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Design Educator, Mentor, and Creative Director at Studio Dzo


Tell us about you?

I am the Co-Owner and Creative Director at Studio Dzo. I am also an Adjunct Professor at Austin Community College. I love to travel and read.

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

I still love pen and pencil sketching. Even though we are a fully remote team I still scrawl out ideas on post-it notes. No application gives you the ability to get ideas out faster.


What type of work do you enjoy most?

While I don’t often get the opportunity to spend much actually designing anymore I do love layout out long form copy. I find it quite relaxing and rewarding to take a bunch of pages of information and laying out to be more visually digestible and engaging.

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

Rebranding Austin Gay Men’s Chorus, formally known as Capital City Men’s Chorus. What I thought was going to be a rather turnkey rebrand really opened my eyes up to be impact design can bring. They had been around for over 30 years and asked us to help them along the journey of exploring a new name and a new visual identity. We spent weeks working closely with many of the members; listening to their wants, needs, and concerns with rebranding. Once we completed the project they debuted the name and the new brand to a sold out weekend. Ever since the rebrand that we did they have sold out every performance. Something they hadn’t done in the years prior. The impact of design bring to individuals can be life changing.

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

The key to success is, “Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it.” It’s that simple. Be reliable and communicative and you will be a superhero to your clients.

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

There is an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience available to you. Make contact and ask! There’s plenty of game to soak up. A closed mouth don’t get fed.

How do you deal with creative block?

Like all creatives, I suffer with self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Sometimes this leaves me spinning my wheels. When I am stuck, I get away from the computer and change my environment. I’ll go outside with a pen and a notebook and sketch and write. Taking a few moments from trying to force something typically gives me the boost that I need. When I am in a real funk I have to hop on a plan and really switch up the scenery.

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

Reach out directly to those doing what you want to do. If you get an opportunity to speak with them, spend more time listening. Be appreciative and find ways to show them that you value them. Believe it or not we all want to help. But only those that willing to put in the work.

If you had an inspirational message tattooed on your wrist, what would it be?

This is what you wanted.


Connect with Russell:

Studio Dzo website:


Insta: @studiodzo


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