We had the good fortune of connecting with Giselle Duran and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Giselle, why did you pursue a creative career?
I think being creative came to me at a young age. I’m pretty sure every child in the world loved coloring so I won’t pretend like that made me unique. But, I’ve always had a vivid imagination and colorful mind. I would make up short stories in my head about anything that came across my path. I loved to play with color whether it was colored pencils, crayons, or paint. I would make my Barbies clothes out of my pajamas, I mean I did it all.
So naturally, I think I was meant to live a creative life. And in a lot of ways, that lifestyle has allowed me to help people, which is something I didn’t know I wanted to do until I realizes it was what I was doing. I was always in the mindset that my being creative was only for myself, my self-expression into the world for my enjoyment. And though part of that still remains true, it grew into something that I can share with others in a way that benefits them for the better. And that’s what makes it worth it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Talk about a loaded question. I think I’m still trying to figure out what sets me apart from other designers. I’ve come across so many different types of artists, creatives, designers, and specialists who all do amazing things in their own way. I like to think that there is a sort of energy exchange when I speak to these other creatives about business ideas, life, and family; we learn from each other and subconsciously adapt some similarities. So it’s hard for me to say, “I’m a _____ creative who does ______ for ______” because I’ve met people who can fill in those blanks the same way. I think what makes us all unique is that everyone offers a different perspective on life which translates into their work.
I’m grateful to have been in positions where I have always done work related to my career field. Upon my entrance into the university, I had the opportunity to work on designs for student organizations, local businesses, government departments, and the university itself. I never had a time period of working a job that didn’t directly relate to my career, which I know is rare. So I know that is something that helped me when entering the workforce post-grad because the experience was there and my portfolio was diverse. It was just a matter of taking on the roles and responsibilities of a full-time creative and basically learning how to become an adult.
I’ve learned A LOT, like A LOT of things throughout my journey. But if I had to choose one, it would be that a certain title or qualification doesn’t define who you are and what you can do. My entire life I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer. I didn’t exactly know what type of schooling needed to be done to achieve that, but I knew that’s what I wanted to be. Fast forward to my sophomore year of college and I’m preparing my portfolio to submit my application to be in the Graphic Design program track. The spring semester ends and I learn I wasn’t accepted due to a technicality on my portfolio, I didn’t submit it in the proper format or something. I do my due diligence by contacting the people who needed to request a resubmission; long story short, my portfolio wasn’t reviewed. Now because I spent years dabbling in MySpace creating custom layouts for people, I knew that I was also proficient in web design and front-end development. And the Web Design program track at my university didn’t require special admissions or a portfolio review. So I had to decide that summer what I was going to do. Wait an entire year to re-apply to the graphic design program? or switch my track and build upon something I love and am skilled in, while also not stopping what I’m already doing? I didn’t let a program or degree define who I was going to be. I literally told the counselor, “I can do both with either degree, it doesn’t matter”. And now fast-forwarding even more, I’m able to provide a full-service experience to my clients by designing and building their websites. And also have a competitive edge when it comes to entering the workforce because of how multifaceted I am.
So yeah, f*ck your little typography class, I was probably gonna skip it anyway lol.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is perfect because this literally just happened a few weeks ago. I’m a big museum buff, I love learning about things new and old, how things are made, weird random pointless facts, etc, it fascinates me to my core. Dancing & good music is a must. I’m thankful to know a few DJs in the city that I can follow around and know something is going to be a good time. I need a good rap-a-long, r&b sing-a-long combo to set the weekend off.
FOOD. It’s amazing how universal food & music are. You could communicate to someone with just those 2 things alone, I love it. I’m the type of girl who utilizes her Google Maps. I have every restaurant I’ve eaten at saved, I have all the places I want to visit pinned; there’s never a question of what we’re going to eat because we have options. During the spring and summer, a rooftop vibe is a must. Have you really brunched if you haven’t done it on a rooftop? Fall and winter require a more cozy and sophisticated vibe, potentially a secluded lounge with a fireplace.
All that sounds amazing, but I’m also the girl that can have a good time at home. I think most importantly it’s about the people than the places. If you can have the same amount of fun inside that you have outside, it doesn’t really matter what the itinerary says.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So I guess I have to start with my family right? Growing up as a Dominican American, I think it’s safe to say that most of my family expected me to be a doctor or a lawyer. And to be honest, I wasn’t really opposed to the idea. My parents never really pressured me into a certain career path or lifestyle. I explored a variety of activities throughout my childhood that made me think about all the different things I could be in life. Professional swimmer, ballerina, tennis player, karate kid, fashion designer, artist, architect, and more. My parents supported my creative tendencies throughout the ages by providing me with the tools needed to explore; paint & an easel, a sewing machine, and a computer. But as time went on and things became a little more serious, i.e. choosing a college major, the doubt and discouragement started to come out. Going to school for “Art” didn’t sound too good back then, the conversations about what type of career would come from that and what success looked like were definitely repeated. Needless to say, the support was a little lacking, but in a way, it pushed me to really try and see if I could make this “Art” thing a career. Call it teenage rebellion or motivation, I wanted to show my family that I was capable of success by being creative. I wanted them to have faith in me that I would become a successful adult that they didn’t have to worry about and would be proud of. And I think I’ve done just that.
The next group of people I need to make note of are my clients. Paid & not paid, friends & family, from college to post-grad; I wouldn’t be able to call myself a designer if it wasn’t for them. To have someone put their trust in you (and invest money) to bring an idea they have in their head to life is honestly a terrifying thing. Post grad, most of my work has been with small business owners and entrepreneurs that are pretty much getting things started in their brand. And when you think about a business’ origin story and how they get started, a brand designer has a pretty important part in that storyline. I truly enjoy getting to talk to people about their businesses and what they see for themselves. I’m so appreciative and grateful to the people and organizations I’ve been able to work with throughout the years, I’ve learned and grown from every single experience.
I can’t go on without speaking about the impact my wife has made on my success. Although the marriage is recent, the relationship is seasoned. Throughout the years my wife has seen many different stages of my career and how they’ve affected my life. And of course, she is my #1 supporter and cheerleader but not in the way where she just agrees with everything I say & do. She provides perspective on things I may not have thought about, she challenges me and helps me grow, she holds me when I’m down and lifts me when I’m high. Even the times when she may not fully “get it”, she trusts me and my expertise to be able to get it done. I think if you ask most people they would advise you to not include your partner or spouse in your business dealings, but with her it’s fun. My success is her success, my bag is her bag, everything is we.