July 26, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Team Spotlight Interview: Lauren Rascoe

Lauren Rascoe is the definition of a Renaissance woman! As an actress, writer, graphic designer, and more, she embodies the quintessential spirit of exploration as a creative. Recently, she has had the pleasure of working on the branding and messaging with the amazing RUNWAY. In this interview, Lauren shares her experiences of finding her creative path and working with bombilla.

Tell us about your creative path.

My creative career path has been literally created along the way due to my curiosity. Growing up in Indiana, where there is a tendency to push young professionals towards careers in STEM, I felt there was a lack of space and access to opportunities that allowed creatives, like myself, to explore and navigate what a successful creative career looked like. Growing up, I was into arts and crafts, jewelry making, fashion, nail art, was a musician (piano/saxophone), dancer, in the color guard, etc. However, I thought I was going to be a doctor because it was the practical career path to choose. Thanks to Grey’s Anatomy and realizing I wasn’t game to hold someone else’s life in my hands during my senior year of high school, I decided to explore my true passion of being a creative.

Thanks to Grey’s Anatomy and realizing I wasn’t game to hold someone else’s life in my hands during my senior year of high school, I decided to explore my true passion of being a creative.

I studied Visual Communication Design and Experience Design in undergrad at the University of Indianapolis and immediately went to get my Master of International Marketing degree from Hult International Business School. After completing that degree, I worked at Eastern Star Church as the Communications Coordinator for three and a half years before moving to Oakland to work at YR Media as the National Network Coordinator. Within that 10 year window that brought me to this present day, I have explored many creative outlets. I am now an author, experience designer, graphic designer, event planner, podcaster, fashionista, fitness junkie, international marketer, model, actress, motivational speaker, poet, world traveler, and then some.

What kind of design projects do you most enjoy working on?

I really enjoy working on branding projects and helping people tell their stories. To me, it’s a happy marriage of flexing my graphic design and marketing skills, but also a chance to explore the best way to communicate the narrative and really lean into the magic of experience design. I love being able to help people get lost in the experience of a brand, the same way we get lost in movies or books. It’s really an exciting thing to do.

What makes bombilla stand out from other creative workplaces?

To me, Bombilla really is a community. It doesn’t feel like a corporate design agency setting, but a movement we all get to choose to be a part of. I think the atmosphere of collaboration, connection, and creativity just pours out of the seams and makes it feel like such a welcoming and powerful environment to be in. I love that I get to work with some of the dopest creators and how we get to use our gifts and talents to help those organizations and clients that are making real change in the world. I love how we all get to rise to the occasion to be lit on purpose and show up as our best, whole selves. It’s restorative and releases the pressures of upholding the “corporate” status quo that is inhumane and inflexible. This environment reminds me of what cool things “I get to do” vs. the heavy feeling of “what I have to do.”

To me, Bombilla really is a community...it’s restorative and releases the pressures of upholding the “corporate” status quo that is inhumane and inflexible. This environment reminds me of what cool things “I get to do” vs. the heavy feeling of “what I have to do.”

Tell me about a memorable experience with any of the different clients bombilla has worked for.

I’ve only had one project so far, but I have LOVED working with RUNWAY in partnership with Ivi and Aaron Joseph from Identafire.  Getting to know this client and their work has been inspirational.  I was extremely nervous working on the messaging guide, because a lot of what they’re doing is innovative and had yet to have words that could completely convey where they are and where they are going.  It was a lot of work to get to the root and then build out a brand story that made sense for RUNWAY, but it came together beautifully and I was so grateful to add my perspective and gifts to this piece of the rebrand.  I’m excited for the way RUNWAY will tell their story and am confident that anyone who has the pleasure to connect with them will buy-in to the movement instantly.

It was a lot of work to get to the root and then build out a brand story that made sense for RUNWAY, but it came together beautifully

What's the last song you played?

Well, Frank by Alina Baraz is currently playing. But prior to it starting, Hi by Erykah Badu

What has the global pandemic taught you?

The pandemic has taught me that I am the most ambitious person I know and that my curiosity and creativity know no bounds. I’ve explored so many different creative interests since we’ve been home.  It has made me really lean into my natural abilities which has been so therapeutic and empowering. To be this young, this talented, and Black has reminded me I have so much to give and I’m excited to see what other realized dreams I can bring to the world.

To be this young, this talented, and Black has reminded me I have so much to give and I’m excited to see what other realized dreams I can bring to the world.

What advice would you give to someone that’s starting a career in the creative field?

You don’t have to choose one path or one medium. A lot of people tried to get me to choose one thing, but I’ve found over the length of my career that my curiosity and ambition led me into some cool opportunities that have helped make me a more well-rounded creative. Don’t be afraid to try new things or to fail. All the endeavors eventually make for good stories and cool flashbacks.

You don’t have to choose one path or one medium...Don’t be afraid to try new things or to fail. All the endeavors eventually make for good stories and cool flashbacks.

Shoutout to our 2020 fall intern Yandia Miñana Pérez for conducting this interview!

July 26, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Team Spotlight Interview: Megan Totah

Megan Totah is one of bombilla's incredibly talented brand designers. bombilla projects she has brought that talent to include California Change Lawyers, Five to Nine, PL+US, Women's Media Center, WE360 and RUNWAY. In this interview, Megan chats about discovering her love of graphic design, collaborating at bombilla, and working during the pandemic.

What led you to bombilla?

I was actually reached out to by Ivellisse on LinkedIn.  She found me, she used to work out at a fitness studio called The Boombox in San Francisco and she loved the branding that was done for it, so basically she contacted Alex Mogannam, the owner of The Boombox, and said “I want to talk to this person, I want to know who this designer is,” ever since then, Ivellisse and I have been working together. It was the first time that someone was like “Oh wow, I love that, I want to work with them.” And so, that was the first time I talked with Ivellisse, and it was a great designer moment for me.  I felt so honored that someone wanted to meet me because of my work.

Tell us about your creative career path.

My creative career path... you’re going laugh but I was never good at drawing. My handwriting is the absolute worst.  My mom used to help me with my homework as a child, I would tell her what I wanted to say and she would write it down, my handwriting was just that terrible. I was always so creative but I couldn’t draw so it was hard, but when I was in middle school, I discovered Microsoft PowerPoint. I was like, "Look I can draw shapes and I can make them move or do things with them". And I found that really fun. Then in high school, I was officially taking a multimedia design class where I was like “Oh my Gosh! This is what I want to do, I can be a designer on the computer and it doesn’t involve too much drawing and I love this, and I finally found a way to express myself". It was just this huge moment for me because I just felt so lost, I loved being creative but couldn’t be an artist like so many people with pens and paint.  It just wasn’t me. But thankfully, I discovered my love for graphic design that allowed me to see how I can use my hands in a creative manner but with more purpose behind it. I realized I can’t consider myself an artist, I can’t just draw or create.  I have to have a problem to solve and work towards a creative solution. 

I can't consider myself an artist, I can't just draw or create. I have to have a problem to solve and work towards a creative solution.

During high school I kept working on my graphic design, I did a summer course at the Academy of Art and then after high school I went briefly to Chapman University at Orange County. I didn’t think I wanted to go to art school at that time but then I realized that I want to think in that creative environment with other creators. So I moved back to the bay area and I went to California College of the Arts where I met Kimberly Cho. We met through a course we took together and we’ve been friends since, always trying to collaborate with each other on projects. I feel like Bombilla is all about the creative spirit, what drives you to create purpose-driven work, to make change and I think it’s great to bring in other people that share that same vision. That’s why I thought it would be great to bring in Kimberly as well.

What do you think makes you or someone a good designer?

I think a good designer is someone that understands what they’re trying to solve, like I said before, an artist is different from a designer. A designer is out to solve some sort of problem. When I say problem, it doesn’t have to be something terrible like the climate crisis, it could be something like trying to solve for a better package design that creates a better user interaction. And a good designer does the research, they research what’s out there, they find what makes that company or product different from its competitors.  How to make something that’s different and meaningful.

I think a good designer is someone that understands what they’re trying to solve, like I said before, an artist is different from a designer. A designer is out to solve some sort of problem

What is your role at bombilla?

Ivellisse was like “what title do you want?”. 

I consider myself a brand designer, but if we had a packaging project I would love to be considered as a package designer too, it’s like branding but 2.0.  You have the brand identity and then you want to make it physical so people can interact with it, and that’s so fun.  The idea that you’re taking something that could be a website or something on Instagram but then bringing it to the physical realm as a product or something people can interact with is so special. 

Tell us about a day in your life.

I’ll wake up and then I immediately go to check to see if any clients or work has contacted me. I’m kind of anxious like that, I just need to know what’s going on.  I work full time, so I try to work from 8 to 5 on my full time job, then I try to take a little break, and that’s when I start freelancing.  It’s interesting having a full time job as well as freelance business because it’s about finding the balance sometimes.  Because most clients want to talk during the day so a day in my life is busy.  I’m always creating, which is really amazing.  I feel blessed that I’m able to do what I love.  Not a lot of people get to do what they love for a full time job and as an extra hobby outside of the job. 

Because most clients want to talk during the day so a day in my life is busy.  I’m always creating, which is really amazing.  I feel blessed that I’m able to do what I love.

Why do you think an organization should choose bombilla for its branding and design needs?

Because everyone at Bombilla legitimately cares.  Everyone who is at Bombilla is here because they want to be.  Everyone wants to create purpose-driven designs and create something different.  But overall, it’s the passion I see throughout everyone at Bombilla.  It’s rare to find designers who are happy with what they do.  Ivi makes sure that we’re happy, checking in on us and if we want to do a project or seeing who is the best fit.  Kind of having that tailored design experience.  She finds who’s good at what they do and if they enjoy it, and that’s where the passion comes through, if you’re enjoying what you do.  So when you choose Bombilla, you choose passion for the creative, and that’s what you’re going to get in your designs.

...Everyone at Bombilla legitimately cares.  Everyone who is at Bombilla is here because they want to be.  Everyone wants to create purpose-driven designs and create something different.  But overall, it’s the passion I see throughout everyone at Bombilla.  It’s rare to find designers who are happy with what they do.

How has working remotely changed the work dynamic/ way you work, or the way the team completes and executes projects at Bombilla?

I miss the drive to work, where I get to jam out to music, roll down the window, set my expectations for the day, enjoy myself, and jump into work.  In that professional setting where I’m here to work, let’s get it done.  Sometimes it’s hard; you want more structure, you don’t want to feel like a blob.  However, I do love that Bombilla is remote, everyone in bombilla loves to communicate, without communication things can fall apart.  What’s great about Ivellisse is that she figured out that Slack is a great way for everyone to stay connected, as well as the occasional meetups over zoom, making sure you have face to face time with clients, really creating those personal touches.  

What’s great about Ivellisse is that she figured out that Slack is a great way for everyone to stay connected, as well as the occasional meetups over zoom, making sure you have face to face time with clients, really creating those personal touches.  

How do you cope with what’s happening all around the country and/or world? (War, discrimination, injustice, exploitation, ecoanxiety, systemic racism, etc.) Any tips?

There have been so many emotions that I’ve gone through the past several months.  But the one thing that I’ve realized, was that the way I wanted to cope was through design. I wanted to focus my energy on creating and doing what I love because that was the only thing that I could find as a distraction. When there’s stuff happening like discrimination, injustice, sometimes design is the best way to approach people. I think being creative is a solution for what’s happening in the world right now. Whenever you’re upset you should just be creative, no matter who you are, if you’re a designer, an artist or not, just create.

I think being creative is a solution for what’s happening in the world right now. Whenever you’re upset you should just be creative, no matter who you are, if you’re a designer, an artist or not, just create.

Where would you travel if you could tomorrow?

Anywhere but here. LOL

What has the global pandemic taught you?

The global pandemic has taught me to value creativity and how impactful it can be in your life to make you happy as well as cause change. Also that I want a more balanced life, where I’m not putting all of my money into paying rent every month. I want a community of people, I want to get to know more people in my community, so I moved to Napa.  I’d like to think we’ve all learned to value air, sunlight, nature, and being happy. I want to be able to live life. 

The global pandemic has taught me to value creativity and how impactful it can be in your life to make you happy as well as cause change.

What advice would you give to someone that’s starting a career in the creative field?

Do what you love.  Enjoy what you do.  As long as you care and you’re passionate, and you keep learning, everything will fall into place.  It’s okay to explore new things and push out of your comfort zone.

As long as you care and you’re passionate, and you keep learning, everything will fall into place.

Shoutout to our 2020 fall intern Yandia Miñana Pérez for conducting this interview!

July 26, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Team Spotlight Interview: Donna Chan

Donna Chan is one of bombilla's incredibly talented web designer. bombilla projects she has brought that talent to include PL+US and Caring Across Generations. In this interview, Donna chats about the importance of human connection and empathy while working with clients, her creative process, and the changes in lifestyle and perspective that the pandemic has brought.

What led you to pursue a career related to/in the social sector/creative field?

I've always wanted to do work for social good, so I was actually bioengineering pre-med in college! So it was a long journey of discovering that my affinity, strengths, and love lay primarily in creative pursuits —first with drawing, then acting, and then designing. And now, as a freelancer designer, feel like I have this wonderful balance of working creatively and analytically for clients tackling social issues that I care about.

Where do you get inspiration from? Describe your creative process.

I love getting started with a good foundation of clarifying the goals and a round of exploration with feedback early to make the actual process of designing smoother. With the client, I’ll get detailed on the goals that we’re trying to achieve so that we’re crystal clear. Then, I’ll do some exploration, delving into realms that are the same, related, or a stone’s throw away as inspiration. Pinterest, Dribble, and Google are my best friends! I like to collect anything and everything that sparks something, and then, once compiled, I’ll cut, organize, and refine ideas based on the project goals and present them for feedback. This initial round of feedback just sets up the entire project well so that I can really get a sense of what works for the client before delving into hours of design work.

I love getting started with a good foundation of clarifying the goals and a round of exploration with feedback early to make the actual process of designing smoother.

What makes bombilla stand out from other creative workplaces?

Bombilla has been one of the best environments that I’ve worked in and I’m so grateful to Ivellisse and the team! Everyone, from the team to the clients, are human-centered in the truest sense. We all lead from a place of heart and connection. This only enriches every working moment to be joyful and even more productive, collaborative, and inspiring.

Everyone, from the team to the clients, are human-centered in the truest sense. We all lead from a place of heart and connection. This only enriches every working moment to be joyful and even more productive, collaborative, and inspiring.

Is there an example of a project where you disagreed with the client’s feedback? How did you handle it?

When feedback is centered around form, I always try to get to the root of the feedback — the why, the function. Why do they not like this or why do they want to go a different direction? Oftentimes, this helps reveal an underlying functional reason, from which we can then have a more fruitful conversation around how the form does or doesn’t best serve the function or goals.

When feedback is centered around form, I always try to get to the root of the feedback — the why, the function.

How do you cope with what’s happening all around the country and/or World? (War, discrimination, injustice, exploitation, ecoanxiety, systemic racism, etc.) Any tips?

Unplugging from social media, along with taking focused action, has done wonders for me [last] year. Before I deactivated most of my social media accounts, I did as much research as I could on what issues I wanted to focus on and what would be the most meaningful actions to take for each. That way, I channeled all my energy into actions, like text-banking, calling legislators, and donating to vetted organizations, while keeping my emotional health steady.

Whenever I feel down, I always look up.  Literally.  And there’s always a spectacle of nature to lift my spirits!

How has the pandemic affected/changed you/your life?

It made me realize how much time I used to spend running around and how much of a distraction that was from living more intentionally. So this time has been like a pressure cooker and has really helped me distill what’s truly important in my life. How do I want to be spending my time? How do I want to feel day-to-day or hour-to-hour? How do I want my body to feel? Who do I want to be interacting with? I’m still working through these questions, but bringing a conscious lens to them is an outcome that I’m most grateful for from the pandemic.

It made me realize how much time I used to spend running around and how much of a distraction that was from living more intentionally... How do I want to be spending my time? How do I want to feel day-to-day or hour-to-hour? How do I want my body to feel? Who do I want to be interacting with?

What advice would you give to someone that’s starting a career in the creative field?

Create, create, create! If you don’t know where to start, there are many helpful articles and resources online that I found to help jumpstart my journey. Whether it’s a pro-bono project, paid project, or self-guided project, through the process of creating, you’ll learn so much about yourself and where you’d like to take your career. Like, what type of creative work do you actually like to spend time doing? What parts of the process give you joy and which don’t? Who do you like to create for? What problems do you like solving?

Create, create, create!

Shoutout to our 2020 fall intern Yandia Miñana Pérez for conducting this interview!

February 26, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Team Spotlight Interview: Aaron Joseph

Aaron Joseph is the founder of web and graphic design agency Identafire, which specializes in graphic, web, and print design. Identafire and bombilla have co-created brilliant web and design projects, including RUNWAY and PL+US Paid Leave Presidential Scorecard.

What led you to bombilla? Tell us about your creative path.

I was really lucky to attend a high school that had really strong art and theatre programs. I was involved in stage crew and light crew for our high school productions, and eventually became the lighting director until I graduated in 1999. The few students I worked with on light crew were the only people who knew how to run the lights, so we got paid to operate the lighting console for assemblies or when the district rented out the theatre! That was pretty cool.

I also loved to collect all kinds of weird shit I’d find on the street with the intention of making art with it. Maybe 10% of that stuff actually made it into some kind of art piece. My art teacher saw that I really came alive when I made all this weird stuff, and allowed me to work as an AP student in art class. I got to self-direct my artmaking. I won the school’s Artistic Achievement award that year. Interestingly, most of the students I have kept in touch with that were in the theatre or art programs at that school (a public school!) are in some type of creative role today.

So I knew I wanted to pursue something creative with my life. I wasn’t clear what shape that would take and I kind of half-assed my way through GE classes at SF State for a couple years until I eventually dropped out because I just didn’t know what I was doing there. I did take some art classes there and I loved those. Eventually I decided to go to art school. I went to The School Art Institute of Chicago where I studied fiber art and printmaking. I like to say I got a degree in crocheting and screen printing, which is basically true as those were my main mediums. But I did also take some really rigorous art history classes, a green economics class, and a really interesting and INCREDIBLY rigorous class on mixed race identity. I did not take any viscom classes while I was there. I thought I’d be a studio artist, and that’s something that I would love to get back into, but I didn’t feel I could support myself that way right out of college, and I guess I’m not cut out to be a starving artist (and artists should be valued and paid well, but that’s a different conversation).

So I knew I wanted to pursue something creative with my life

I waited tables and made espresso for a number of years while taking some basic design classes at Berkeley City College. My first design job was as a Web Designer, back when there were just “Web Designers” and not UX Designers and UI Designers. If you were a good, productive designer, they rewarded you by putting a phone on your desk and making you take distracting web support calls for the sites we designed. Eventually our department basically shuttered and we all got laid off. 

After waiting some more tables, I got a job as an Ad Designer at the San Francisco Bay Guardian. This was my first experience working on a design team and I LOVED it. I loved the people, I loved the local, feisty, scrappy, independent journalism bent on the work. I loved seeing our work get published every week and distributed to thousands of people in the community. Then the paper got sold and I got laid off. 

Later, I got hired at the same company that bought the SFBG, but working on The SF Examiner. Later, I became Production Manager at the SF Weekly, and finally, Creative Director of the SF Media Company that published all those papers. Then I watched as they closed the SFBG and the work environment became incredibly toxic. My former colleagues were now my direct reports. I had been freelancing on the side. I decided to strike out on my own, and here we are!

What do you think makes you or someone a good designer?

Humility, empathy, and seeking out the experts. Admittedly, I do most of my work alone, but I know my best work is done when I try to take my ego out of it (which is hard for someone who fancies themself an artist as well as a designer) and design from a place of being of service; finding the best solution for the client and end users. I think you have to let go of the reigns sometimes. Something you never thought of will usually arise as the solution when working with others, and you would never get there if you just continued working with blinders on, head down at your computer and not coming up for air or asking for the input, insight, and expertise of others.

I know my best work is done when I try to take my ego out of it... and design from a place of being of service; finding the best solution for the client and end users.

What makes bombilla stand out from other creative workplaces?

They are open to partnering with my company, Identafire, and give me autonomy when I partner with them. They really value finding the perfect fit for a project, even if it’s not them. I know our two companies are aligned on values of social justice, combating anti-Black racism and racism in general, working with and uplifting designers of color, queer designers, valuing our work appropriately, valuing our collaborators appropriately (and showing it!), and acknowledging the challenges and limitations that we all experience as human beings (as opposed to creating a toxic workplace where being stressed out and working while you’re sick and being afraid of your bosses and extreme hierarchies are the norm). Also, for a virtual agency, there’s a pretty good sense of belonging to a community similar to what I experienced working on design teams in an in-person setting.

I know our two companies are aligned on values of social justice, combating anti-Black racism and racism in general, working with and uplifting designers of color, queer designers, valuing our work appropriately, valuing our collaborators appropriately (and showing it!), and acknowledging the challenges and limitations that we all experience as human beings

Why do you think an organization should choose bombilla for its branding and design needs?

I recently worked on a branding project for RUNWAY with Bombilla. The level of service and expertise, the facilitation of a well-thought-out process for getting to the essence of the organization, the inclusion of stakeholders, the space to create and try something new as a designer, and Ivi’s deep understanding of all the moving pieces and essential components and highs and lows and potential pitfalls really blew me away.

What show do you recommend we binge this weekend?

Killing Eve. I slept on this show for so long. It’s so good! I feel like I’m not the best judge of “good” acting, but the actress who plays Villanelle is AMAZING. Oh, and Lovecraft Country.

What has the global pandemic taught you?

That community is so important. And that the U.S. has more problems than I could have imagined. Wear a damn mask, people! I also learned how to bake sourdough bread (focaccia is my specialty) and chocolate cake from scratch.

What advice would you give to someone that’s starting a career in the creative field?

Say yes to new opportunities. Learn everything you can in every role. Be humble. Be humble. Be humble. No one likes an egomaniacal designer, even if they’re talented. Don’t let your work be used for evil if you can help it. Have fun! Always keep learning (it staves off burnout). Schedule time off for yourself!  Stop doing work for free.

Be humble. Be humble. Be humble.

Shoutout to our 2020 fall intern Yandia Miñana Pérez for conducting the interview!

February 22, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Team Spotlight Interview: Tiffany Threets

Tiffany Threets began contracting with bombilla in December of 2020 and now works as the team's Design Director. She specializes in design and packaging and geeks out over sneakers, print design, and plants. Over the past few months, she's helped create beautiful designs for bombilla's brilliant clients, including Caring Across Generations.

What led you to bombilla? Tell us about your creative path.

I wanted my design projects, or the company I was designing for, to align with who I am and things that are important to me. I just kept saying to myself, and telling friends “I want to design for good.” It sounds so simple, but I wasn’t sure where to begin or how to go about making that professional pivot. I wondered if there were any Oakland-based collectives, agencies or studios that had a community feel with clients that are truly for the people and beyond the bottom line. 

So at this time, it was early in 2020 and the world just caught on fire. So much sickness, death, murder and injustice. I could no longer have community-based projects on the side. I wanted those projects to be my full-time work. I needed to give back with my design capabilities. 

I could no longer have community-based projects on the side. I wanted those projects to be my full-time work. I needed to give back with my design capabilities.

So I googled, and I don’t remember the exact keywords I used, but bombilla popped up. I loved everything I saw and read. How could I not know about bombilla already? It was everything I was looking to be involved with. So, I reached out through the bombilla site, and now here I am contracting with bombilla. I think the interesting part about how this all plays into my creative career path is that when I first began to take design seriously, “my style or artistic direction” was often called out as “too urban.” Being an Oakland native, Oakland is in everything I do. It’s part of who I am,  it’s present in my work, and that’s always been important to me. Fast forward to current day and I’m designing for good. I’m freelancing full-time, designing for my community. Experiencing this full circle moment brings me joy.

What is your favorite type of art to make in your free time, in your work? What do you think makes you or someone a good designer?

My favorite type of art is anything print design. I went to Laney and did their two year program and at the time it was called “Applied Graphic Design.” This was when web design was still very separate from graphic design and mobile hadn’t taken over the way it has now. There’s something about going from a digital creation to a tangible item that I enjoy and always have. If there’s anything print related, I’ve probably tried it or have plans to try it out. Screenprinting, bookbinding, poster design, letterpress printing, etc. I enjoy it all. I think it’s also what makes me a good designer because I'm interested in the entire process. From the story of the company,  the person, or whatever the project is, all the way to the end. I’m not one to just handover a project without making sure you have everything you need and a clear understanding of  what's next in the creation process.

There’s something about going from a digital creation to a tangible item that I enjoy and always have.

What makes bombilla stand out from other creative workplaces?

The people and the mission! Everyone seems like their genuine self, which is not common across the board. The entire team and collective seems very authentic in who they are, what they’re doing, what they bring, how they can help, and how we can hit our deadlines and really create something great. That’s definitely not common at all creative workplaces.

Why do you think an organization should choose bombilla for its branding and design needs?

I think orgs should choose bombilla because we truly care about your design needs and your brand. We’re #litonpurpose. Our team is here to use our creativity and skills to make your brand shine. We want to work in collaboration with you to make your vision a reality.

I think orgs should choose bombilla because we truly care about your design needs and your brand. We’re #litonpurpose.

How do you cope with what’s happening all around the country and/or World? (War, discrimination, injustice, exploitation, ecoanxiety, systemic racism, etc.) Any tips?

How I cope is really checking in with myself in a way that I didn’t have to do very often before. And it differs for sure…sometimes I need quiet time, not just in the sense that the house is quiet, but I just need to be quiet, listen to some music, and reflect in order to recharge. There’s so many feelings, fears, and angst. The ebb and flow of it all is off the charts. Meditating gets me access to a portion of myself...it’s kinda hard to describe, but it’s grounding and healing. It resets me to deal, cope, and progress.

Unplugging, being in nature and different creative outlets are now essential in such a different way than before.

Unplugging, being in nature and different creative outlets are now essential in such a different way than before. Coloring with my daughter, learning to grow herbs and vegetables with her and my wife are helping us cope through these times.

How has working remotely changed the work dynamic/ way you work, or the way the team completes and executes projects at Bombilla?

Working remotely due to the pandemic, while beginning to freelance full-time at the same time, was a big shift for me. My work dynamic is so different now. I’m now in charge of staying on top of all these things I didn't necessarily have to before. Juggling between project manager, designer, bookkeeper, etc., can feel like an added stress or stress that I didn't have before. Yet, at the same time I’m involved with projects and working with people that are interested in doing good and sparking change. I'm bringing my 100% true self to work and in the way I work at bombilla and on my other projects as well. That definitely has to do with the pandemic. Like so many others, I was forced to figure it out. I’m appreciative and blessed I’m involved with work that aligns with my values personally and professionally.

I'm bringing my 100% true self to work and in the way I work at bombilla and on my other projects as well. That definitely has to do with the pandemic.

What advice would you give to someone that’s starting a career in the creative field?

This is going to sound really cheesy or basic, but I would say do not give up on anything you feel like is truly part of you. Things can “work out” in really weird and coincidental ways. 

... I would say do not give up on anything you feel like is truly part of you. Things can “work out” in really weird and coincidental ways. 

Stick with it, make it work and don’t compromise. Also, leave room to learn and then learn some more. Learning on the job is underrated. Leave room for mistakes, learn from them so you continue to evolve.

Shoutout to our 2020 fall intern Yandia Miñana Pérez for curating these thoughtful questions for the interview!

January 29, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Making the World Brighter Together: Meet the Team

Dear Community,

We’re the creative directors of our shared future on this beautiful blue planet we call home. How are we going to individually and collectively step up to solve the great social, political and environmental crises of our time? We need antiracist players at all levels, in all sectors and in all positions. We need as many people as possible to be #litonpurpose. To be #litonpurpose is to embody the change the world needs by focusing on how our individual creative gifts can collectively make the world brighter. Change starts with you (us). 

What keeps me inspired is the power of creativity, community and collaboration to spark change. In the words of National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman“There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” 

At bombilla, we’re embodying our light! We’re a small and mighty team with big dreams of a world free of racial, economic and social oppression. Meet the brilliant humans making change happen:

Kimberly Cho

oakland, CA | creative project manager + designer

Specializes in illustration and animation.
Geeks out over sci-fi, fostering kittens, and weekend road trips.

Read more

Lillian Kim

alameda, CA | admin + biz manager

Specializes in business operations.
Geeks out over Charlotte Mason homeschooling, local foodie eats, and latest tech.

Read more

Emily Seaman

boston, MA | creative project manager + strategist

Specializes in nonprofit communications strategy.
Geeks out over zoology, science fiction, dinosaurs, and gardening.

Read more

Tiffany Threets

oakland, CA | designer

Specializes in design and packaging.
Geeks out over sneakers, print design, and plants.

Read More

Sam Vaughan

los angeles, CA | graphic designer

Specializes in design, UX, and photography.
Geeks out over word origins, future-forecasting, urban (and non-urban) wildlife, and Rebecca Solnit.

Read more

Ivi Morales

oakland, CA | founder & CEO

Specializes in ideation, brainstorms and values-driven branding.
Geeks out over creativity, the apocalypse and the power of people to make change.

Read More

Yandia Miñana Pérez

mayagüez, PR | fall 2020 brandtern

Recent graduate of University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez.
Specializes in creative strategy and content creation.
Geeks out over environmental justice, eco-friendly hacks, vegan recipes, and cocker spaniels.

Aziza Jackson

oakland, CA | creative project manager + strategist

Specializes in content strategy and storytelling.
Geeks out over the AP Stylebook, underground art shows, and anything sci-fi.

Read more

Shoutout to our 2020 fall intern Yandia Miñana Pérez for facilitating these interviews!

January 22, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Team Spotlight Interview: Kimberly Cho

Kimberly Cho (she/her) is one of bombilla's Creative Project Managers + Designers and specializes in illustration and graphic design. Bombilla projects she has helped launch worked on include Racy Conversations and URGE.

Tell us about your creative career path.

My life has always been very art and creativity driven and it was probably not a matter of if it would be a part of my career but how. Growing up, I loved to paint, draw, and do arts and crafts. I even fell in love with filmmaking and even explored the possibility of being an art therapist. I eventually decided I wanted to be a concept artist for video games, being inspired by League of Legend’s in game cover art and by the fact that I just love video games. Their work really showed me that illustration was still relevant and showed me that illustrators can see their work in the final product. 

At least being a concept artist was what I intended at first. Going to art school isn’t mandatory for being a successful creative, but it really helped me grow as an artist. There, I fell in love with editorial illustration and graphic design, two industries that I had never known existed or didn’t feel like I’d be interested in until I tried them out. I loved that balance that commercial illustration and graphic design had, where it’s a collaborative effort between you and your client versus it being all about your work.

With this bright eyed notion, I got my first graphic design job at a supplement company here in the Bay Area. As much as it was comfortable (health insurance, 401k, a steady paycheck, friendly coworkers) and all, I felt creatively suffocated there. The work was routine and baseline and I just really wanted more say in the creative direction and to begin with the “why” of the project. That’s when I started being a freelancer on the side, promoting my work to art directors and through word of mouth, determined to build my creative career on my own terms. In that process I met Ivi through fellow designer Megan Totah, who is also a contractor with bombilla. I started working on projects for bombilla and I really loved how all the projects I was working on in bombilla were very mission driven projects. 

In April of 2020, when the effects of the pandemic were really starting to show here in the US, I left my corporate graphic design job as they reached the tail end of moving their operations to Utah and really began focusing my efforts on freelancing. In October 2020, I officially joined the bombilla staff and as they say, the rest is history!

What do you think makes you or someone a good designer?

I think there are two essential things that make someone a good designer. The first is to stay curious and to strive to continuously learn more about the craft. Get inspired by other people’s work, to ask your peers and mentors for feedback. The second is, as a designer, you’re helping other people connect to your client and creating a human, emotional connection from the client to their audience. This means that you need to connect with your client on a human level. It’s so important to empathize and understand what they believe in and what they stand for to best be able to translate it through design in a relatable and approachable way.  

It’s so important to empathize and understand what [the clients] believe in and what they stand for to best be able to translate it through design in a relatable and approachable way.

What makes bombilla stand out from other creative workplaces?

I resonate with this question a lot because my last job was as an in-house designer at a corporate company! The design was very structured and routine and there weren’t a lot of opportunities to flex your creative muscles to their full extent. Working at bombilla, I’ve felt like my creative voice is seen and I have a direct say in the creative direction of projects I work on. The projects are also incredibly fun to work on and are helping noble causes. Can it really get any better than that?! I love that you can always try to get your hand at different types of projects, so you’re always learning and growing. Another thing I’m always reminded of and thankful for is how everybody on the team is very supportive, empathetic, and fun to work with.  Everybody is willing to give each other chances to explore different projects that they may not have had the initial experience of working on before. If you have the interest and passion, everybody is willing to give you the opportunity to shine and happy to share their experience and knowledge to help you succeed. I believe bombilla’s collaborativeness, warmth, and support help it stand out from other creative workplaces.

I love that you can always try to get your hand at different types of projects, so you’re always learning and growing.

Can you tell me a memorable experience with any of the different clients bombilla has worked for? Any client/experience in particular worth mentioning?

One of my most memorable experiences is while working with our retainer clients. Working with PL+US and Caring Across Generations, it really feels like we’re building a relationship and partnership in aiding their causes. It’s not just about creating the work that we’ve been tasked to do but being able to see ways we can better amplify their message through communications strategy and design. For example with PL+US, we had extra hours in a specific month of our retainer, and we helped them gather information on how to up their social media and Giving Tuesday game. Even though we weren’t specifically tasked to do this, being able to find ways to go above and beyond to help our clients’ causes makes it feel like a partnership towards success versus just being a design vendor for our client.

It’s not just about creating the work that we’ve been tasked to do but being able to see ways we can better amplify their message through communications strategy and design.

What show do you recommend we binge this weekend?

I definitely recommend The Queen’s Gambit! It‘s about a young woman who discovers her love for chess and goes on to compete in a male-dominated world of chess.  I love how the protagonist, Beth, is portrayed as both flawed yet worthy of empathy and respect. As always, Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance knocks it out of the park!

What has the global pandemic taught you?

So many things! The pandemic really taught me to relax more and be more explorative in hobbies and be unafraid to be creative. I didn’t realize how much precedence work and career had in my life until now. It opened up a lot of time for me to explore different things and have fun with it and learn from those experiences.  For instance, when I wasn’t working on design projects, I was working on side creative projects like knitting, making candles, and cooking.  It also taught me about taking a break, stepping back, being well-rested, and moving back in with renewed focus. It also really showed how unpredictable life can be and to really be thankful for everything I already have.

What advice would you give to someone that’s starting a career in the creative field?

I think it’s to always learn and grow. Look at work that inspires you. Learn that new skill you’ve been curious about. Most importantly, be unafraid to reach out to people for creative opportunities to collaborate. I was promoting my illustration work to the Wall Street Journal for about a year before I ever heard back from them! I’m currently working on my third illustration project with them and sometimes I still have to mentally pinch myself!

Most importantly, be unafraid to reach out to people for creative opportunities to collaborate.

Shoutout to our 2020 fall intern Yandia Miñana Pérez for conducting this interview!

January 22, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Team Spotlight Interview: Lillian Kim

Lillian Kim (she/her) specializes in business operations. Geeks out over Charlotte Mason homeschooling, local foodie eats, and latest tech. She has helped bring order into the day-to-day processes of bombilla's workflow and invaluable marketing expertise.

What is your role at bombilla?

As the Administrative and Business Manager, I'm working in the background to ensure that the creative engine is running smoothly so that the rest of the team can put their best (creative) foot forward! My superpower is reigning in the typical startup chaos to find beauty in order.

My superpower is reigning in the typical startup chaos to find beauty in order.

How are you involved with your Community?

I enjoy actively serving my church and local community, including serving the youth in our cities and partnering with volunteer organizations to meet the needs of under-privileged residents. I also like the “incognito mode” of involvement by simply getting to know my next door neighbors, regardless of our differences, and building relationships in my immediate community.

What is a social issues do you care about?

Diversity in representation, opportunity, and platform. I believe that every individual, regardless of what label or group identity they have (i.e. race, socioeconomic status, etc.) has a right to be represented accurately, given equal access to opportunities, and invited to voice themselves on any platform. I believe that every individual has the capacity to bring a piece of beauty, goodness, and truth to the communal table.

I believe that every individual, regardless of what label or group identity they have (i.e. race, socioeconomic status, etc.) has a right to be represented accurately, given equal access to opportunities, and invited to voice themselves on any platform.

How do you cope with what’s happening all around the country and/or World? (War, discrimination, injustice, exploitation, ecoanxiety, systemic racism, etc.) Any tips?

I’m learning that where I place my security and hope in utterly depends on the narrative that I believe in. There are so many competing narratives right now that are causing division, anxiety, depression, anger, despair, and it’s so easy for my emotions to get sucked into that. My personal advice is to find a bigger narrative that isn’t dependent on the current conditions of our world and society, a narrative that is timeless, universal, consistent, and grounded in truth and facts. There’s too much going on that is uncertain and broken to place my trust in, and the only consistency is that humans tend to mess things up. So, find the stronger, bigger narrative outside of anything that is dependent upon society or people.

My personal advice is to find a bigger narrative that isn’t dependent on the current conditions of our world and society, a narrative that is timeless, universal, consistent, and grounded in truth and facts.

What has the global pandemic taught you?

I’ve grown a deeper appreciation for the basic human need for in-person relationships. Even though we are living in a time where we have so much sophisticated technology where we can easily talk to (and see!) anyone in the world, people are understandably feeling lonelier than ever. There is something about the physical presence and proximity of another person that cannot be replaced or trivialized. And that any in-person interaction is better than nothing. I’ve been getting to know my neighbors more because of the pandemic and grateful to know their stories and backgrounds. It reminds me how we’re meant to live in community, and not just keep to ourselves in our own homes and our own families. We were made to interact with all kinds of people outside of our little social circles to experience a fuller, richer life. This is something I sorely miss right now because of shelter-in-place, and hope I will never take it for granted when restrictions are lifted again.

There is something about the physical presence and proximity of another person that cannot be replaced or trivialized.

What is your favorite movie right now?

Pixar’s Soul is by far the best movie that has come out in awhile, in my humble opinion! And the timing of it’s release couldn’t be better, I think. I love the creative, relatable storyline (although it threw me off guard that it was dealing with the subject of death so early on, and in an animated movie too!) I think one of the themes of the movie I just couldn’t agree more with: that even if our purpose or dream in life is never realized (and aren’t many of us feeling like this in 2020 and 2021?), that life is still worth living because life itself is an undeniable miracle.

Shoutout to our 2020 fall intern Yandia Miñana Pérez for conducting this interview!

January 22, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Team Spotlight Interview: Sam Vaughan

Sam Vaughan (she/her) specializes in design, UX, and photography. Geeks out over word origins, future-forecasting, urban (and non-urban) wildlife, and Rebecca Solnit. Projects she's helped bring to life include creating Birthland's visual identity and creating stunning designs for Caliber's Annual Report.

Top: Birthland's visual identity seen live in Oakland, CA
Bottom: Caliber's 2018-2019 Annual Report

Tell us about your creative career path.

My career path has been by no means linear. Filled with many twists and turns, I feel grateful for the generosity of friends and strangers alike who have opened doors for me. I have a vague memory of an actor (maybe Bryan Cranston or Tom Hanks?) describing how you never really know when a door is going to open, you just have to be ready to step through and make the most of it when it does.

In high school, my journalism teacher opened a door to do photo assignments, when we didn’t have many options for art classes, and certainly not a photography class. In college, my art professors opened doors for me to get access to materials and space, so that I could make A LOT of work. As a new grad, my dentist opened a door for me to get my first job marketing for his dental office.  During the course of which, a recruiter on Linkedin opened a door for me to join my first startup in the stock photography space. And just last year, a stranger on Linkedin (now my boss Ivi 😊) opened a door by graciously accepting coffee with me, a photo-editor/swiss army knife creative who was just transitioning into graphic design and hungry to work in the non-profit & social impact field.

... you never really know when a door is going to open, you just have to be ready to step through and make the most of it when it does.

I read a quote recently in Rebecca Solnit’s “A Field Guide to Getting Lost” where she quotes a man telling a story at the San Francisco Zen Center: “Calling out for help is a very generous act because it allows others to help us and it allows us to be helped.” More recently, I’ve come to believe that we can manifest some version of our dreams for the future by sharing our vision and goals with as many people in our lives as possible. The more people in my life knew the paths I truly wanted to explore, the more they were able to help me by pointing me in the right direction, clearing a barrier, connecting me with a guide, or showing me a path I hadn’t even considered.

Where do you get inspiration from? Describe your creative process.

My inspiration sources are one part mind-mapping, one part intense visual inspiration searches, and one part random encounters.

At the start of branding projects, I like to take note of some of the keywords that resonate with the client for their brand.  I use these words as the anchoring points in my mind-maps, where I map out all the words and visual vocabulary that relate back to their core identity.  Sometimes logo or tagline ideas emerge right out of the mind-mapping process.  From there, I use this widened lens of ideas to generate visual searches online (Google, Pinterest, social media, etc.), browse through print materials, or explore spaces outside of my home.  Throughout this process, I create a moodboard of all the visual vocabulary that resonates for this particular project.

My inspiration sources are one part mind-mapping, one part intense visual inspiration searches, and one part random encounters.

When I start working on a project, I’m thinking about it pretty much night and day. That doesn’t mean I’m working night and day, but when I’m walking down the street and thinking about what fonts evoke a certain quality or feeling I’m looking for, then when I encounter one that checks those boxes, I take a picture. And it doesn’t have to be something I see in person.  I could be watching a movie, reading a book, doom-scrolling on Instagram, etc.  The point is that when it’s top of mind, then my mind is automatically looking for those visual cues and inspiration.

What makes bombilla stand out from other creative workplaces?

The community. It feels like every colleague and client I work with truly want to be there working together. When clients hit milestones, we feel the excitement for them. When one of us is having a rough day, team members and clients alike are encouraging time for self-care. I feel very grateful that both our team and our clients not only care for the people they’re serving, but also for the people behind the scenes doing the work.

When clients hit milestones, we feel the excitement for them.  When one of us is having a rough day, team members and clients alike are encouraging time for self-care.

How do you deal with the criticism from a boss or client?

I love this question! As much as I like to think that I am tough and resilient when it comes to handling criticism, I have to admit that sometimes it can be anxiety-inducing. But ultimately, your boss or clients will only share criticism with you when they respect your work, their work, and what you’re creating together. In that sense, criticism is one of the most generous gifts a person can share with you, especially when it comes from a place of love, respect, and the desire to achieve a common goal. When I receive criticism, I try to dig a little deeper on what can be learned from the feedback.  What has this taught me?  Is there something we’d do differently next time? Oftentimes these moments become doors to new pathways for discussion, and ultimately make your projects and work WAYYY more thoughtful and impactful.

...ultimately, your boss or clients will only share criticism with you when they respect your work, their work, and what you’re creating together.

How do you cope with what’s happening all around the country and/or World? (War, discrimination, injustice, exploitation, ecoanxiety, systemic racism, etc.) Any tips?

One principle that’s moved me forward in recent years is the reminder that change (of mind, of systems, of laws…) is incremental. It starts from the fringe and works its way inwards into the popular narrative and eventually to the people in power. Knowing that we all have a role to play in that, no matter how seemingly small, keeps me going and helps me feel like the challenges before us are less and less insurmountable.

I often find that a small shift in my perspective can move me from paralysis to action. Sometimes it’s finding inspiring stories I’ve never heard before, of victories that have been left out of the history books we’re taught or of people whose ideas and actions have had ripple effects into the present day. Sometimes it’s looking back at my own experiences to remember that many of the good (and bad) things that have happened in my life, arrived without any prior planning or knowledge. Knowing that there are many possibilities that cannot be known, gives me back agency and reminds me that the future is not fixed.

Uncertainty can be both a playground for fear and a playground for hope, imagination, love, and action.

Uncertainty can be both a playground for fear and a playground for hope, imagination, love, and action. This is one quote I always come back to from Rebecca Solnit (who is often my source of inspiration and perspective-shifts):

“Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.  When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes–you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others.  Hope is an embrace of the unknown and knowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting.  It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.  We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.”

― Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

How has the pandemic affected/changed you/your life?

I wrote this on Instagram the first week of shelter-in-place in the Bay Area, and the sentiment still resonates with me today...

“In photography, the presence of light is what makes a picture. But it is also the absence of light that makes it, and helps focus our attention. It’s for this reason I’ve always enjoyed sunny cloudy days. Or cloudy sunny days. When there is only sun, we feel drunk on warmth. When there is only clouds, we feel numbingly cold. On sunny days when puffy storm clouds come in and out, our attention is always being pulled in different directions. A shadow casts on a plant we’ve never noticed before, a new pathway is illuminated, light hits a stranger’s face in a way that feels familiar but strange. And it’s the same old things that suddenly become strange.

I know it is a scary time to be alive. And it feels weird and strange and alarmingly uncertain. We’re being forced to hold a mirror up not only to how we’ve been operating on a national and global level, but also to ourselves. It’s uncomfortable. Speaking for myself at least. To have to find happiness in who we are by ourselves.

That is why I feel grateful for family, friends (old and new), colleagues, old lovers, therapy, wildlife that returns, and all sorts of people working tirelessly and selflessly to keep things moving.. who make me feel like I am worth holding up the mirror. Who without question always show up. Like those swans that returned to the Venice canals. Or the coyotes returning to San Francisco.”

What advice would you give to someone that’s starting a career in the creative field?

Let yourself get bored! Sometimes I think we get into such a routine as creatives that we don’t slow down to really let our minds wander down new paths. I often find that some of my best work (personally and professionally) has come from moments when I stopped being so focused on the task in front of me, and just followed threads of curiosity and instinct.

I often find that some of my best work (personally and professionally) has come from moments when I stopped being so focused on the task in front of me, and just followed threads of curiosity and instinct.

Pay attention to what activities you can get so absorbed in that time passes quickly. I’ve noticed in my own career, that asking for more projects that use those same skill sets, were the ones I had the most fun working on. It’s easy to get burnt out in a creative field, but less so when the activity or subject matter captivates you. When you care about what you’re working on, it shows in your work.

Shoutout to our 2020 fall intern Yandia Miñana Pérez for conducting this interview!

We are a proudly AfroBoricua-led small business, shining bright from sunny Oakland, CA. We are based in xučyun (Huchiun), on unceded territory of the Lisjan Ohlone people. 

We are a proudly AfroBoricua-led small business, shining bright from sunny Oakland, CA. We are based in xučyun (Huchiun), on unceded territory of the Lisjan Ohlone people. 

We are a proudly AfroBoricua-led small business, shining bright from sunny Oakland, CA. We are based in xučyun (Huchiun), on unceded territory of the Lisjan Ohlone people.

We are a proudly AfroBoricua-led small business, shining bright from sunny Oakland, CA. We are based in xučyun (Huchiun), on unceded territory of the Lisjan Ohlone people. 

JOIN THE BOMBILLA NEWSLETTER

© bombilla creative, inc. 2022 |  Design by Donaji Mejia