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Betsy Kalven (MFA 13 Media Design)

profile / alumni / media-design-practices
January 18, 2018
By Jamie Wetherbe

Quality of Life Tactician: Meet Design Strategist Betsy Kalven

ArtCenter: What are you working on right now?

Betsy Kalven (MFA 13 Media Design) Design Strategist, Continuum: I’m about to start a project redesigning the retirement home for Boomers, so rethinking what that would be like in an urban environment and in a way that keeps people engaged.

AC: If you could design any space, what would it be?

BK: Because I’ve come off a bit of travel, it’d be really fun to redesign the airport experience and make it more humane.

User Archetype

Betsy Kalven (MFA 13 Media Design)

What's been most important to me in my career is being able to write. That's been a real surprise to me and one of my best assets as a designer. 

AC: How do you define success?

BK: Being excited to get to work and feeling challenged. What’s become more and more important to me is doing something that solves some need or makes people’s lives better, rather than just serving a company’s bottom line.

AC: What’s the design cliché you’re most tempted to use?

BK: Right now, I’m really excited to use Millennial Pink. Also, typefaces — I feel like there’s a list of typefaces that are overused but I love Helvetica!

AC: What’s the one tool you can’t do without?

BK: What’s been most important to me in my career is being able to write. Conveying ideas clearly, succinctly and approachably becomes a precursor to what we want to design — that’s been a real surprise and one of my best assets as a designer. 
Betsy Kalven

AC: What’s the first site you look at when you open your computer in the morning?

BK: The New York Times.

AC: Where do you go online or offline when you’re taking a break?

BK: I’m really interested in VR so I look at The New York Times Daily 360. Still Processing is my favorite podcast, and I’m always thinking about my next meal so I look at Bon Appétit.

AC: How would your closest friends describe you?

BK: Loyal, supportive, probably a bit sensitive, creative and always ready to eat.

AC: What do you do to detox from media and screens?

BK: Anything that connects me back to my body: exercising, hiking, cooking.

AC: If you could trade jobs with anyone for a day who would it be?

BK: If I weren’t in this career, I would want to be a cinematographer like Emmanuel Lubezki, who did Birdman. I’d be so curious to experience what his day is like and see through his eyes.

AC: What book is on your bedside table?

BK: Barbarian Days, a surfing memoir by William Finnegan, which is funny because I’m not a surfer.

Betsy Kalven

Alumni Q&A

Submit the Alumni Q&A questionnaire to share your story. We want to hear about your accomplishments, what you're working on and your advice for future ArtCenter students.

AC: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

BK: To be present. I’m always thinking in the future so to be in the moment and enjoy it would be a superpower for me.  

AC: What’s your most prized possession?

BK: I have these beautiful silver cuffs, one from each grandmother. They’re different styles but weirdly the same size, like Wonder Woman cuffs.

AC: What’s your best piece of advice for an ArtCenter student who’s interested in following your career path?

BK: Something I would do differently is really embrace the critiques. It can be so scary and personal, but it’s such rare opportunity to have a roomful of people dissecting and thinking hard about your work. If you just can sit there and take in what you want, it feels less like an intimidating act. ArtCenter really prepared me to talk about my work, defend ideas and listen. I just wish I had felt that way sooner into the process.