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In what ways have you grown the most since the beginning of your career? Design Studio

In what ways have you grown the most since the beginning of your career?

  • 9 read
  • 26/01/2023

Established in 2018, Not Not Smiling, aims to amplify the voices of female and female-identifying creatives, and provide a platform for them to connect and share their knowledge, experience and work.

In this series, we ask creatives from around the world, short questions covering topics including the meaning of creativity, inspiration, their processes and how we break the gender bias in our industry.

In this edition, we ask in what ways have you grown the most since the beginning of your career?

Kimberly Luo branding West Coast Tas

Kimberly Luo

Designer, Ragged Edge, London, United Kingdom

Realising it’s okay to not know the answer. There are days when I really don’t know what the heck I’m doing. But everyday, you become more comfortable with that fact. And slowly, you build the confidence to defend your work, move forward with conviction and go with your gut.

Kimberly's original plan was to be a NASA-sponsored, fire-breathing astronaut. Instead, she became a designer, currently working at Ragged Edge in London. Her experiences, coupled with her passion for research and design, have enabled her to articulate complex brand narratives in meaningful and memorable ways.

When not hunched over her desk, Kimberly can be found successfully living up to her online chess username, kimisthechessmaster.

LinkedIn, Website

A still from Anna Mantzaris' animation 'Trapped'

Anna Mantzaris

Animation Director and filmmaker, London, United Kingdom

I think the way I have grown the most is that I trust my gut feeling much more now. Before I would doubt more, but now I have learned, and still learning, that my gut feeling is right and often I don’t need more motivation or justification than that.

Anna is a Swedish animation director and filmmaker. Her films have won over 90 international awards, including European Animation Award, Vimeo Best of the Year, Walt Disney Award and Audience Award at Ottawa International Animation Festival. Anna has an MA in Animation at the Royal College of Art, is represented by Passion Animation Studios worldwide, The Chapel in Sweden and Animationdept in Norway. She is also occasionally teaching and has been a guest lecturer at Royal College of Art, Stockholm University of the Arts, and National Film & Television School among others.

Instagram, Website

Arutza Onzaga

Brand Strategist, Graphic Designer and Illustrator. Colombia

Arutza Onzaga is a graphic designer who graduated from Jorge Tadeo Lozano University. With more than 18 years of experience in branding, her work has been awarded internationally by the TDC (Type Directors Club), Communications Arts and LadFest. She has also been published in specialised magazines and blogs such as ID magazine, Communication Arts, Proyecto Diseño, Advertising Age, The Die Line and The Art of Menú, among others. She has been a professor at several universities and educational development centres, such as the Universidad de Los Andes and La Jorge Tadeo Lozano, teaching typography and composition subjects. She has given workshops and lectures at different congresses and cities for the promotion of graphic design, taken several illustration and lettering workshops, and has specialised in building brands. The most important influences in her work are art, nature and literature, which nourish her designs with significant and emotional concepts.


Examples of Sophie Calver's work

Sophie Calver

Designer, Maker & Entrepreneur. London, United Kingdom

I’d say I’ve become a lot more resilient.

"Resilient meaning I’m a lot stricter with my time. At the moment, Calver is a side hustle, so I know I have to set time aside if I want to work on my designs and develop my brand.

Resilient in the fact that I stand by my ideas a lot more and use questions or alternative opinions to try to get to the best solution. In the past, I’ve felt disheartened if someone has questioned my ideas. However, I’ve become a lot more resilient with the understanding that ideas should always be built on and never shut down.

And last of all, resilient in recognising that learning a craft, starting a business and learning any skill takes time, and its ok to get things wrong or to feel like it's taking ages. We spend our lives, especially our younger years, looking up to teachers, adults, governments, and politicians etc. However, now that I'm an adult, and on the wild ride of working in the outside world, you come to realise that no one really has a clue what they’re doing. Of course, there are experts across industries and topics, but that doesn’t always mean they know everything there is to know about everything. I've grown to understand it's important to share ideas no matter how vanilla you think they might be, don't hold onto designs for too long, get feedback, evolve and keep designing! And crafting time to work on Calver to create beautiful designs that people cherish in their homes is all a continued journey of my resilience."

Sophie is a British designer, pattern maker and entrepreneur. She founded her company, Calver, in 2020. A destination of contemporary prints with personality and purpose, each collection is inspired by the experiences of the places Sophie has visited and the people she meets, combined with her signature style. Every design tells its own story.

Sophie studied fashion design before beginning her career in luxury fashion, working for The Row in New York and Roland Mouret in London. It was here she found her love for high-quality fabrics and began to explore pattern design for interior homewares and fabrics. Sophie later worked in marketing for the world-renowned brand design agency, Pearlfisher, where she built an understanding of the importance of uniting identity, purpose and product in design.

Instagram, Website

Examples of Alejandra López's work

Alejandra López

Textile Artist. Colombia

"Since 2020 I've grown a lot. I was a really insecure and shy person, I wasn't used to showing my work because I was afraid that no one would like it. But through this couple of years I've been learning to be proud of what I can make and feel comfortable in my own skin."

Technically I feel a lot more skilled and my confidence has grown a lot too. Now I can mix more colours, details and silhouettes, I feel capable of making and mixing more ideas. And personally I feel really happy and excited to be working on something I really love and to experience the love and acceptance of the people that see and buy my art is super fulfilling, it really fills my heart with joy.

"I think that my art has made me grow into a very strong person."

My name is Alejandra López, I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, I am 29 years old and I think I´ve always been a creative person. When I was a child I loved to draw and paint. I also liked to make clay figures, always inspired by the plants and animals that surrounded me.

I studied Design and Plastic arts at Los Andes University in Bogotá Colombia. Since then illustration has been my passion and illustrating in punchneedle is something that I started to do because I was frustrated in the first months of quarantine, I was ready to start my own jewelry brand but because of Covid the workshop where I used to work was closed and I didn ́t know what to do. I did punchneedle in my free time but it wasn't in my mind that I could live from my punch needle art. So in that desperate time I posted some photos of my work on my instagram page and everything changed, people started to ask me for commissions and since may of 2020 until now I've been working non stop.

I love this type of embroidery because it gives me the possibility of combining the things that I love the most, nature, illustration and creating with my hands. Nature and Colombia's landscapes have always been my biggest inspiration. Plants and animals give me a huge range of possibilities, I love to combine shiny colors and shapes to make my work pop.



Through Not Not Smiling, we have worked with a number of charities local to each of our offices that support and uplift women. This year, we are delighted to be supporting:

Young Women’s Trust in London who are working to achieve economic justice for young women.

Hour Children, a leading provider of services to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women in New York State.

Women’s and Girl’s Emergency Centre (WAGEC) is a feminist, grassroots organisation that supports women and families in crisis and advocated for social change in the community. They are based in Redfern, Sydney and work on the lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation.

We will be sharing more on each of the Charities across our blog and social channels soon. Please be sure to check them out and support their work if you can.

Not Not Smiling