my work

When asked, in my first graphic design class, to create an identity and advertisement for a fictional greeting card company (named “Regards!”) I sketched out several ideas that seemed to have potential. I chose to develop the winged card because it felt both fresh and classic and I liked the suggestion that a card can carry genuine sentiments across any distance. Working in Illustrator for the first time, I tried to give the final logo the look of an ink drawing, as a reminder of how special a handwritten card can be, while making it charming and uplifting as a good card. With my ad, I reached out to a younger audience with the potential to slip away from greeting card companies.

As an example of the innovative merchandise Merchluv aims to encourage, the start-up’s founder asked me to design a belt in homage to the Decemberists, using intellectual property from the band’s albums. An actual belt would then be created by artisan Jon Wye and used as a recruitment tool. One of my greatest challenges was working with a canvas 1.5 inches tall and nearly 50 inches long. I also earnestly wanted to create an artwork in its own right that the band could be proud of. I decided that, to make something special, I should embrace the “beltness” of the belt, so I chose lyrics from a favorite song that seemed playfully appropriate and planned to position the words to fall across the wearer’s back (and between belt loops). I then gathered imagery from several albums (illustrated by Carson Ellis) into an original scene, drawing new banners, letters, waves and knives as faithfully as I could in Ellis’ style and striving to capture the overall tone of her and the Decemberists’ work. To ensure that the whole image was cohesive, I hand painted everything myself, finally stitching the design together in Photoshop. You can scroll through my entire creation here.
(Thank you to Merchluv for the photo of the finished belt.)

The goal of this exercise, for a class I took on composition, was to create a balanced, appealing design using related geometric shapes. I decided that asterisks would be a fun subject and raided my font collection. I kept the piece festive without letting it descend into chaos by using a wide variety of colors, sizes and shapes while maintaining careful alignments between the elements. The result was successful enough that my sister asked if she could have it printed on her credit card.

I believe that the best designs are rooted in a solid concept. When I started at Merchluv, I asked for and received permission to work on a new logo, seeing the existing version as cute, but only superficially meaningful. Because Merchluv is not truly in the business of selling handmade merchandise, but instead fosters connections between artisans and musicians (and their fans), I used the company’s name to connect an audio jack and sewing needle. The project gave me a chance to practice my Illustrator skills, as I hand-drew the jack and needle from a variety of sources and simulated a curling wire by hand-twisting each curve of the word. My efforts were initially met with enthusiasm, but a shift in management put my project on hold. If I were to resume work on this logo, I would try closely modeling all the letters after the spring-like coil of certain audio wires, making them bolder and more uniform.

This t-shirt graphic was one in a long line of projects I undertook at school or work years before attempting to make a living as a designer. Each spring, the theater department at UC Santa Cruz puts on a student festival. The first year I participated, the theme was “Big Joe’s Delicatessen.” (“Big Joe” was a suspendered overseer of all things technical in the theaters.) The organizers were hoping for a retro look. Armed with this information, a library book on mid-century advertising, my rather quirky sense of humor, some felt-tip pens and my dorm room mirror (to get the hand right) I created this illustration. It was thrilling to see people buying and wearing the shirts.

This illustration is not my own. I discovered it in a manual of taxidermy from 1884 while scouring Project Gutenberg’s collection of books in the public domain. When I removed the specimen’s wooden base in Photoshop, an arresting technical drawing became something more mysterious and poetic. I thought this fierce, graceful, intricately bound creature would make a perfect cover for The Surgical Staff’s debut CD. The posed bird suits songs that resurrect moments from the past, and I was especially pleased by how subtly it seemed to complement both the band’s name and the title I had suggested for the album.
(Thank you to steffen.larsen for making the background texture available on flickr.)

I’ve always loved to play with color. This final project for a class I took on the subject required applying traditional color relationships (analogous, complementary, double split complementary) to an image of our choosing. I used the opportunity to recreate a design from Meyer’s Handbook of Ornament in Illustrator. Then, wanting to keep things interesting, I tweaked subsequent medallions to suggest that the stylized plants were growing. Above all, the class taught me that desaturated colors can add a great deal of depth to a palette.

I’m well-versed in a variety of crafting techniques and would love more chances to incorporate this type of work into design projects. I embroidered this “5” for a website asset that needed to look elaborate and hand-crafted.
You can see some of my knitting here.
(Thank you to Erik Hansen for the photo.)

This is my favorite version of the logo I worked on for San Francisco band Middle Maki. Band member Elizabeth Maki is delightfully articulate, and she explained to me that the band is interested in nostalgia, whether for childhood or for centuries past. She also provided me with a pencil sketch that showed the band’s name written as one word, in lowercase cursive, with a long “k,” framed by two dots; it was my job to create a refined version in Illustrator. The logo shown here looks nothing like Elizabeth’s handwriting, but I love it for its bold quirkiness. To me, the strokes resemble both a message carved in wood and a magic marker drawing. Because the band formed around a set of (very different) fraternal twins, I find the mis-matched “d’s” especially charming.

This personal project is a good example of my artistic roots. With thoughts of working as a natural illustrator, I spent years honing a highly detailed style. This piece is sometimes dismissed as a Photoshop job, but I created it entirely with paint and pencil on paper before putting it through the scanner. It was an experiment in making photorealism more artistic, in combining different styles of drawing and in capturing a particular emotion.
The image at the top of this site is also a pencil drawing that I scanned, wanting my portfolio to feel as personal and hand-wrought as is possible in a browser window, while showcasing the mechanical pencil that helps me start so many projects.

Laurence Hansen, the man behind, came to me with a logo concept for the new personal development site. Seven colored beams of light, forming a star, would represent seven arenas for growth. Where the beams converged, the brilliant white center would symbolize a life in balance. I only offered that the center should be a circle, to enhance the impression of wholeness. Creating this logo was, for me, a good exercise in precise geometry and a chance to play with subtle effects to add depth. I also took great care in selecting the colors, trying to spread them evenly across the spectrum while keeping the logo more engaging than your standard box of Crayolas.

about me

My name is Keli Patricia Robertson Hansen. Growing up an hour south of San Francisco, I was the kid who designed the soccer team banner, the 8th grade graduation program, the sophomore class shirt and posters for the school play.
I have been slowly making my way up the West Coast for over a decade now, taking art, biology and theater classes at UC Santa Cruz, selling organic produce out of an old red church in Mendocino, CA and then earning a degree in art history from Humboldt State.
A few years ago I made a brief detour to New York City, where I fell in love with the subway system and learned that I did not want a Master’s in biology after all. Returning home, I decided it was time to try forging a career out of what comes naturally to me – making ideas visible. I took classes in graphic design for a year, taught myself to code web pages, took on freelance projects and worked for a startup in San Francisco. I also found the world’s greatest boyfriend husband (he’s a great developer, too) and we soon decided to join my sister in Portland, OR.
In Portland I convinced communication design firm XPLANE to hire me as an intern. I contributed illustrations to projects for companies like Intel and Oracle and served as Designer on a project just 6 weeks into my internship. The creative director of XPLANE’s Portland office called me “a great talent” with “a wonderful intellect.”
I currently spend most of my time selling yarn at Knit Purl. However, if you have a flexible timeline and a project that involves logo design, custom lettering, imagery from the natural world or materials that were around long before Adobe Illustrator, we should chat. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to see more of my work, ask me anything or get together to drink tea and knit.
Thanks for visiting!