Kelly Anna on the importance of having the right creative tools and studio environment
In a recent workshop hosted by Logitech, the multimedia designer shared the tools behind her craft – including a new MX Keys Mini keyboard that’s minimalist, comfortable to use and made from recycled materials.
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- 14 October 2021
A studio can say a lot about a person, especially when it comes to the type of work they like to make. The artist, designer and painter Kelly Anna is best known for her vibrant and dynamic figures, designed from her desk in a studio complex in East London, which she shares with a host of like-minded creatives. “It has a great atmosphere,” she tells us. “The space is bright and colourful. It’s an organised mess, more organised when my studio manager insists we tidy up.”
Amongst the creative chaos, however, is a selection of reference books that Kelly Anna will turn to for inspiration, not to mention her dad’s paintings and a windowsill packed with random trinkets. “The walls are a reflection of whatever I’m working on,” she notes. “At the moment, there is usually an evolving canvas which I’m working on a couple of times a week, alongside technical printouts for digital outcomes.”
When Kelly Anna gets her head down and into the work, the studio set-up is extremely important. “Everything I create is based on how I’m feeling, what I’m watching, looking at and reading,” she says. “The studio is a space to explore all those ideas, usually by pinning them to the wall or spreading them out on the floor.” In this way, she works amongst her influences, preferring to have a space for her thoughts to run free. “I tend to feel way more creative having a space where I can act on that creativity, without having to pack it away at the end of every day!”
Like many creative professionals, Kelly Anna has had to adapt to a few changes and challenges over the past year or so. The first being the notion of work-life balance, which has shifted in meaning for all of us. “Pre-March 2020, I never used to focus on eating properly or taking a walk during my workday,” she says, “but now these moments are essential.” The lockdowns over the past 18 months also reminded Kelly Anna of her love of reading, and now she makes sure there are at least a few books lying around to help spark inspiration.
When it comes down to the specific tools needed to make one of her pieces, Kelly Anna admits that she’s “very particular” about what products and materials she uses, tending to stick with what she knows best. “However, as with most things nowadays, we have to be open to change,” she says. You never know what might be around the corner that could alter your usual way of doing things – whether that’s meeting a new collaborator, discovering some inspiring subject matter, or finding a brand-new creative tool.
The software and hardware manufacturer Logitech has released a new premium keyboard, the MX Keys Mini, which is designed for content creators to use as a wireless and more compact device. When it comes to her creative process, Kelly Anna tells us, the keyboard is – well, key. “I use them so much that when I’m sketching, sometimes I use keyboard shortcuts to rub out – and then realise I’m drawing on an actual sketchpad and need an actual rubber,” she says. A lot of her work is made digitally, however, and when that’s the case, she says, “the keyboard becomes my instrument.”
GalleryKelly Anna and Logitech: Workshop in London (Photo by Meara Kallista Morse)
The artist and designer found the lightness of the MX Keys Mini one of its most appealing qualities. “I actually loved the weight of the keyboard,” she says. “It is mini but it feels really luxe!” Subtle design details help to elevate the keyboard. Its minimalist form helps to align your shoulders and maintain a better posture (crucial particularly for anyone still working from home), while at the same time results in a neater, less cluttered desk. Then there are the backlit keys, which light up the moment your hands approach and which automatically adjust to changing lighting conditions. Kelly Anna also picked up on “the little indents for the tips of your fingers”.
With sustainability front of mind, Kelly Anna is also particularly fond of the fact that Logitech is championing the use of recycled materials through its full MX Keys Mini range – the MX Keys Mini and MX Keys Mini for Mac. Many of the products’ plastic components are made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic, while the packaging it comes in is entirely plastic-free. “I think it’s so important that companies are looking into making their products more planet-friendly,” she says. “It prompted me to look at what other more environmentally conscious options there may be for other products.”
Earlier this month, Kelly Anna got involved in a workshop hosted by Logitech, which saw attendees create a collaborative sports poster with the artist and designer, whose own work is heavily influenced by sport and dance. “I take a lot of inspiration from Olympic memorabilia and vintage Olympic posters,” she says. “There’s a great mix of illustration and graphic design with Olympic posters that I love.” Those in attendance were tasked with making their own graphics inspired by a sport of their own choosing, and these were then paired with Kelly Anna’s in order to create a collaborative final piece. “It was so incredible to see how different the end posters were,” she says.
The session also explored the importance of what tools you use to create your work and gave those in attendance the chance to experiment with the MX Keys Mini. The keyboard was always going to be “used naturally in my workshop,” Kelly Anna notes, “as it is a vital part of my design process.” Many of the attendees were designers and artists themselves, so there was a real sense of specialist knowledge and tips of the trade being traded amongst the group. “That’s the great thing about design, everyone has their own way of doing things,” she adds. “I almost definitely spent years doing things the wrong way on programmes and then learnt through someone telling me there is a much quicker way! So hopefully the attendees learnt something too, even if it was just how to use a quicker shortcut.”
GalleryKelly Anna and Logitech: Workshop in London (Photos by Meara Kallista Morse)
Kelly Anna and Logitech: Workshop in London (Photo by Meara Kallista Morse)