Board Spotlight: Casey Kelly

Casey KellyName: Casey Kelly

Occupation: Professor / Freelance Designer / Jewelry Maker

Instagram handle: @jortsforlife / @prettyandgrit

Let’s hear about your day job. 

Where do you work, and what does your role entail?

I work at Daemen College as a tenure track Design Professor. My goal is to make students aware to as many perspectives as possible — both through design and worldly experiences —  so that they can build a kick ass body of student work, learn to problem solve and communicate through design in various media, and begin to find their voice as a designer. I am also a Freelance Designer and Consultant as time permits.

What drove you to get into the advertising/marketing biz?

I can’t sit still, I like to meet new people, and I don’t like monotony.

What do you like best about what you do?

As a designer, we have the opportunity to dig into various problems, brands, experiences, and complex businesses. Then we get to work with clients to simplify and share messages in meaningful ways. It is always changing. There’s never a dull moment.

What advice do you have for emerging talent in your field?

Ask questions. Never stop being curious. Get out there. Meet people and do as much as you possibly can to develop a diverse well of inspiration and understanding of this world. It will help you with your ideas and professional relationships.

What was your first job?

First ‘job’ was babysitting at the age of twelve. I look at twelve year olds now and wonder how the hell someone made me responsible for their kids at that age. (!) First ‘design’ job was during undergrad at Tony Walker & Company, where I cut a ton of foamcore signs (and fingers) and installed a lot of window vinyl.

When you’re not working, how do you spend your free time (hobbies, side projects, etc.)?

Cyclocross racing (look it up, you won’t be disappointed). Running. Hiking. Mountain biking. Golfing. The Bills! I also taught myself to metalsmith and launched a jewelry company that keeps me busy — pretty and grit ( And my freelance design and consulting biz ( keeps me on my toes too.

What’s one thing not many people know about you?

I worked at Crowley Webb for a short bit, and White Bicycle for seven years before getting into teaching full time. I worked a ton and met lifelong friends and mentors at both places.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate covered almonds from Lexington CoOp. Mmhmm.

What’s your favorite app or social media outlet? Why?

Instagram, because I am a visual learner and sharer. There are tons of interesting images, designers, and stories. I’ve gained inspiration and insight from following many designers, leaders, and business owners that I look up to.

Describe yourself in one word.

Free spirit. (But that’s two words, sorry.)

What’s the last thing you read?

“The Book of Secrets” by
Deepak Chopra. Hands down, best book I’ve ever read.

What’s your favorite hidden gem in WNY?

Hunter’s Creek Park. Go there for a hike with your dog, then hit 42North or some place in East Aurora on your way home. You’re welcome.

Duff’s or Anchor Bar?

Neither. Mother’s and Barbill FTW.

Now, let’s talk a little about AAF Buffalo.

Why did you join AAF Buffalo?

I enjoy the events, find the speakers insightful, and believe that AAF greatly enriches student understanding of advertising, and provides many opportunities for getting their foot in the door for an interview, an internship, or even a job.

What role(s) do you play on the AAF Buffalo board?

I am the Education committee chair and help with some of the design needs.

What’s your favorite AAF Buffalo event?

Any of the speakers. I love learning about different perspectives.

What do you enjoy most about AAF Buffalo?
The people.

How has AAF Buffalo impacted you professionally?
I won the student portfolio review when I was a student ($500 to Hyatt’s back then, which was like at least a year’s budget of Raemen and food). I got my first internship through meeting people at AAF Buffalo and the student portfolio review (then Brainstorm).

Have you made any life-changing connections through AAF Buffalo?

Yes. A few mentors who I have stayed in touch with over the years I met at different events.

What’s one pro tip you can share with our membership that will make their lives better or easier?

Addys… get there early, because that happy hour goes fast, and so does the alcohol.

Why would you encourage others to join AAF Buffalo?

Connections, friends, learning, growth in our skillset and field.