Today we’d like to introduce you to Angela Soliz.
Angela, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I think because I grew up in two different worlds, being half Chicana and half white. I’ve always been really good at communication. I experienced different cultures and languages, different world views and ways of communicating, at least that is how I see it when I look back now. Art and design are my first love, my true love. The first design and marketing contest I won was in seventh grade. It was a contest for the best business card and the winner got a printed box of their card design, 30 other students made a submission. Career wise though, I have come at this in a less than conventional manner. It took me seven years to get my bachelor’s degree! I graduated in 2008 with a BA in feminist theory, a minor in art history and 30 credits of art and design- during the recession when hiring freezes were the norm.
I got creative, I had to figure out how to explain my degree for the usable skills that businesses needed and I always included my design skills on my resume. Because of this, I have had the privilege of working with women entrepreneurs my entire career- every skill I have has been cultivated under the courage, innovation and actions of women leaders and business owners. I have had the privilege of working with authors, jewelry designers, executive directors, shop owners, property managers and CEOs. Running my design studio has been a natural progression.
Has it been a smooth road?
I’ve had ups and downs! Starting your own business is not for the faint of heart. I think for me the biggest shift has come around mindset. Shifting from the perspective of a consumer to the perspective of a business owner, a producer, has been game changing. Its also about letting go of this idea of competition. I believe everyone has a unique value to add. Once I started to internalize the fact that I will approach a project and develop a solution in a way that only I can, I was really able to understand what I had to offer. The bottom line, that is what makes each of us unique. In an art class, when you have 30 students working on the same assignment, you get 30 stunning and drastically different solutions. Choosing a designer for your business isn’t just about skill, its also about style and approach. This means I can make friends in my industry, I can learn and grow and support their rise, as much as my own. And it means the standard for the work I do as an artist is ‘does it look like something I made? Did I do my best work? I would love to see the value of the entire design profession rise and I am grateful to have so many talented colleagues to learn from.
Tell us more about the business.
When I listen to small business owners and entrepreneurs talk about the reasons they start a business, they talk about freedom. My passion is helping new businesses take their ideas from concept to reality because I know I am helping people change their communities and make better lives for themselves and their children. I love strategy and believe that design and branding need to be rooted in passion. It isn’t about selling or marketing, it is about connecting. I run an independent design studio and offer brand coaching, logo and asset creation and brand marketing.
In many ways, design and marketing are about producing culture. The ability to put out visual and creative material, videos, commercials, and scenes of lifestyle marketing is actively creating the world. Take that a step further and there is a choice in whether the ad upholds stereotypical narratives or if it is reflecting a different truth. To be able to work with a business and a social mission in using this opportunity to create a world we want to live in that to me is the challenge and the power of a brand. I work with brave business owners, first-generation business owners, people with social missions and people who have a higher vision of the world- they see possibility and solution. When you have a vision like that, bringing quality graphic skill and execution can amplify the message enormously. The reality is that we are bombarded with words, yet we notice shape and color before we notice copy. Design is a non-verbal language that can amplify your copy and help you connect emotionally with your core audience, and, if done right, it can also explain who you are and what you stand for.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
For me, the exciting thing about working as a brand designer is understanding marketing and graphic design as culture-making. In that sense, I don’t think any advertising method, whether it be grassroots zines or sleek phone apps, is off the table. As long as marketing is about communicating, the possibilities are endless. This also means that while social media in the digital space is non-negotiable, so are other forms of marketing adjacent to the digital space- like editorial content, grassroots marketing and paid media outlets.
New technology is also radically increasing the level of detail and skill brought to illustration, graphic design, mural painting, fabric design and brand execution. To maintain or increase the quality of diverse thought, this knowledge and technology must be accessible to every part of our communities- queer, brown, female, genderqueer, poor, black, differently-abled. Without our voices, the world is not a better place and so this is a community concern for everyone in the industry.