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Conversations with Celeste Parker

Today we’d like to introduce you to Celeste Parker.

Hi Celeste, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My story begins as an only child with no one to entertain me but myself. Having so much freedom and space, I was constantly imagining and creating, always bringing my latest art project to my parents. Growing older, I was blessed with three younger siblings who would take art lessons, or go to art camp with me, and I was always encouraged to take all of the art classes at school.

Even though I loved having a creative outlet, I never thought of art or design as a career path. My family is full of entrepreneurs, so I thought that I wanted to do marketing and eventually open my own business in the future, whatever that was. I took a digital design class senior year of high school just for fun, thinking it might be useful to know some software, but to my surprise, I found a way to combine my love of art and my passion for business. I looked into graphic design as a career and realized that it was the perfect middle ground of all my interests, while still giving me the freedom that I desired.

I attended Harding University in Arkansas and loved every second of my four years there. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and a minor in Entrepreneurship Management. In my senior year, I was the president of the Graphic Design Club, the Entrepreneurship Club, and was voted Outstanding Senior Designer by my professors. All of these awards were confirmation to me that I had chosen the right career path, and I am so thankful for all of the connections and guidance I received in college.

After graduating in May of 2021, I moved to Nashville on a whim. I’m a spontaneous person and I love to travel, so I decided that Nashville would be a great home base. I worked with freelance clients throughout college, so I’m blessed to have a client base that I can work for no matter where I live. I’ve gained some new clients over the summer, and I’m looking forward to working with some local brands soon. I’m definitely still in a transition stage, just going where the wind blows me, but I’ve really enjoyed being able to explore coffee shops around town, and networking in the most unlikely of places.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Freelancing and “smooth road” are not often used in the same sentence. It’s a lot of fun being able to work for myself, but it’s also much more work than I expected. Not only am I the designer, but also the customer service, the photographer, and the accountant! Some weeks I have too much free time, and some weeks I am swamped with designs and just want to close my computer. However, I know that I am still new to the design world, and it’s going to take some time to build a consistent schedule. I’m navigating post-grad life, a new career, and a new city, so I try to give myself grace and roll with the punches.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. I specialize in branding, business strategy, social media, illustration, and I’m always looking forward to my next project! My passion is working with small, local, or startup businesses, helping them understand what they could be better at, and using my designs to set them apart. With my entrepreneurship background, I love researching the competition, the market, and what is working for others. My research helps me organize my designs in a way that would best portray what the brand’s mission is.

I also love illustrating, whether that be digital, on a canvas, or in my sketchbook. I have an Instagram page (@doodles_withc) where I post what I create in my free time, but I really enjoy working on commissions too. I’ve created content for influencers and authors, drawn family portraits, greeting cards, apparel designs, prints, stickers, you name it. I’m actually working right now to get my Etsy shop going so I can sell my designs online!

Any time I finish a project, I’m proud of it. I will never give a client something that I don’t love. I always make sure that we are on the same page about everything, and that both parties are 100% satisfied. Because of this, each project I finish is usually my new favorite.

I believe what sets me apart from others is that I’m young. What I lack in industry experience, I make up for with knowledge of social media and technology. I feel like a lot of businesses don’t take advantage of my generation’s skills when hiring. At 22 years old, I am the target market that most companies are aiming their products toward. Young adults are some of the biggest consumers in the world, and I know how we think when it comes to purchasing.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
This is a tough question because I feel like I’m just starting out! I feel very blessed because I have been surrounded by creatives my whole life, some of who are great mentors. I never hesitate to make connections and reach out to designers that I admire with questions. I have regular coffee dates with other artists and entrepreneurs, where we vent about what is tough right now and give each other helpful advice. It can feel kind of lonely sometimes when my friends go to their 9-5 office jobs and I don’t have that kind of structure. Talking to other artists and designers makes it feel more like a community, so I highly recommend getting some creative friends together!

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