Mark Smith

The journey of a creative is never a straightforward path, and Mark Smith knows this well. As the head of design of Studio Mark Smith, he’s went from designing t-shirts and textiles in NYC for urban apparel brands like Avirex to studying design at Auburn University to serving as the head of idea and innovation for iconic luxury brand Swarovski. Whoa!

Mark and I talked about his current project — a collection of jewelry — and he spoke about his time working in Austria and Denmark. We also discussed his time at Pratt Institute in the 1990s and how that brought him to southern Alabama and the creation of DesignSeed, a project to help leverage local resources to create design-based startups. Mark also spoke about redefining the concept of luxury in our current pandemic times, the challenges of designing for an international audience, and what success looks like for him now at this stage of his career. From the country to Copenhagen, Mark Smith is a true design visionary!

Dana James Mwangi

Dana James Mwangi has really helped put Memphis, TN on the map when it comes to design and the creative community. As a web and branding consultant, Dana helps companies and creative entrepreneurs reach the next level of their business through her agency, Cheers Creative. But as you’ll hear in our interview, Dana is all about striving for excellence while also knowing your value and taking care of yourself.

We talked about how she started Cheers Creative, and walked me through her process for beginning new projects. She also shared some great tips for entrepreneurs on pricing and business, including how she’s kept business booming through the pandemic. Dana also reflected on her early career, spoke on how she built up her confidence as a businesswoman, and spoke on what she wants to do in the next five years. Dana James Mwangi — remember that name, because you’ll definitely hear more about her in the future!

Camille Selvon Abrahams

Camille Selvon Abrahams is a trailblazer in the animation industry. Not only did she co-found the first outsourcing animation studio in the Caribbean — Full Circle Animation Studio — but she also heads up animation studies at the University of Trinidad and Tobago and is the founding director of the Animae Caribe Animation Festival! And she’s still making history!

We had a pretty wide ranging conversation, and talked about her creative process, networking with other Black animators in the industry, the power of the African diaspora, and how she uses of storytelling to help with her work as a digital activist. According to Camille, we don’t need to ask permission to tell our stories, and I couldn’t agree more. Learn more about Camille and tap into your inner creative!

Darold Pinnock

2020 has been a year full of difficult changes for a lot of people, but Darold Pinnock has managed to navigate this difficult time pretty well! Aside from his work as a brand designer for Georgia-based agency M&R Marketing, he’s also interviewed creatives and artists from all over the world through his podcast Passion Behind The Art.

We talked about the changes and challenges with working in person in the office during COVID-19, and he shared how his love of architecture led him into creating his own studio, as well as how starting his podcast helped him get clients. Darold also discussed how his faith and family help motivate him, spoke about growing up in Jamaica, and gave some great advice on how we can all help build a more equitable future. Take these words of wisdom from Darold and go after your dreams!

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Scissor is a small but fruitful graphic design studio based in Ojai, California. We love our work, we sweat the details, and we like to think it shows. Check out their work at studioscissor.com.

Ray Billingsley

If you live in the United States and have read the funny pages any time within the past 30 years, then you already know about the work from this week’s guest. Ray Billingsley is the creator of Curtis, the daily comic that follows the life and times of a precocious 11-year-old Black boy, his family, and his classmates. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to share this conversation with a cartoon legend.

Ray gave an introduction to the Curtis comic universe, and talked about growing up in North Carolina and New York as a youth, attending SVA and working for Disney, and how he got his first national comic before beginning work on Curtis. Ray also shared his thoughts on new Black comic artists, discussed the value of peer mentorship, and spoke about what’s in the future for him and the strip. Ray’s diligence and steadfast commitment to his body of work is something every creative should take to heart, and I hope his story inspires you to pick up the baton and keep running that race!