August is here which means the tears are fixing to overflow as the 2023 summer internship at a small studio comes to a close! We (Ella and Eme– the interns) refuse to leave on too sad a note. There’s no better way to wrap up these 10 weeks than sharing our wonderful adventure at a small studio and the product we put our blood, sweat, and thankfully not tears into (no interns were hurt in the making of this project).
Meet the interns
So what void did these two passionate, goofy, bold interns pop out of?
Massachusetts and Florida. Two very different states that created two pretty sick interns 😎. Here’s the tea from Ellie– our collective intern name.
Eme: Representing Massholes everywhere, I grew up in Dartmouth, MA and spent my college years at Boston University studying graphic design and printmaking. As you can already tell, I have a love for all things printed and created by hand, and I’m continually learning how to infuse those elements into my digital work. I spent a lot of my summer basically fist-fighting Figma but other than that, the last few months with a small studio have been full of exploration, growth, curiosity, so many questions (none of them dumb), and lots of little wins :)
Ella: I’m from Tampa, Florida and just graduated from The University of Florida this spring (yes, there were two gators on the team this summer and we never let them hear the end of it 🐊). I’m indecisive and love all types of design, but digital just calls my name sometimes. Nearly all of my experience comes from advertising. a small studio was the last place I expected to be, but things happens for a reason and if I needed any proof of that– this summer was it.
Now let’s get to the good part….
We began the summer with a simple question to kick off our project: How can a small studio engage the next generation of emerging creatives? It’s a simple question, but it led us down a rabbit hole of data, anecdotes, and trauma bonding.
We began where all good informed things begin– with research. We started with the 2022 WeTransfer Ideas Report: a roundup of insights into the mental health, work-life balance, growth, and careers of creatives. Here’s the main takeaway: “nearly 70% (of creatives) embrace the notion that toil, not unique talent per se, is the key to success.” Most people accept that grind culture is an integral part of the creative field and that burnout is inevitable. It made us wonder, if everyone is feeling this way, why can’t everyone agree to change it?
We wanted to hear more from the creative community about the experience they’re having in the industry, and learn about their struggles and hopes for the future of the field - so we asked them through a survey. A big one. For example, when asked about what people would want to see changed in the creative industry, respondents consistently said better work life balance, less grind mentality, livable wages, and more BIPOC leadership.
So many of these problems are fixable. Seeing how many of them were universal, reinforced a widespread feeling that this industry needs to change for the better. All of these issues are tied together by a few elements: connection, community, transparency, and mental health. That’s where we founded the basis of this project.
As we began to build out our survey, we realized we’d need to expand our audience a little beyond emerging creatives to make something that bettered the creative industry as a whole.
We landed on three types of creatives.
The student creatives: still in school. The emerging creative: at the beginning of their journey. The established creative: the pros. With these three perspectives included, we felt set to make a product that could be restorative and joyful for everyone.
The next step was to channel our childlike wonder and build out our visual identity. We started by doodling and moodboarding - and we clearly had way too much fun with the process.
The goal was to take all the physical textures and fun of a card game and bring them into the digital world– all while keeping everything balanced, engaging, and fresh. We did that by pixellating our illustrated characters and icons, then warping them and layering scanned-in paper textures for that misprinted vibe. In terms of a palette, we decided on colors that you’d normally see printed, and added a vibrant digital blue to keep with our analog-meets-8-bit aesthetic. Same with our font choices: Argent Pixel CF, a pixellated serif typeface, and DM Sans, a clean, legible, but slightly quirky sans serif for all our body copy needs– the perfect pairing for an analog-inspired digital product.
How did all those elements actually come together?
The site can be broken down into a few key elements: the main page, the pop ups, and the interactions.
The Main Page
This is the bread and butter of Creative Checkup. The main playground, the sandbox– whatever elementary analogy you want to use. People first have to answer how their creative health is today– jump-starting their thoughts on themselves and the purpose of this site. Then it’s up to them to explore! No one tells you how to play when you’re a kid right? They can scroll in any direction, and click on cards to uncovering the survey data beneath. They might find a resource hidden in there. They might find hard-hitting survey questions. They might find a picture of John B. Johnson. Just kidding– we didn’t think to put that in until now.
The Pop Ups
This site is more than just a fun display of data though. The filter lets users get hyper-specific in their data viewing, sorting through demographics, types of questions, and types of creatives. People can get niche and find the intersections. The submissions allows people to contribute more of their own experiences through survey question suggestions and unique resources. We weren’t going to spend 10 weeks on this and not tell you who made it too. Find out more about Ellie on the about pop up.
To keep our card-game vibe going, we included a few moments of digital-analog delight with our interactions. Every card animates to show a flip upon click, and our data shuffle button does just that. The cards fly in, move around, and disperse out with your new categorized information.
We have a merch nerd on the intern team, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pull together some super sick tees. Wayyyy back in the beginning of the project, we decided having a printed element to the final product was a must– what’s a better way to alleviate screen fatigue and burnout than to touch something physical? Our Creative Checkup merch line lives on yet another popup, but the link to this one’s hidden among the cards 🤫 how many will you have to flip to find it?
If you think we stopped there, you don’t know team Ellie that well. Introducing Creative WrapUp: a yearly roundup of insights into your personal creative health. Think Spotify Wrapped, but instead of judging your friends on their music taste, you’re exposing all the toxic, burnout-inducing, and inequitable things about the creative industry - all through super shareable playing card graphics. Yeah, you might get roasted on Instagram for publicly admitting you’ve canceled plans to do client work, but you’re really contributing to radical transparency and positive change in the creative world, one card at a time.
That’s the wrap on our Creative WrapUp. If we took a moment to look at our original mission in retrospect, we might change it to say: Empowering the next generation of creatives to reimagine the well-being our creative ecosystem.
That’s ultimately what our project aims to do and what we, as emerging creatives, hope to see.
It brings attention to the ways we as creatives treat ourselves, enter the industry, build connections, and form communities. We hope to see creatives pushing these values to the forefront of the creative ecosystem as this next generation of creatives comes in as unapologetically themselves.
Our Love Letter to the Creative Industry
If you’re a part of the creative community in any way– this is our love letter to you.
Give your creatives a sandbox and trust them to build a castle. This project only happened because we were encouraged to play and given the support to do so. Being given the space to play and explore only makes that work more fun, engaging, and unique.
Meet your creatives in the middle, and they’ll meet you there as well. Whether you’re just entering this industry or an established company, remember that authentic collaboration is how ground-breaking progress is made. Don’t be afraid to let your team push the envelope.
Embrace and build the creative community. People are what make this industry great. A lot has changed since Covid, and the migration to an even more digital world hasn’t been easy, but progress is made when we find new ways to build community and connect on a personal level.
At the end of the day, we couldn’t have done any of this without the incredibly talented and squirrel-obsessed team at a small studio. They’re a tiny but mighty group, and they gave us the belief and support we needed to thrive. They provided a safe space to crash when we failed and guidance when we were a little lost. All of these things were equally important to our growth this summer, the development of Creative Checkup, and our hopes and dreams for the future of the creative field. This intern project has become so much more than we had ever expected, and the team helped us understand the potential it has to impact the industry for the better and the power that we as creatives hold.
To a small studio: thank you, we’ll miss you, and keep playing in that sandbox.
Much love, Eme and Ella ❤️ 🛎️