Kellie Campbell-Illingworth graduated with a degree in visual communication from the University of South Australia in 2002, achieving Best Graduate awards from both the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) and the Design Institute of Australia (DIA). For the last ten years she has worked at Parallax Design, which is renowned for its wine packaging and identity work. Campbell-Illingworth was part of the 2010 ADC Young Guns class, and her work has won awards from AGDA, New York Art Directors Club, Communication Arts and New York Type Directors Club. Campbell-Illingworth is past president of the South Australian branch of AGDA. She enjoys mentoring students and sitting on the advisory board for the University of South Australia School of Art, Architecture and Design.
Who have been your most influential mentors and why? Ten years ago, Matthew Remphrey, the creative/managing director of Parallax, employed me straight out of university. He has been a huge influence on my career. Matthew is generous and annoyingly clever, and he inspires me to be a better designer and person.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your work and what did you learn from it? I keep a journal of research, notes and ideas. When I left university, I scrapped this process—I thought it looked amateurish and that professionals worked on computers. It was the biggest mistake I could have made. Keeping a journal is vital to my thought process. I learned to remain true to my way of thinking rather than second-guess myself based on what others do.
What has been inspiring you lately? Three months ago we welcomed our son Chet into the world. If being a designer is about finding new perspectives and seeing things differently, Chet certainly has brought this to my life.
What personal/pro-bono creative projects are you working on, if any? I’m working on what my creative project is going to be! I have six precious months left before I return to work, and I’m determined to tick a few things off my bucket list. Maybe write a cookbook, design a product or learn another language.
What’s the biggest challenge facing designers right now? An obvious challenge over the last three years has been the turbulent economy. We can no longer rely on word of mouth, reputation and a proven track record. You’re one of five designers courting the client. It’s a competitive and cautious market, but in the last two years confidence has grown and people are spending again. The challenge is for designers to communicate the value of their work and define their unique offering.
What’s your favorite quote on design? “I have two goals. The first is that everything I do as a designer must have an idea: it cannot just look nice. The second is, it has to look nice.” —Paul Rand
What excites you about design right now? I admit to getting pretty excited when I see a brand-spanking-new typeface that looks amazing, like Domaine by Klim. And nothing can take away from the excitement of a good idea. Sometimes they take a long time to come up with, sometimes they land in your lap like a gift. Each project that I work on is an opportunity to make something better.
Which designers do you most admire, and why? Michael Bierut and Harry Pearce delivered my two favorite speeches at the agIdeas conference. Their work is clever and witty, and it leaves the door open for the viewer to come in and discover it.
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Enter industry competitions and volunteer. You only know what you know, so enrich your life with as much as possible. Life experience has made me a better designer.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? The importance of being yourself. You are unique and your work needs to be too. It takes time to learn and grow. Allow yourself that time, ask lots of questions and enjoy the ride.