Written by Jenny Griffin
When Minted artist Kelly Schmidt was a kid, she painted murals on all four walls of her bedroom. One year she painted another big mural in the kitchen for her mom for Mother’s Day, inspired by artwork she’d seen in a design magazine. All this creativity was highly encouraged by her Canadian parents who even gave artistic license to Kelly’s and her sister Karen’s friends. While most of her friends lived in homes with white walls, Kelly’s house had a special wall where not only she, but all of her friends were welcome to draw freely. Talk about setting the stage for a life in design.
Kelly would grow up to become a graphic designer at both an animation studio and a special effects studio; a creative director at a renowned fashion, makeup, and esthetics school; an aspiring potter; and an amateur bass player in a band with the Attorney General of British Columbia. Along the way she married a museum educator who curates exhibits for the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia and for the expanding Canadian coffee and tea cafe, Kafka’s. When she’s not busy making art, looking at art, or talking about art, she and husband Michael Schwartz are out exploring the scenic wilderness surrounding Vancouver. Whew!
Oh, and as of March 2018, she’s struck out on her own as an independent graphic artist, thanks in large part to what she discovered was possible with Minted. She’s having a good run and just recently won the Best File Prep Award at Camp Minted in Las Vegas.
We talked to Kelly about her work, her endless interest in trying new things, and the influences along the way.
Minted: You had some really influential teachers in high school. How did they help you?
Kelly Schmidt: I was planning to study interior design after high school, but my art teacher gave me some key direction. He had looked through my art projects and had discussed them with the graphic design and photography teacher. What they noticed was that a lot of my collage work revolved around communicating a message. They encouraged me to pursue graphic design instead. That meant dropping the drafting class I’d signed up for and switching directions to graphic design and photography. I loved it. If I could have dropped all my other courses and spent all my time in the photography studio or on the school’s ancient Apple computer, I would have been so happy. I didn’t even know graphic design existed until it was introduced to me.
After high school I got a scholarship to attend the Graphics and Visual Design program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. In college, I fell in love with typography and the marriage between communication and design, the way color and letterforms can shape the feel and mood of a piece. The program switched from a three-year to a four-year granting program after I completed my third year. I could have returned, but instead traveled for a year in Australia. I’ve always been very driven and goal-oriented, and this was the first time in my life where I was cut loose of all schedules and plans and could really be in the moment. It was incredibly valuable.