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Designer Talk: Christyna Conway on connecting design to culture for Bloom 2022

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Since starting at Pinterest less than two months ago, I’ve found myself feeling inspired more than ever. As a Global Creative Strategy Designer, I work within the Global Sales Solutions (GSS) organization, inspiring our advertisers to make beautiful ads, creating in-house ads for Pinterest, while also educating the broader sales team on our ever-evolving creative best practices. Outside of the incredible work I get to do within GSS/Creative Strategy, I’ve discovered the opportunity to embark on a creative journey outside of my day to day work through Blackboard, Pinterest’s internal community for Black Pinployees and allies. Bloom, Blackboard’s two-day annual conference, was my first collaborative project with Blackboard and to say I was excited was an understatement. We spent hours and days conceptualizing how the Bloom experience would look and feel this year, while also navigating what the digital and print graphics would look like, along with some of the IRL installations. 

This year’s theme for Bloom was “The Homecoming.” This theme originated from the idea of coming home to a place filled with love and support, similar to the idea of Black folks coming back “home” for an HBCU homecoming celebration. For the design of this year’s Bloom logo, I used a variety of techniques to grasp the feeling of each Black Pinployee having their own individual experience with the idea of coming home, in addition to visualizing the intention the Bloom planning team had for the attendees of the conference. 

By using a digital watercolor technique to draw the focal point of the logo, the orange calla lily, I found myself inspired by the beautiful experience of growth that can come from being immersed within a supportive and loving space like home. The practice of developing the focal point of the logo, offered an opportunity to create the (what looks like) unfinished edges of the background; these organic shapes and gradients represent the opportunity for so many of our ideas and feelings of home coming together and telling a beautiful story rooted in authenticity and self-expression. For the photograph elements incorporated into our visuals this year, I took inspiration from the different components of Black bodies that all tell different stories rooted in Black experiences. From our hair, to our skin, to our facial features and more, the Black experience is so unique and our bodies tell the story of our ancestry. Our bodies are such a reflection of our experience and our identity, I thought it was only right to highlight these areas visually and in an abstract way, through beautiful photography.

From being a child trying to design the perfect bedroom in my parents house, to going through architecture school, to becoming an adult trying to navigate my creative career, I’ve always found myself inspired by the human experience. My design process begins by acknowledging the reality of the experience of my audience. I like to think about the touch points people will have with what I’m creating and how they’ll experience my designs. The process continues by putting words to feelings and abstract ideas around that experience (whether it be digital, physical, etc.). Then, I sketch and find inspiration on Pinterest to bring my ideas to life. Throughout this process, my intention is to write the story I’m trying to tell through my designs and finally, I begin the design itself.

A project like Bloom brings a huge responsibility to create a connection between the Black people working at Pinterest and their individual stories. In order to capture each authentic experience in their own way, I’ve learned there is a way to design space for the conversation and inspire individual expression – that was my goal for this project.

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