The official NC State tartan was designed by Kelly when she was a graduate student.

Kathleen Kelly ‘14 was in her first semester of graduate school at the College of Textiles when she designed the winning entry in NC State’s Pack Plaid contest. Her design, a sophisticated pattern in black, dark gray, red and white, is now listed as the “North Carolina State University — Pack Plaid” in the Scottish Registry of Deeds, the official Scottish register of tartans.

Kelly started taking art classes when she was 4 years old, and made her artistic debut by “improving” upon a work by her grandfather, a painter. He stepped out of the studio for a moment, and while he was gone, she drew all over the unattended painting. The next year, her mother gifted her with her own supplies, including a Crayola fashion design kit; she spent hours creating, drawing motifs on the stenciled clothes.

“I loved it so much,” she said. “But the funny thing was, it wasn’t like I wanted to be a fashion designer. Instead, I wanted to draw the designs on the fabric on the girls’ outfits.”

The Raleigh native earned her bachelor of arts in graphic design from Meredith College in 2007 and then worked as a graphic designer and second shooter for a local photographer. In 2013, she enrolled in the College of Textiles to chase her childhood dream of textile design.

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Originally published October 27, 2017. Written by Cameron Walker.


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