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Conversations with the Inspiring Ayana Mack

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ayana Mack.

Ayana, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My art journey began and became more developed in my early teens, after being accepted to Boston Arts Academy as a Visual Arts major. From there, I was accepted into The New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk University where received a BFA in Graphic Design (2011).

My professional training and freelance Graphic Design experience led me to start my company, Ayana Mack Design in 2014. Created shortly after I began my full-time job as a Graphic Designer for a Real Estate company in Downtown Boston. Where I currently work as a Senior Graphic Designer, managing a designer and marketing for six divisions.

Transitioning from 40+ hours a week in retail management to a full-time job as a Graphic Designer helped me devote more time to developing my voice as an artist. After work, I would come home and paint or attend vending events and participate in gallery shows on the weekends. Packing my schedule full of art and networking events. I remember the excitement coming home to work on projects I loved and wanted to share with others.

I made it a point to participate in as many events as possible. One of the early events was a gallery show at the Dorchester Arts Collaborative, selling my work on Martha’s Vineyard, participating in Roxbury Open Studios along with several other things. Too many to list out! The roots I put down in 2014, along with the people I’ve connected with over the last couple of years have helped my business grow into what it is today.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m sure most people have heard being an entrepreneur has its ups and downs. Which I have gone through and continue to go through. But learning what is right for MY business has been key. Educating myself, attending business classes, applying and being accepted to fellowships have all been instrumental in my development as an entrepreneur. But hands on experience ALWAYS wins. Collaborating in art shows, putting together my own events, and traveling to vending events out of state have been a few things that have led me to where I am today.

My advice to someone who is just starting, is just to start. Don’t overthink or wait for someone to give you the “ok”. Just do it! Attend business classes, apply to fellowships and put the work in. You will only get as much as you put in. Plus, you’ll be happy you did this early on. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself when it doesn’t work out the way you hoped. Take what you need from the failed situation and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

What should we know about Ayana Mack Design? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Ayana Mack Design specializes in original Afrocentric artwork and Graphic Design. I currently sell prints, paintings, t-shirts, greeting cards and seasonal items. Many people recognize the head wrap illustration (created in 2014), which is a staple piece in my collection. Another well-known product is the yearly calendar. Which includes 12 original works and is a best seller. Going on year 3 of production!

Over the last few years my work has been featured nationwide through Ujamma box, Black Love Box, shipped to many people in different states and internationally. Also, a few of my pieces are in the museum shop at the African American Museum in Virginia, available during the holiday season at Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury, MA, Zawadi Arts in Washington, DC, along with Nubian Hueman, Washington, DC.

Canvas prints and framed works are currently available at Anique Nicole Hair Studio, Dorchester, MA, Tiffany’s Transformations Nail Studio, Needham, MA, and Infused Kreyol, Medford, MA. I am most proud of how my business has transformed into a channel used to inspire others and give back through the items I create.

On the Graphic Design side of my business I focus on print marketing, event branding and logo development. I’ve been a freelance graphic designer for 8 years. Most of the clients I work with are small Boston based businesses, Non-profits, as well as small scale and large-scale organizations. As a designer I am most proud of being able to visually translate what my client needs, by being available and easy to communicate with. Which have been key components in my business over the last 8 years.

What sets me apart as a graphic designer and visual artist is years of hands on experience, education and attention to detail. Which I apply to every client, customer and business relationship I am in.

Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
I am very much inspired by women who are risk-takers, push back against the status quo, and make it a point to inspire, influence and listen to the women around them or are generations behind them. My mother and grandmother played a huge role in my life. Amazing resilient women who bounce back and make things work, no matter what the circumstance. Outside of family Ayanna Pressley is a huge inspiration. A woman who has reactivated my idea of politics and is authentically fighting against a system that is not made for us. I am thankful for women like this, they set powerful examples for generations to come.

So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well positioned for?

I believe there are opportunities for women. Especially, artists and designers. Just like anything else you have to go out and get it. The opportunities presented to me have been shared through word of mouth because of the roots placed early on. Most of the time, I am searching online and connecting with people in my network to see if my visual art or graphic design services are needed.

Research has been key in most of the opportunities I have come across. Meaning don’t rely solely on social media to sell yourself. Make calls, set up meetings and utilize the resources around you!

Pricing:

  • $7-$50+

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Janina Ordonez Photography (Image of Ayana Mack), Ayana Mack Design (all product photography)

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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