Lucky for us, she also leads the interactive design team at Dropbox. We asked her some questions about navigating work and identity. Here’s what she said:

How would you describe your creative practice?

Telling engaging stories through the power of brand.

How does your identity as a womxn inform your work?

Early in my career, I had to fight really hard for my opinions and recommendations to be heard. So as I’ve led design teams, I take a very inclusive and open approach. This applies not only to the work in reviews or design sessions—making sure everyone’s voices are heard and shared—but also in how I manage my reports. I always ask for feedback and have spent a lot of time learning how to better communicate, listen, and allow the people who work for me to be heard and seen.

What does feminism mean to you?

Equal rights for womxn and men.

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

Actually, other than Dropbox, I’ve always worked at companies that were definitely a “boys’ club” and had to fight really hard to infiltrate and influence. I’ve failed at speaking my mind when it mattered, many times. I learned to find allies (womxn and men) who help empower and lift up my voice. And then, once I was able to navigate that, I worked to use my perspective as a womxn to better recruit, redefine my team’s culture, and mentor my designers.

Liz and her mama

Photograph by Elizabeth Gilmore

How do you train your creative muscle?

The biggest creative muscle I’ve been “working out” (haha) is actually my muscle of creative direction. Previously working as a high-performing individual contributor, the shift to not only doing the work but also designing through a team of talented designers is fun! I’ve found even more gratification in watching my designers grow, learn, and problem-solve, because they uncover solutions that I would have never thought of. So really it’s a lesson in how to creatively communicate and collaborate with others to make awesome work TOGETHER.

How do you navigate anxiety about work?

I used to get all of my emotional gratification from work, and that quickly turned unhealthy and unsustainable. So I’ve made real efforts to make sure that I understand that my job is my job and it’s only one part of me, not everything. Since having a son, I’ve worked hard at compartmentalizing areas of my life so they’re not bleeding into one another. It’s a learned skill, and I’ve definitely failed at it multiple times, but in that failure you learn more about your own boundaries and priorities. I’ve realized you can have different priorities for different parts of your life too!

Another way to navigate anxiety about work is to really lean on and trust in your team and coworkers. This can be a scary approach, but for me, building empathy for each other has this calming effect, where isolation starts to disappear and camaraderie really triumphs! Lean on each other!!! And if work sucks, at least you kinda like the people you get to be around!

What do you want to be doing in five years?

Finally figuring out how to make a sourdough starter, lol.

Tangerine dream by Liz

Photograph by Elizabeth Gilmore

Flowers by Liz

Photograph by Elizabeth Gilmore

How do you overcome a creative rut?

Not getting on the internet, ha! I’ve found the best way for me to unhinge those clogged brain synapses is to get out into nature. Nature is real inspiration for me—and honestly the best artist that will ever exist. Intricate patterns, repetition, colors, textures … I could go on and on. These elements of design will always be the OG for me, and they’re endless.

How have communities like Ladies Who Create impacted you?

It’s allowed me to feel free and comfortable being just myself, with all the weird quirks and traits that my past career has told me to soften.

Aven and Liz

Photograph by Elizabeth Gilmore

What is one way that we can make work human?

By including as many diverse perspectives and inputs as possible, to make the work created by all of us, not just a few.

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

Know your worth and fight for it relentlessly. Never let someone tell you that titles don’t matter, because it’s usually a man who is saying that.

Stop apologizing. Lift each other up.

If you enjoyed Liz's story, read more stories from Ladies Who Create and request a free copy of Feminist Propaganda, our new magazine that explores identity, feminism, and work.

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