So tell me a little about yourself?
I'm a Brooklyn based, mostly self taught designer. I started with an internship with AFROPUNK in 2013 and I’m now the Design Lead for Harper’s Bazaar SnapChat channel. I freelanced for a while in 2014 and in 2015, I was hired by NBC Universal for the Oxygen Network as a Print Designer. After a little over a year I left, took a few months off, and then worked for GILT as a Digital Designer. In June I left GILT for Harper’s Bazaar!
What have been some of the strengths and struggles during your career so far?
Strengths: My resume, willingness to adapt to the ever-changing industry, my Type-A qualities.
Struggles: NYC is filled with talent, so at times it feels overwhelming being a black female graphic designer. The majority of what I know is self taught because the industry rapidly changes. What I learned in college four years ago is basically phased out.
Shanee Benjamin, a graphic designer based in Brooklyn, has an array of impressive clients and experience to display on her resume. From AFROPUNK to Oxygen Network to Harper's Bazaar, Shanee has pushed her mostly self-taught skills to create high-level conceptual and commercial pieces with a focus on art featuring women of color. In this interview, margins hears about her thoughts on navigating spaces from a new perspective.
Tell us about your thought process working through your favorite project – how did you develop this practice?
My favorite project was the first piece of Key Art I Art Directed for The Bad Girl’s Club Season 14. It was my first month at Oxygen and I was assigned the Key Art for that show. At the time, I was still learning the industry terms and had only done “key art” as mock-ups in my portfolio. My Creative Director assigned me the show, handed me a drive filled with images from a photoshoot and said “have fun”. I created this piece and I’m really proud at how it come out being it was my first show. Most people would just assume this is just a still from one photo, but literally every single person has arms, legs, eyes, etc from OTHER images! It was a composite that took a solid two weeks to finalize.
What are some trends in your field that you wish you could bring back, and which ones would you rather forget?
UI-wise, I’m a little over the circle avatar shape. Facebook recently changed their shape from a square to a circle, and they’ve given the like button rounder edges...I liked the old Facebook.
What do you wish the world/general public knew about people in your field?
A lot of designers aren’t just designers. We have a lot of other talents to offer within the creative field that include being in front of camera instead of behind the scenes majority of the time.
In my field, I think inclusion is imperative because usually designers are stuck on a European aesthetic and don’t really consider an AA approach to design.
I’m currently working on social media for a LGBT podcast based in NYC. I created their branding and am handling their social media. A podcast based audience is a new challenge for me and I’m interested in navigating and refining the space into a new perspective.
Edited by Padmini Chandrasekaran
Who are some designers/artists that you feel have impacted your own practice?
In my personal work Douglas Hale (@douglashale) is a huge inspiration- his collage style is mind blowing. I choose to only create art featuring women of color because I'm a woman of color and everything I create is in someway an extension of me.
In my professional work, Refinery 29, Glossier, Bustle, and WatchCut are a few brands I admire.