Mikey Kelly

A spotlight on Mikey with 8 questions and our favourite pieces.

Mikey is a freelance designer and animator based in New York City. He was previously a designer at Sagmeister & Walsh / &Walsh, where he worked for a year and a half under the creative direction of Stefan and Jessica.

Mikey has been in the design industry for 3 years, during which he has done work for Apple, Beats By Dre, Converse, LA Galay, ADC Awards, Masterclass, Sagmeister Inc., and others.

Do you remember the moment you knew you wanted to become a designer?

I have always been into making things look nice. I remember typing essays in grade school and caring just as much about the composition as I did the content. If I had to give a specific moment, I believe it was Winter of 2017 when I transferred from the advertising to the design department at school.

Did you go to design school? Do you think it was necessary to get to where you are today?

Originally, I went to a traditional liberal arts school where I studied marketing and film. I wasn’t too happy with the job I got out of college and decided to search for a new career path. I ended up finding The Creative Circus, which at the time was just 5 minutes away from my house in Atlanta, GA. It’s primarily an ad school but they had a small design department with some amazing teachers. I would definitely not be where I am today had I not gone there. I wouldn’t know where to start.

Who is your favorite designer right now?

I’d have to say Anna Kulachek. Her Strelka work is beautiful and she’s just a nice person. 

What is your all time favorite font?

I don’t have an all time favorite, but I’m enjoying swiss typefaces at the moment. I go through a lot of phases and sometimes I try to use more expressive/unique fonts. Working for Jessica Walsh taught me a ton about the possibilities of type. 

What is your method of getting out of a designers block?

I step away and do something that gets my mind off of work. I’ve been running a lot recently and that helps. Sometimes I just need to go to bed and pick back up in the morning. It’s amazing how much clearer I think the next day. I’ve also found that when I am consistently working on personal projects I don’t tend to get as much designer’s block on client projects. For me, designer’s block comes from a lack of confidence, and the more consistent I am with producing new work, the more confident I feel.

Can you describe your ideal working environment?

That’s a great question. I’m still figuring that out. I like working in a quiet place with other people around me that are passionate about what they do. I also do well with positive reinforcement and encouragement. I think feedback should be thorough.

Some of our Favorites

What advice would you have given yourself 3 years ago?

I would have advised myself to study more design history and formal design practices.

What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your career so far? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I face is backing away from the aesthetics of the design I’m creating and deciding whether or not it is appropriate for the client. Something can look great but it doesn’t matter if it’s not going to help the client sell their idea. The easiest way for me to overcome that is asking for feedback from other designers or my parents.

Want more info on Mikey?

Check out Mikey’s Instagram and his Working/Not Working profile, or email him directly if you would like to collaborate. 

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Violaine & Jeremy
Type Foundry

They design fonts like they would design everything else: with their own artistic gesture and sensibility.

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