We’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Emily on artwork for Dropbox.Design and are thrilled to feature her in this publication. Here’s what she had to say:

Can you share any stories from your creative career when being a womxn was a focus, for better or worse?

I’ve worked for many different womxn, with many different personality types. I think the key to success, individually and as a community, is vocalizing praise and admiration and truly supporting each other. We need to celebrate each other’s wins. When the goal is to get ahead and to be seen, you’re not making your best work. When you are creating for others through your own lens, the opportunity for conversation and growth is insane.

How does your identity as a womxn inform your work?

Less than the work itself, my identity informs how I approach my work. Having heard things like, “If you were a man, you’d be a creative director by now,” and being on dates where someone feels threatened and makes comments like, “With the work you’ve been doing, you must be saving for, what, your third house by now?” I’ve had to maneuver conversations and approach things with caution.

Emily Simms

Photograph by Emily Simms

Emily Simms

Photograph by Emily Simms

How have communities like Ladies Who Create impacted you?

Sometimes all you need is to know that there are people out there who give a damn, and communities like Ladies Who Create are doing just that.

Do you draw inspiration from anyone in the field?

All of the womxn in my life. I’ve been so lucky to form friendships with so many amazing designers, floral artists, illustrators, etc., and they inspire me daily.

What about career inspiration?

David Byrne. I have a deep admiration for his constant curiosity, willingness to explore new territories, and the sense of humor paired with intelligence he brings to his work.

The color palette in the True Stories scene where John Ingle is singing “Puzzlin’ Evidence” inspired the first logo I designed for myself.

René Redzepi, the chef behind Noma, is someone I grew to admire greatly after reading his journal. Through his honesty, I was able to learn a lot about leadership.

Emily Simms

How do you navigate anxiety about work?

Patience and empathy. This is something I am constantly working on.

When things feel uncertain or overwhelming, I find myself catastrophizing to prepare for the worst. I worry that I am not doing enough, that I’m not good enough, that I’m not growing at the rate I thought I would, and it can become pretty consuming.

The reality is, there is so much that goes on behind closed doors and things that amount to a greater picture beyond work and beyond the day-to-day.

Focusing on the things I can control and letting go of the things I can’t has been my recent mantra. That, and giving myself the space to step away, breathe, and rationalize. We live in times of instant gratification, which I think might lend itself to feeling the need to create immediate solutions. But the reality is, very few of us are saving lives and we can benefit from taking a beat on the things that need it.

What do you want to be doing in five years?

Truthfully, I find it incredibly difficult to set long-term goals for myself. I definitely have pipe dreams beyond the world of design, but I also know that where I am now is not where I thought I would be five years ago—in the best way.

I’m working on the mentality of being better tomorrow than I am today and celebrating the small wins. I’m sure those will amount to a big victory—whatever that may be.

What is the best career advice you’ve received?

Get over yourself.

Behind the scenes with Emily Simms
Even when she's behind the scenes, Emily's eye shines with each snap. Rich colors and textures pop on the set of her photo shoots. - Photograph by Emily Simms

What is one way that we can make work human?

I think we could all benefit from f*cking up a little bit more.

Fears of failure and judgment have a tendency to create boundaries around work that prevent us from being vulnerable and allowing imperfections. I am constantly at odds with my desire to produce work that tells my story and my fear of allowing people the opportunity to form an opinion about my work. But through vulnerability we give the space to make connections.

I truly believe that by giving myself the space to make mistakes and allowing myself to feel vulnerable, my work will feel more human, the process will feel more human, and, in turn, I will learn exponentially faster than if I am fixated on perfection.

How do you overcome a creative rut?

Cooking a meal for my friends and sharing in great conversation. A sense of home amongst my “chosen” family reminds me of all I have to be grateful for in times when I’m feeling sorry for myself (which often is when I’m experiencing a creative block).

What message do you have for womxn in the creative community?

Take the time you need to trust yourself. Trust yourself to succeed; trust yourself to try; trust yourself to make mistakes. If you can do that, you can open yourself up to a whole new world of possibility.

If you enjoyed Emily's story, check out the Ladies Who Create column and request a free copy of Feminist Propaganda, our new magazine that explores identity, feminism, and work.

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