Kelly JK Spewock

Interior Design

Design Program Chair
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh

Kelly Spewock Design and Fashion Program Chair

As a Program Chair, I work with students to make sure that their portfolios represent industry expectations and highlight their individual creative strengths and personal design philosophies. Kelly Spewock , Design Program Chair , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I have always known, as long as I can remember, that I wanted to be an interior designer. In addition to professional practice, my advanced studies led me to teaching within the creative arts field. Traveling to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as a visiting professor, was the defining moment when I knew that I wanted to pursue teaching full time. Being immersed in design constantly keeps me motivated to help students develop into strong, creative, and career-ready professionals.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

I use my professional background to create studio projects that are modeled after real-life design projects. Our competency-based curriculum ensures that the projects meet learning outcomes and that projects within studio courses advance in complexity as students near graduation. As a Program Chair, I work with students to make sure that their portfolios represent industry expectations and highlight their individual creative strengths and personal design philosophies.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

On many levels, collaboration is an extremely important part of the learning process within the design programs. Students share valuable critique and feedback with each other throughout the design process. This feedback helps each designer become stronger and begin to critically think about their own designs from many different perspectives. Additionally, designers collaborate together while working on group-based projects. This helps students grow into professionals who are capable of working within a team dynamic.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Many of my students might agree that I am their biggest “Cheerleader.” Little do they know I am often pushing them beyond their comfort zone and to do things they did not have the confidence to do before. Learning how to manage time is one of the things so many students have trouble with. I talk openly with my students about staying focused on their goals and managing and balancing their time. Being in school is only temporary and working hard will ultimately pay off in the end when they land a job doing what they love.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Interior design is my passion and seeing my design students grow and evolve into professionals is one of the most rewarding experiences for me. I love my job.