Hello there! I’m Bianca Ashley, a proud black graphic designer in Toronto and the co-founder of Ashbi Creative Studio. Today, I’d love to share my journey as a self-taught black graphic designer and offer insights that might help others on a similar path.
The Beginning of My Journey As a Black Graphic Designer
My journey into graphic design began at university, where I delved deep into the realms of design and art. However, life soon turned towards family, and I found myself thoroughly engrossed in the joys and responsibilities of motherhood. But amidst the hustle and bustle of raising my children, I felt a creative void.
To fill this void, I started posting graphic design content online after the birth of my son. To my surprise, my work began to resonate with the design community. This positive response led to the birth of Ashbi Creative Studio, a one-stop-shop digital marketing agency I co-run with my husband, Cameron.
Drawing inspiration from the experiences of other self-taught designers, such as the journey shared by Bianca Ashley on Simply Sophie Designs, I learned to navigate the challenges of running a design business. Time management was a significant hurdle in the early stages, but I quickly learned to optimize my schedule, dedicating only four hours a day, four days a week, to work.
As I continue on this journey, I look forward to sharing my experiences, insights, and the tools that have been instrumental in my growth, such as Hello Bonsai, which has automated our inquiry process, making us look more professional. I’m also excited about adding a Notion template to our shop soon, which I believe will be a game-changer for many designers.
My journey as a black graphic designer is more than creating designs; it’s about continuous learning, overcoming challenges, and making a meaningful impact through my work. It’s a journey I’m proud to be on, and I look forward to what the future holds.
The Journey to Becoming a Self-Taught Graphic and Brand Designer
If you’re contemplating becoming a self-taught graphic designer, let me assure you – a formal degree isn’t a prerequisite. The design world is open and accessible to anyone with a passion for creativity and a willingness to learn.
In my journey, I found immense value in online courses. Platforms like Udemy and Skillshare offer a wealth of resources to help you learn at your own pace and in your own space. One instructor who had a significant impact on my learning journey is Lindsay Marsh. Her courses on Udemy are comprehensive, engaging, and incredibly insightful. She has a knack for breaking down complex design concepts into digestible lessons, making them easier for beginners to grasp.
I’m expanding my skill set by learning web design from the UI Adrian course on Gumroad. This course offers a deep dive into web design, covering everything from basic principles to advanced techniques. It’s an excellent resource for anyone looking to broaden their design capabilities.
Becoming a self-taught graphic and brand designer is about leveraging your resources and being proactive in your learning journey. It’s about seeking knowledge, practicing skills, and constantly pushing yourself to improve. With passion, dedication, and the right resources, anyone can embark on the rewarding journey of becoming a self-taught designer.
Leveraging Instagram in My Journey as a Black Graphic Designer
Our Instagram page is more than just a social media account; it’s a vibrant and engaging platform that showcases our creative prowess and unique design aesthetic. It’s a colourful tapestry of our work, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and inspirational quotes meticulously curated to reflect our brand identity and inspire our followers’ creativity.
Instagram has been an invaluable tool in my journey as a black graphic designer. It’s a platform where I showcase my work and connect with other designers and potential clients. Instagram can be a goldmine of inspiration and learning opportunities for aspiring designers.
One way to get started is by following other designers on Instagram. Observe their work, take note of their design choices, and don’t hesitate to engage with them. Leave comments on their posts, send them direct messages, and network. This interaction can open doors to collaborations, mentorships, and job opportunities.
Another great way to learn and improve your skills is by participating in branding challenges like the “100 days of design”. These challenges push you to step out of your comfort zone, experiment with different design styles, and receive feedback from other designers. It’s a fantastic way to understand how and why a designer makes confident design choices.
Starting with a blank canvas and trying to replicate designs you admire can also be a great practice exercise. It helps you understand the thought process behind each design element and how they come together to form a cohesive whole. Over time, as you gain skills and confidence, you can start developing your unique style.
We also use our Instagram stories to share real-time updates and sneak peeks into our ongoing projects. It’s a space where we highlight customer testimonials and reviews, giving potential clients a glimpse into the experiences of those who have worked with us.
Instagram is not just a platform for showcasing your work; it’s a community where you can learn, grow, and connect with others. It’s a tool that can significantly boost your skills and open doors to numerous opportunities. So, whether you’re a budding designer or an established professional, I invite you to leverage the power of Instagram in your design journey.
The Journey of a Black Graphic Designer: Identity, Creativity, and Representation
Being a black graphic designer is a journey that intertwines personal identity, cultural heritage, and creative expression. It’s about bringing a unique perspective to the table, one that is shaped by my experiences and worldview. This perspective enriches my work, infusing it with a depth and resonance that speaks to a broad audience. It allows me to create designs that are not just visually appealing but also meaningful and impactful.
I take immense pride in representing my community in the design industry. It’s an opportunity to challenge stereotypes, break down barriers, and bring a fresh perspective to the design landscape. I strive to use my platform to highlight diverse voices and stories and showcase the black experience’s richness and diversity.
As a black graphic designer, I aim to create captivating designs and foster inclusivity and diversity in the design world. I believe that design should reflect the world we live in, which is diverse and multifaceted. I strive to create inclusive designs that speak to different audiences and challenge the status quo.
But my journey as a black graphic designer is not just about what I create; it’s also about how I inspire others. I hope to inspire other black designers to pursue their passion, to break into the design industry, and to make their mark. I hope to inspire businesses to embrace diversity in their design choices, to see the value in different perspectives, and to understand the power of inclusive design.
In essence, being a black graphic designer is more than just creating designs; it’s about making a difference. It’s about using design as a tool for representation, inclusivity, and change. And I am excited to continue on this journey, create, inspire, and make a difference.
Empowering Designers: Tools and Resources at Ashbi Creative Studio
For those embarking on their journey in design, we have a full suite of resources available at our Creative Design Shop. We’ve curated a selection of designer templates that can save you time and allow you to focus on the creative aspects of your projects. These resources are designed to streamline your workflow and enhance your design capabilities.
One of our offerings includes a starter bundle, perfect for new designers. This bundle is packed with essential tools and resources that can help you kickstart your design journey. It’s a comprehensive package to equip you with the necessary tools to create compelling designs.
A game-changer for us has been Hello Bonsai, a tool that automates our inquiry process. It has significantly impacted our operations, enhancing our efficiency and professionalism. We highly recommend it for designers looking to streamline their client management process.
We’re also excited about an upcoming addition to our shop – a Notion template. Notion is a powerful tool for organization and project management, and our custom template is designed to help designers manage their projects more effectively.
At Ashbi Creative Studio, we’re committed to empowering designers with the tools and resources they need to succeed. Whether you’re a seasoned designer or just starting, we invite you to explore our Creative Design Shop and discover how our resources can enhance your design journey.
Related: Creative Design Shop
Navigating the Challenges and Reaping the Rewards of a Creative Design Business
Running a creative design business is a journey of challenges and rewards. One of the most significant challenges I faced in the early stages was managing my time effectively. As a service-based business, we constantly juggle multiple projects, client meetings, and administrative tasks. In the first six months, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work and the limited daily hours.
I quickly realized that effective time management was crucial for the success and sustainability of my business. I had to learn to prioritize tasks, delegate responsibilities, and set boundaries to ensure a healthy work-life balance. I implemented a strict schedule, dedicating only 4 hours a day, four days a week, to work. This disciplined approach improved my productivity and allowed me to maintain a healthy balance between my professional and personal life.
Despite the challenges, running a creative design business has been incredibly rewarding. One of the most gratifying aspects is the ability to provide a better life for my children. I take immense pride in being able to give them the life I didn’t have growing up. It’s a testament to the hard work, dedication, and passion I’ve poured into my business.
Another rewarding aspect is the recognition of my work. There’s nothing quite like seeing a client’s face light up when my designs bring their vision to life. It validates my skills and creativity and fuels my passion for design.
In essence, running a creative design business is a journey of growth and fulfillment. It’s about navigating challenges, learning from them, and reaping the rewards of hard work and dedication. It’s about making a difference through your creativity and leaving a lasting impact on your clients and the design industry.
Charting the Course: My Future Goals and Plans for Ashbi Creative Studio
As the co-founder of Ashbi Creative Studio, I’m always excited about the future. Right now, we’re in the midst of an exciting transition. We’re starting a rebrand and launching a new brand called “I design stuff.” This isn’t tied to a specific goal but reflects my desire to create fantastic art that resonates with our audience.
My journey as a self-taught graphic designer, which I shared on Simply Sophie Designs, has taught me the importance of continuous learning and evolution in the design industry. It’s a testament to the power of passion, dedication, and the willingness to learn and adapt.
This rebranding effort is more than just a change in our visual identity. It reflects our growth as a design studio, showcasing our evolution and a precursor to the exciting things to come. We’re also launching new brands this year, each with its unique design aesthetic and brand story.
In addition, we’re revamping our website to provide a better user experience and showcase our work and products. We plan to add new products to our store to help designers with branding and client work.
Our plans are about growth, evolution, and creating inspiring and resonating art. I’m excited about this new chapter and look forward to sharing our journey. Whether you’re a budding designer looking for inspiration or a brand looking for a fresh new look, I invite you to join us on this exciting journey. Let’s create something unique together.
Related: Brand Identity Designer
Building a Powerful Brand Identity: The ‘Why’ Matters
The cornerstone of a compelling brand identity lies in understanding and articulating the ‘why.’ Why does your brand exist? What motivated you to start this journey? What’s the unique story that sets your brand apart? These questions form the bedrock of your brand identity.
People are naturally drawn to stories and emotions. They want to feel a connection to the brands they engage with. They want to understand the passion, the motivation, and the values that drive a brand. This emotional connection is what sells. It’s what turns casual browsers into loyal customers. It’s what makes your brand memorable.
Once you’ve established the ‘why’ and created an emotional connection, the design elements of your brand identity will follow. From your logo and colour palette to your typography and imagery, every brand’s visual aspect should reflect and reinforce your ‘why.’ These design elements are not just aesthetic choices; they are visual storytellers communicating your brand’s story and values at a glance.
As a black graphic designer in Toronto, I’ve learned the importance of the ‘why’ in my journey. It drives me, inspires my designs, and helps me connect with clients. I hope my journey and insights can inspire you in your branding efforts.
Request A Quote From Our Creative Design Agency
Let’s collaborate on your next project. Are you ready to take your brand to the next level? At Ashbi Creative Studio, we’re eager to collaborate with you on your next project.
Our team of skilled designers brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to every project we undertake. Whether launching a new brand, revamping your website, or creating a marketing campaign, we’re here to transform your vision into a visually compelling reality.
We’re committed to delivering designs that meet and exceed your expectations. So why wait? Hire us for your next project, and let’s create something extraordinary together.
Remember, your growth is our success. Let’s grow together!