Kelly Lauren, better known as Kel Lauren, is a Creative Director and Graphic Designer currently based in Portland, Oregon. She specialises in merchandise design, and was up until most recently, a full-time merchandise designer at Live Nation Entertainment in Los Angeles, California. At her full-time job, she designed merchandise for artists such as for singers going on tours, including Carly Rae Jepsen, the Jonas Brothers, Kesha, and more.
YouTube Content Creator/ Influencer
For many years she has run a channel on YouTube on the side of her prior full-time job, where she shares content mostly surrounding the topic of graphic design and her experiences, but often times about lifestyle, fashion, and beauty as well. As of October 2020, she has a subscriber count of 307k, comprising of an audience of many young and aspiring designers.
She has been open about sharing her journey as a graphic designer since her days in university, where she started off with majoring in fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), then making a switch to graphic design. She shares about how she has spent years in jobs that she did not enjoy including agency work, before managing to find her niche, a whole 5 years after graduation.
Unlike many other “designer-influencers” that like to tell the rights and wrongs, it is admirable that she shares through her own experiences that life and career never happens in a straight line—and that is absolutely fine.
Apart from that, I greatly appreciate that she does not portray a specialisation in just one graphic style, but rather a flexibility to do many, yet still somehow making them hers. It relieves the pressure about not having to be a specialist (i.e. master of one), yet at the same time she manages to not have her generalisation be taken advantage of, which is what I would like to learn from her.
Lastly, Kel is a great reminder to me that design is voice. She uses her skills and following to create and share works that stand for what she believes in such as designing posters for the Black Lives Matter movement, and rebranding products like Playtex to fight gender stereotypes and conformity. While she still makes profit off of these projects whether means extra cash or gaining more subscribers on YouTube, it is still commendable that she engages in such works outside of the bigger client-paying jobs.