Kelsey Premo Jones
DESIGNER, BRAND AND
CREATIVE STUDIO AT TWITTER
BFA in Graphic Design, 2010
San Francisco, CA
Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking? This may not be my biggest single influence, but the 80/20 rule is something I think of daily. Also called the Pareto Principle, it states that 80% of the results are created by 20% of the work. This principle helps me learn when to let go of an idea and keep iterating. It helps me remember to share in-progress work and therefore be a better collaborator. As a (recovering) perfectionist, it helps me not waste time on a minor detail at the early stages of a project when that level of meticulousness isn’t called for.
How would you define success? Do you think you’ve found it yet? My definition of success changes depending on the season I’m in. In general, I’m someone who’s susceptible to burning out and I have to be very intentional to not over-work myself in any given job. Unfortunately, my life outside of work is what tends to get the short end of the stick when I’m over-committed. So as a rule of thumb, if my relationships with friends, family, and spirituality are intact and healthy, I consider myself successful at that time.
“My definition of success changes depending on the season I’m in. In general, I’m someone who’s susceptible to burning out and I have to be very intentional to not over-work myself in any given job.”
You have worked with large and small companies (Twitter, Penguin Random House, Chronicle Books, IDEO, etc.) and have an impressive set of skills in print, digital and motion design. Do you see many women entering into the interactive/video/motion side of the design field? In my experience, those specific skills do tend to be dominated by men. Women should be encouraged to pursue interactive and animation design! I wish I had the time to study and do more of this type of work.
In your opinion how important is it for young designers to be adaptable and ready to work in various aspects of the field when they graduate? I greatly value versatility in a designer's toolkit. Something I wish I would have learned earlier is to become comfortable working outside of my comfort zone. Since I'll never have all the knowledge and skills needed, the only way to grow is to be adaptable. This learning-posture and willingness to try new things has caused career growth for myself in ways I never could have anticipated.
“I greatly value versatility in a designer's toolkit...This learning-posture and willingness to try new things has caused career growth for myself in ways I never could have anticipated.”
Is there a difference between working in design with women or with men? Have you ever been treated differently because you are female? It took me a long time to see the nuances of sexism in the workplace. In my experience, a lot of gender discrimination stems from an unconscious bias — so as it turns out, your well-respected, talented, male (or even female) colleague/boss can be treating you differently as a woman in the workplace without much intentional thought or accountability. It’s the male teammate being attributed credit for what was a team effort. It’s the woman on the team who gets blamed first for a group’s mistake. It’s the male intern getting paid more than the female intern for the exact same job description. It’s the lack of women represented in leadership. It’s the lack of mothers that return to work after maternity leave. It’s the lack of paid maternity leave in our country. It’s the overwhelming responsibility that I feel as a mother to be both fully present at work, yet also be the parent who takes time off from work for every single doctor’s visit, school event, and school closure. All of this (and much, much more) stacks up against how we as women are treated differently than men in the workplace and why it can be harder for women to have the same opportunities for success.
Are there any rules or habits that help you design more efficiently? Organization, organization, organization. I can always tell how much a digital or print designer cares about their craft based on how organized their files are.
Would you recommend some resources that young designers might find useful? (books, websites, podcasts, etc.) I’d recommend taking classes or workshops on public speaking. So much of design is presenting/defending your work and the thinking behind it. Becoming a better communicator is a skill I’m continually working to refine.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were in school? I wish that I would’ve known how big the world of design is and how many different types of opportunities there are. Coming out of school, my dream job was to work for a boutique branding studio. The work these studios do is important and valuable, but I personally don’t have as strong of a desire to spend my time doing that type of design anymore. Instead, I’m much more fascinated with the role of design within problem-solving — whether it’s designing for accessibility, communicating the value of design thinking, or helping tell a brand’s larger narrative. I find the wealth of knowledge you gain from working as an in-house designer for a company can have a wide and tangible impact.
“A lot of designers have fantastic work, but the way you approach your work and the journey it takes you to get there can really set you apart.”
What should a young designer avoid doing when applying for jobs in the design field? I find it very interesting to see how a designer thinks. I’d recommend a young designer avoid applying for jobs with a portfolio that doesn’t show any of your process or personality. A lot of designers have fantastic work, but the way you approach your work and the journey it takes you to get there can really set you apart.
Designer responded to questions in 2018 via email.