Keenan is Keen on Illustration

Honestly, I don’t know how or why I chose the Design program at MacEwan. It was a big series of seemingly random events that made me even apply in the first place. I was recommended by a friend to look into MacEwan’s program. I definitely had no idea what I was getting into when I got accepted, but I fell in love with design after my first year.

I liked the collaboration that occurred when I was there. Being surrounded by talented individuals for three years was like a creative growth spurt. It was without a doubt the most valuable part of attending MacEwan.

I picked Illustration as it was something that I enjoyed doing, but mainly for the stronger background in print design. Print is dying off, but the principles that apply to it need to be translated to web/mobile. I say translated instead of applied because they are very different and need to be treated as such.

It’s much easier working with typography in a digital format, when you understand what made it work in print. I wanted to have a strong background in typography that I could build on. We have a boom of “designers” that don’t understand the importance of typography.

Now I am the sole designer for an energy company based out of Spruce Grove. The job initially was for a few brochures and website but once I got started I took the role of designing all printed materials including package design, manuals/installation guides, stationary, templates for our billing software, and a complete company rebrand.

Since then I’ve completely restructured our warehouse, allowing for a more efficient flow of product assembly, inventory, QC and testing as well as assisting in actual product design and manufacturing.

More recently, we are getting close to finishing construction on our corporate office that I designed (both industrial and interior) for our US customers, and I am equipping our sales team with new presentation methods for marketing new products.

So far I’ve worked for three different in house design departments, all going through rebrands. I am very familiar now with the scope of a proper rebrand. I’d like to apply that in different ways and perhaps try working for an agency sometime in the next couple years.

I think good design is something with purpose. Something that is functional and has meaning. It’s not about form. Even ugly design serves a purpose.

I think we’re in an interesting transition right now between print and web. Well, we have been for a while but as both mobile and web function very differently from print, it’s interesting to see which trends (that worked for print) are being recycled. 

The other thing is that we have a lot of people that have access to design software with no background in design. The software aids them in the aesthetics but they completely miss the mark in terms of functionality. 

I’ve been inspired by a mix of designers and illustrators/artists. I’ve been really inspired lately by Olly Moss. It’s not that his designs are simple, he has an incredible ability to recognize simplicity, which is surprisingly difficult to notice.

Also, the R&R in LA has some really inspiring events that they put on.I’d have to say that right now I’m more inspired when I hear someone talk about their work rather than seeing the finished piece. Whether or not they are designers.  

Care to talk about your work?

Keenan Kirk is a designer working for Profire Energy in Edmonton, Alberta.

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