Special/Signature Issues » Top 40 Under 40

Bizhan Khodabandeh, 28

Teacher, Graphic Designer


Bizhan Khodabandeh is a whirling dervish of concepts, designs and countercultural alternatives. The graphic designer and guerrilla marketing specialist even gets ideas in his sleep. His “I Dream of a Richmond” campaign prompted Richmond residents to envision the city that they'd like to see. “It literally came to me in a dream,” he says, laughing. “It was an ad campaign for people to say what they like or dislike about the place they lived.”

In a town filled with noteworthy visual designers, Khodabandeh is one of the most influential — and prolific. The 28-year-old Springfield native's firm, Mended Arrow, was recently nominated for a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Muse Award; it does much pro-bono work for starving regional nonprofits. He also recently organized There Once Was a Rebellion, a public arts collective that gives information to local community groups about low-budget guerrilla marketing. “I believe in democratic graphic design,” he says. 

Khodabandeh is also the design director for Richmond's innovative Gallery5, owned by his wife, Amanda Robinson. For his main gig, he teaches art and graphic design at three different schools, Virginia Commonwealth University (his alma mater), Virginia State University and the Appomattox Regional Governors School.

Lately, Khodabandeh's inventive eye has been getting national notice. One of his works recently placed third in Adbusters' prestigious One Flag competition. “I enjoy that,” he says of the attention. “But I'm more comfortable with empowering others.”

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