Meet Our Team: Kate McInnes, Design Specialist

Meet Our Team: Kate McInnes, Design Specialist

Our latest Meet Our Team interview is with our Design Content Specialist, Kate McInnes. Kate has over 20 years of experience working in design across a variety of media and styles. She even wrote a book on icon design!

Read on to learn about her background as a designer, her thoughts on industry trends, and advice to Graphics Authors who are getting items rejected.

Design trends may change over time, but the best designs nail the fundamentals.

Kate McInnes Design Specialist, Envato

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Tell us a little bit about your background in design!

I’ve been a professional designer and illustrator for 20 years. In my early career, I was an in-house designer and created Windows XP icons for a small software startup.

Later, I ran my own freelance illustration business and wrote a book about icons for Envato called “Rockstar Icon Designer”. 

I’ve been immersed in software and design since the late 90s and have stayed up to date with the ever-changing trends and aesthetics of the industry (RIP Skeuomorphism and Web 2.0; long live Cyberpunk!).

Retro Cartoon Characters by graptailstudio
Retro Cartoon Characters by graptailstudio

How did you get started with Envato?

I started as a freelance writer for Vectortuts+ and became the Associate Editor shortly after. Then, I was promoted to Editor. A bit later, I moved to the content team to work with review operations and our digital catalogue. I’ve worked with Envato for 13 years, and for the past eight years, I’ve been the Content Specialist for Design. 

What do you do day to day at Envato?

My background in Multimedia, Illustration and Graphic Design is especially helpful, as I need to know the technical aspects of all the file types and associated software.

My role encompasses Envato’s 383+ design categories, 16 officially supported design apps, and 52 officially supported file types for design.

How do you keep up to date with the latest design trends?

I’ve taken a step back from style trends and focused on industry trends. Recently, my attention has been captivated by the possibilities of generative AI. There’s a lot of buzz about AI and what it means for creatives, especially in the stock industry.

I’ve been dedicating my efforts to understanding this technology, examining its positive and negative aspects, and contemplating how it will shape the industry. I’ve been working with digital art since the very early digital days, so this shift feels significant. As a design Content Specialist, there’s a lot to wrap my head around.

2024 Lunar New Year dragon by Sensvector
2024 Lunar New Year dragon by Sensvector, one of the most popular illustrations on Elements over the last few months.

Advice to Authors

What trends in the design industry do you think graphics Authors should keep an eye on? 

Throughout my years of exploring trends, it’s evident that nostalgia has been a constant presence for the last five or more years. Currently, the focus is on everything related to the Y2K era.

Nowadays, there are also micro-trends centred around specific aesthetics, such as 2020’s “Cottagecore,” which don’t necessarily follow the trajectory of traditional trends. These aesthetic micro-trends are exciting because they offer inspiration and allow people to experiment with various styles for a relatively short timeframe. In contrast, major design trends tend to evolve slowly. 

Flowers in a cup, cottage watercolor by swiejko
Cottage watercolor by swiejko
Aesthetic micro-trends [like cottagecore] are exciting because they offer inspiration and allow people to experiment with various styles for a relatively short timeframe. In contrast, major design trends tend to evolve slowly. 

Kate McInnes Design Specialist, Envato

Cottagecore watercolor collection by violettak1
Cottagecore watercolor collection by violettak1

What makes a design great?

Design trends may change over time, but the best designs nail the fundamentals. Elements like balance, color, hierarchy, and selecting appropriate fonts—even if those fonts might go out of style in the future—elevate a good design to greatness.

What advice do you have for graphics Authors who are new to Envato? How can they make sure their items are accepted?

The most common type of item rejection is for policy reasons like uploading a file to the wrong category or including a placeholder file that doesn’t have the appropriate rights. The Author Help Center has useful articles that explain these kinds of rules.

Give some examples of items or Authors that you love!

Ddraw has a fantastic, unique style and some really lovely illustrations (below).

Orange Box makes an amazing map generator that is simply astounding!

3D Map Generator by Orange_Box
3D Map Generator by Orange_Box

Icons8 is an agency that has work from a very talented range of illustrators with an impressive range of styles.

Did you enjoy getting to know Kate? Well, good news: we have plenty of Meet Our Team articles. Check them out below, and get to know more of the wonderful people at Envato!

Our graphics Authors should check out our interviews with Monie and Cynthia: both graphic reviewers.

Photo or video Authors might like to Meet Javier, our Photo & Video Review Team Lead. Motion graphics wizards should check out our chat with Tyson Frantz, a motion graphics reviewer. If web and code is more your style, you’ll find our chat with Roberto Hernández super helpful!

Meet more people from Team Envato

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