Annie Smith is a graphic designer based in Brooklyn, New York and the subject of today's Feature Friday. A recent graduate from SVA (School of Visual Arts), Annie’s personal work focuses on vulnerability while her professional work currently focuses on branding and packaging.
Jayda B. - For those who don't know, tell us who you are and what you do.
Annie Smith - My name is Annie Smith and I am an Art Director at Circus Maximus. I live in Brooklyn, New York and I’m originally from Colorado.
J - What draws you to art?
A - I've always been a creative person and as a kid I always wanted to paint and draw and fulfill a role of being an artist. My aunt introduced me to art pretty early on, I think she saw my curiosity for it. She's the reason why I decided to move to New York, because she lived here. She was the Interior Design department chair at the School of Visual Arts. She really led my path to art school and me eventually becoming a creative.
J - Upon graduating, what were you looking for on your journey to becoming a working and creative professional?
A - I was honestly following the money. If I could have it my way, I would be a starving artist and explore different mediums but now that's not really possible living in an expensive city. I chose the route of graphic design because the curriculum felt more experimental and we could play with different mediums like video, risograph and screenprinting, but it didn’t really set me up for the real world. I learned pretty quickly that advertising could be the most substantial for me.
J - Do you feel what you learned in art school is relevant today, especially with the current climate?
A - We dabbled in political projects and I think being in a liberal school, that dialogue was opened more often than most but it didn't really set me up for what was to come outside. In terms of the BLM movement, it hasn’t felt right for me to showcase my work because if it’s about the movement it feels performative and if it’s not, that feels insensitive. I want to spend my time, learning and listening, as a white woman. I do see how graphic design plays a huge role in the movement and i think it's great for people who are doing these graphics but I’m spending that time now researching and learning what I can.
J - How do you think you can be an ally?
A - It's a tough question for sure for a lot of white people and those in creative fields. For now, I think it's great to offer up services to POC’s and just do what I can to open up the conversation more.
J - Do you feel, in your experience, that agencies in general make room for this?
A - I do wish clients would push these messages more but that's really within their own business to figure out. But maybe agencies also do play a role within that as being who they hire.
J - How do you foresee the future of working as a creative in the time of Corona?
A - I don’t - I have no idea what's to come. I think 2020 has proven that you cannot control the future, you don't know what's going to happen and that's why you should always do your best. It's been a transformative year for a lot of people. I don't know what direction or what's going to happen with design or my career. I see that advertising is still an important thing that businesses need during times like these. But, we don't know yet - we might have to change the way we live forever. Working from home and having zoom calls - it's strange and feels like we’ve entered a new world, but this might be permanent.
J - Has working from home hindered your creative process?
A - I would say it has - Going places day to day makes me feel more “human” because I'm having more human interactions throughout the day. In my normal routine I would go to see my barista for example and now I don't do that. I make coffee at home, I cook at home, I do everything at home. Before, especially in New York, you never know what you’re going to see and living in New York, there's always something that inspires your creativity. Now it's scrolling on social media constantly. Everything is on the screen.
J - What do you feel your mission or role is in design?
A - Being completely honest and vulnerable through my personal work is really important to me. Those are the executions that I remember the most even from other creatives. I think vulnerability reaches a lot of people and helps people that you wouldn't expect.
J - What's something you wish you could have told yourself two years ago?
A - Say what's on your mind and not to care about people judging you. Be transparent and good projects can blossom from small ideas - Have fun and try to find the joy in everything.