Short Bio

Jade is a 24-year-old illustrator and graphic designer. Having extensive knowledge and an advanced skill set of the Adobe creative suite Jade has been actively working in the career field since graduating magna cum laude from the University of Missouri- St. Louis in 2015. It was there she got her degree in Fine Arts and Communications, emphasizes in graphic design.

She has worked for a variety of distinguished design firms in the St. Louis area touching a multitude of creative projects for notable clientele. That would lead her to her current position as graphic designer for the start-up tech company LockerDome located in downtown St. Louis. Apart from the professional design world, she freelances part-time and specializes in futuristic, minimalistic, and clean, design that compliments bold typography and flamboyant color palettes.

In her downtime (designing aside) she enjoys being a mom to a 4-year-old son Tahj. He loves to read, shop, and can be slightly OCD when it comes to planning and organizing making a million and one “to-do” lists a day.

Recent Work

Tell me about your early years and where you come from.

I am a St. Louis native born and raised. I am an only child, as I kid I was really shy, quiet, nerdy. Keep to myself a lot, did what I was supposed to, a “good kid”. Apart from breaking out of my shell more nothing has really changed.

How did you first get interested in design?

I’ve had an interest in art (specifically fine art) since I was 9 years old. People took notice to my early drawings as a kid and praised me on how good they were for my age. I continued on this path all the way up until high school. It was not until I started college at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, that I was introduced to graphic design, and I fell in love. I’ve been at it ever since.

Tell me about the work you've done?

My work either speaks to my truths as a young African American woman focusing on issues such as colorism or focuses on my style taking a more futuristic, geometric, minimalistic approach to my work. Sometimes it is a combination of both using design as a tool to voice my own personal truths with the things that have relevance in my life in the present moment.

What are your proudest accomplishments of your career?

My proudest accomplishments so far as a young designer just really starting out and planting my seeds in this garden we call the “design world” I would have to say landing my current job as a full-time graphic designer for LockerDome.

What have been your biggest struggles of your career?

I don’t know if this a struggle more than it is a challenge. And that is just the challenge of growth and envisioning where I see myself 5-10 years from now. I plan to be one of the top black African American female designs in the country. So now it’s about execution, patience, and working my way up to the top to get there. The reason there has been so much controversy with regards to big name brands such as Dove and H&M campaigns and their lack of representing African Americans “properly” and overlooking things that come off as offensive is because there is a lack of African American creatives in those boardrooms like myself who would’ve instantly caught those discrepancies.

What are you doing that's special that sets you apart from your peers?

To be honest being an African American, and female at that in any career but more specifically in the design world is pretty unique. There are not a lot of African Americans in this career field as it currently stands so being black and female and venturing on a career path is lacking this kind of diversity makes people like myself rare to an extent.

What have your experience been as a person of color in the design industry?

Well besides noticing the fact that there aren’t too many people of color in this industry I find myself being the first or one of few everywhere I go. That has been true about school even outside of my design classes; I would be the only “black girl” or one of two or three. Same as in my career. I believe I am the first African American female employee at LockerDome ever. So at the same time that it is empowering and something I am used to, but it is also kind of sad. In my opinion the industry as a whole needs more African Americans in this career field both male and female. Times are changing, but with this issue, I feel like things could be progressing a lot faster than they are and I want to be a contributor that change. So if I have to be the first to allow a lot of others to come after me, then I don’t mind being the only “black girl.”

What are your biggest motivators?

My absolute number one motivator is my son Tahj who is four years old now. He is my pride and joy; he is the reason I am motivated to do anything in life. I had Tahj very young while I was in college in fact and we all know the stereotype: another black girl getting knocked up and dropping out, forcing to work a minimum wage job, living paycheck to paycheck. But that didn’t happen for me. I was on scholarship, and I was not only able to continue without taking a break or losing my scholarship, but I also worked harder. I graduated on time, with honors being on top in all of my classes. I graduated with his clapping in the audience as I received my diploma. I then continued to work hard not just in my career field to land internships to full-time job opportunities but also in life getting my apartment alone, paying bills alone, raising him alone, and I wouldn’t change anything about my experience. Tahj is my light. Everything I do in life is for him, with him by my side. If you see me, you also see him. I want to show him that no matter what life throws at you if you want it and work hard to get it then its already yours.

How do your friends and family feel about the work you've done?

The more my friends and family see the work I produce whether on my new website, or on Instagram or wherever I think they like the work I produce and are proud of me. I don’t think they understand the amount of work that it takes and just sees the finished products of things, but they love it. I think they appreciate the amount of success I’ve had so far at such a young age. I’m only 24, and I still have a long way to go. My friends are inspired by me, when to be honest they inspire me.

What do you love most about working in design?

Design is just my passion there isn’t one thing above the other that I could say I love the most. It feeds my soul. If I woke up and hit the lottery and never had to work another day in my life I would still probably be designing. Design gives me purpose. It makes me dance, it makes me feel good. I was given a gift for art and creativity and I need to see this gift out. To not use our gifts no matter what that gift is would be doing the world an injustice.

What would you like to see changed about the design field?

I am really just pushing for more diversity. It is absolutely necessary and not up for debate. The question is how do we as a unit accomplish this.

How can design be more accommodating to underrepresented populations of people?

I feel like introducing design at an earlier age, to provide underprivileged communities with a passion for creating not only educating them but providing them with a creative, safe space with design programs. That will help tremendously. It honestly could have the possibilities of keeping them active in a positive way, and keep them focused on something more significant.

What are you working on right now, either for work or for yourself?

Right now I just wrapped up my re-brand. So Jade is my middle name, and people who I freelance for and the very small art scene of the south city area all know me by Jade, but before recently all my associations in the professional design world know me by Tempestt (my first name). It was just getting too confusing because I have a growing freelancing business and thinking about continuing to grow and expand in the professional design realm I wanted to go by one name so I’m sticking with Jade. So I just re-branded everything. I have a newly updated resume, new business cards, a new website that I just wrapped up, so I’m super excited. It’s something I worked very hard on for the past two months and something I am very proud of.

Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? Do you think you'll stay in design?

My dream is to move to New York, Manhattan or Brooklyn and spread my design seeds there. Again I want to be one of the top African American designers in the country working for large brand names and corporations where my input will make a difference and represent black people as a whole accurately, give them a voice. Being black is beautiful, I love being black. And I want people to see the beauty that is us and not the representation that America wants us to see. I want people to see us and represent us have we genuinely are.

What advice would you give to folks from similar backgrounds who are in design or hoping to get into it?

I would just say if you are on this design path and it is something you love to do, and this goes for black, white, Asian, latina, yellow, pink, purple, green if you want it to go for it. I believe we will all and forever be students so just learn from your experiences, try new things, meet new people (advice I need to take for myself), have no fear. Fear isn’t real its all in your head, and you can’t let something that is made up in your head stop you from following your dreams. Whether you want to change the world or just change the circumstances in your neighborhood any positive impact is bettering the world, and you are making a difference.