Inglewood Power Couple: Kali Nikitas and Rich Shelton
Spend any amount of time with Rich Shelton and Kali Nikitas, and you’ll immediately wish they were your neighbors, best friends, and parents, all at once.
The creative couple met at Cal Arts during grad school, and currently work at OTIS as Director of Creative Action and MFA Graphic Design Department + Communication Arts Chair, respectively. But the pièce de résistance of this dynamic duo is not their creative accomplishments, nor their adorable pups Ravi and Luck Scout, nor the fact that they live in a Rudolf M. Schindler home (a residential gem found via Craigslist. Talk about score of the century!). Rather, it’s their warm hospitality and passionate spirit that inspires each other, and consequently everyone they meet, that makes them truly unique and unforgettable – both as a couple, and partners in their professions.
There are definitely perks to working together in creative industries. “We work with each other to think through problems and ideas,” says Rich. “In the past we’ve done a lot of collective, collaborative work together under the name of Graphic Design For Love (+$), which is Kali’s studio.”
When sharing about joint projects like their Oslo exhibition “Soul Design” (1999) and “Moveable Feast” (2004), it’s clear that their creative skills are not only complementary, but a source of pride and appreciation for each other.
“Rich was able to bring a mindfulness of the [“Soul Design”] exhibition and the environment,” Kali gushes. “I would give him full credit for the success of the experience, of walking into the show, the light, everything. His talent in the area made a big difference.”
The admiration is mutual, of course, and Rich can’t help but attribute his own accomplishments to his better half. “Kali has a presence about herself, so whenever we go out people are always attracted to us and it’s mainly because of Kali. She’s quite ambitious and always keeps me ambitious also.”
Collaboration is part and parcel of their daily lives, and “a lot of our thinking about ourselves as artists and designers is curating experiences and relationship building,” Kali remarks. “What we both do is meeting people and figuring out how they can get their talents out into the world, or who should they meet, or how can they serve Otis, or how Otis can serve them. And also that translates into friendships, and we love hosting visiting artists.”
Their Schindler home has become their ultimate joint endeavor, and an incredible vessel for shared work. From hosting readings and fundraisers, to organizing retreats, they’ve turned their residence into a way of celebrating creatives and the city itself.
“We’re always trying to invite people in here and get others to move here, and part of it’s because we love it so much.” Rich says of Inglewood. “It hasn’t been gentrified or discovered in a lot of ways, so there’s a lot of interesting little pockets. We love to drive around and look at little areas that we didn’t know about. I just love the people, it’s been one of the friendliest neighborhoods I’ve ever lived in.”
Kali continues, “It’ll be interesting to see how it grows and develops, because I know there’s a real mindfulness from everybody to not be traditional in gentrification, but grow in a mindful way – reenergize, rejuvenate, empower the existing communities. […] One of the things that I love to do is to get a cup of coffee early in the morning on my to Otis, and go the long way down La Brea. You can’t help but feel the pulse and history of Inglewood, and it makes me feel that for the first time, I’m actually at a place which has a rich history and is going somewhere, and we will be here to see it.”
Photo credit: Christine Kim for Hollywood Park Life