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This month, the AAGD Spotlight is on Ariel, Winner of the 2022 BlackMade Branding Award

April 2023



Tell us about you?

Hey y’all! I’m an award winning multidisciplinary artist and designer straight outta Houston. I’ve been an artist and designer for 16 years even though I’m 29 lol! If I’m not drawing or designing, I’m stuffing my face with good food, vibing at a live music venue, travelling, or playing with my 3 month old daughter, Samaria.


What are some of your favorite tools or applications you use? Or can’t do without?

I must have my iPad with me at all times. I love sketching and drawing with Adobe Fresco. I also can’t live without my notebook. I always have a million ideas in my head at once, so it helps to write them down. My last must have tool is my phone. I stay finding inspiration on the internet whether through social media or the Behance app or just straight up Google. And Photoshop is my baby. I started designing in Photoshop as a teenager, so it has a special place in my heart.

What type of work do you enjoy most?

I love when I can design around art and illustration. My first love as a kid was drawing, and it is still my passion today. Whenever I can combine my art with design, I have the best time. I noticed this when I started doing work for clients and noticed I was the happiest during the sketching phase of a brand identity project.


Which project left the biggest impact on you as a designer/creative?

So far, I have actually two projects that really fed my soul. The first project was the Celebrating Black History project for a company called Viant. The client was amazing, and they trusted me to create something powerful. It was so powerful that I won my first award as a designer – the 2022 BlackMade Branding Award. The second project was for a friend called Smoke Sum BBQ. This project is so close to me is because the entire brand was a surprise. The only information I had was research I did on my own of him and his vision for his business, stalking his business social media, etc. When I presented it to him, he was in tears and mentioned to me that his late father picked a similar color scheme for his famous hot sauce. I’ve found often that following my creative intuition has been almost supernatural.

What advice do you have for younger or less experienced Black/AA designers?

I would say practice is key. I’m not a traditionally trained designer, but I’ve spent hundreds of hours over years to get to where I am. Never stop learning and growing. Also, follow your passion. Who wants to get caught up doing uninspiring busy work? I mean, if you gotta pay bills, do what you gotta do, but focus on your passion as much as possible. It will open many doors, and it’ll make the journey to those doors much more tolerable.

What would you say is the best way to take advantage of the AAGD network?

Get active! Talk, post, comment in the group. The AAGD membership app is a blessing and way more people should be in it. The Viant project I mentioned above was from AAGD. The more you participate, the more you will get out of the group, I promise.


How do you deal with creative block?

I step away. I try to add this possibility to my turnaround times to allow myself that freedom to close my computer when I’m not feeling it. I go do basically anything else – watch tv, go outside, hit the gym, listen to music. And then I’m back trying again the next day. Sometimes I just need to go to sleep and reset my eyes and my mind.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in what you do?

You don’t need a degree exactly. You just need to have a passion for it. If it’s on your heart, go for it. Grab some books, go to YouTube university, find some mock briefs, build a portfolio and GO! And join AAGD. It’s the best place for AA designers to network, get advice and feedback.

If you had a message on your wrist, what would it be?

One day at a time.

Ask Ariel a question during her AAGD Live interview with Gabi Zuniga on April 13, 6:30 pm. Tune into AAGD IG and we’ll see you there!


Connect with Ariel

Website: Behance

IG: @arielthecreator



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