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Interview with Ashley Anastasia Howell

Home > Designer Interviews > Ashley Anastasia Howell

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Ashley Anastasia Howell (AAH) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Ashley Anastasia Howell by clicking here.

Interview with Ashley Anastasia Howell at Friday 14th of September 2018

FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
AAH: I feel I attended one of the best arts high schools in the city, it gave me a solid base to my arts and design education. The courses consisted of old-school photography with the dark rooms, life drawing, sculpting, printing and art history amongst others. Once I graduated, I attended Humber College which furthered my education in computer arts and a great introduction to the Adobe programs. In my last year of college, I decided to pursue my dream of backpacking across Europe. Which I feel contributed immensely to my outlook and education in general. Throughout my career I primarily have had an interest in print and hands-on graphics although my main focus has been branding. I have always wanted to become a designer.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
AAH: I started my freelance career after ten years of working in mostly sports companies as a Junior to senior designer. When I began freelancing full time I focused in Food because it was something I was passionate about. I have a home studio but I currently go to studios twice a week.

FS: What is "design" for you?
AAH: Is a beautiful problem solving process.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
AAH: Brands not just logos but brands.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
AAH: To date my favourite design was on the Julia Child Award and logo. I had been chosen from international proposal submissions to design the logo and award for the foundation. Each year the Julia Child Award is given to an individual who has made a profound and significant difference in the way America cooks, eats and drinks. An annual gala is held in the fall in Washington DC and the logo and award is continuously displayed in the Smithsonian Museum. I had the opportunity to go to the first Gala in 2015 when the award was presented to Jacques Pépin who worked along side Julia Child for many years. The night was quit spectacular I met some high profile Chefs including Sara Moulton, Alton Brown, and of course Jacques Pépin himself. The experience and feeling of accomplishment made the design great.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
AAH: A logo I don’t know which one all I know was it was a logo, and I would redo it if I could.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
AAH: Hands on graphics. Making tings with my hand sand them using them in my designs.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
AAH: Late at night. Usually 2am after a glass or two of wine. Or Sunday mornings.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
AAH: At the beginning I focus on getting the right imagery and at the end I focus on details.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
AAH: Happy, always happy.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
AAH: Even more happy.

FS: What makes a design successful?
AAH: Its ability to make an impact on people.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
AAH: Any design can be good, it is if the design has a positive impact and has made a social change. This means the design has made a reaction and this is when the design is great.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
AAH: We all as humans have responsibilities both for society and the environment. Particularly as designers we all have great responsibility as well. I particularly make sure I eat or share all the food I photograph. This is important not to throw anything away. Food waste is such a big issue that would be very irresponsible of me to do otherwise. As a designer it is important to understand recyclable properties and paper usage and environmentally safe products etc.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
AAH: The design field is becoming more and more technical. Which is not a bad thing but I think there still a need to have human touch to anything we do. This makes things relatable and will eventually make thigs stand out. This is craft which is the origin of design. The future of design is becoming more user driven and personalized on a larger scale. It’s quite complicated but interesting to say the least.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
AAH: I had a painting of mine hung in principals office in grade 6, that was my last exhibition. I would love to hold one of my ampersands and make it a fundraiser for food drives.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
AAH: Nature is a big form of inspiration, my books and additionally Pinterest. I love Pinterest.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
AAH: I think my style can vary but I try to be colourful and influenced by various art movements.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
AAH: Toronto can be culturally elaborate, and I feel this has been transferred into my work and makes my work representative of my upbringing. Canadian Design can be experimental and cultural which helps the virabncy of work I do.

FS: How do you work with companies?
AAH: I work on contract work, I work on one off projects and I have been brought in to cover for absent employees. I try to be very transparent and flexible.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
AAH: Do your research and do background checks. I know first hand creatives can be hard to work with although if you have a designer that understand the business side of designing then your work is half done. This is generally relevant in the work they do. Alaways get references.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
AAH: Most processes follow this format: Research, Initial concept, refine and final execution. It can vary from project to project but I find this is a safe format to follow.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
AAH: My Dyson, my bag, my computer, my books and book shelf.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
AAH: When I am not in a studio I am running around to various clients having meetings and then going home to send out quotes, design work, invoices or calendar planning. The freelance life, most days are about 12 hours most of which are non billable.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
AAH: Keep practising and don’t listen to nay-sayers.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
AAH: It can be such a strain to be told you cannot do what you are doing or your work is not good enough. For years I was told this and felt like there was no room for growth. Being in a position to keep going and a job that shows you a path of progress has both a negative and positive impact. It just depends on how your outlook is.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
AAH: Get it done.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
AAH: Perseverance.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
AAH: I prefer illustrator but of course every program has it’s purpose. I love book s for inspiration and nature for it’s emotional impact to clear my mind.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
AAH: At the beginning of the week I have to manage time slots for a lot of meetings. Although in cases of time consuming tasks I do end up working late nights which I ill admit I enjoy.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
AAH: Every project is different. Deadlines are a reality and an everyday occurrence but I do try to take my time as I feel this makes the process more streamlined and helps everything flow as they should. The creative process is a tricky one to manage especially being a perfectionist.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
AAH: How much will this cost me.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
AAH: The experience is the most important as well as learning from it.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
AAH: Mostly food clients. Some international but mostly small startups or Corporate food companies including Restaurant’s Canada and Yummy Market. I also work for a studio where I work on various food brands.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
AAH: The projects that I am most involved in and the ones I learn the most from. Those are the best projects. If it takes me off site like a photoshoot or a restaurant that I am experiencing for the first time. This is also a bonus.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
AAH: I am happy, but I hope to bring in more food packaging projects and working towards doing speaking gigs.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
AAH: I do all my work myself, but I sometimes hire a photographer, illustrator or Developer.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
AAH: I’m currently finishing up a 32 page document that I fully designed for the University of Toronto. Not food related but still a fun project.

FS: How can people contact you?
AAH: Email is best.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
AAH: Nope. Thank you for the opportunity.


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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