Throughout Pride Month, we’re spotlighting and celebrating LGBTQIA+ creators who champion queer visibility through their creative works—including eighteen-year-old visual artist, activist, and curator, Diana Sinclair.

Sinclair’s multi-media artwork centers around themes of self-exploration, social justice, and identity. She was a YoungArts 2021 winner in photography, and has displayed work at SCOPE Miami and Art Basel. Her work has been featured in publications such as Hypebeast, Teen Vogue, and the Guardian, among other outlets.

Since entering the NFT space early last year, Sinclair’s accomplishments already include being featured in TIME Magazine, landing herself on Fortune’s “NFTy 50” list. For Juneteenth 2021, she curated “The Digital Diaspora,” an NFT exhibit and auction dedicated to celebrating the work of Black artists, with proceeds benefitting the LGBTQIA+ community and Herstory DAO, a group she cofounded to collect the works of marginalized creatives. As a young person navigating the metaverse, Sinclair believes that the next renaissance will be born out of the intersection of art and technology, and is passionate about creating work that embraces this evolution.

You can check out more of their work here on Creatively and @hellocreatively on Instagram. You can also learn more about this year’s “Digital Diaspora” event during NFT NYC next week here.

Meet visual artist, activist, and curator, Diana Sinclair.

What is the first creative project you remember?

When I was really young, my dad would task me with a “daily challenge” to draw something for him by the time he got home from work that day. I have pages and pages of these artworks—it’s a great first memory of setting out a plan to consistently create art.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Forward. Vibrant. Fluid.

Generational Healing

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

A few days ago, my friend Drifter (@driftershoots) took me exploring to photograph and document this abandoned power plant in New Orleans that’s going to be demolished soon. At the end of the trip, we decided to climb one of the two towers on the top of the building. We scaled a 300-foot ladder up the side of the tower and photographed the top and the whole way up. Surprisingly, I felt incredibly calm the entire time and it actually satiated this need to lay out a tough goal and accomplish it while being creative. We haven’t yet released the photos or videos from the trip, but it left me with the urge to keep creating and pushing new ideas.

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

“I Am the Black Gold of the Sun” is one of the very first photo series that I developed. I created it during the summer of 2020 on my very first camera, a gifted old Nikon. Learning to photograph during the pandemic posed a lot of challenges but helped me understand that there’s always a way to find a creative solution to any limitations, and it has really helped me apply that mindset to new situations. I shot that series on my own with one model in the ocean, and I had to get very creative with props, posing, directing, etc. to get the shots I wanted. All of this while still figuring out how a camera works!

Touch the Sun, I am the Black Gold of the Sun series

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

I think it can be both! Most people are born creative, I think, but then are taught to see the world in a specific way which closes them off to alternative ways of thinking and being. In my eyes, creativity can also be taught, not by teaching someone what to think, but by showing them how to open their minds to all the creative possibilities that are right in front of them. Some people need that veil of confirmative thinking lifted so that they can reach their full potential.

What’s the last dream you had?

Weirdly, even as a visual person, I don’t remember my dreams well! I have zero recollection of my last dream, ugh.

Dare I Dream in Melanin

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

As a visual artist, I think more about what artworks my art will inspire in the future. I hope to be a stepping stone and beacon of reference for other artists who look like me and share my struggles. In the future I hope to inspire films, exhibitions, music, and many other genres and forms of displaying art. There are some artists whose message and work impacts a whole generation and I plan to be one of those people.

Follow @dianasinclair on Creatively

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

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

All week long, we’ve been showcasing creative work from the Class of 2022 and featuring exciting job opportunities at top brands. In this week’s special edition of our Q&A series, we’re sharing advice from leading creative brands and visionaries on how to jumpstart your creative career with your best foot forward. 

To help graduates navigate the journey of finding meaningful creative work, we spoke to individuals in charge of recruiting, hiring, and mentoring creatives at Billy Reid, Old Navy (Gap, Inc.), Legends, Colossal Media, and Tapestry (Coach, Kate Spade New York, and Stuart Weitzman.) 

Learn more about the Creatively Class of 2022 here on Creatively and @hellocreatively on Instagram and TikTok

What key things should Class of ‘22 graduates be looking out for when starting their job search? 

“Do people stay for a while? Have they been promoted? What are the current openings they have? These days, I would also encourage a recent graduate to look beyond the traditional ‘well established’ organizations. Be open to start up companies where you might get more responsibility and wear many hats. And don’t just look at organizations in your city. Expand your search as many companies are hiring remotely.” – Diana Costescu, Director, Talent Acquisition, Tapestry (Coach, Kate Spade New York, and Stuart Weitzman)

“Your first job after college—although important, exciting, & nerve wracking—is just that: your first job. Keep in mind that your career will evolve, you will take wrong turns and right turns, you may change your mind, and if you’re diligent you will have many jobs throughout your career that each fill a specific piece of what you need and want at different points along the way. As you begin your search, just remember: it’s likely not forever so don’t feel the pressure to fulfill all your hopes and dreams in one role. There will be more.” – Nick Perrotta, Art Director, Old Navy

“Graduates should be looking for companies or job roles that align with their values and offer job growth.  It is important to do some research and find out how the company is doing financially, what does that company value, and how do they treat their employees.” – Karis Jones, VP of People and Culture, SKIMS and GOOD AMERICAN

What’s one creative project / career milestone that taught you something about yourself?

“I realized that keeping things real and personal is the best approach for me. You don’t have to make things up if it comes from that perspective. Our Levis project taught me that you never stop learning. You can have a voice, even when collaborating with something as an established brand.” – Billy Reid, Founder and Fashion Designer, Billy Reid 

“When leading the Old Navy Men’s design team, I learned that communication and collaboration is integral to growing and inspiring those around you. It is important to hear all voices and to create safe spaces for creative thinking and dialogue.” – Ali Otto, Senior Director Design, Old Navy

What’s something creative graduates can do to stand out from other candidates? 

“Present a solution before the company asks for one. There’s so much public information about companies on their social and websites. Look at what they are currently doing and come into the interview with a better solution proposed and some creative ideas to show.” – Shaina Shiwarski, Co-Founder, Legends 

“Be excited about the place you’re applying for. At this stage in the game, your enthusiasm for the role really can be the difference maker. No matter how qualified you are for a role, if you’re acting blah or aren’t able to explain what excites you about the role, the hirer will notice. You can’t teach enthusiasm!” — Michael Small, Senior Editorial Manager, Old Navy

What positive differences do you see in today’s working world from that of your parents’ generation? 

“These days you can be multidisciplinary. I have met people that graduated with a journalism degree who ended up being the head of ready to wear design at a prominent fashion brand.” – Diana Costescu, Director, Talent Acquisition, Tapestry (Coach, Kate Spade New York, and Stuart Weitzman)

“There is a paradigm shift that is happening between the employers and the employees. In our parents’ generation, the corporations held all the power. They told you where you needed to live and the process and structure you needed to follow to accomplish your financial and career goals. Now the power is shifting to the individuals. With the increase in remote and digital work – you have the power to decide where you live, what job(s) you want to explore and the values that are important to you within an organization. Access to freelance opportunities, like one’s provided through Creatively, also empower hybrid work environments where you can explore different projects with different companies and create your own brand.” – Shaina Shiwarski, Co-Founder, Legends 

“We have seen a trend in flexible work schedules and more regard for employee mental  health. This is very positive for employees overall, but also offers more options for working parents, people with disabilities, and candidates living in rural areas.  We have also seen support for BIPOC employees with the passing of laws like the Crown Act and businesses offering company wide training on bias and anti-racism.” – Karis Jones, VP of People and Culture, SKIMS and GOOD AMERICAN

What’s the best piece of advice you’d like to share with  the Creatively Class?

“At the onset of a creative career it is important to remember that you have a voice—and yes you will use that voice to build a portfolio, create a professional network and exceed client expectations—you will also use your voice to create change. Change the practice, change the aesthetics, change the landscape, change the industry. My best advice to accomplish this is stay attentive. You can learn something new from everyone you interact with on a professional level so learn to pay attention early, this will prove invaluable.” – John Samels, Creative Director at Colossal Media 

“Be true to yourself and trust your instincts. When you feel aligned with what you are doing the magic happens!” – Stephanie Daniel, Co-Founder and CEO, Legends

“The worst advice is also the best — it’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen. Sometimes, when you’re looking for a job, it can feel like it’s just never going to work out. You’ll get rejections, or ghosted by recruiters and it’ll all feel hopeless. And someone will tell you, “Hang in there, it’ll happen!” And inside you’ll die a little and probably hate them for giving you such empty advice. But what sucks is that they’re right! Something will happen. It’s the crappiest part of this whole deal — you’ll do everything right and sometimes it won’t matter. You’ll hear crickets. And when it feels the most hopeless and you’re ready to say screw this, you’ll get an email asking if you’re free to interview and just like that, you’ll have a job. You just had to wait.”— Michael Small, Senior Editorial Manager, Old Navy

Explore All CC’22 Jobs Here

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

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

This Pride Month, we’re spotlighting and celebrating LGBTQIA+ creators who champion queer visibility through their creative works—including Crystal Anderson and Lakiesha Herman who spearhead the Clio Award-winning experiential house, a very good job

Founded by the power couple in 2020, “a very good job” is an advertising house focused on film, television, music, and fashion. Initially establishing themselves as an events company, the co-founders quickly pivoted to premium gifting experiences for major film and TV launches, and have since worked with networks such as Showtime, STARZ, HBO Max, Netflix, and Amazon Studios to help brands and studios tell their stories.

Herman is a designer and digital strategist whose work has spanned the advertising and music industries. Most notably, she has worked at ad agencies BBDO and Translation, and at Columbia Records, playing an integral part in projects for companies and musical artists like State Farm, FedEx, Solange, and John Legend. Anderson, who adds her hands-on expertise to the picture, attended Howard University and has experience spearheading production on some of the most popular experiential events like Tough Mudder, the Museum of Ice Cream, and 29Rooms. Together, these two fierce leaders use their platform to destigmatize conversations around mental health and promote narratives of what it means to navigate the world as Black queer women.

You can check out more of their work here on Creatively and @hellocreatively on Instagram. 

Meet Crystal Anderson and Lakiesha Herman of a very good job.

What is the first creative project you remember? 

We produced our first live event together in March 2020 while we were both still employed at our nine-to-fives— we immediately knew we wanted to make this our full-time job.

Hillman Grad Homecoming, March 2020

Describe your aesthetic in three words. 

Weird. Wonderful. Wild.

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

Our work on Blindspotting with Starz was our most fulfilling project. We took a chance and went super conceptual and the project came out so cool!  We ended up winning the biggest award of our careers with that project.

STARZ: “Blindspotting” influencer mailers — Recipient of Clio Award for “Best TV/Streaming Press Kits” (Bronze)

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

What a tricky question! I genuinely have taken so many learnings from each project. I had never worked in the agency world before creating a very good job, so I’ve become an intern and a founder and head of creative at the same time! -Crystal

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

I believe creativity evolves as long as you allow yourself to be weird and throw ideas out. I genuinely think we have to let kids be wild without borders. Those kids become the creative geniuses. —Crystal

I think everyone is born creative, but rarely do people survive past childhood and still believe in it. Either through art scars or institutionalization, it’s lost, and that’s a great shame. We’ve missed out on so many geniuses. —Kiesh

What’s a dream collaboration or project you’ve always wanted to do

Our dream project is to produce the Academy Awards gifting suite! It’s been on our radar for so long and is a dream collaboration!

HBO Max: “And Just Like That” influencer mailers

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

I want people to talk about how we made space for other Black Queer people. We want to be remembered as people who disrupted the ad world and forged a new space for other people to walk. We want young folks to walk by the house we used to live in and say, “that’s where Crystal and Kiesh made a very good job.” 

Follow @averygoodjob on Creatively

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

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

In partnership with Creatively, IMPACT’s immediate focus is to create opportunities for Black and Brown creatives and adjacent professionals in the form of jobs and internships, but we know that fostering a more equitable and diverse fashion community starts with understanding how to promote advancement on a daily basis.

We talked to one of our IMPACT brand partners, award-winning designer Billy Reid, about inclusivity, creativity, and starting a career in fashion. 

What’s a common misconception about launching a career in fashion? 

A career in fashion is so much more than just designing great clothing. The industry is a multifaceted and multi logistical endeavor that touches on so many parts of a business from creation, marketing, distribution, inventory management, sales, retail, wholesale, direct to consumer, and so on. There are so many career avenues within the industry to explore.

Name three qualities you look for in a creative job candidate at Billy Reid 

Attitude, work ethic, and being a good person.

What unique position does Billy Reid hold in furthering IMPACT’s goal of creating a more diverse and equitable fashion industry? 

I would first say sharing our involvement and building awareness of our support for CFDA IMPACT. As a supporter and being actively engaged, it’s important we also influence our peers in the fashion industry to get involved in furthering IMPACT’s mission. 

Additionally, it’s also about ensuring we share our opportunities equitably but also be proactive in leveraging our experience to be mentors, developing an equitable pipeline of talent, and constantly exploring ways to authentically connect.

How does fashion influence the conversation around race? 

Fashion has the ability like art, music, and food to bring people together, find common ground, have a conversation, and educate. As designers, we present collections in a way that tells a story. We have the ability and the responsibility to decide who and how we include people to share that vision and tell that story. 

IMPACT is a CFDA developed initiative to identify, connect, support, and nurture Black and Brown creatives and professionals in fashion.

See more jobs from Billy Reid and our IMPACT partners here!

This AAPI Heritage Month (APAHM), we’re proud to be placing creative leaders of Asian and Pacific Islander descent at the forefront of our community channels. Today, we invite you to meet Khyati Trehan, an Indian graphic designer and visual artist based in New Delhi. 

Khyati Trehan specializes in playful 3D renderings, rooting her work in texture, emotion, and copious amounts of research. Trehan is an independent graphic designer and 3D visual artist who cuts across many disciplines. Trehan believes that all things both physical and digital are connected through invisible strings, and her job as a designer is to discover those threads, drawing out such connections that may otherwise go unseen.

Trehan’s expertise has led her to create work for the Oscars, New York Times, New Yorker Magazine, Apple, Adobe, Absolut, Deepmind, Instagram, and Snapchat. In 2017, she was recognized by Print Magazine’s 15 New Visual Artists Under 30, was chosen as the Artistry Creator of the Year at Adweek’s Creator Visionary Awards, and won the ADC Young Guns 19. If that weren’t enough, she made it onto the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in India. 

You can check out more of their work here on Creatively and @hellocreatively on Instagram. 

Meet Indian graphic designer and visual artist, Khyati Trehan.

What is the first creative project you remember? 

My sister and I remixed a nursery rhyme into a very very bad pop song. It was from the series Poldy and friends, a group made of a scarecrow and three birds, which is hilarious in retrospect. I still remember my rap bit in it.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Emotive, playful, optimistic.

New York Times, Sunday Review Cover

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

Having worked in several companies, it always felt like I had to make a choice: either I’d be doing high level, strategic, discovery-rich, research-heavy work, or I’d live in the granular world, carefully crafting the details. I found the sweet spot in collaborating with Karin Fyhrie and her design collective, Sovereign Objects. The work spans from strategy, building brands, and image-making to expanding beyond marketing, logos, and worldbuilding missions. 

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

My college classroom project “The Beauty of Scientific Diagrams” taught me that ideas are really about discovering patterns and finding relationships between seemingly unrelated things; as if every object, person, and concept on the planet is connected by invisible strings. My job as a designer is to do detective work and hunt for the string. Since this project, my design practice has been a lot about drawing parallels and hunting for invisible connections that others don’t see until you show them.

The Beauty of Scientific Diagrams

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

Definitely taught. I believe every trait is conditional. Creativity is a habit, it’s something that can be practiced, requires an open mindset, and takes a lot of work.

What’s the last dream you had?

I swear I remembered it this morning but it’s vanished now. So annoying when that happens!

2 of Hearts

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

I hope people say my work makes them feel something, communicates more than words ever could, and lingers in people’s minds long after their eyes have moved elsewhere.

Follow @khyatitrehan on Creatively

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

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

This AAPI Heritage Month (APAHM), we’re proud to be placing creative leaders of Asian and Pacific Islander descent at the forefront of our community channels. Today, we invite you to meet Shomi Patwary, a Bengali-American director and producer based in New York City. 

Shomi Patwary is a creator who leaves his unconventional mark on every project that he touches. His skills range from directing and producing, to cinematography, editing, and graphic and web design. An audiovisual storyteller, Patwary has worked on projects with cultural icons ranging from Beyonce to Mariah Carey, A$AP Rocky to Diplo, and Shah Rukh Khan to Wu Tang Clan.

Patwary is the co-founder of Illusive Media, a creative collective that specializes in music videos, branded content, and commercials. Hailing from Virginia Beach, he’s built long-standing creative relationships with fellow natives like Pharrell, The Neptunes, and Clipse, notably working with them since early in his decades-spanning career. With an eye for the absract, Shomi has directed award-nominated videos and worked with top brands including Adidas, Snapple, Apple, and Sony Music. Most recently, Patwary has taken on a new role as a television director for the hit Showtime late-night series Desus & Mero.

Patwary’s signature approach is to be up-close-and-personal with the camera, moving as one with the subject—culminating in a visual experience that is at once both dynamic and authentic.

You can check out more of their work here. 

Meet Bengali-American director and producer, Shomi Patwary.

What is the first creative project you remember? 

The first creative project I remember is designing the CD cover for The Clipse’s “We Got It 4 Cheap” mixtape. This was at a time when I was still learning how to use Adobe Photoshop. I didn’t even consider myself a designer yet at the time, but I acted like I did just so I could land the gig.

Shomi and Pharrell, early 2000s

Describe your aesthetic in three words. 

Vibrant, abstract, gritty.

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

The most fulfilling collaboration I’ve worked on was with A$AP Rocky; he and I were frequent collaborators in the 2010s and we co-directed Yamborghini High together, a video tribute to our friend A$AP Yams who had passed away. This wasn’t a radio-friendly record, yet it went platinum and got more than 100 million views. 

A$AP Mob “Yamborghini High”

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

I was hired to direct a short film for a high-end luxury eyewear brand called Gentle Monster, and it was the first time I worked with what felt like an unlimited budget. I had access to the best talent in every aspect of filmmaking, from an amazing set designer to an incredible cinematographer. This was a project that I impressed myself with, I am typically not impressed with my work as I am my biggest critic. I realized that if I surround myself with the best of the best, it allows me to learn and evolve as a visual artist. 

Gentle Monster – Project 13

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

I think it’s both. Some people are naturally more creative, but that doesn’t mean they have the best taste or education. With a proper education in the arts, you can potentially tap into your creativity to the max. 

What’s the last dream you had? 

I feel like I dream about the most mundane things. It’ll be something like one action that loops over and over again to a point where I actually don’t ever remember my dreams. I think it’s a result of sensory overload in my waking life. 

On set at “Desus and Mero,” with The Kid Mero and Lil Nas X

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

As I’m getting more into TV and film, I hope that people describe what I did as honest and pure. 

Follow @shomipatwary on Creatively

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

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

This AAPI Heritage Month (APAHM), we’re proud to be placing creative leaders of Asian and Pacific Islander descent at the forefront of our community channels. Today, we invite you to meet Alvin Kean Wong, a Singaporean photographer based in New York City. 

Wong originally studied mechanical engineering throughout his schooling, but always gravitated towards more artistic pursuits. He had picked up his first camera at the age of eight; this after-school passtime, unbeknownst to him, would eventually become a means to explore, understand, and travel the world. 

After a stint in the Airforce, Wong moved to New York in 2009 to launch his photography career. Thus began an informal 10-year apprenticeship with some of the best commercial and fashion photographers in the business, a period that helped Wong form his own creative vision. Wong’s effortless technical mastery has given him the freedom to inject personality into everything and everyone he shoots, leading to representation by Seen Artists and work for brands such as Abercrombie+Fitch, Anthropologie, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle Magazine, L’Officiel, Glamour, and Vogue, among others.

You can check out more of their work here

Meet Singaporean photographer, Alvin Kean Wong.

What is the first creative project you remember? 

Probably the first time I was trying to make a portfolio to send out to magazines. I remember my partner Shu and I bought a live baby crab as a prop (we eventually brought the baby crab back to the aquarium we got her from.) Shu bought a few swim suits and we went to the beach to catch the sunrise with a model. Shu has a very balanced eye, so her taste is easy to understand; I am much more nerdy in the gear and proper techniques. My pictures from the beginning of my career are nothing special. I encountered less emotion because, at that time, it was all about the gear and trying to prove to the world that I was a photographer. It is ironic, these days I am less technical and logical about my photos.

Describe your aesthetic in three words. 

Don’t think, feel.

Elle Mexico, June/July 2020

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

I would say my current book project, Rolla Zuko, I am working on publishing about Japanese rockabilly culture. The collaboration with the rockabillies and the friends who offered to give their professional and networking skills towards this is really heartfelt.

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

Growing up, I was taught to do my best and be a good person, but I would sometimes overstretch myself trying to prove my worth. I think it is important to do things for ourselves, especially as creatives. That’s why we are hired: to offer our creative language and ideas, not just to snap pictures blindly to please editors or clients. I feel better having space to work and finding people who share my creative vision.

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

For me, it’s definitely taught—I was an engineer who switched to photography. I was really lucky to work with a lot of amazing photographers in my assisting days. I pushed myself to learn all the different styles of lighting to keep myself employable. 

Rupert Friend, Schön! 39 digital cover

What’s the last dream you had?

I think I was swimming in the ocean.

The Phone a Friend Issue, Flaunt Magazine

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

I am curious what they will write. I am just a person trying to make a living doing what I love. It’s an indulgence to think people will remember in 100 years. People forget you if you are inactive on social media for 2 days…

Follow @alvinkeanwong on Creatively

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

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

From a young age, thuy always knew she wanted to be a pop star, however, as a Vietnamese-American, there weren’t many artists she could look up to. Discouraged, the aspiring singer-songwriter traded her ambitions for a career in medicine, an industry she worked in for a few uninspired years, but “on the other side of fear, lies freedom,” she likes to say, a mantra that pushed her to take the plunge and embrace her musical gifts. thuy recorded her first song, “Hands on Me” in 2017, winning the KMEL 106.1’s Home Turf radio contest and taking her first step towards pop stardom.

Since then, thuy has released several records showcasing her angelic voice and modern R&B style, amassing over 50 million streams worldwide. Her viral success laid the foundation for her long-awaited debut EP, which dropped in 2021, marking a turning point for the relative newcomer whose songs have garnered support from major outlets including, Billboard, Paper, NBC, Lyrical Lemonade, Flaunt, Earmilk, Spotify’s New Music Friday, and Apple Music’s Best New Songs. thuy hopes to be a voice for those who long to feel seen, writing music “to give people the strength to shine and inspire them to go for their dreams.”

You can check out more of their work here.

Meet Bay Area R&B Artist, thuy.

What is the first creative project you remember? 

I’ve always been very creative, but the first creative musical project I remember is the making of my first song “Hands on Me.” This song was the start of it all. I remember being bright-eyed and so excited to be in the recording booth. That feeling has never really changed. I still get so excited every time I’m on the mic!

Describe your aesthetic in three words. 

Bright, dreamy, and colorful. 

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

Right now, I’m in the process of finishing my sophomore project! It’s different from the first project because I get to be in the studio from start to finish. Being able to create a song from just one guitar melody and then write and record the track off that energy is single handedly one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. I love being able to collaborate with other talented artists and people who genuinely love music. The energy in the room is contagious. These moments are what keep me going as an artist. 

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

My first project “i hope u see this” taught me that I have the ability to curate an entire world where listeners can come and escape. I learned that I have such a story to tell and a voice that allows me to spread that story far and wide. I learned that my voice can be very healing, not only for myself, but for others as well. 

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

I definitely think there’s an innate part of creativity that just can’t be taught. For me, I’ve always been creative, but when it comes to music, I never had singing lessons nor did I grow up writing songs. However, when I’m in the studio, I don’t feel any barriers or self-doubt because my musical creativity is instinctual. I don’t ever think about my next move because it’s already in me, if that makes sense. Creativity just naturally flows.

What’s the last dream you had?

Crazy enough, I have the most vivid dreams, but I can’t seem to remember! Usually I have to write down or vocalize my dreams so that I don’t forget. If I don’t, I tend to forget by the end of the day. There was actually a specific week recently where I woke up multiple times throughout the night to record a voice memo of a melody I heard in my dream. My dreams feel very real and sometimes I can even take myself back to a specific moment in a dream. I feel like my mind is very powerful in that way and it’s probably why I dream big in my professional life. 

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

I hope that my work has touched people and helped them enough that in a hundred years they’ll write about how much my music impacted them. I only hope that my music allows people to heal and feel good.

Follow @thuymusic on Creatively.

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

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

Throughout the month of April, we’ve partnered with Exceptional Minds, a nonprofit academy and post production studio for people with autism. For nearly a decade, Exceptional Mind’s programming has enabled artists with autism to launch careers in animation and the digital arts. With up to 85% of adults with autism facing unemployment, the Exceptional Minds community of teachers, mentors, and students is working towards a goal we share here at Creatively — creating a future where neurodiverse perspectives advance an inclusive hiring culture in the entertainment industry. 

Working with industry leaders in animation like Netflix, Marvel, and Nickelodeon, Exceptional Mind’s students hone their craft while preparing for careers in animation and digital effects. Today, we asked 5 students in the program, Brian Urquhart, Kyle Payne, Jordan Farrell, Katherine McSpadden and Eli Gross to answer our Creatively Q&A. Describing themselves as everything from “adaptable to “curious,” the students’ perspectives are just as diverse as their bodies of animation and design work. 

Meet some of the Exceptional Mind’s students. 

What is the first creative project you remember?

My first project I can recall was making a LEGO stop motion animated short for my old church called “Joseph Smith and The Golden Plates.” I was about 10 or 11 years old when I made that, I learned the basics of editing, title formatting and got my first taste of animating to a longer extent back then. Now the quality in about everything in it was laughably terrible but if it wasn’t for that short. I wouldn’t have had the drive to make films and dream of working in the animation industry to which my recent work I have done now FAR exceeds the skills I had back then and I’ll continue to push my skills further and further into the stars.

—Jordan Farrell

“‘Dark/Grey/Blue’ Trailer,” Jordan Farrell

What was the most fulfilling design or animation you’ve worked on and why?

The installation piece I made with my brother for the music festival Electric Forest. It was our first installation art piece and it was so fun to see people pose in front of them and share with them online. They became very popular on social media sites like Instagram. 

—Katherine McSpadden

“Christmas Train of Toys,” Katherine McSpadden

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

In a hundred years, I would like it if people would use my works to be the building blocks of their stories. Improving on my unique ideas and making up for my flaws to make even more memorable stories.Then their stories can also be the building blocks of future stories.

—Brian Urquhart

“Myth Logic,” Brian Urquhart

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

Something that I have learned on more than one occasion is that sometimes when you make some amount of progress due to a crash, an unsuccessful save or what have you, starting again can turn out even better than the first time.

—Kyle Payne 

“2D Animation,” Kyle Payne

What is your superpower? 

My superpower is being good around animals. It may not seem all that related to animation, but it has given me an edge when coming up with designs, knowing many types of anatomy as well as character movement. 

—Eli Gross 

“Happy Walkcycle,” Eli Gross

You can check out more work from the Exceptional Minds students here.

Much of John Samels’ work is grounded in highly contrasted blacks and whites, giving his images a certain eye-catching severity. From this foundation, he’ll introduce a pop of color, like a neon chartreuse or an antique mauve, to draw his viewers into the message at hand. Samels is a multidisciplinary art director based in New York City who works on creative content across video and print platforms for a wide range of industries. Presently, he serves as the Creative Director for Colossal Media, leading their in-house creative agency, Colossal Studios, working closely with brands to turn murals, billboards, and activations into memorable experiences. 

From creating album covers for musical artists and posters for film and television productions, to collaborating with entertainment and culture-based commercial brands, Samels’ focus lies in image-making, photo and video direction, and typography. He has created imagery for brands, companies, and television networks including Converse, Vice, VH1, HBO, and Target, among others. Samels is sure to inject his gritty style, funky lettering, and masterful play on color into any given project—three essential elements that come together to not only catch your attention, but maintain it. Every client’s dream.

You can check out more of their work here. 

Meet Creative Director for Colossal Media, John Samels.

What is the first creative project you remember? 

My first design project was in 1999. I was a senior at a high school that focused on the arts, and I jumped at the chance to design an album cover for a student band. We had a few computers on campus with a very early version of Photoshop and I fell in love. 

Describe your aesthetic in three words. 

Clean, dirty, clean.

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

I have worked on a number of music collaborations. As a music creator myself, it has always been uniquely challenging yet fulfilling to approach designing content for another field to which I’ve contributed.

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

I think with all creative output there is a desire to be regarded and admired for the work you do, however with graphic design, I prefer to approach all decision making with the content in mind. I always want the design to be supportive without taking center stage. I have found this is also very much a part of my personality—I tend to make sure others around me are taken care of before I cater to my own needs. 

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

I think creativity is synonymous with curiosity, and we are all born with curiosity. What is learned is the implementation of creativity—whatever the skillset may be: painting, photography, fashion design etc. To make creative output one needs to be curious about doing things a different way, pushing against the status quo and declaring one’s personal vision based on what has been done before. That’s the process of finding your voice, and it takes courage, vulnerability, and determination to do well.

What’s the last dream you had?

Ha! Last night I had a dream that I was late for a meeting but I couldn’t get out of bed because my bed was made of pizza.

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

I think some design is inherently ephemeral and some is intended to be timeless. I hope they say my work deliberately oscillated between the two.

Follow @johnsamels on Creatively

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