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Ten Minutes with: Gavin Kelly

In our next installment of the “Ten Minutes with” we talk to Gavin Kelly, our co-founder and resident photographer, explorer and sage. Bring on a dictionary.

What are the 5 words that people would use to describe you?

Sagacious, pauciloquent, brobdingnagian, perspicacious. Tall.

When did you know that you wanted to be a designer? 

Growing up I had always been interested in painting, drawing and technology, but I didn’t realize I wanted to be a designer until college. I was enrolled in a visual arts program to study painting and photography and took a graphic design class. That is when it all clicked for me. My interests in graphic design and photography led me to a role as a magazine art director. When the personal computer became the primary design tool, it ignited my interest in software and digital experiences (I was hooked on Myst back in the day). It wasn’t until I joined Microsoft that I discovered interaction and product design and I knew I had found my calling.

What is in your notebook?

I don’t have a notebook. If I come across something profound or important, then I’ll make a mental note – I don’t feel like I have to write it down in order to remember it. And if I forget it, then it probably wasn’t worth it to begin with.

What is the thing (product, service, etc) that you would die to design? Why?

I think of it in terms of problems I would like to solve and the impact I would like to have, as opposed to products I would like to design. I am drawn to those problems that are very complex and yet offer the biggest potential rewards. How do we create positive outcomes for those people in the world with limited access to the fundamentals such as adequate food, clean water, and shelter? How do we provide for civil liberties, access to education, and freedom from persecution?

What advice would you give to your 10 year old self?

Everything will be OK.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

In the 1950s, the world’s foremost cellist at the time, Pablo Casals, was in his 80s. Despite his age and reputation, he continued to practice four-five hours a day. When he was asked why he continued to do so, Casals simply answered, “Because I think I am making progress.” So in ten years’ time, I would like to be like Casals – still trying to make progress.

What would people never guess about you?

Here are three things that may or may not be true about me. Wishful thinking or truth – you would have to guess. I have climbed a remote mountain summit in Antarctica. I was a fashion model. I represented Australia as a member of the men’s basketball team at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

What is your favorite Artefact project and why?

This is an almost impossible question to answer, but if forced, I’ll have to say 10,000ft. Lots of design companies incubate product ideas, but very few actually launch those products to market and make the transition from a product idea to business. Today 10,000ft is a thriving SaaS business, serving over a thousand companies around the world. I am incredibly proud of its success.

What are you afraid of?

Stupid people.

Where do you go/what do you do for inspiration?

It starts at Artefact, where I am surrounded by so many seriously talented and smart people that I am inspired every day by what they can achieve. I also get inspiration from external sources, such as TED talks, and a variety of podcasts and books. But I am most often inspired when I can create some space – when I can actually escape the noise, the technology and the people, and just spend time in the outdoors.