Interview: Kishya Greer

One of my favorite things about social media is the almost kinda sorta true social aspect of it. I mean you really do get to meet people. Better still you get to meet interesting people. You know the kind of people you actually read their email and dig what they have to say. Here's one such person; Kishya Greer, She's one of those smart designers that can hold her department down. She's smart, creative and has initiative. She's moving ahead and I suspect nothings going to stop her. I go on and on about the future looking bright due to smart young people like her, well you're going to want to adjust the brightness on your monitor yet again because the glow just got greater. Read below and glimpse the greatness.

How did you discover design?
I discovered design in high school actually. I love music and I had a lot of CD's then and a huge CD book filled with my favorite albums. There where slots for the CD's on one side and a slot for the matching CD booklet on the other. I never wanted the booklets to be damaged in the so I would spend hours on my Grandmothers computer designing square inserts to match my favorite CD's to put into the book. I remember matching colors and trying to match typefaces and putting horrible effects on the type as well. I had no idea I was designing or that there was a career path I could take doing this all day. I was just having fun. Around that time I would also hand draw the type treatment from my CD's onto regular printer paper. I would spend time getting it just right then fill in the color with jelly pens. I still have some of these stored away. Here and there I stumble across them and sort of laugh and wonder how I had time for it.

I had a class in high school my senior year where I learned all of the Macromedia programs (Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver). A guy from the Art Institute of Dallas came to talk to the class one day and I thought it seemed cool that I could be a animator or design for a living. I went to schools open house not long after that with my mom and I started school at the Art Institute a week after graduating from High school and I fell in love from there. Since I went straight from High school I graduated at the age of 21 with a BFA in graphic design.

How is your ethnicity a source of inspiration or strength in your work?
Or is it just sort of a default setting that has little bearing.
I think that being a Black American has an impact on design expectations but it is not a huge impact on my work. It puts expectations on me from every angle. I have been expected to spice up social media pages with falling stars or horrible effects like that. I usually have educate people and say "What you see as the "fancy" pages is not good design and I am not following the pack by replicating that." Sadly rap CD covers make some people think tacky is good. In my work I try to do very clean design. In the 90's when Cash Money Records was a big deal with all of its badly designed CD's it bothered me till no end. That was before I was into design and it still got under my skin.

In a corporate world I think being Black American woman maybe at first glance some may have low expectations of me until they see my work. Once my work starts to talk for it's self I have people that only want to work exclusively with me. So yea, it does have an effect but not a huge one. As a designer the work that you produce speaks much louder than your skin color.

I really have not used my ethnicity as a source for inspiration. I use my life experiences as a source. I have come to learn that no matter what your background we all usually have some of the same experiences no matter the ethnicity. Depending on the culture people may have a different spin on the same experience but there is much more in common than the differences. If you are a 80's baby you remember the same cartoons and toys no matter the skin color. I can mention a Glo-Worm and a select set of people will get excited and go into stories about their Glo-Worm or lack of one. There is always a link to other people and that's what I like to pick up on. It makes the world seem smaller.

Is being a woman designer different from being a man designer?
Not all positions or projects are given based on quality of your work and passion for the job. In most situations it really does not matter what I am. But, there are very few situations where it effects the progress in my career path.

What aspect of design do you really love? Logo design, typography, type design Layout, etc?
I just have a strong hunger for design and the only thing that helps ease my appetite is learning and doing new things. Design is really my life. I dream about it and I critique menus when I eat at restaurants. The designer light is always on in my head. I look at things and think about how I can make things better. Always up for a good challenge.

I love logo design and typography. For all active designers we know that it takes time and a lot of brain power with a dash of luck to pull off a great logo. I want to learn much more about typography. It is a challenge to work with it in a way that is innovative.

What's your dream job?
That is a tough question. My dream job would be a position where I am making a difference. It could be behind the scene in a marketing team pushing for a better way of life or something as simple as making someone laugh at a ad. A good print price can bring people together if done right. The paper choice, typeface, and spot varnish are all things that make a difference in the tone of a piece. Here at my current position I do a lot of internal event posters. People working here in a bland office see the posters and stop and read. They also attend the events and have fun. That little bit of joy to a persons day is my aim. As long as I am not just working for food but I am actually helping others, I will continue to be happy. I'm excited about the future and all it has for me.

Can you discuss any specifics about the process of creating a few of the pieces you sent?
The black pocket insert (with the number one) project was brought to me with the goal of communicating that the company was ranked number one in a number of segments by the Black Book of Outsourcing.

Since this was used at a conference where lots of letter sized collateral pieces are handed out, this piece was made to fit in your shirt pocket. The thought was to free up the hands of people that came by the booth. We received feedback stating they loved that they could stuff it in their pocket and keeping their hands free. Of course they had to read it to find our contact information to give feedback. Needless to say, the small size worked for this project along with a clean design.

Any advice for neophytes?
Be persistent and keep pushing yourself to the next level. Get a design mentor. They will teach you and help you become much better at what you do best.

See more of Kishya's design and musings here & here.
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