Skip to main content
InsightMay 06, 2024

An interview with Kelsie Lee on conquering the design industry

There’s never one true path to career success — especially in the creative industries. Every successful designer has their own Lord of the Rings-level journey (a.k.a. hard-fought!) of how they found their way to a fulfilling career doing what they love. Kelsie Lee is one of those designers.

Read on to discover, in her own words, Kelsie’s journey from VFS student to instructor, getting the call from the Vancouver Whitecaps and what lies ahead for the digital design industry.

How was your experience attending VFS?

Attending VFS was the best decision I could have made. When I originally applied to the Digital Design program, I really had no idea what I was going to do for a career. I had very little digital literacy at that point; I had come from a fine art background. Attending VFS was similar to being thrown into the fire. You get right down to work, quickly. The program not only set me up for industry success but also introduced me to a career and opportunities I have fallen in love with.

It must have been a full-circle moment to go from VFS student to instructor! How has your educational and career experience impacted your methodology as an instructor?

When Calina [the Head of Department] first approached me to teach at VFS, it was an easy ‘yes.’ This school had given me so much, so I naturally wanted to give back. It was really surreal to walk onto campus as an instructor. Working in the design industry for as long as I have, I have had to wear many hats, learn difficult lessons and have had the opportunity to work with and for incredible designers. These experiences have shaped the way I approach teaching. I want my students to be excited about learning design and how design can impact and shape their futures. My teaching style has an empathic approach; I encourage my students to just jump into and try new things. Find out what doesn’t work, what does and why.

Can you tell us a bit about your career highlights since graduating from VFS? Working for the White Caps must have been a thrill!

When I first graduated, I had to work a few interesting jobs as I found a footing in my career. I worked for a design firm for about five years, and I remember getting the phone call to come work for the Whitecaps FC; I was absolutely beside myself. That was the best day ever. I got to work with their incredible internal marketing department to help build the brand and keep it consistent across everything, from their social media to their stadium, commercials and jerseys. It was a fantastic experience. I stayed with the WFC for four and a half years before being asked to move on to the Vancouver Canucks, which was also an incredible experience.

Your portfolio features quite a diverse collection of work. How do you get inspired to create?

Honestly, my talented friends inspire me — all of them. I’m surrounded by really wonderful, unique people who come from all walks of life and all bring a very different perspective to the table. I like to bounce ideas off them and even collaborate with them. Everyone sees and approaches a creative decision a little bit differently.

How do you view the current state of the digital design industry? Where is the industry headed? What can current/future designers expect?

I think it’s really exciting. There are so many new programs and updates going around, including AI. The industry is so fast-paced and there are more and more really talented designers getting out into the field; it’s awesome. My advice to current and future designers would just be to never stop learning, being curious and, most importantly, collaborating with others. Look at our community of designers as your champions and always work with and off one another.

We’re excited about your industry talk at VFS's All Access Pass event. What are you looking forward to sharing with the aspiring designers who attend?

I think mainly my experiences in branding and what it was like to start out as a new designer and end up, completely by accident, as a sports experience branding designer. 

Want to pick Kelsie’s design brain in person? On May 30, Vancouver Film School is hosting All Access Pass. This on-campus event is a chance to experience VFS’s industry-leading Digital Design and VR/AR Design & Development programs for the day and for aspiring designers to experience their future in creative tech.

In addition to the Industry Talk with Kelsie, attendees will get to meet & chat with VFS faculty, take part in a demo in unleashing AR in Adobe Aero, have a 1-on-1 portfolio review, and ultimately experience their future career in the design industry. If you know of any aspiring designers (or are one yourself!), register here for FREE.

About Kelsie Lee

A Communication Designer and Instructor for Vancouver Film School’s Digital Design program, Kelsie lives and breathes visual & motion design; it truly is her creative outlet and her passion. With over 12 years of experience, Kelsie now specializes in crafting compelling sports and entertainment experience branding.

Kelsie holds a bachelor’s degree in media arts, as well as diplomas in fine arts from University of the Fraser Valley and a diploma from Vancouver Film School’s Digital Design program. After putting the days of student life behind her, the hard work she’s put into her career has paid off, allowing her to build up her portfolio working for the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Pacific FC.

And though this merely skims the surface of her career, you’re invited to learn more about Kelsie (and the vibrant design industry!) through an in-person Industry Talk on ‘Motion Design in Sports & Entertainment’ on May 30; more on that at the end of the interview.


Related Articles