Meet Julia Kelly

There are folks you meet along the way that are just good people. People that you laugh with and create with and say snarky things to about the other people on the team. Julia Kelly is one of those people.

We worked together on the big Everi project. Julia was on the client-side. One night we were out to an expensive dinner, and when the bill came, I put the agency credit card down. Julia looked at me and asked: “Are you just billing that back to us?” I laughed. She threw my card across the table and used their credit card to pay. “Let’s reduce the paperwork,” she said.

Our little agency is so much better with Julia a part of it, whether she’s helping manage accounts or bringing to life some random idea I have with actual good design. She was on time for this call, which was nice. Plus, she’s one of the few good things from Texas.

David: When did you escape Minnesota?

Julia: I moved when I was 24. I feel like that was pretty decent.

David: What were the Julia Smegal things when you were a kid? Were you a jock? A stoner? A cheerleader?

Julia: I was a cheerleader, but that was not … Cheerleading was like an echelon below Dance Line. That’s what the cool kids did.

David: So, you took some days off recently to go to something called Design Camp allegedly.

Julia: Yeah! I’ve been to Design Camp and Design Ranch, but not to Design Farm, which everyone loves, by the way.

David: What happens at Design Camp?

Julia: I went to Design Camp when I was in college, and it’s a little fuzzy. Design Ranch, where I was, is wonderful. They rent out this girl’s fifth-grade summer camp that’s two hours from here. It’s bunk beds and lodges and whatever. These workshop leaders come in. The majority of them are traditional designers, but they have some sort of other passion. Like my friend Jess Moss did a workshop on a mum, which is a bunch of kitschy found objects put together that looks fun. There’s something oddly therapeutic about putting things like this together and getting away from the computer to be creative. Another girl who’s a professional designer is really into watercolors, and this big deal designer Aaron Draplin was there, and Jessica Hische, a fantastic letter artist, came one year.

We met Julia Kelly during the crazy, fun, but super challenging Everi corporate rebrand project. This photo is at Everi’s Million Dollar TournEvent in Las Vegas.

David: When we met during that little project, you got us lunch from a gas station.

Julia: Oh, yeah, Rudy’s.

David: Why did we eat food from a gas station?

Julia: Yeah, that was weird. They all have gas stations. It’s fast-food barbecue. It’s a very Texas thing.

David: How does your Irish husband like barbecue?

Julia: He likes it, but he’s not a big beef eater. We eat it when people come to town.

David: Okay, sorry. Can you give us a sense of your design aesthetic? I wanted to have one smart-sounding question.

Julia: And this was it? Well, it depends on the clients and translating their vision. I like clear and simple. Clean makes me happy.

David: Okay, wild card questions. Horror or comedy?

Julia: Comedy.

David: Name a comedy that you can think of this very second.

Julia: “The Other Guys.”

David: Shit, that’s a great answer. When will you let the girls (Julia has two daughters who are 4.5 and 2.5.) watch it?

The Kelly’s in Ireland.

Julia: They’ve probably been in the room when it’s been on … (a voice from the other room chimes in) … Justin says they’ve watched it already.

David: Okay. Beach or mountain?

Julia: That’s hard. Typically beach. We did just go to Costa Rica.

David: What is the one kid movie that you’ll watch without throwing up or falling asleep?

Julia: Tangled isn’t bad. Secret Lives of Pets 2.

David: Do I have to watch Secret Lives of Pets 1 before I watch 2?

Julia: I don’t think I’ve ever seen the first one.

David: Okay. When people apply for jobs here, one of the very important questions we ask is, “What is your favorite donut?”

Julia: Oh, um, chocolate?

David: Jesus. Cake? Old fashioned? Bar?

Julia: I don’t know. The round kind?

David: You might not be invited back to work tomorrow.

Julia: Fine.

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