Art of Telling Stories: Amber Anderson

The next guest in the series of interviews on The Art of Telling Stories is Amber Anderson, a graphic designer and animator. Amber is always looking for new people to work with and new projects to work on - and asking questions is always free! You can find out more about Amber and her services by visiting her website.

Amber, tell me a little bit about who you are and what you do.

I am a self-educated designer, animator, developer, and programmer that believes design and visual appeal are a mainstay in any marketing or branding effort, with eight years of professional experience in the fields of information technology, social media, website design, e-marketing, branding, animation, website development  project management, and graphic design. I create and design end-to-end solutions with standards-compliant code with an emphasis on identity branding, efficacy, cross-platform browser compatibility, interactivity, accessibility, and search engine optimization. 

How would you define storytelling?

When I think of storytelling, I think of someone expressing themselves creatively using an outlet such as writing. When someone says storytelling, I think of a fable, or someone taking inspiration from a fairy tale.

In what way can images fit together to help tell a story?

Images and graphics are key elements of supporting and/or singly expressing a point inside a story. They give the audience something to envision and imagine when exploring an idea or concept. They also give the reader an identification point of a way to feel connected to the author and the author's vision.

How do you decide what images or colours tell a part of a story and what ones don't?

It depends on whether I'm using graphics to tell the story or graphics to support the story. When using graphics to tell the story, I go on my own gut instinct of what I feel and what I see when I review the content. When using them as support for an existing story, I pull key words, scenes, feelings, characters, and seasons, along with other components from the story to visually express the writer's vision.

I use all of these elements to visually format the story. That can be anything - changing fonts, sizes, colours, graphics, layouts, margins - formatting is everything. Formatting is what makes the document visually come together. It's what makes it easy to read, it's what makes the story come alive, it's taking your vision combined with the author's vision and making it tangible for someone to be able to connect to.

What is your favourite design work that you've done?
My favourite projects are ones that I get a hand in all the way down the line. I would have to pick something where I got to do some formatting of text, graphic design, story boarding, animation, framework design - any project where I get to touch it from beginning to end. For example, I recently worked on a project for a client that was producing multiple toolkits to provide a variety of programs working towards similar goals but in different locations, in order to have access to tools and resources to help them better implement their events and assist their clientele. On that project, I designed the framework, the templates for the documents, created their branding style, worked on story boards, and developed tutorial animations for the final product, created visual graphics for reports, and more.

In what way does branding tell a story?

Branding expresses the vision of that individual (or organization). It expresses not only how they see themselves, but how they want to be seen by other people. Branding is a stylistic consistency that allows customers to identify with, feel connected to, and know that they can have faith in the company or organization and its products.

What is your favourite colour and why?

If you had asked me that question twenty years ago, I would have told you anything but pink. If you asked me that question today as a 32-year-old woman, I would tell you that my favourite colour is pink. I used to run away from anything that labeled me as a girl when I was younger because I thought that meant constraints, keeping me inside a box, holding me to a standard, having to be a part of a societal norm. As an adult, I realized that being a girl and liking pink are probably two of the most powerful things that I own. I learned to embrace my gender but not conform to the societal norms or stereotypes, and instead created my own way of thinking that didn't necessitate the colour pink, but still welcomed it. The colour pink signifies to me where I started and how far I've come professionally and personally. It's a reminder to me as to how strong we all really are. 

Similarly, what colour do you use the most frequently when designing and why?

Grey. It's a neutral colour, it's a complimentary colour, and it doesn't overpower or take over a program or organization's already established colour pallette. It's a way to add in lines, colours, and graphics with a calming appeal which doesn't clash.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Creating a brand for your business or organization is important. It's as important as buying a house. It's something that is going to be with your business for a very long time. Don't settle. Don't find one designer and think that you have to stay there. Don't take no for an answer. Don't lose your vision because someone is trying to tell you that you're ideas aren't valid or that you're wrong. Your brand is a part of you. It should be a reflection of you and it should tell your story.