Robert Sneed is a talented illustrator and content creator with a large following on YouTube. Sneed is an up and coming freelance designer with an MFA in Graphic Design. Sneed a proud graduate of Lincoln University of Missouri an 1890 land-grant institution founder in 1866 where he obtained his bachelors. He currently holds an MFA from Full Sall University and since graduating he’d pushed his design business to new heights.
Tell me about your early years and where you come from.
I was born in the city of St. Louis, MO where I attended Catholic school up until the 8th grade. We then moved out of the city of St. Louis and into Florissant, MO where I started my earliest pursuits in entrepreneurship. My first hustle was a lemonade stand that sold cookies and kool-aid. I then moved into lawn services in which I created my own fliers on Microsoft Word. I would then go into High School at McCluer North where I joined a small group of young entrepreneurs that were dedicated to creating gifts and selling them during the Christmas seasons.
How did you first get interested in design?
My interest came from cartoon influences. This is where I learned color theory and art consistency.
Tell me about the work you've done?
Most of my work has been in the fashion and cosmetics industry. I’ve been designing clothing for companies since 2008. No matter if it was a company that was wanting to advertise or a streetwear line wanting to appeal more to their demographics, I provided a look and feel that caters to their needs. I’ve also created a number of motion graphics, print ads and websites that illustrates a these needs.
What are your proudest accomplishments of your career?
I’m most proud of my YouTube content. With this, I’ve been able to inspire and motivate. When I look back at the subscribers and how they respond to the content I created that either teaches them or engages them, I can genuinely see people learning and using my methodology to create the lifestyle that they want.
What have been your biggest struggles of your career?
My biggest struggles (my current struggles) comes with time. I never really have time to sit down and enjoy what I got because I’m always working to surpass where I am.
What are you doing that's special that sets you apart from your peers?
There’s this old saying that “those who don’t, teach…”. In my case, I teach and do. So not only are you learning from me, I’m also showing you how it is beneficial. Since I’m from the “Show Me State”, I’m always looking for opportunities to show my progress while teaching what I learned on the way.
What have your experience been as a person of color in the design industry?
Honestly, I had to learn that color is green, gold, and silver when it comes to this industry. If it makes money, then it makes sense. When starting as a freelancer in the design industry, most people will work for pennies because they’re promoting themselves as a “black business”. Then you’ll see somebody like Chris Do from Blind telling people he hustles $5000-$10,000 websites because he knows his worth. Being in the design industry is telling yourself that you are worth so much more than what people will tell you. Now of course, I applied for jobs and those jobs didn’t hire me. However, I knew that if I were to take those jobs, then those job weren’t going to pay me what I am worth.
What are your biggest motivators?
My YouTube comment section is my hugest motivation. On the other hand, I framed my last rejection letter from a design job. I do this because it motivates me to stay hungry yet true to myself.
How do your friends and family feel about the work you've done?
My family and friends are now my hugest supporters. It wasn’t always like that. However, when the money started rolling in, and people started knowing me, my friends and family started refering my name out more and more.
What do you love most about working in design?
I love delivering and revealing my finals to a client. Their expressions on their faces when they see their ideas come to life makes me cry sometimes. It’s those “aha” and/or the face of disappointment moments that push me to continue
What would you like to see changed about the design field?
I would love to see people focus more on making meaningful content for their apparel.
How can design be more accommodating to underrepresented populations of people?
To design is to literally plan. If the underrepresented populations of people would plan/design their successes and move with it consistently without worrying about the number of followers they have, then the success will come. I use to think that having a job was the success that we should want to obtain as a designer. However, just design something and you will see yourself being more known for what you do. Next thing you know, those underrepresented populations of people have heroes emerging from them.
What are you working on right now, either for work or for yourself?
I am actually putting together a clothing line. In this clothing line, I’ll be able to outsource other designers to further a collection to which they will receive credit for.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? Do you think you'll stay in design?
In 5 years, I plan to retire from the labor work of design. I want to start a class session where I can teach and invest in young entrepreneurs.
What advice would you give to folks from similar backgrounds who are in design or hoping to get into it?
Know your worth. People will try to scam you or make you look like a scam. It’s up to you to have a backbone. If you feel like someone is playing with your time, then don’t be afraid to tell them no. This will save you in the long run.