It’s time to mix things up a little bit with a more modern designer. Introducing: Jessica Walsh. In her elementary years, she became fascinated with all things graphic design. In high school she would create websites for individuals and small businesses.
This passion took her to the Rhode Island School of Design. In addition to graphic design classes, she took fine art classes such as painting, woodworking, drawing, and sculpture. At first, she hated these classes, but after a while she began to appreciate them. Now, she feels that these “physical” arts have had a significant effect on her designs today.
She attributes much of her ambition to the influence her mom had on her. Her mom was an entrepreneur herself and taught her daughter that “things don’t necessarily come easy in life. It’s not just about being smart or talented, the key is persistence and hard work.”
In 2010, she joined at Stefan Sagmeister at the Sagmeister & Walsh studio in New York for 7 years. In 2012, at the age of 25, she became a partner at the firm. She has an impressive portfolio including many international brand identities, websites, apps, films, and books.
Brand identity is her specialty. “I love conceptualizing how a mark and visual language we create can work holistically across multiple mediums: print, digital, and television. It’s an accumulation of many things I love doing: coming up with conceptual ideas, creative and art direction, design, project management and client management.”
While her position at Sagmeister and Walsh was very secure and she was successful in her work, she felt a tug to set out on her own and create a creative agency called &Walsh. And in July, 2019, that’s just what she did. She is now part of a very short list of women led creative agencies around the world.
In reflection of this fact, she says, “The numbers say it all: 70 per cent of design students are women, but only five to 11 per cent of creative director positions are held by women. Only 0.1% of creative agencies are women-owned. POINT. ONE. PERCENT. How does this make any sense when women drive about 80% of consumer purchasing?”
With such an impressive resume of work and hunger for creative ingenuity, Walsh has this to say to young people starting out: “Fake it till you make it. How I interpreted this early on in my career is that if someone asked me to do something I didn’t know how to do, and I wanted to do it, I’d just say yes and then figure it out later. It’s really not that difficult to accomplish any task if you use common sense, persistence, and know how to be resourceful.”
So, I will leave you with Jessica Walsh’s own personal motto, “Perfection is boring. This goes for both life and our design work.” In other words, follow your passion, but don’t get too upset if it doesn’t look like perfection.
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