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. What was once an event that took place once a year to mark International Women's Day, Not Not Smiling has grown into an annual series of physical events, virtual gatherings and a blog series that provides a platform for even more voices worldwide.
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 which female-identifying person most inspires you?
Designer, Ragged Edge, London, United Kingdom
She doesn’t know that I’ve thought about her so deeply in this way… but my previous Creative Director, Jo Roca. My first ever chat with her was about my period. How to love it. How to find the beauty in it. Since then, she’s taught me how to grow up. How to exist as a person of colour. How to be an introvert in an extrovert world. How to navigate through uncertainty. She’s taught me to stop pretending that things are different to how they are, and to confront experiences with honesty.
"Jo’s carved out a career that’s propelled by how much impact she can have on this world. From empowering regional communities, to creating educational kids’ stories, everything she preaches is about using design to create a better place – and that’s reflected in who she is, and all the work that she does."
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.
Animation director and filmmaker, London, United Kingdom
There are many but I recently saw an exhibition by Nan Goldin which was so great!
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.
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.
Designer, Maker & Entrepreneur. London, United Kingdom
There are two women whose stories of entrepreneurialism have impacted me the most: perfumer Jo Malone (CBE) and designer Cath Kidson (MBE). Jo and Cath are incredible examples of British businesswomen who have created sought-after brands. They’ve built companies from scratch, sold them and started all over again, overcoming different challenges and balancing lives outside of their careers whilst still finding time to pursue what they love.
"This mentality of perseverance, ambition and relentless evolution of their work through creativity is hugely influential, and it’s what I aspire to achieve with my brand, Calver. I think with any business, there’s a real sense of adventure, collaboration and naivety that comes with making it successful, and it’s what I find inspiring about the journeys of Cath and Jo.
In the past, Cath Kidson has given me wonderful feedback about my designs. I was over the moon, and it gave me confidence in my work to continue to develop my print design style. Cath’s supportive words have meant so much – I think wanting to see others do well, no matter your status or seniority, is an admirable trait and another reason Cath is a true inspiration."
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.
Textile Artist. Colombia
I feel inspired by women that create their own creative universe and style from genuine likings and interests. I can't pick just one, so I will name some of my favorite artists from different artistic branches.
"Paintings- María Primachenko
Glass art- Sophie Lou Jacobsen
Illustration- Elena Fiorenza Gatti
Ceramic- Laurie Melia
Tattoo art- Lydia Marier
Jewelry- Alidra Alic"
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.