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Meet the Creative Kennedy Ann Roberts

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kennedy Ann Roberts.

Kennedy Ann, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in Winnipeg, Canada a place that has snow on the ground 8 months out of the year, so we were all pretty desperate to find ways to occupy our time. Just like everyone else I was on an indoor soccer team and in ballet class, but I was a seriously anxious kid so all that social stuff was a really hard place to be myself. So I started writing stories. It’s really the artist’s story we’ve all heard, but writing became a way for me to create a space where I felt like I belonged at a time where I really didn’t feel like I did.

As I grew up writing became more of a cathartic process than anything else. We moved to San Diego when I was in the sixth grade and as I tried to find myself, I really leaned on writing, to be a friend, as much as something like that can be. But it was never really something I shared with other people or understood as a part of my career path. In fact, I remember telling people that I didn’t want to mix my passion with my work, that seemed to put way too much pressure on it.

So it wasn’t until, in pursuit of an English minor, when I took a Language of Poetry Class during my sophomore year of university that I realized my words were something that other people would want to hear. With the support of my poetry professor, I began submitting my writing to on campus publications and realizing that my passion was a marketable skill. I started to look for opportunities to write for brands and through internships.

But I probably fell most in love with sharing my voice when I learned how to incorporate it with activism. I have always been passionate about women’s empowerment, and so being able to use my writing as a way to share my experience of being a woman while also standing in solidarity with other women has been a really rewarding way to combine and share my passions. So I often find myself captivated by the experiences of women in my own creative practice and I love working with brands that have a voice in the empowerment of women.

Photography is something I picked up relatively recently. I’ve always been attracted to the way that photography forces you to reexamine and theorize your point of view on things. And so it’s been interesting to explore storytelling through the lens rather than through my pen. I’m still very much a student of photography and focused on developing my artistic practice. But I’ve had the opportunity to shadow a few photographers on brand projects and am really working to expand my knowledge through professional and coursework, so I can work from a production standpoint doing social and marketing creative for brands in the future.

Has it been a smooth road?
I’m still pretty young, so I’m sure most of my ‘professional’ struggles aren’t really that interesting in the grand scheme of things.

But I think one of the biggest obstacles has always been myself. As a creative, you are constantly evaluating your own work and giving yourself permission to stop. I am a perfectionist, and will sometimes write a piece 12 times until it is just the way I want it. I think sometimes this constant self-evaluation combined with my need for perfection has stopped me from taking chances on submitting work at all. I’ve really had to learn to remind myself that the only creative failure is the fear of failure itself and just take chances, or say you know I think it’s really good and I’m the artist so that’s enough. But that’s something I’m still learning to do everyday with every new project.

I would say the other big obstacle I’ve encountered is finding my creative voice. As a young person working in a professional and creative capacity simultaneously, sometimes it’s necessary to really sit down and figure out how you are going to fuse your own voice and the voice of the brands you’re working with. My ultimate goal is to always make work I’m proud of while satisfying all of the needs of my clients and that can be a balancing act, especially when you’re pretty new to the game.

But I think what’s so exciting about doing this kind of work is that art mimics life, and you are constantly finding opportunities to grow, refine and question what you’re doing. Ultimately though all of these struggles are in my head, there hasn’t been one huge defining professional struggle (at least yet).

Have you ever felt like giving up?
Yes. The moments where I have wanted to quit usually come from feeling like people (either the companies I work for or the people around me) don’t value the work I’m doing. I think that’s really common in creative industries because, unless you are a creative yourself I think it’s difficult to understand all the time and energy that goes into making that type of work. So sometimes I think people think I sit down and pound out a piece of writing in an hour when in reality I’ve spent hours carefully crafting every word to mean exactly what I want to say. While these moments come often and knock me down, in the same way, I’ve found that it’s important to first remind myself that I value my work and then to try and convey that message to the people I work with and the other people in my life (really an endless pursuit).

What would you tell someone who is just starting out?
To really be successful at anything, you have to start out by valuing yourself and your brand. Every opportunity that I have ever gotten as come to me because I really took the time to invest in myself; to make a website, to tweet about my experiences, to email a company I was passionate about and ask to chat about their creative strategy. Even when sometimes that made me feel like I was head and shoulders out of my league, I constantly reminded myself that I was talented and that my voice was a voice worth hearing. The more I valued myself as a creative, the more time I was willing to spend investing in my brand, and the more moves I made that resulted in getting my start. In Los Angeles, it is the most daunting task to launch a creative career (you are one of a million) but if you believe it your talent and drive are powerful resources, use them, and commit to making a small move everyday to invest in your career.

What are you most excited about these days?
I’m about a month and a half away from finishing my undergraduate degree. I’m excited to have more time to freelance and build my professional brand, as well as to get into the workforce on a more full-time basis. Other than that, I love that my future and options are completely wide open and that I really have the mobility to explore all opportunities that come my way after I finish school.

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kennedy ann roberts (for all)

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