Bevill State alumnus wins advertising awards


Bevill State Community College graduate Levi Sanford has already made a name for himself in the advertising industry.

Sanford, now a student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has won three American Advertising (ADDY) Awards in the Birmingham district this year for his creative eye in design. 

The American Advertising Awards are presented to students and professionals across the country for excellence in advertising, and over 350 pieces of work were submitted for consideration in the Birmingham district this year. Award categories include sales and marketing; online interactive; elements of advertising; film, video and sound; cross-platform campaigns; and others.

This year's awards ceremony was held virtually on Friday, Feb. 26, due to COVID-19; however, Sanford gathered with his family at home to watch the streamed event.

Sanford was the recipient of two Silver ADDY awards.

The first award was for publication design cover to recognize the "Looking For Alaska" book jacket that he designed. Sanford also submitted some postcards he designed for nonprofit Klein Arts and Culture that won him a second Silver ADDY award for direct marketing.

His postcard design also secured Sanford a Mosaic Award that was only presented to two students in the Birmingham district.  

According to a press release from American Advertising Awards-Birmingham, "The Mosaic Award was established by AAF to recognize companies, agencies, and individuals whose commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident through their creative work and organization-wide initiatives."

Sanford said he feels honored to be recognized for his design skills while still a student at UAB.  

"I was so shook and taken aback, basically. I was at a loss for words," he said. "It was amazing. It was a great experience."

His goal is to win a Gold ADDY award next year.

In this year's student ADDY awards, Sanford won two of the 21 awards, in addition to the Mosaic Award.

Sanford is majoring in art studio with a concentration in graphic design at UAB, and he will graduate in the fall. He is hoping to secure an internship this summer to further craft his skills. Until then, he is working part-time as a design assistant with UAB Student Affairs.

Photography continues to be one of Sanford's favorite pastimes as well.

"I love photography just as much as I do design, but I consider myself more of a designer now," he said. 

Sanford wants to work for an advertising or branding agency after graduation and hopes to begin his career in Birmingham or Texas, where he also has family.

Prior to attending UAB, Sanford graduated from Carbon Hill High School in 2017 and from Bevill State in 2019, where he served as an ambassador. He received a UAB Transfer Presidential Scholarship to study at the university.

Sanford has always had an appreciation for retro/vintage style, which has been incorporated into many of his designs and photography, but he now describes his work as more simplistic. 

"After learning more of the history of design and the basics of design, I've fallen in love with the simplicity within design, but it's also considered Swiss design," he said. "Some of my inspirations are Saul Bass, who did movie posters, and Ray and Charles Eames, who did the mid-century modern furniture, but they also did advertising videography work. Those vintage influences are what influence me today, for sure."

He continued, "It incorporates that vintage, retro style I like while keeping it simple and straight to the point. I think that's something that is very beautiful about design. You can keep it simple but get a strong message across." 

When the Daily Mountain Eagle interviewed Sanford on Monday, he was busy at UAB doing a hand lettering activity and was working on designing a laundry detergent box in preparation for a final project. He's also studying animation as part of his art studio major.

"It's pretty fun," Sanford said.