Watch Tanyka Renee Teach Intro to Canva

New to Canva? Learn how to bring your ideas to life with the easy-to-use visual communication tool for everyone from pilot, explorer, and content maven Tanyka Renee—joined by Canva Art Director Catie Takimoto.

“Your creativity is special. Dive into it!”

— Tanyka Renee, Pilot, Explorer, and Content Maven

In this class, you’ll discover how to use the Canva editor and find all the graphics, videos, and elements you need to design in one place. You’ll also get expert tips and insights to start designing your social content, presentations, videos, and more with Canva.

Tanyka has worked as a health and fitness journalist, Playboy model, former pro-athlete, author, and pilot, as well as the founder of D2B Holistic, a holistic nutritional service designed to create balance from the inside out. Most recently, she traveled to more than 100 countries aiming to create space for people to heal through teaching others about self-love in a “true to self” lifestyle. 

“When I tell you it’s easy, it’s easy.”

— Tanyka Renee, Pilot, Explorer, and Content Maven

Note: The promo code for 6 months FREE of Canva Pro featured during this class expires March 2023, so create your account here to take advantage!

Watch Rachel Motley Teach Designing with Canva

Learn how to use Canva for professional design work from Rachel Motley, a multidisciplinary artist who has worked for Nike and the NBA—joined by Canva Creative Industries Lead Andrew Johnstone. 

“I want to deconstruct the stigma that Canva is only for beginners.”

Rachel Motley, Multidisciplinary Artist

This class showcases how you can use Canva to set up templates, collaborate with clients, and organize all of your design projects in one place. 

While Motley specializes in digital illustration, her practices additionally include garment customization, graphic design, painting, product design and creative direction. She has worked with global brands like Coach, where she custom-painted a jacket for Michael B. Jordan, as well as the New York Knicks, ESPN, Nike, the NBA, MACRO, Kyrie 11, and others.

“I use Canva for everything.”

Rachel Motley, Multidisciplinary Artist


Note: The promo code for 6 months FREE of Canva Pro featured during this class expires March 2023, so create your account here to take advantage!

Watch Jackie Gebel Teach Canva for Video

Get tips to easily create dynamic videos with Canva from Jackie Gebel, culinary explorer and content creator—joined by Canva’s Creative Lead for Video, Max Nolan.

“Having high-quality videos will elevate your brand and help you reach new people.”

Jackie Gebel, Video Editor and Content Creator

Video is an essential creative tool when it comes to social storytelling and promoting your brand. In this class, you’ll learn how to use Canva’s easy-to-use video features, including a user-friendly timeline, preset animations, and an extensive library of video and audio. 

Jackie Gebel has built a dynamic career ideating powerful, strategic, and inspiring narratives with clients like Food Network, Zagat, Eater, Absolut Vodka, Samsung, and more. Growing up with a Latinx and Jewish background, Jackie has leveraged her authentic desire to learn about cultures through experiences and cuisines and cultivated a die-hard fan base around the world. Her mission is to form connections wherever she goes through both a culinary and creative lens. 

“I like to use templates to keep my videos consistent…it makes everything look so professional.”

Jackie Gebel, Video Editor and Content Creator


Note: The promo code for 6 months FREE of Canva Pro featured during this class expires March 2023, so create your account here to take advantage!

Watch Hannah Harris Teach Growing Your Business with Canva

Learn how to collaborate with clients and set up your business for success from Hannah Harris, marketer, creator, and speaker—joined by Canva Design Educator Katy Hearne-Church.

“Branding is extremely important…you want to make sure you are staying consistent in all of your touchpoints.”

Hannah Harris, Content Creator, Speaker, and Marketing Consultant

With Canva, you can collaborate with anyone from anywhere. In this class, you’ll discover how Canva can support your growing creative business with brand kits and controls, easy asset sharing, and more. Explore Canva’s unique solutions—whether you’re using it for your own brand or working closely with clients on a project. In this class, you’ll learn how to harness Canva to streamline and grow your business.

Hannah Harris works at the intersection of beauty, culture, and community as the founder of Brown Girl Hands, an inclusive content studio working to diversify imagery in the beauty industry and beyond. She also serves on the Equity Committee for the Fashion Scholarship Fund, the organization that oversees Virgil Abloh’s “Post-Modern” Scholarship. 

“A lot of time as creatives, we like to avoid the business side… but with Canva we get the things that we like the least done faster.””

Hannah Harris, Content Creator, Speaker, and Marketing Consultant

Note: The promo code for 6 months FREE of Canva Pro featured during this class expires March 2023, so create your account here to take advantage!

The next time you enter a bookstore, multidisciplinary artist Rachelle Baker is hoping that you judge a book by its cover.

From Detroit, MI, Baker’s multidisciplinary skills range from relief printing (screenprinting, linoleum, and woodcutting) to illustration, comic art, video art, and music. Her creative inspirations are derived from women in turn-of-the-21st-century R&B music videos, the sound of yawning cats, and Shoujo manga.

While Baker has been drawing for over 27 years, the Capricorn (with a Scorpio moon) is no stranger to experimenting with new creative ventures. In the past four years, Baker has excelled in one of her latest niches: book cover illustration. Her artistry adorns fiction and nonfiction covers including “Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and the Black American Dream” by Blair Imani from Ten Speed Press, “Shirley Chisholm is a Verb” by Veronica Chambers from Dial Books/Penguin Random House, and “Stamped (for Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Ibram X Kendi and Jason Reynolds from Little, Brown Young Readers.

Other creative collaborations have included publications and media houses like The New York Times, National Geographic, Variety Magazine, Complex Magazine, MTV, and Playboy. Yet Baker doesn’t exclusively work within the media world; notable clients include NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Ulta Beauty.

You can check out more of Baker’s work here on Creatively and @hellocreatively on Instagram.

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Meet illustrator, Rachelle Baker

What is the first creative project you remember?

I drew a “Frog and Toad Together” comic in my second-grade class for a project. It was the first time I remember being fully invested and consumed by my creativity as a child.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Dreamy. Musical. Hopeful.

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Intentions

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

Working on “Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb” with Veronica Chambers was amazing. It was my first job working on a children’s book, so I went wild with colors and a different art style. I illustrated the life and story of such an incredible icon. I also drew my niece into one of the illustrations, so it was fun seeing her face when she opened the book for the first time and recognized herself.

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Shirley Chisholm Is A Verb

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

All of my creative projects teach me to value my time and talent more. The more fun and freedom I can have, the more I love the finished product.

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

I think that everyone is born with creativity, but it is something that can be stunted and lost. Teaching creativity can be hard, but fostering and nurturing it within yourself and others is the best thing you can do!

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Elle Decor, March 2021

What’s the last dream you had?

I’ve been having a lot of bad dreams/nightmares lately, but the last good dream I had was a recurring one where I’m riding through the woods on the back of a giant black cat at dawn.

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Gucci Guardian

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

I just hope that people can see the beauty that I see in them translated into my work and that it inspired them to make something beautiful of their own.

Follow @rachellebaker on Creatively.

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective.

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life.

Sebastien Courty is reinventing how the art world views textile art. Fascinated by the diversity of craftsmanship that textiles offer, Courty’s work is a decorative art approach. The play of texture, material, and color allows him to reimagine textiles by using traditional crafts such as weaving, embroidery, or batik.

Beginning his practice with silks, he now works with more prestigious and unexpected elements such as banana fiber, tobacco leaf, gemstones, and 24K gold threads. More recently, Courty has adopted a thread-drawing technique, laying precious threads next to one another to create 2D visuals, as seen in his “United Women” series.

Originally from France, Courty now works from his Brooklyn-based textile art studio. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including “White Print” in Paris, “Non Washable” and “Angles in Cubism” in New York, “Unknown Empire” in Beijing and the internationally-acclaimed “Totem – A Wall’s Jewelry” in Dubai, France, and New York. Earlier this year, Courty received a CODA Award for his work “Saudi Unity,” a series of twelve totems for the US Consulate in Dhahran.

You can check out more of Courty’s work here on Creatively and @hellocreatively on Instagram.

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Meet textile artist, Sebastien Courty

What is the first creative project you remember?

The first creative project that I worked on was right after I finished art school in Paris. I was about 20 years old and organized my first “Textile Art” exhibition. Back then, I was obsessed with silk. I remember using iron and copper sheets to rust and deteriorate the fabric, burning the edges, and using concrete or plaster to shape it a certain way. I even used melted wax on painted silk to create new textures. It was messy and experimental; I loved it! Now, I work with more prestigious and unexpected elements such as banana fiber, tobacco leaf, or 24-karat gold threads. But my first desire in any of my creations is always to combine precious, elegant, and refined components with something rough, dirty, and unrefined.

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INDIA Totem, “Totem – A Wall’s Jewelry”

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Delicate, conversational, and multicultural.

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

A collaboration that was truly fulfilling was the “Gold Shirt” tribute to Nelson Mandela. Inspired by one of many batik silk shirts Mandela used to wear, I designed a shirt entirely handmade with 24-karat gold threads. From the handwoven fabric to the hand-embroidered patterns, the shirt became a mesmerizing sculpture. Honoring Nelson Mandela’s legacy and wisdom, the gold represented his tenacity, his energy, and his rarity—everything this man was to all of humanity. In collaboration with Johnathan Schultz and the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa, this shirt was in production for nearly a year.

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The Gold Shirt

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

The beauty of being an artist is that every single project teaches me something new and enables me to discover an aspect of myself I didn’t know I had. The most important thing I had to learn is that whatever project or new work of art I am working on, I shouldn’t stop or give up until it is accomplished. No matter how many doubts arise during the creative process, I need to see things through and complete the work. Only then will I have a full understanding of the work and what to do next. The series of portraits created using the thread-drawing technique is, by far, the most challenging collection of them all. This technique consists in laying precious threads next to one another to create a 2D visual. Drawing with a thread is a technique I developed recently and as easy as it may sound, it was months of dilemmas. My creations are meticulous and require much patience which is sometimes disheartening. I found out that my curiosity was stronger than my patience. The excitement that drives me to see a new artwork for the first time pushes me to finish the job and keep the productivity going.

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Lupita Nyong’o thread-drawing

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

I was definitely born with it. I have been really creative since I can remember and I am sure my mom could share a couple of fun stories. That being said creativity is one thing, mastering one’s art is another. Practice and hard work are essential to living off your creativity. I practiced, failed, practiced again, and failed again until learning from my mistake became a pleasant part of the creation process, and an essential path to success.

What’s the last dream you had?

I find it very difficult to recall my dreams. The last one I remember quite clearly was about travel. I think I had the power to teleport myself or some sort, and in the blink of an eye, I could be in any location of my choosing. I believe it started in Singapore; I was discussing with a friend about the logistics for an upcoming exhibition. I, later, seemed to be in Dubai where I was working on a large art installation for a lobby of an office building. I, then, went to Japan to purchase a large quantity of 24 karat gold and silver threads to finally ended up in Central Park eating a hotdog… go figure!

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One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

When I decided to specialize my practice in textile and fiber I wanted to challenge people’s minds. Textiles transcend the dimensions in which design encounters art in a prospective muse. My vision of textile art moves fabric-based works beyond the category of woven tapestry into a more conceptual practice that embraces strategies otherwise found in painting, sculpture, and architecture. Not limited to fibers, my work encompasses any materials that allow thread-drawing or hand-weaving methods inter alia to invent contemporary textile art.

One hundred years from now I hope people will look at my work and realize that textile has indeed its place in front of the art scene, in art galleries and art collections. More than critics from the art world and art lovers, I hope to inspire new textile and fiber artists around the world. I hope to convey a certain confidence and proof that working with textiles and fiber is recognized and appreciated as much as any other art form.

From a different point of view related to the subject of my work, I want my creations to bring a voice to communities that need to be heard and cultures that deserve to be celebrated. I want questions to be asked and answered. I want my work to open conversation and debates, but most importantly I want my work to emphasize a feeling of mutual respect and personal expression. My work is an invitation to travel and discover parts of the world one has yet to explore.

Follow @sebastiencourty on Creatively.

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective.

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life.

Call it eavesdropping or art, but artist and illustrator Colin Tom‘s “Overheard New York: Lurking Along Canal Street” series is a damning characterization of downtown NYC culture. As a cartoonist for The New Yorker, Tom embeds his acute observation of social environments and translates individual soundbites of conversations from passersby into ironic vignettes.

“Overheard New York” is but one of the several New Yorker cartoons that Tom has contributed since 2015. Illustratively, he often incorporates objects that he’s drawn repetitiously to the point of iconography, mixing and matching forms to create a punchline that is just out of reach. Tom flexes his keen observation skills to work individual human truths into broad tropes that warrant Instagram Story reshares.

Tom has participated in several fine art and design exhibitions in New York, Mexico, and Paris. He has also worked on visual branding and design for Mumford Brewery, a Los Angeles independent brewery; Bitchin’ Sauce, a family-owned and operated almond-based dip company; and Burrow, a modern furniture company.

You can check out more of Tom’s work here on Creatively and @hellocreatively on Instagram.

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Meet artist and illustrator, Colin Tom, Photographed by Chris Herity

What is the first creative project you remember?

When I was four years old, I had a magnetic drawing board on that I could draw an image and then quickly erase when I pulled the slider across the board. I would draw, erase, and repeat, like I was getting repetitions in. I drew fast and communicatively, almost like I was writing. I would gravitate toward recurring images and characters. My first distinct memory of that time was drawing a circle with a face, stick figure arms and legs, and a line across the midsection to represent pants. That was my first character.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Broadly, personal, lines.

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What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

The ongoing practice of drawing cartoons for The New Yorker is the most fulfilling collaboration I work on. There aren’t any prompts or guidance from the editors, really. I give them drawings, and they’re accepted or they aren’t. (The majority of submissions aren’t.) It’s fulfilling in the sense that what gets published is all me, and what I draw is often hyper-personal within a broader trope. I’m always honored to have these drawings included in a magazine with such accomplished writers and artists.

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What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

I did a long-form piece for The New Yorker titled “Overheard New York: Lurking Along Canal Street,” in which I was asked to sleuth around an area of New York and illustrate snippets of overheard conversation. My chosen area of Canal Street and the environments I observed were just an extension of my personal life. It’s an area I bartended in, socialized, skateboarded, and ate Chinese food in for a decade. The publication and positive response to the project reinforced the idea of creatively staying within myself. Nobody can do you as well as you, so work with what you know, even when you feel a self-constructed or external pressure to make something more than just yourself.

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Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

I think some people are born with certain compulsions that can be channeled into a creative outlet. Showing up is half the battle of any practice, and if you show up out of necessity rather than choice, you can be a prolific creative. That being said, everyone has their own perspective and can create. Even if you think you’re objectively bad at something, that can be your edge if you apply it properly. Creativity can certainly be taught and learned; it’s just a matter of whether that person is motivated to continue showing up and chipping away at it.

What’s the last dream you had?

My alarm sounds, and I wake up early to answer emails in my underwear while I’m eating breakfast. I sit at my laptop, locked in for hours, still in my underwear, and work through my most tedious obligations with militant discipline. I feel very “Wow, look at me; I’m doing this” about it. Then my alarm sounds in real life, and I’m late, and everything is overdue.

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One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

That I resonated with people. That I illuminated something in them that helped them feel something in themselves. That I look great for a centurion, and I shouldn’t take any written criticism of my work personally.

Follow @colintom on Creatively.

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective.

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life.

“Create your own reality.” Annie Bercy‘s Instagram bio doubles as her job description. The Haitian-American director, editor, and photographer is part of an era-defining wave of concept-driven visual artists that combine visual ingenuity with sociocultural commentary. Bercy often taps into her experience growing up in New York City, as well as the local underground music and fashion culture, to narrate stories shaping the current zeitgeist in music, advertising, and the arts.

Self-taught and motivated by curiosity, Bercy creates conceptual works that are simultaneously socially conscious and visually progressive. The multihyphenate is not defined by a singular aesthetic, but by energy and atmosphere. Her inspiration ranges from ‘90s high-gloss fashion films to ‘50s vignettes of showgirl glamour.

Bercy has collaborated with renowned R&B and hip-hop artists such as Cardi B, Ciara, SZA, and Tinashe. In 2021, she directed her first narrative work for Hulu’s Your Attention Please. Notable commercial clients include Gucci, Prada, MAC Cosmetics, Parkwood Entertainment, Shea Moisture, Vogue, and Jean Paul Gaultier.

You can check out more of Bercy’s work here on Creatively and @hellocreatively on Instagram.

Meet director, editor, and photographer, Annie Bercy

What is the first creative project you remember?

The first creative project I remember was creating my first music video in 2017 for a song named “Exercise” by Saint Cassius. We set up lights, hazed up an old boxing gym, and captured our talent working out in a sultry and cinematic way. My shot list was written on the spot on a crumbled piece of paper. I still think it came out pretty great.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Colorful, theatric, and dreamy.

Bernard James, Mixed Emotions

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

Working with Hulu’s production on my first short film, “Riley.” I had originally written it for a passing grade in my Thesis Screenwriting class. COVID-19 hit a semester later during Thesis Production when my classmates and I were supposed to spend shooting our thesis scripts. I was at risk of failing because my script couldn’t be shot during the pandemic. I would have to rewrite my script and shoot it in the same semester, even though it took me months to write it in the first place! Luckily, Hulu reached out to me mid-semester, inquiring if I could write a narrative for an upcoming episode of Your Attention Please.

“Amazing! I actually have a script right here!”

Through the pre-production process, I was forced to alter the script seven to eight times to adhere to COVID guidelines and restrictions but the pressure to turn the script around in a short time frame while simultaneously locking in location, schedule, art, cast, mood boards and so forth to meet a TV deadline motivated me to wake up every morning and get to it. What a challenge! I worked with an entirely new crew, had to be assertive and apply myself on a daily basis. It was a hectic shooting weekend but working with different people in the profession (from producers to art department to editors) and seeing the script pages of “Riley” come to life was such a transformative experience. It was my first long-form scripted film, and I would love to work on another short film soon.

And yes, I passed my classes with flying colors.

Hulu, Riley

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

Reviewing my work as a whole thus far, I learned that I have the ability to communicate to different people to execute one singular vision. Despite the different crews that I work with and the different things that each person on each team brings to the table, you are still able to see my “touch.” I believe there isn’t a sole genius, but a scenius, which is defined as the intelligence of a group of people. What I deliver, despite what work ties back to my identity and perspective, has touches of ideas and input from the people I surround myself with. I love that most.

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

I’m 70/30 on this one. I think that creativity is certainly something that you’re born with. Your creativity starts shining when you develop a personality as a kid. I remember always thinking outside the box growing up. I loved making things. I loved writing. I loved getting new notebooks and filling the pages with stories, journal entries and drawings as a kid. When I was in middle and high school, I would dress up with my friends from school or church and shoot portraits and videos of each other on my BlackBerry cellphone (or whichever technology was out at the time).

At the same time, if you are willing, creativity can be taught. After the “photo shoots,” I’d rush home to a photo editing website and learn how to edit all our favorite photos. I taught myself how to use Windows Movie Maker, Final Cut Pro, and a few Adobe programs such as Premiere Pro, Lightroom, After Effects, and Photoshop. The types of tools I worked with at the time didn’t matter because I envisioned a bigger picture and wanted to see it through. If I had an idea, I would push myself to learn how to make it happen. I was eager to ask questions, learn, and practice—all while having fun! Attaining newfound knowledge pushed me to think of new ideas to execute. Now, here I am today, doing what I love for a living. I’m creating art, challenging myself, and still learning more and more. I am constantly evolving. I’m really happy that I explored all of my interests growing up, because I believe you are what you are exposed to. The sky is the limit, but only if you are open!

Aimee Song for Prada FW21

What’s the last dream you had?

When I was younger, I loved playing Sims. (Sims 1, 2, 3, 4, you name it.) But I didn’t care for the families I created; my favorite part was building and designing houses. My first dream was to be an architect or interior designer. As the years went on and I fell into directing, the set design was always at the forefront. I loved transforming spaces to match the vibe of the music. I found inspiration in the little things, whether window displays, places I traveled, or photos I saw on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

I traveled to Atlantic City in the summer of 2020 and stayed at a hotel on the strip. The hotel, in my opinion, was lifeless. And yet, we were paying over $200 a night simply because it was closest to excursions and nightlife. One night I walked around the ballroom and dining areas and observed how boring they looked. I dreamt of how I would go about this hotel, given the space, then started thinking about designing my own hotel from the inside out. I decided my dream was to open up my own hotel franchise when I got older. It would be a colorful, inspiring, intricate space that took people far away from wherever they came from, even if it was down the block! I want to have an effect on people in such a way that they look at their own lives through a different lens.

I like directors and production designers that are detail-oriented and think outside the box. That’s why I love media pioneers such as Nadia Lee Cohen, Jora Frantzis, Tyler the Creator, A$AP Rocky, Kanye, Colin Tiley, Stillz, SZA, Christian Breslauer, Virgil Abloh, Dave Meyers, Hype Williams, Tanu Munio, Nigo, and Cliqua so much. They represent the caliber of focus, creativity, consistency, and detail I want to achieve in my directing career and later have that spill out into a physical place people can access and experience beyond their screens. Each person I mentioned is an expert on world-building (the creation of an entirely new fictional world). It’s so important to take people out of their element, out of their comfort zone, out of their current reality, even if it’s just for a moment. Maybe that’s why I love to travel! I forget the world I live in and embrace the new one I’m experiencing. I take it all in. The world is so much bigger than where our minds can take us. The world is so much bigger than our backyards! Time and time again, it has been proven that anything and everything a human being can imagine can exist, as long as they have the determination to see it through.

I have many dreams. I dream of constantly creating and bringing my (and other people’s) ideas to life. I dream to execute. I dream of being and showcasing myself. I dream to be in love, not only in my relationships but with my career and life. We only have one life to live. Why not make it a fantasy?

Annie Bercy for Glossier + Femme It Forward

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

It’s hard for me to answer that question; I actually think it’s too soon to say. I feel like I haven’t yet tapped into my true potential. As of right now, I want to simply inspire people that have found me and are following my career journey to follow their hearts and passions to the fullest.

Follow @AnnieBercy on Creatively.

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective.

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life.

With the Instagram moniker @portraitsJeff Vespa is quite the accomplished celebrity photographer. One quick scroll through his profile, and with the sheer number of A-listers, you may feel like you’ve wound up on Getty Images. That is no coincidence—Vespa was the co-founder of WireImage, one of the largest entertainment photo agencies in the world, and in 2007, he played a pivotal role in its acquisition by Getty Images.

To synthesize Vespa’s achievements since WireImage’s acquisition is no easy feat. In 2009, Vespa became the Editor-at-Large at LIFE.com, a role stemming from a childhood love for the magazine’s signature photography style. Then, in 2010, he partnered with Kathy Grayson to pick up where Deitch Projects left off by opening the art gallery The Hole, which recently expanded to LA. During that span, Vespa was also West Coast Special Projects Editor at Los Angeles Confidential Magazine for 7 years.

In the last decade, Vespa founded Verge.is. With a knack for identifying young talent at film festivals, the digital magazine featured actors Timothée Chalamet, John Boyega, and Olivia Cooke—all photographed by Vespa before their “big breaks.” Outside of photography, he also runs a film development and production company. He’s directed Abbie Cornish in Paris Song (Amre), David Arquette in Nosebleed, and the 2020 documentary Voices of Parkland. Recent production credits include the 2021 Netflix documentary, Chadwick Boseman: Portrait of an Artist. The multipotentialite has also produced for other photographers and fine artists including Awol Erizku and Alex Prager. Most recently, Vespa served as creative director for the 2022 Cannes Lions Award–winning short Save Ralph. He is also partner at Forward Artists and Verge Studios.

You can check out more of Vespa’s work here on Creatively and @hellocreatively on Instagram.

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Meet director and photographer, Jeff Vespa

What is the first creative project you remember?

When I was 15 (or 16) years old, I was in the punk scene in Baltimore. In my junior year of high school, I was going to leave Baltimore for boarding school in Pennsylvania. At that moment, I knew that the scene we had was something special. It was like a family we built from kids all over the city from different socio-economic backgrounds. Once I left for boarding school, I knew this magical period in my life would disappear. I knew I had to document it so I could capture the moment. So, I took my mom’s Canon AE-1 camera and took photos of all of my friends, the punk club, and the bands we were watching. Those pictures were my first true art series of photos, and I used them as my portfolio to get into college at the School of the Visual Arts in New York. I still look at those pictures today— I am so happy I took them. A few years ago, I showed my friends from Baltimore, and they freaked out because most of them had never seen the photos. They really capture the spirit and energy of our punk youth.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Truth, honesty, emotion. When you go to my website, the first thing you see is “Storytelling. Capturing emotion. Keeping it real.” So basically, the same idea.

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Jake Gyllenhaal

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

I produce, as well as direct. I find that my most fulfilling collaborations are when I am helping someone else realize their vision. I currently produce for the photographer and fine artist Awol Erizku. I recently produced a series of photographs shown at Gagosian in New York.

The most fulfilling project we did together was the TIME cover of Amanda Gorman. It was a crazy project. On the day of the inauguration, I watched her read her poem (like we all did). I immediately felt that we should make a movie about her reading the poem as a way to capture and memorialize the moment. But I didn’t know Amanda, and it would probably be impossible to get her to do a film with us.

Cut to a week later: I get a call from Awol, telling me that TIME wants him to shoot a cover of her! Blown away, I told him my idea about the film. He pitched it to Amanda, and she went for it. We did the shoot, and the film we made of her was super powerful. The issue came out, and Hilary Clinton retweeted the cover. It was one of those special moments we all work for in this business. It was definitely a career highlight.

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Amanda Gorman, TIME Magazine
Photographer, Awol Erizku; Producer, Jeff Vespa

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

My first feature film Paris Song taught me so much. I have been working on directing a feature for many years and I was fortunate to finally do that with this film. One of the main things it taught me was to persevere. I was hoping to make a feature right out of film school, probably like everyone else that goes to film school. But it took over 20 years to finally direct a feature film. I think the biggest lesson is you have to always follow your dream no matter how long it takes.

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Paris Song (2018) Directed by Jeff Vespa

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with or something you’re taught?

Well, that is a tough question. I believe you are born with creativity, but it is also environmental. The way you are raised has a huge part in nurturing your talent. You may be taught in infancy before you even realize it.

In my case, I have always felt I was born this way, but I also did some personal excavating about my childhood and pieced together a theory about my visual and aesthetic sensibility. There was a photographer that my family was friends with when we were little kids. My parents got her to do photoshoots of me and my brother when I was around one and he was around three. The photographer put together a little bound book of the images. There were also prints of those photos around the house.

A few years later, she photographed us again, and I remember her coming a few other times. I used to look at that book all the time growing up and her other photos. She was a really great photographer and made me and my brother look like we were in LIFE. I believe strongly that her photographs taught me what a photograph should look like. Later, I fell in love with LIFE and its photography style. I believe her photographs trained me to see the way she saw. Of course, my brother didn’t become an artist, so I still feel you are born this way, but your environment and the encouragement you receive make a massive difference in having that natural talent expressed.

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Emily Blunt

What was the last dream you had?

I really don’t recall my last dream. But I will say that I often come up with film ideas when I dream. Sometimes, when I’m dreaming, I feel like I am watching a film, with known actors performing. I love those dreams; I wake up and immediately write down what I saw. There is still a crazy dystopian sci-fi movie I want to make from one of my dreams.

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

When I was a child, I used to visit the Met and look at the Caravaggio paintings. I always felt that I could hear the artist speaking to me through the paintings. The ideas he was trying to get across, the emotions he was expressing, his worldview—I could feel it all. That feeling has always driven me as an artist. The idea that 100 years from now, a child will see my work and feel moved by it.

Follow @JeffVespa on Creatively.

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective.

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life.

Hispanic Heritage Month reminds our community of how ingrained Hispanic influence is in contemporary creative industries and our culture. One leader in creative entrepreneurship is Shannon Maldonado, the founder and creative director of YOWIE, the acclaimed Philadephia-based home and lifestyle shop, and soon-to-be hotel.

Maldonado, who is half-Puerto Rican, is no stranger to creative pursuits. Learning how to sew at age 10 led her to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology. After graduating with a degree in fashion design, Maldonado worked with brands like Ralph Lauren and Urban Outfitters for over twelve years. But, in 2016, Maldonado brought a new creative vision to life to satisfy her entrepreneurial spirit: YOWIE, a brick-and-mortar hub for eclectic tastes. At the intersection of Maldonado’s love for design and community building, the YOWIE brand has collaborated with Nordstrom, Fred Segal, Lisa Says Gah, CB2, and more for curated shopping experiences.

Despite her small business’s immense success, Maldonado continues to explore new ventures. This fall, her brand will expand with YOWIE Hotel: a boutique getaway featuring retail space, a studio, a cafe, and eleven curated hotel rooms. Outside of YOWIE, Maldonado engages deeply with her community of fellow small business owners as co-creator and host of Small Enough, a series that aims to celebrate the humanity behind entrepreneurship. Maldonado is also the creative director at two boutique hotels, The Deacon, in Philadelphia, and Dye House, in Olneyville, Providence, RI.

You can check out more of Maldonado’s work here on Creatively and @hellocreatively on Instagram.

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Meet Creative Director, Shannon Maldonado

What is the first creative project you remember?

The first creative project I remember is making small felt pouches that I gifted and sold to kids in my class. My mom taught me how to sew when I was around 10, and I started making these color-blocked little bags to test my skills.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Minimal, nostalgic, colorful.

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YOWIE, Philadelphia

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

My first interior design project was The Deacon in Philadelphia. I was challenged with reimagining the interiors of a historic Baptist church that was transitioning to a boutique hotel. My late grandmother was very connected to her church, and I wanted to honor the space’s origins. I wanted to highlight its many beautiful features—the original stained glass, vaulted ceilings, and gold trim—but also add modern pieces that would complement it. The Deacon has been my hardest project so far, with so many learning curves. But, three years later, it’s the one I’m most proud of. Some original members of the former congregation have even visited and shared how the space’s mission for gathering and celebrating has been captured through our design. I know, somewhere, it’s making my grandmother smile.

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The Deacon, Philadelphia

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

A recent client project completed during quarantine reminded me of how much I crave collaboration and feedback in my work. In my former life working in fashion, I worked with cross-functional partners to see our projects to the finish line. With my consulting studio, it’s mostly myself working directly with the client. Since this project happened during quarantine, there were fewer face-to-face meetings and more urgency to complete, leaving less time to brainstorm. Towards the end, I realized that creative collaboration with clients is fundamental to my process and something I will push for in every project moving forward, even if we’re in a time crunch.

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with or something you’re taught?

I think both are true. I’ve been making things since I was a child. Being creative is something my mom both passed down and encouraged in me. I also have friends who have found creativity later in life after trying their hand at other ventures.

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What’s the last dream you had?

I recently dreamed about a podcast host I listen to accidentally giving me his notebook full of jokes and story ideas. HA!

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

I hope that people find my work inspiring and thoughtful. From day one, I’ve sought to highlight and champion the work of others, and it’s something I’m very proud of! There is so much research, self-reflection, adoration for design, and discovery that goes into everything I do. I hope that continues to be prevalent and resonate with people as my practice grows and evolves.

Follow @ShannonMaldonado on Creatively.

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective.

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life.