Erica Brooks – Member of the Month
Erica Brooks / Hello Creative Solutions
When did you first hear about AIGA Arizona?
Originally from an intern I had at my first job, her name is Jana Berrellza. She had sent me some information about AIGA salary calculators back in 2005 or 2006 but I don’t think I attended an event until the screening of Helvetica back at Film Bar back in 2009.
What do you like most about AIGA Arizona?
I think what I really like about AIGA and the Phoenix Design community in general is that people are just really open and helpful.
I don’t think I really experienced the value (of AIGA) until I was on my own and I didn’t have a team surrounding me day in and day out at the office that I could riff of off and share funny font jokes with, and I think AIGA has filled that gap and especially some of the Business of Design sessions that Matt Adams does.
What design event do you look forward to every year?
Design week is definitely one of the highlights for the year. I’ve regularly attended the conference for, I think..maybe I’ve missed three or four since it started.
Four the last 3 years or so I’ll try to flee the Phoenix area this time of year and I will go travel some place. Either road trip or abroad and I will literally plan my return to be back a couple of days before Design Week so I can be here in time for that.
I feel like the past two years have been really getting better. It feels like as the conference has grown, the team has really figured out what they’re doing. It feels like speakers have brought more value-add to the discussion.
Other than that, Matt’s Business of Design sessions are definitely my highlights.
What is the superpower you wish you had?
So, I mentioned that I like to travel, I really wish I had the instant packability to where I can just snap my fingers kind of like Mary Poppins bag effect where you whirl everything around that you need and it ends up in the suitcase all packed perfectly and not needing to have to spend hour agonizing over folding shirts in the most efficient way so they take up less space or whether I’ve got enough shoes for the right kind of occasions…and “Oh did I forget my glasses?” and those kinds of things. Being able to pack in an instant would be the superpower that I would like, and in reverse, when you come home everything comes out CLEAN and puts itself away!
And maybe instant portfolio updatability!
How has the pandemic affected you professionally?
I had two weeks at the beginning where I didn’t know where the next projects were coming or if any of the invoices I sent were going to get paid, so that was a little nerve racking.
As an independent freelance designer, I was working with a client on a long term contract that was scheduled to be done at the end of March. So, I had planned April and May to be down months for me. I was planning to restructure and refresh my business process and how I present myself to clients for those two months and then COVID hit and panic mode set it in. I didn’t want to spend two months doing nothing so I went from planning down time and preparing to turn inward and do some evaluation of the business and instead unexpected opportunities came along. I had a few other clients reach out with other unexpected projects. It’s been steady work coming my way and I haven’t had a chance to do the refresh stuff. Unexpectedly it’s been good for my business and I’ve been in the right place for the right opportunities.
What have been some of your biggest career setbacks and how have you persevered?
I’ve been on my own for four and a half years. I don’t feel like I’ve had big setbacks but more learning curves along the way. Some fringe clients that were not happy with my work. Getting my sea-legs under me business-wise. Over my whole career some of the biggest hurdles were the agency I worked for went through a merger and massive restructuring and I was one of the third of the team that was let go. That was unexpected from my perspective and really threw me for a loop. I think it was the best worst thing. I look back on that day and it was a horrible day, but it opened my eyes to other opportunities that I wouldn’t have taken if I was comfortable.
What that taught me through COVID and through other challenges along the way, things work out. You have to work at it, but when these bumps come you can get through them. Having gone through that unsteadiness before, it has helped me feel more prepared during all of this.
What is your proudest atypical accomplishment?
I nailed up my lattice this morning that was falling down!
Another thing would be spending a year living out of two suitcases while traveling and learning that I really can go with wearing the same ten outfits over and over again.
What is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession is definitely my home. I might be a cheat because it’s a possession that contains all of my other possessions that I have but I would say that owning my own home, that security of having a home for when I come back to after traveling. Before I painted the walls in the house I basically made a moodboard for the house. I wrote everything on the walls that I wanted this home to be and then painted over it. So knowing that those words of what this home is to me is written on the walls, even though no one can see them, they’re just a good reminder that this space is my space and I’m very thankful for it.
What is your biggest non-serious fear?
I’m jumpy when I get into the flow or the zone, especially when I have my headphones on. I’m very easily startled so any noise or tap on the shoulder I will scream and jump. It’s kind of embarrassing when that happens in an office and there’s an audience.
What would your last meal be?
I love cooking and I love restaurants but I feel like if it’s my last meal I would want to go all out and do one of those fancy tasting menus that are like $200 and have lots of little things along the way. I would just go baller all-out.
It’s always best with company so that last meal would have to be a really long drawn out tasting menu by an awesome chef in a really cool restaurant with a great view and all of my favorite people.
What is the most embarrassing thing on your Spotify playlist?
I have a playlist that I call “ClassSICK” and it’s my favorite playlist to listen to while I’m working because it’s all classical music but with EDM beats or with amped up electronic oomph to it. It’s a whole bunch of classical modern remix songs. I love it because it’s upbeat, no lyrics and energetic.
Connect with Erica:
Have a story to tell about your own AIGA journey or want to nominate someone? You don’t need to be an award winner, a prodigy, or even a graphic designer to be chosen. Send a note to Membership Director Julian Martinez and tell us what being a member of the AIGA Arizona community means to you. See you next month!