New IDer: Patricia Kelton

by New Idiom


Please quickly introduce yourself. Where are you from? Married? Children?

Milwaukee, WI. Single, no children

How did you end up at ID? What were your motivations for coming? Where were you before?

I was a professional ballet dancer in the Chicago City Ballet until a career ending injury sent me back to school at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. After school I was fortunate to work at Metavante (financial software) in their user experience team, where I learned user-centered design principles. Then I moved on to creative director positions in design firms and corporate marketing teams and finally to brand consultancies.

These last few years I’ve been immersed in the creative side of design – that’s Creative with a capital “C ”, where advertising gods swagger through hallways and casual discussions of typography can erupt into inflamed arguments. Don’t misunderstand me. I believe that design matters. Design has the power to provide a gracious experience, to inspire interest, to socially engineer a better environment. Design can be meaningful, or it can be hollow. I choose meaningful, and so I’ve chosen to attend ID.

What are your first impressions about ID?

ID has a tough purity to it. It doesn’t coddle its students. Communications have an unapologetic hit or miss quality to them. This leads one to speculate that it is ID’s back-up natural selection process used to weed out anyone not hardy, determined or quick enough to thrive here. Adding to the challenge is the instantaneous inclusion of your new best friends – your team mates, whom you don’t know and, perhaps because of language barriers, don’t even understand. No one with an intact survivor’s instinct is feeling comfortable. And the school is demanding. Our first class an instructor talked of “falling off the cliff”. He predicted that most of us would face a time when the demands of our teams, work loads, and daily life became too much. Did he really yell, “Enjoy your flight, your paper is due in ten minutes!” or was I just imagining it?

But those attributes are exactly why I came here. I want to be surrounded by individuals as curious, optimistic, and driven about design as I am. I want to strive for excellence within a group who understands what excellence is. And now that I’ve settled in, I’ve recognized the friendly spirit of collaboration which somehow makes the whole thing work.

Which designers/thinkers have impressed you the most lately or you are following now?

Iranian graphic designer Reza Abedini, whose way of thinking and the meaning his designs carry reflect a culture and a history quite different from our own.
Twyla Tharp (choreographer) has an amazingly deep appreciation for all types of artistic expression. The explanations of her creative process in her books, riddled with cross-disciplinary descriptions is really engaging. She defies being pigeon-holed into any defined style and is an inspiration.

What kinds of activities are you planning to do in your free time (in case
you have any) while at ID?

I’ve already found my way to Hubbard Street Dance Studio. There are 5 large studios with windows so half the fun is getting there early to watch rehearsal The dancers are loose and generous. It is wonderful. Two miles from ID. Anyone out there wants a ride – just let me know.

Galleries, food, galleries, food, repeat.