Peace Community: Kelly Stinziano

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My name is Kelly Stinziano and this is #MyCanada

My journey starts in a small town called Keswick, just North of Toronto. Ever since I can remember, I was always creating things – from drawings to Lego sculptures to chronic daydreaming. My gravitation towards the arts came from trying to cope when my father passed away when I was really young – creating things and daydreaming made me feel closer to him. As I grew up, my sense of creativity grew with me. In high school, I always excelled in my art and mixed media classes. I was so in tune with my artistic side that I was even asked to help design and paint a mural in my high school to represent my graduating class.

The thing about my graduating year was that I really wasn’t sure what path I wanted to take when it was time to head out and go to college. So after countless conversations with teachers, family and a few close friends, I decided that it would be best to take a year off to truly find myself. During that time, I took more art/mixed media classes, worked, and even travelled a bit. It was my communications technology teacher who told me that I had a true talent for graphic design; it was an option that I never truly considered in the past. At one point I even thought of becoming a jewelry designer/goldsmith, just like my cousin. He was nice enough to have me stay at his studio in Toronto for a few days and learn how to design and physically structure my own ring. It was a skill set that I never even knew I had. Once I finally found two things that I really enjoyed, it made my decision even more difficult. At that point I figured that I would just let the universe decide for me… So I applied to several different schools throughout Ontario for both graphic design and jewelry design, and simply left it up to fate. The crazy thing was, I ended up getting accepted into both programs.

"It’s amazing when something can start off small but end up making a huge impact on people’s lives."

In my heart I knew graphic design was the path for me. I knew I had always been drawn to the nature of it because of my true passion for skateboarding. Growing up I was always drawn to the graphics, logos, and magazine layouts that the skateboard industry had to offer. I was obsessed with redrawing my favourite logos, and flipping through the pages of Thrasher Magazine over and over again. My mild obsession with skateboarding definitely pushed me in the right direction. So I packed up all of my things with my best friend and we drove to the city to start the next chapter of our lives. Going away to college was one of the most challenging, confusing, and depressing experiences of my life, but also the most rewarding experience. After three long years of sleepless nights, trying meeting deadlines, as well as maintaining a social life, not only did I graduate from Humber College’s graphic design program, but I graduated with honours! I couldn’t have done it without the amazing people I was fortunate enough to have around me (they know who they are).

Which brings me to where I am today… For the past year, I’ve been working at So Hip It Hurts – the oldest skateboard shop in the city. I applied there on a whim while I was interning at Lowe Roche, and ended up getting hired on the spot (let’s just say it was a dream come true for my inner child). In the past year, I’ve learned more about myself than I have my whole life. It’s nice working at a place where I can interact with people who have similar outlooks. Recently, they saw some of my freelance design work for my friend’s film production company, and gave me the opportunity to design a new skateboard graphic for their shop decks. The coolest part of it all is that the graphic that I designed was a total hit! At that point, it was a dream come true for my adult self. Now that So Hip has discovered the merit in my work, we are in the process of putting out more of my graphics later this year. No, I don’t work at the biggest design agency in the city, but I have an amazing job that I couldn’t be more passionate about. It’s amazing when something can start off small but end up making a huge impact on people’s lives. I’ve always been the type of person to reach out to people in need; whether it’s giving advice, teaching someone a new skill, or even helping someone fuel their own passions. I’m most passionate about leaving an impact on someone’s life, no matter how small. For now, I am totally happy designing skateboards and helping start-up companies make their brands come to life. This is only the beginning though… Stay tuned.