Melissa Balkon headshot

Hi there, I’m Melissa Balkon, founder and lead designer at Strong Design Studios. In my 17+ years of experience, I’ve been blessed to be able to work with clients and projects of all shapes and sizes, but my passion is for smaller organizations and individuals who value professional design strategy and want a partner to work with one-on-one. I have an unnatural addiction to organization, love reading, and I’m known for my simple, timeless style. Additionally, I’m currently on a journey to teach myself how to paint with watercolor. Learn more on LinkedIn, follow my watercolor adventures on Instagram or get in touch at 480-327-8804 or

Current Ventures

Strong Design Studios, Founder + Design Strategist

As you can see, I currently work as the founder and lead designer at Strong Design Studios. At Strong Design, we help small organizations harness the power of design for their advantage. We work with small businesses, startups and agencies to help them develop a meaningful brand image and useful web presence. I live to champion the dreams of small organizations and individuals by guiding them through clarifying who they are and telling their story to the world. Follow along on Instagram!

Phoenix Supply Co., Founder + Artist

Phoenix Supply Co. creates art and paper goods that celebrate the Southwest. I am proud to call Arizona my home, and PSC is my passion project seeking to create timeless art and paper goods that enable my fellow desert dwellers to express their love of the southwest. Follow along on Instagram, Facebook or shop online., Founder

In running Strong Design, I struggled every year at tax time when trying to complete the 1099 forms for our independent contractors in a quick, easy and professional way. To solve the problem, we created a fillable template would allow us to simply type in the information and print it out onto the 1099-MISC forms supplied by the IRS or purchased from an office supply store. It worked so well for us that we wanted to make it available to other small businesses who might be struggling with the same challenge. The new template is released each year in November. Check it out here.

Past Work

Forty, Design Strategist

Up until December of 2012, I was a Design Strategist at Forty. As a design strategist, I helped our clients revolutionize their brand experience through design. My job went way further than logos and websites. I designed meaningful customer experiences by tying all of a brand’s elements together—the identity, website, collateral, interior design, and more—striving to communicate their personality through every touchpoint. I have always had a passion for creating harmony between aesthetics and usability, and while working for Forty, I got to do that every day!

United Printing & Mailing, Graphic Designer

Worked as part of a small in-house design team to produce direct mail materials for clients, as well as all internal branding, print and web collateral. Tasks often included not only design but also copywriting. Clients included: Subaru of America, Advecor, MasterWorks, and other local and national clients.

Buse Printing & Packaging, Graphic Designer

Worked as a graphic designer to design print collateral and prepare it for commercial printing.

Crossroad Bible Institute, Graphic Designer

Worked directly with the organization President as an in-house design team of one to produce all print and web collateral needed to marketing the organization. Additional responsibilities included mangaging projects to meet deadlines, procuring vendor estimates, and in-house production of materials.

Invision Creative, Graphic Design Intern

Provided design and organizational support to a small boutique design agency.

Community Involvement

2016-present redemption arcadia, communication designer

Assisted church leadership with the development communication materials for print, digital and social media.

2019 PHX Startup Week, Senior Designer

Assisted the Marketing & Design Team leads with the development and design of event promotion materials based on their existing brand strategy.

2016 Phoenix Design Week, Creative Director

Currently in the process of planning the 2016 iteration of Phoenix Design Week. Responsibilities include development of the graphic theme for the event, curation and leadership of design team, design of deliverables and working with vendors, convention center staff and the entire PHXDW team to bring the event to fruition.

2015 Phoenix Design Week, Design Chair

Chaired the design planning and execution for the 2015 Phoenix Design Week. Responsibilities included design of all printed materials based on the creative vision of the event chairs and working with print vendors and convention center staff to coordinate delivery of the design materials.

2015-2019 Phoenix Ironworks Meetup, Creator and Co-Chair

Developed monthly breakfast called Ironworks meetup designed to bring together the freelance creative community in Phoenix.

2012 Lumi Phoenix Meetup, Organizer

Organized an interactive meetup designed to teach attendees about how to use the Lumi line of photo-sensitive inks.

2010-2011 Gangplank Chandler Design Mentor

As a Design Mentor at Gangplank, I volunteered a few hours each month to meet with local startups and small business owners to help them navigate the branding, website or service design process.

2010 Phoenix Design Week, Exhibits Co-Chair

Co-chaired the planning, curating and implementation of three separate art exhibit locations for the 2010 Phoenix Design Week. Responsibilities included promoting calls for entries, working with submitting artists, organizing submissions and setting up the exhibits.

2009 Phoenix Design Week, Committee Volunteer

Volunteered on the Spaces, Finance, and Admin committees to help launch the inagural Phoenix Design Week. Responsibilities included locating space options, evangelizing sponsors and attendees, helping organize tasks, and writing occasional bits of copy.

2009-2010 Commpose, Education Director

Worked with the group President to plan monthly meetups. Responsibilities included brainstorming topics and reaching out to and booking speakers.


January 2020 – VoyagePhoenix – What’s the Most Important Lesson You’ve Learned Along Your Journey?
September 2019 – AZ Foothills – Trendsetter to Know: Melissa Balkon
October 2018 – VoyagePhoenix – Art & Life with Melissa Balkon
February 2018 – VoyagePhoenix – Meet Melissa Balkon of Strong Design Studios in South Tempe
October 2017 – Medium – Connections Launch Careers at Phoenix Design Week
November 2017 – AZ Brandcast – Live Interviews from Phoenix Design Week 2017