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Students to Watch in 2011BACK FORWARD

tammy shell

tammy shell


Tammy Shell always felt a little out of place in the quiet, St. Louis MO suburb of her upbringing. “Why is your hair hot pink again?” her mother would ask. A knuckle-scraping pattern of involuntary friction to tradition plagued her childhood. She did not make the cheerleading squad her freshman year of high school. The extra time freed her to pursue photography on the school newspaper staff. Shell says this experience “ignited the fuse … [it] informs my design as well as assures my purpose for a pulse.” She adds, “I love the idea of art supporting art.” To that end, she is pursuing design projects with musicians, dance and theater groups of her fancy. Shell spent last summer in LA interning at Made in Space, April Greiman’s design studio. She is finishing her final year at the Kansas City Art Institute and interning at the Quixotic Fusion dance company.

What made you decide to go to design school?
Several years ago, I undertook some design projects with local performing artists in Kansas City. Secretly, I found type layout frustrating, and so I returned to school with a simple goal: to become a better designer.

Has it been a positive experience?
Absolutely positive. I have experienced a severe transformation within my work and within myself. The design department emphasizes trimming graphic fluff — “Avoid the arbitrary” is the unspoken mantra. I now see type, image and color as communication tools rife with narrative. Rhetorical tropes have been revealed as the secret weapons of design. We do not bury our faces in our computers, but are taught to begin with real materials. A Visual Advocacy class unveiled my new purpose in life — to apply my talents to initiate change. I am discovering the lethal potential of design.

Design Hero?
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
Favorite Color?
hot pink
Favorite Typeface?
Favorite TV Shows?
Glee, Work of Art
Favorite Books?
Bird by Bird, Traveling Mercies
Favorite Movies?
Lost in Translation, Boys Don’t Cry
Favorite Music?
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Eleni Mandell, Ssion, Mikal Shapiro
Favorite Fine Artist?
Félix González-Torres
Favorite Gadget?
My multitude of camera lenses
Bookmarked Websites?
ffffound, hello monday, design observer