Two Locations.
One Great Team.

Our talented staff in Chicago and Santa Barbara includes strategists, designers, web developers and project managers. Together, we create award-winning branding, web sites and print collateral that shifts results higher. We have the capabilities of a large agency combined with the approachability of a small one. That must be why we hear we're nice people to work with, too.

Richard Shanks

Founding Partner - Director of Strategy

Mr. Shanks founded UpShift in 2000 to deliver premium design solutions in brand identity, print collateral and web development. Today, with more than 200 international design awards, our teams in California and Illinois hone a reputation as one of the nation’s leading boutique creative agencies.

Rich is an Adjunct Professor at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago in Visual Communication Design, America’s most-influential art college. Since 1996, he has taught Beginning Typography, Senior Design Studio, Web Design, and Beginning Graphic Design.

Rich is also the President of the Society of Typographic Arts (STA), Chicago’s oldest professional design organization.

In the 90s, ID Magazine featured Rich in their “30 Under 30” article on upcoming talent. Prior to UpShift, Rich was also a Senior Designer in Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles, where he created brand identity, advertising, publications, multimedia interfaces, annual reports and corporate communications.

Rich received a Master of Fine Art degree from the California Institute of the Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Michigan.

Nicholas Staal

Managing Partner - Director of Design

Mr. Staal is Design Director and Partner at UpShift Creative Group, where he leads day-to-day client interactions, design direction and project management.

Nick has over 15 years experience in design and production of brand identities, marketing, print communication and web sites for a variety of high-profile clients—Weber Grill Restaurant, Snaidero, the Commercial Office of Spain, Greystar, National Equity Fund, Plain & Fancy, Safety Technology International and JDSU.

While at UpShift, his work has been awarded by many international design organizations, including the MarCom Awards, Hermes Creative Awards, Healthcare Advertising Awards, Service Industry Advertising Awards, and the Communicator Awards.

Nick is active in the Society of Typographic Arts (STA), one of Chicago’s oldest professional design organizations. At STA, he is the Young Professional Program Director, developing programs and events that are of interest to design students and professional designers. Additionally, Mr. Staal is well-versed in conventional and digital photography, social media marketing and fashion. He’s also a foodie—you may find him at Chicago’s latest and greatest restaurant openings. In 2012, Nick was honored by Maven’s “Divo Series”, which celebrates and honors Chicago’s most successful young business men across a wide spectrum of industries.

Mr. Staal received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a concentration in graphic design.

Courtney Reilly-Goodwin

Partner - Account Director

Courtney Reilly Goodwin is an Account Director at UpShift, heading up client services and new business development.

With over 12 years experience in customer service and sales, Courtney delivers hands- on, personable service to our clients with a focus on building long-term relationships and defining value for our engagement.

Courtney, who was instrumental in helping our Chicago office grow, now heads up our Santa Barbara office to assist the real estate and BtoB clients we have in California. Today, Courtney is active in the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce and has a Bachelors degree from Michigan State University.

Upshift Staff

Dana Albers

Office Manager

Dana handles the billing and tends to the office plants, while planning play dates for her cats.


Kathy Vanderjack

Senior Designer

Kathy makes logos and such while planning play dates for her pet hippogriff.


Atiyya Shahab

Atiyya enjoys picking typefaces and pretending to have cats.


Renee Kuklenski


When she’s not designing logos & brands, Renee enjoys fine-tuning her ranking of ice cream sandwiches (Mad Minis are currently #1).


Stephen Taruc

Web Developer

Stephen makes websites and pretends to know how to play Volleyball.


Rebecca Manske

Senior Designer

Sarah Kuhl

Project Manager

Sarah oversees projects ensuring deadlines are met and clients are happy, all while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat.


Cedric Gliane

Web Developer

Cedric, mild-mannered coder by day, thrill-seeking cyber fighter by night. His kryptonite: allergic to cats!