Designer Spotlight: Justine Kelley

Projector
Projector
Jul 16 · 4 min read
A photo of Justine Kelley of this week’s Designer Spotlight.

Meet the designers behind Projector’s templates. They all have different styles, backgrounds, and approaches, but one thing’s a constant — we just can’t get enough of their bold and beautiful designs. Up this week: Justine Kelley, a Designer and Illustrator based in Philadelphia, PA.

How did you get started as a designer? How has your background shaped the way you think about design?

I studied printmaking in college but made friends with a bunch of designers and thought their jobs seemed really cool.

After working at an art museum in public programs for a few years, I decided I wanted to be the person making stuff instead of working with people who made stuff.

So I went back to school to switch careers and study design.

Because I had spent so much time looking at art critically, I feel a similar perspective about the design world. I was able to question why design is what it is and why it does what it does, or doesn’t do, in school, and now that I’m out of school, it’s interesting to see that approach while working in the industry too, and understand the effect design has on the world, for better or for worse.

What (or who) is inspiring you most right now?

People: Elana Schlenker, Mikey Burton

Design: OHNO Type, FISK Studio

Student work — lots of students killed it with their end-of-year exhibitions. I follow a lot of schools on Instagram and am so impressed how so many students beat the odds of fully-online classes.

How did that work its way into the templates you designed for Projector?

As a new designer, I’m always trying to get out of my comfort zone, style-wise. I also love to inject some element of humor, playfulness or experimentation in any design work I do. I feel like the designers above all take a different approach, but it’s all in the spirit of pushing design, typography and ideas in a fun, unique way.

A GIF featuring a number of bold, colorful presentation templates designed by Justine.
A GIF featuring a number of bold, colorful presentation templates designed by Justine.

What do you wish everyone knew about working with designers?

Since I’ve recently started working in the design world, I’m realizing how much time is spent thinking, sketching, and talking things out before I start designing. Designers consider a lot of different aspects that aren’t simply aesthetic. Another interesting thing is the importance of communication and verbalizing your design decisions.

When presenting work to someone who isn’t a designer, it’s important to set things up or frame things in a way that can help the viewer understand it. In a way, the ability to educate people about design principles is an important skill for a designer.

How did your experience as an illustrator and printmaker influence the way you designed templates for Projector?

Illustration and printmaking taught me a lot about color, basic principles of design, and how to make an image. But I’m so used to drawing everything by hand, so the challenge that I enjoyed was the constraint of not being able to illustrate anything in the templates. The ability to drop in video clips and manipulate them was really cool, and allowed for some interesting, funky effects, among a bunch of other features too.

A GIF highlighting a presentation template, with video, gradients, and charts.
A GIF highlighting a presentation template, with video, gradients, and charts.

What advice would you give someone just dipping their toes into the world of graphic design?

Don’t compare yourself to other designers, ask for help, and it’s okay to suck at something. Particularly for the last one: As someone who recently switched into a field totally new to me, I’ve spent a lot of time doing new things and being really bad at it. I had to switch my mindset into accepting the obstacle of sucking as a vital part of the creative process. I learned that that tension usually results in growth, so now when I feel frustrated because I’m bad at something, or if it feels like things aren’t going my way, I try to push through instead of giving in.

What are some of your go-to resources (accounts, newsletters, blogs, podcasts, etc.) for refining your design skills, learning new things, or finding inspiration?

I follow a lot of illustrators, designers and type foundries on Instagram, so it’s pretty easy to get inspo there. I also have a million things in my bookmarks and watch a lot of YouTube tutorials. It’s hard to narrow it down! But I love keeping up with eyeondesign.aiga.org.

A GIF showing the way someone can easily manipulate images in Projector.
A GIF showing the way someone can easily manipulate images in Projector.

Before you go — what’s your favorite Projector feature and why?

I love how easy it is to abstract an image. Whether it’s making it blurry or adding a texture, it’s a cool way to get experimental.

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