"I don't think I've taken as many risks as I should have, but I've always been open to everything as much as I can. So my advice would be to be open to experiences, to people, to things that may seem different or unknown. Take risks."
Who is Tanya Williams?
A graphic designer in Trinidad.
What do you do for a living? What do you do for fulfillment?
I work at an ad agency. A branding agency. I am a little confused as to what it is at the moment. I also freelance as a designer, particularly for personal brands; that’s my area of interest. And I am sometimes a painter and an artist.
What makes you feel fulfilled? What makes you feel that you’re achieving a higher purpose?
I would think that would be a little bit of different things. But at the moment I feel very fulfilled when I’m working on my project website--Designer Island--because it’s kind of similar to what you’re doing except that it’s focused on the Caribbean, at the moment Trinidad, and discovering interesting people, talking to them and getting to know what makes them interesting. Whether you’re an artist or a jeweler: like my friend Jade that I recently spoke to, and have a story like she was born in Venezuela even though her parents are Trinidadian and came here. She’s a jeweler and she owns a very adorable, very unpopular gift store in St. James with the most random things, and she studied in Italy. I think that what fulfills me is bringing these types of people in Trinidadian life outside of what’s expected to light... working on Designer Island in what ever form it’s being developed into is what fulfills me at the moment.
What is the ideology that drives what you do?
I’m not sure if I know what drives what I do. I guess it’s what makes me feel good inside, what I enjoy doing, sharing things with people, people sharing with me. I think anything in life that’s an experience that I learned something from that’s interesting and I get to share and they get to share with me: that’s what drives me.
How did you arrive at that ideology or sharing and doing what makes you feel good?
It’s kind of stumbling upon something; experience and circumstance. I find that I keep having to answer the question of, “why did you choose design as a career?” and the answer is that I didn’t make a lot of grounded decisions on what it is I wanted to do or what I am doing now. It’s always been a stumble upon something; it’s just going through life and coming across interesting things and interesting people and just being like, “ok I think I’d like that. I’d try that.” No really big decisions, which is scary now as an adult and realizing that you have to make big decisions, but it’s interesting in the sense that you can come across things in people’s situations that may inspire you accidentally, or on purpose if you believe in destiny.
As far becoming a graphic designer, I actually applied to study art at UWI and two months before starting my aunt sent me to McCann Erickson for a week, and that led to apply to John D. and do visual communication design. That led to me meeting really interesting people and working at CMB and then meeting Richard and Marlon and different people that have been an inspiration to me. One of these people, a friend, showing me an Abovegroup ad in the papers and telling me that I should apply just when I was thinking that I wanted to try something new. It’s always been experiences like that, and through meeting different people and exploring new things that I have come to where I am now.
What advice can you offer someone who’s searching for their own ideology?
Take risks; take chances. And this is not coming from a place of “been there, done that.” I don’t think that I’ve taken as many risks as I should have, but I’ve always been open to everything as much as I can. So my advice would be to be open to experiences, to people, to things that may seem different or unknown. Take risks.
Tanya is a graphic designer in Trinidad & Tobago that currently serves as the Head of Design at Ogilvy.