I recently had the honor of doing an exclusive interview for Revision Path, a dedicated resource set on inspiring, empowering and educating the community of black graphic and web design professionals.
Designer and Revision Path editor Siedah Mitchum really made me dig deep into what inspired me to start my design firm, theComplex Media, and why I launched an online publication, Sinuous Magazine.
We also dove into some of my hardships, biggest business fears, what inspires me to keep going, and so much more.
Check out a couple of snippets below, read the full interview, and watch one of the most inspiring videos I can ever share with you:
A fear when it comes to the future of your businesses:
“The what if. “What if this doesn’t work?” “What if I fail?” It’s a toxic question, so it’s a matter of ignoring it, which is easier said than done…”
How do you manage to handle both businesses?
“It means I don’t sleep, I have very little free time, and I sacrifice a lot. Launching the second business has definitely consumed my life. My friends and family actually resent it a bit. But the year I launched the magazine, I saw a clip of Eric Thomas, the Hip-hop Preacher talking about “wanting success like you want to breathe.” I hear those words in my head daily and even play the video when I start to get weary. I want to be successful as much I want to breathe, period.”
Do you feel you had more obstacles to face in this industry as a young African American woman?
“I get his question a lot and absolutely. Young, means you don’t know anything. Black means you’re immediately inferior and you can only enjoy certain things designated as “Black,” which in the U.S., excludes the rest of the diaspora.
And being female means you only talk about Louis Vuitton shoes and lip gloss. I’ve spent most of my life proving I have a mind.”
Eric Thomas, The Hip Hop Preacher: “Want success like you want to breathe…”
Lanaé has been featured on Mark Bailey‘s The Dogg Blogg to celebrate Women’s History Month! See below:
Continuing with The Dogg Blogg Women’s History Month Series this week’s feature is Lanaé (theComplex Media & Design).
I have always admired her work and was honored to feature her. What I most admired was her ability to transcend her knowledge of design and eye for that perfect look into many different mediums; from photography to multimedia to print and web design.
Some people have a way of looking at things in a way that inspires the right design and Lanaé is one of those people.
DOGG BLOG: I have always enjoyed your [Sinuous Magazine] because it doesn’t only focus on design but everything that is influenced by design such as photography, fashion, music, film, etc. What topic do you enjoy writing about the most?
Lanaé: Thank you so much, firstly. I think the posts that I get into the most are the controversial ones, the politics behind the music, art or technology. I’m from a family of debaters so I’m always ready to ruffle feathers! I get very excited and also nervous when they are about to publish. Next in line would be our creative features, I absolutely love showcasing the amazing work of others.
DB: You attended and graduated from The Art Institute of New York City so you do have some formal training. Do you find that you are still constantly learning?
Lanaé: Absolutely! Every single day, especially with the ability to connect with other designers on Twitter, Facebook and blogs, I learn something new constantly. I had taught myself HTML by the time I reached middle school so going to school for design as a young adult laid a foundation and opened my world. As design evolves, I keep myself submerged therefore learning is unavoidable.
DB: While in school did you see a lot of women in your field of study (Web Design and Multimedia).
Lanaé: We started out with a lot of young women, most of them being in the Graphic Design program, while there were just a few of us in the Multimedia and Web Design program. Most of the school assumed I was a fashion student. By the time graduation came, I was the only female left in my program. The ultimate goal with theComplex Media would be to provide a program that pushes more girls who are interested in design and IT toward those fields.
DB: From your obvious fashion sense to the clean look of your web and print designs, it’s obvious you have an eye for design. When did you decide to go into this field?
Lanaé: In my junior year of high school, I decided that I’d study design and get a job in that field to support myself through law school. However, once I reached New York City and the SoHo neighborhood that AINY resides in, my life was officially consumed with art. And as our final exhibition approached, our Advanced Typography instructor had a former student speak. He was a black 26-year-old Art Director at Sean John with a beautiful body of work and I immediately said, “that’s it, I’m going to do that… even in a field where Art/Creative Directors are typically no younger than 40.”
DB: If you aren’t afraid to give up your secret recipe, what are some of your favorite photography and graphic design software and tools?
Lanaé: I have no problem mentioning my most used tools, the software and tools really only make things easier, they in no way make or break good design. My Canon XTi is my baby and Photoshop is my most used software for both graphics and photo manipulation.
DB: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Lanaé: Everything I see or hear becomes inspiration. For instance, words on a page are no longer just words on a page, they are shapes on a canvas. I try to take notes of everything I see and like.
DB: What advice would you give someone that wants to turn their designer’s eye into a solid business.
Lanaé: As I’m also still a student in this area, I’d suggest having patience. Success doesn’t happen overnight without taking the necessary steps toward each goal. After 6 years in the design field, I still have to repeat this major rule to myself.