AIGA Cleveland is excited to feature Jenika May Gonzales in the Community Spotlight for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month! Thank you Jenika for stepping into the spotlight and sharing your work with us.
AIGA Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do. How does design shape your day to day?
JMG I am Jenika May Gonzales, a Filipino-American graphic designer based in Cleveland, Ohio. I am a first-generation immigrant and the youngest of 4 children. Aside from being a designer, I am also an advocate for immigration justice and a culinary optimist that strongly believes that food is a bridge for conversations, connection, and understanding. My advocacy work fuels my design work, and both co-exist in my attempt to create things that are not only beautiful but good and useful.
I work for Mitchell’s Ice Cream as their full-time Visual and Graphic Designer. I am responsible for all visual design aspects, including print, packaging, signage, installation, photography, photo styling, editing, and print production. And on the side, I own a small design practice Jenika May LLC; I work with diverse clients, from independent artists, small boutiques, businesses, and editorial clients, all with a playful, clean, and elegant aesthetic.
Design is essential to my identity and navigating my life, from curating a meal, understanding perspectives, creating playlists, taking photographs, and using every part of my day as inspiration to craft an expression that ultimately dictates my design work and client interaction. I get inspired by other people’s work and how they use their motivators and perspective to create a story. People mostly inspire me; I am curious about each person’s personality and experiences. It’s a great source of ideas and inspiration.
AIGA Describe your design process. How do you tackle a creative project?
JMG In every design project, I like to get to know the intention behind it. What ignited the idea, and what emotion the client wants to invoke and provoke. I am very interested in the story of the inception of a brand. Most brands/companies/entrepreneurs are fueled by something, and I like to hear those stories before focusing on the tangible aspects. Then I create the concept through photography, textures, and colors. From there, my second favorite part is the push and pull with the client and creative (even though the conflict, haha) Because it is a grounding experience to understand that the project is also theirs as much as it is mine.
AIGA Tell us 3 words that best describe you, or your design work.