Day 57

Day 57

An artist or illustrator should put forth work that is a genuine extension of themselves—their interests, their passions, and their view point.

— Keetra Dean Dixon

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Keetra Dean Dixon is an Alaskan born designer who has made a name for herself by delighting others with her charming personality, and whimsical work. During her masters studies at Cranbrook (2004-2006), Keetra developed principles for her practice, and set structures in place to support her artistic growth. Her curiosity and openness to explore has led her down a diverse path. She has designed experiences with the LAB at Rockwell Group, collaborated with Swatch, and was named an ADC Young Gun in 2006—all while she worked to author her own voice. Her work is often narrative and she says, “Sculpting experiences is a lovely way to sum up my thought process. I consider each project an opportunity to orchestrate an experience. I am always considering the principles of design as they apply to experience.” A few of our favorite pieces by Keetra are: The Anonymous Hugging Wall, Just Between You and Me: objects of co-dependency, and Wonder Kept: Souvenirs of the Unexpected.

We asked Keetra about entrepreneurship, process, and the importance of stretching your own style.

Keetra told us, “I’m not drawn to entrepreneurship, but it is a service my practice demands. I am very strategic, but not a business-minded gal. Technically, I might be an entrepreneur, but I feel unworthy of the title. The innovation and self-directed pursuits come naturally, but I have to force the business side of things.” For many of our contributors, an openness to opportunities and risks is a strategic decision. Seizing opportunities and following your passions may be just as important, and attractive in the market, as business know-how. Although Keetra does not define herself as an entrepreneur, she has a consistent process, and vision for her career.

She said, “I continually make work outside of the client and financially motivated world…When working free from financial gain, my goal is to push my development into new terrain, take greater risks, learn more, and demonstrate the direction in which I would like my entire body of work to move. In short, I attempt to make the work I wish I was making. I feel it is most important that an artist or illustrator puts forth work that is a genuine extension of themselves—their interests, their passions, and their view point. I don’t focus on style, I go towards what excites me and what can convey that excitement. The aesthetic follows the joy.” Using side projects to make the work we wish we were making is a wonderful way to grow into the type of creatives we want to be.

Keetra’s process is as inspiring as her work. She shared a few principles that have helped her turn a passion for instilling wonder, into a viable career.

  • Learn how to delight people, particularly when they don’t request it. If you can give a great gift, you can make a great experience. Think of the task as giving a present to the viewers.
  • Make work that is irresistible to the young, there is a child in all of us.
  • Provide your own structure to work within. Most great work involves a bit of chaos at some point, figure out what structures you can’t live without and make them happen. It will prevent you from going insane (in a bad way).
  • Go insane (in a good way).
  • Be brave, vulnerable, and captivated by the unrealistically fantastic. When it comes to surprise and wonder, you gotta love it to make it.

Check out more of Keetra’s work here.