUSA’s 2014 People to Watch issue and was honored with an AIGA Fellow Award in 2015, an organization that recognizes individuals that raise the standard of excellence within the design community. In addition, she has judged numerous national competitions, has served on the boards of ADCD (now One Club) and AIGA/Colorado as Vice President.
Balancing both business and design, Ellen oversees the agency systems, while also serving as Creative Director on most of the projects that come though the agency. As one of the only 3% of female Creative Directors nationwide, Ellen is at the forefront of female agency creative leadership. She has also hired top talent from all over the country to bring their expertise to the agency.
An avid champion of the arts, Ellen was a Trustee for the Museum of Contemporary Art /Denver from 2004-2013 and continues to serve as a Trustee Emeritus. On MCA’s board, she was the Nominations Chair, helping to build a board process and structure that exists today. Part of her responsibilities included creating a plan for annual board giving and supporting the fundraising committee. She was also deeply involved in making the current museum building a reality. In 2018, Ellen served on the search committee to appoint a new director for MCA and in addition, Ellen hosts artists and fundraising events for the museum. In the community, Ellen mentors’ and supports individual contemporary artists. Hotel Born features over 700 commissioned works alone.
In addition to the art world, Ellen gives back through her involvement with local design schools, hosting internships within the firm and doing student portfolio reviews. She was a part of a strategic planning team in 2008 for an Aurora Public Schools effort to better prepare their students for the future. Her work included individual tutoring sessions with design students. In 2019, she was the keynote speaker for the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design graduation, a frequent source of EBD interns. Currently, Ellen is helping to establish the women’s co-working space, TARRA (tarra.co) whose mission is to support women in the design world. Ellen also recently joined the Smithsonian National Board, is a geographically and culturally diverse body of volunteer leaders that brings invaluable counsel to the Smithsonian and its many museums and research centers.
As a company, EBD feels strongly about community involvement. The firm donates 4% of their overall business annually as a community giveback to non-profits and cultural institutions, including The Denver Zoo, The Children’s Museum, Hospice of Metro Denver, Race for the Cure, and Girl’s Incorporated. Current recipients are the Denver Art Museum, MCA/Denver, and Redline Contemporary Art Center.