Jessica Walsh of &Walsh: Inspiring Connection Through Design, Featured in Graphis Journal #377

Step into the world of Jessica Walsh, a visionary creative director and the brilliant mind behind the esteemed design studio, &Walsh. With accolades that include being named in Forbes’ prestigious “30 Under 30” and Ad Week’s esteemed list of “Top 10 Visual Creatives,” Walsh is an undeniable force in the design industry. As a sought-after speaker, she graces the stages of creative conferences and universities across the globe, inspiring aspiring designers with her wealth of knowledge and boundless creativity. Walsh’s awe-inspiring work has been showcased in galleries, revered books, and celebrated magazines, leaving an indelible mark on the design landscape. Notably, she has spearheaded groundbreaking branding and campaign projects for industry giants such as Netflix, Google, Snapchat, TED, Apple, Beats, Bombas, the Aldrich Museum, and the Jewish Museum, to name just a few. 

Beyond her professional endeavors, Walsh is a fervent advocate for empowering creative women through her brainchild, Ladies, Wine & Design, a global initiative with chapters spanning over 280 cities. Her unwavering commitment to championing women and nurturing their growth into leadership roles has made her a beacon of inspiration. Additionally, Walsh has fearlessly tackled the topic of mental health through her transformative platform, Let’s Talk About Mental Health, using a website and an engaging Instagram account to foster meaningful dialogues and create a safe space for individuals to share their stories. Perhaps most notably, her groundbreaking project, 40 Days of Dating, captured the attention of over 30 million readers worldwide and garnered international recognition, leading to the acquisition of its film rights by Warner Brothers. To delve further into Walsh’s remarkable journey, her thought-provoking book, 40 Days of Dating: An Experiment, published by Abrams, awaits readers in bookstores and online platforms around the world.

What inspired your career in design and to start your studio?
When I was young, I created a website to teach others how to code and design their own websites. I started this as a hobby, but quickly started making a ton of money off the website from Google advertisements, and I also started to get commissioned shortly after to do website design and development professionally. My whole life, I assumed I’d have to take a more traditional career path in business or finance in order to make money, but this early success gave me the confidence to go to art school. Once I began working as a designer, my experiences as a woman in this industry inspired me to want to start my studio, &Walsh. The lack of leadership opportunities for non-men in design is abysmal, and I knew I wanted to try and help be a part of that change.

What are you most passionate about regarding design?
I am passionate about creating emotionally engaging, concept-driven work that is embodied in beautiful form. Creating work that functions for our clients’ goals and connects with their audiences is at the core of everything we do. In my personal work, I try to use design as a tool to elevate topics that are important to me, that start dialogues, or that give back to the community in a tangible way.

What is your greatest professional achievement to date?
Launching &Walsh! Only .1% of creative agencies are founded by women, and the numbers are even smaller for women and nonbinary folks of color. The numbers are astounding, and I wanted to be part of the change to make our industry more diverse by forming our studio and through our non-profit initiatives. Considering these statistics, I feel very grateful and lucky to be where I am today, running my own creative agency as a woman.

How do you define success?
I think success is tied to life satisfaction and fulfillment, which is relative to each individual, their expectations, and their goals. Many humans find it through love or community. Some in money, others in a career, others in marriage or children, some in hobbies. You could seemingly “have it all” to the outside world, yet constantly feel that something is missing or want more. Success to me is when I’m healthy, in a good sleep/eating/workout routine, and feel stimulated and engaged by my work. I also need a good balance between time with my tight-knit family and friend group, as well as alone time (I’m an introvert, so I need a lot of time to myself to recharge!).

Where do you seek inspiration?
When I come across something I find beautiful, I collect it. I take a photo or video of it, tear a page out of a magazine, or copy a passage from a book. I prefer to collect inspiration from fields outside of design, such as art, fashion, film, furniture, literature, or psychology. The more varied and obscure your inspiration is, the fresher your work will feel.

You also run a global non-profit, Ladies, Wine & Design (LWD), which supports women and non-binary creators and champions for more diversity in the creative industry. What’s the story behind LWD and its importance to you?
When I started making a name for myself in design, I noticed that a large percentage of hateful tweets and negative comments directed at me were from other women in the industry. These comments reduced my success to my looks. I know too well that my years of extremely hard work, persistence, risk-taking, and sacrifices are what got me to where I am today. Still, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed by the blatant sexism perpetuated by other women in an industry we’re already underrepresented in. While we’ve made huge strides in the last few generations, the statistics are still staggering: only 5% of CEOs are female. While there are many reasons for this, the fact that we are still attributing women’s success to appearances instead of our talents or merits is not helping. If we’re all being sexist—even women—how can we hope to end these insulting stereotypes? My worry is that in diminishing women’s accomplishments through sexist insults, it can discourage and intimidate younger creatives who dream of going after leadership positions. That’s the story behind LWD and why it was important for me to create a non-competitive space dedicated to uplifting and empowering non-men in this industry.

Check out Jessica Walsh and &Walsh on their website here.

To read the entire interview, preorder Journal #377 here and view the digital edition now.

Author: Graphis