Fireside chat with the Fabulous Five

Story By: Veronica Foster
Featuring: LeXander Bryant, Kelly Diehl, Emmanuel LeGrair, Ethan Summers & Elizabeth Williams
Nashville Design Week 2022

Come sit around the proverbial fire with us, as I share the story of how five creatives in different disciplines found each other and created something beautiful.

When you see a final editorial photograph, maybe you don’t think about the story that led to the fashion, artistic direction, and overall mood of the piece. However, when you see the photo of Emmanuel LeGrair amidst a myriad of patterns leaning not-so-casually under an ominous looking security camera, you might just pause to wonder. Where is this beautifully juxtaposed backdrop? How were these fabrics so artfully placed along this chain-link fence, and why does it work so well?

“it so magically came together because we just so easily trusted each other. It was so conceptually and strangely rich.”

If you weren’t curious before, I welcome you to sit around the proverbial fire with us, as I share the story of how five creatives in different disciplines found each other and created something beautiful.

I was getting ready to meet the Fabulous Five, as I’ll refer to them, at Monday Night Brewing in Germantown, so I set us up in a circle where I could get the full effect of the collaborative energy. The temperature was a perfect 80 degrees with a slight breeze in the shade, and in that moment, I knew this would be a special conversation.

LeXander Bryant arrived first, and I was already inundated with how effortlessly cool this group was about to be. LeXander is a photographer and visual artist, and if you didn’t know him before this year, you would absolutely recognize his name from his recent show, FORGET ME NOTS, at the Frist Art Museum. Ethan Summers, owner of clothing brand Oil + Lumber, arrived next with an electric smile on his face. I actually got to witness Ethan and LeXander meeting for the very first time despite being two integral pieces of this collaboration.

Manny LeGrair, stylist and Programming Design Director for Nashville Design Week, walked up in a fresh white button down, but everyone’s eyes in the circle were looking at the kimono draped demurely over his legs. The surface design duo that makes up New Hat Projects, Kelly Diehl and Elizabeth Williams, each arrived a few minutes late completing our circle. Each member of this Fabulous Five was effortless, warm, and full of joy when we sat down for our conversation. So, now that we’re all together, I can finally share the story about the unique collaboration behind that mysterious photograph.

It all began 5 years ago with a meet-cute at the closing party of the inaugural Nashville Design Week. It was a block party setting where creatives, including Kelly and Elizabeth, had pop-ups displayed to showcase their work. Manny recalls showing up at their table and introducing himself as a fan of their work.  He shares, “They had this concrete linked necklace on display that I was fawning over. It was probably not meant to be worn, but I just started talking to them and decided to put it on my person. That was the moment that kind of solidified my weirdness with them that would become our friendship”.

Clearly this was not the first time that Manny had formed friendships over art, design, and fashion appreciation. He recalls meeting Ethan at a Porter Flea some time ago where Oil / Lumber had a booth set up. When other people’s work inspires Manny, he describes it as “love at first sight”. He has a sixth sense for creativity and quality, but his real superpower is making the connection with the makers, as he did with the minds behind New Hat and Oil / Lumber.

Ethan cuts in to share his admiration for Manny in the way he curates his purchases. “I appreciate that while most buyers are a one-and-done, you aren’t reactive. You are the kind of customer who asks questions. How am I going to wear this? You are invested in knowing about us, and that’s a lifelong customer.” When you really try to describe Manny’s curated look, it’s so clear that he chooses each piece carefully upon purchase, but also in how everything is styled. Most people wouldn’t know how to mix and match patterns, but then you see Manny rocking animal print loafers like they were made for him. But wait, let’s talk about things that actually were made for him.

Last year, Manny got a text from his old friend who was visiting family in Ghana. She sent 5 pictures of different types of fabric, and asks Manny if he wants her to bring it back for him. A whole bolt of fabric for $30? Of course he said yes, but you know Manny wasn’t going to wing this. He had no idea what this fabric would be when he got it a few months later, so he started by asking his friend some questions about what she thought would be culturally appropriate considering Manny isn’t Ghanain. After scrolling for inspiration, he spotted a kimono, thinking about the creative mix of cultures that could take shape.

Guess who was making kimono-style jackets at exactly the same time? Oil + Lumber, of course. At this point, it is years after Ethan and Manny not only formed a friendship, but Manny set himself apart as a Oil / Lumber advocate. Manny goes to Ethan and asks if he could create this unique piece for him, unsure of how he might react, unsure if it was even possible with the material. Ethan would not just do this for anyone. He told Manny he would do it just for him, but it would take some time since Oil / Lumber didn’t necessarily have the capacity to take on custom orders in addition to focusing on their own line. When both admiration and friendship exist in the same relationship, you create the special sauce for collaboration.

Four months later, once the kimono was constructed, it was clear that it could not be kept a secret. Oil / Lumber have a studio space right across the hall from New Hat, so when Manny went to go pick up the kimono, he squealed, then immediately went across the hall to show Kelly and Elizabeth. The momentum shift was palpable. Elizabeth immediately says, “Let’s shoot it.” In response to their proposal to contribute other patterned fabrics and textiles among other brainstorming, Manny says, “Sure, let’s go all out. Let’s do everything we can to make this happen.”

Elizabeth pauses the story, reflecting,  “You don’t get to do things for no reason, you don’t get to make things just because you want to. Since we’ve all been in the game for a little while, we could be like, let’s just make it because we want to make it. That’s what made this so special.”

Flashing back to the collaboration in progress, the team began considering the perfect photographer who could elevate the vision into an art. Elizabeth and Kelly finally suggested LeXander, and Manny’s first thought was, “He’s doing a show at the Frist, I mean, can we even get this guy?”

Thankfully for all of us, he agreed, and it turns out Manny was not the only one with admiration. LeXander remembers running into Manny fairly recently. All he says is, “you came in and you had the clutch…,” and everyone in the circle bursts into laughter at his expression, “it’s not even my style, but man, you get it off, why did you even bring that out?” Manny simply responds, “Because you have to. Why not?”

Knowing LeXander’s perspective of Manny played a lot into how he decided to set the scene for the final shoot. LeXander shares, “Most of my work, it’s a slower pace, I feel like it makes you want to slow down and think, but Manny, you can feel his energy and his passion is more like New York, you know, where it’s busy, it’s chaotic.” Ultimately, Manny was going to be modeling this kimono, so his energy had to be the inspiration.

Even though this mood was outside LeXander’s style, there was a great deal of trust as the collaboration started to take its full shape. He shares how much fun he had in the process, “It’s rare that collaborations are fun. Sometimes they’re just necessary, but this was one of those ones where everyone has some skin in the game, we all working, but it’s fun.” LeXander knew that the team trusted him to find the right place for the shoot. He also trusted that the intention behind the photos would cut through any complicated background, so when he was on his scout and saw the chaos of construction on 2nd Ave, he just knew. His immediate thought was that it doesn’t feel like it’s in Nashville.

“It’s rare that collaborations are fun. Sometimes they’re just necessary, but this was one of those ones where everyone has some skin in the game, we all working, but it’s fun.”

Ethan, who wasn’t involved in the creative process of the shoot, actually remembers seeing the photos after they came out and wondering if they went to another city to do the shoot. Urban feeling shoots may be really hard to do in Nashville, but the cool, chaotic spots are cropping up more and more as construction takes over. They won’t last forever when the new shiny thing replaces it, so really it emphasizes that this is simply a moment in time.

Elizabeth reflects that on the day of the shoot, they were just following LeXander in his car, thinking, “Oh God, we’re right by the bombing site, but it so magically came together because we just so easily trusted each other. It was so conceptually and strangely rich.”

So concludes the mystery behind that rich photoshoot, years in the making, but full of happenstance. I asked the group, “how does this collaboration represent ‘what’s new’”? Kelly put it so beautifully, saying, “New ideas happen with experimentation. When you are in the capitalism grind you don’t have the luxury of experimenting, so it’s kind of nice to all meet at the same place and have the freedom to collaborate.”

While the Fabulous Five didn’t all meet directly because of Nashville Design Week, it has brought each of them together one time or another, and this is the kind of community we want to see cultivated year after year. LeXander concludes, “Sometimes, you work with people and the work is good, but you don’t really care to stay in touch with them, but I feel like this is one of those projects where this won’t be the last time you see us together.”


In Conversation with Clarence Edward Simpson: Nashville’s Best Kept Secret

Story By: Veronica Foster
Featuring: Clarence Edward
Nashville Design Week 2022

We had the pleasure of interviewing Clarence Edward Simpson, owner of Cë Gallery in Madison, and new project, Cëcret, in Wedgewood Houston. What’s unique about his gallery experience is all about the “experience”. While curating shows seemed to be a natural evolution for Clarence Edward, it’s not just about the art on the walls. He makes art both elevated and approachable by first, setting the scene around a show and then hosting accessible pop-up events inspired directly by the essence of the artist. From regular sound bath meditations to unique events, like “Prosecco & P Funk” to go with the renowned funk musician, George Clinton’s, visual art showcase, Cëcret is clearly burgeoning into a special community. We know our Design Week community will want to join in to see “What’s New.”

It was a joy to get to know Clarence Edward, and I am just as excited to share an excerpt from our interview on July 25, 2022

Veronica Foster–
Tell us a little bit about yourself! Since you’re a Nashville native who has lived out of state for awhile, how did you make your journey back home?

Clarence Edward–
I am a Nashville Native, but I knew my goal was always to go to New York City. I was like, Nashville was not for me. I left Nashville right after high school at 17 and went to college in Memphis to study Communication and Fine Arts.

During my senior year, my advisors said, “you’re not going to graduate unless you do an internship.” In Memphis at the time all I had was Nike and FedEx. And I was like, I’m just too fabulous for this! Like, I cannot do it! I’ve always thrown underground parties, so I literally rented out a vacant space and just put all my friends’ artwork in one space. My family always had art around for sure, but I didn’t have a formal gallery or museum experience until I did it for myself. I had no idea. I had no idea I was doing shows, but people came in and bought work. My beginning phases were natural and just happened out of nowhere.

You said Nashville wasn’t for you, so why are you here? Why are you back?

I would do shows when I came home for the holidays, so I was doing shows in vacant dive bars at Printer’s Alley for locals. My family was like Nashville is growing, Nashville is progressing. During the pandemic, I was doing my research and I’m like why is Nashville popping up on Buzzfeed, why is it on everybody’s top 10 lists, so I’m like something has to be up. After year one, year two into the pandemic, I went to check out Atlanta for about three weeks. Studied. I’m like, Atlanta don’t need me, they got enough Black gay dudes. There’s so many of me here that I’m gonna just go home to Nashville. I hadn’t even realized SoHo house had opened in Nashville. And I was like, hold on, something’s happened. So let me just take this shot on this venue that I found.

So you just got back and last year, you already jumped right into Design Week to host an event. Clearly you’re thinking, “I just got home, we’re just gonna dive in”. You’ve been diving in since the beginning of time. Tell us about a special memory from the Design Week event you hosted.

I felt like I wasn’t ready for Design Week. To be honest. I remember when Hunter Claire and I first met and she was like, “You should do Design Week” and I’m like, “Girl, I just moved back home”. Like, I opened my business in February [2021]. Then I get an email from this girl named Camila who signed me up for Design Week. She said, “The program got chosen. We got work to do”.

I had to get a crash course on that in preparation for this event for design. Then in the midst of that I’m learning, the metaverse is becoming a phenomenon. It was definitely a challenge for me. But to see the gallery in the metaverse, in action on the wall, is still, to this day, one of my favorite videos on my Instagram page. I’m fortunate and thankful for Design Week putting us on the map on that level. Because after that, I feel like I have to maintain the standard. As Nashville grows, I know that Nashville Design Week is going to be something that people in other countries are going to look at as a source for design when they’re coming to Nashville. I’m just proud.

The theme for Design Week this year is “What’s New”, so what feels new for you? Since you’re coming home does it feel new?

Oh, everything feels new, actually. I mean, I drive around and I forget some of the things that were there before. I spent years in New York just hoping and wishing and dreaming for like this moment. And in New York, it would have taken me 20 years to get to this level. The Nashville community is so welcoming and so open. As soon as you come here and you say, what you want to do, the resources start coming. It’s in your hands, whether you make it happen or not. If you’re authentic, you bring your role, then the arts community will support you. I want to say in terms of newness, it’s just inspirations that I’ve seen in other places that I’m excited to bring home to a lot of new people.

That’s really good insight. Do you feel like the welcoming aspect of Nashville is what’s so unique about the art scene? Or do you think there’s something else there?

Yes, and it’s not common, especially in the art world. I mean, it’s a gatekeeping industry. Because art is a luxury, you know, it’s not a necessity. It’s something that you know, you got to be in rooms, you got to be in a certain space, speak certain languages, and it can be it can get to a level of pretentiousness, but Nashville because it has such a small art community, but it’s very, very vibrant. And I think music has a lot to do with that as well. And I think that because music and art are not too far from each other, that it’s an easy flow. It’s a genuine flow. And I love that about Nashville specifically.

You also have this background in communications and it’s clear your space is so much more than just curating the art on the walls. We walked into the space and there was music playing that created this funk vibe that set the tone before you even processed seeing George Clinton’s “Grooves from the Deep” show on the walls.

The experience is very important to me. Every artist that I work with, it’s almost like we start with a therapy session. I ask, “when you created that piece, what mood did you have, what candle did you have on or what music were you playing,” because at the end of the day, it does matter. Artists feel fulfilled when whatever they were trying to express is related to the audience.

It’s my job as a curator to make sure that when you walk in here, you feel like you walked into the artist’s thought process.

That’s so special. I want to sit down with you and be a fly on the wall when you’re having those conversations.

It’s my job as a curator to make sure that when you walk in here, you feel like you walked into the artist’s thought process or their studio. With George Clinton, he wanted minimalism, and he wanted the art to be the focus in the funk, because everybody ideally sees him as a legendary musician when he’s actually more than that.

You know, what I love is that within these pieces, people who are diehard George Clinton fans see the connection, they see the mathematics, the atomic dog, the spaceships, the Funkadelic part of it, and then being able to, like make these connections.

Do you think the general public is more appreciative of art and getting to do these moments now?

I’m literally getting bombarded. If my sign’s out there, they’re coming in. Nashville is just not accustomed to a Black man gallerist. There’s only two Black-owned galleries in the city that are already very eclectic. I don’t like the level of being intimidated by gallery experiences. I bring in a very underground view. I love to have music. I love to have DJs and parties, date nights, and meditations amongst the work.

I’m bringing in underground artists who honestly probably have never been to Downtown galleries or some have never been shown in galleries before. It’s just the world that I’ve liked being in and been intrigued by, just educating people on having an artist statement, having PDFs of your work, the commission process, the measurement of how your work should be displayed, etc.

I also tell every artist that I work with, “your work is going to be on display, but be prepared for your work to be an interactive experience.” I want galleries to be very accessible, like I want to be open at midnight amongst the mecca of creativity rather than close at 5 pm on a Saturday.

Is there anyone who’s inspiring you right now?

One of my best friends just opened a coffee shop called No Free Coffee right down the street. His name is Mario Christian and was doing very very well and people always wanted to have coffee dates with him just to like, pick his brains, and he was just like no more free coffee dates with people, so that’s where “no free coffee” came from. He just moved back home to open his coffee shop and to see people’s reaction and then being receptive to it… it’s almost like an out of body experience.

Studio Visit: Lasso Studio

Story By: Priya Ollapally
Featuring: Allen & Lindsey Lasseter
Nashville Design Week 2021

Husband-and-wife team Allen and Lindsey Laseter weren’t always planning to marry their talents professionally. Lindsey spent ten years in branding, graphic design, and strategy at traditional digital agencies and branding studios while Allen — an animator, illustrator and director with a background in film — worked independently for much of his career. But a perfect storm of introspection, external factors at work, and shifting perspectives through the pandemic showed them what it could mean to join forces creatively.

They have just launched Lasso, their official studio as Partners and Creative Directors, and they spoke with Nashville Design Week about what it means to reflect on the life you want and deliberately design your careers around that shared vision.

Who is Lasso Studio?

Lasso is our creative studio. We specialize in motion-focused branding, creating brand identities with motion design as a core component, which allows us to combine our areas of expertise. So for me, that’s graphic design, strategy & branding and for Allen that’s animation and illustration. We both had been working in our own careers for the last ten years, and it’s really because of Nashville Design Week – the opportunity to brand it last year – that we saw the opportunity to pursue being an official studio. We had chatted about it casually before but we realized “Oh, this is something that we could actually do.”

Working in animation there hasn’t been a lot of focus on branding. Typical projects might be an explainer video, web content, maybe a music video every now and then with animation, occasionally a narrative short for a publication.

We realized that there were many talented animation studios and brand & design studios, but very few who brought those two components together to both be equal and integral to a brand. Animation adds the chance to tell a deeper story. Elements of traditional design were typically restricted to a static form, and now we can expand so far beyond with how fast everything is evolving.

With traditional design, digital design, animation, and illustration all under one roof we realized we could really do some incredible work that we couldn’t do alone. We can bring expertise from both worlds to every project. It’s an opportunity for a seamless marriage of two art forms: motion and design building upon one another. Plus, we could work together, and learn from one another… our skills and passions were opposites, and a great complement in how we’d run the business.

We also wanted to form our studio around the life that we really want to live. That’s been exciting to think about: how we can do work we’re passionate about, but live the family life we want to live as well as make time for the things that excite us beyond commercial work.

“We realized we could work together, learn from one another…our skills and passions were opposites and a great complement in how we’d run the business.”

What is motion-led branding? How is it different from traditional branding?

Motion-led branding to us means using classic graphic design and motion and animation as key components to one another. So many brand studios create beautiful brands but they lack the layer and power of motion. So many animation studios create impeccable motion pieces and videos, but they often are created without a brand system at the heart. We’re merging what we love to create work that can take the idea of branding to the next level in our increasingly digital world.

It was exciting to realize our skills and industries could be combined and give us the opportunity to grow together, both personally and professionally.

“You realize your work is still important to you, but satisfaction and joy is so much bigger than work.”

What were your careers like before forming Lasso Studio?

Allen originally went to school for filmmaking, and that’s where we met, at art school (Watkins College of Art, Design & Film). His career was focused on directing and cinematography when he first got out of school. He’s self-taught in animation and illustration which has always blown me away.

It was out of necessity because I was looking for work when I was still doing live-action stuff and a job fell into my lap that was more animation-focused. I had just enough experience working with After Effects to take it on, not realizing how much I still needed to know. So then I had this whirlwind experience, basically learning how to animate on the job.

Allen’s always been independent and freelance his whole career, but I worked in-house in agencies and studios, so I was used to a more traditional nine-to-five-with-a-boss type of thing. I was always very intimidated by the idea of going independent. Allen had encouraged me to do it years ago, but when one spouse is independent, it’s nice to have the stability of a full-time job and insurance.

I actually lost my last full-time job. I was working as a Creative Director in house for a hospitality company and made that shift to a leadership role to grow but also to shift how we lived and worked as we had our daughter.

You know, early on in your career, you’re so passionate about the work. It’s all about the work; you’re spending late nights staying up to work, just because you’re excited about it. I worked at the digital agency redpepper and then the branding studio Perky Brothers — I was on fire to be creating incredible work. But after all those years, our priorities started to shift and so did our goals for how we wanted to work and live. You reach burnout when you only prioritize work. You realize your work is still important to you, but satisfaction and joy is so much bigger than work.

Losing my job was kind of a magical thing because after I returned to that in-house job for maternity leave, I recognized it wasn’t the right thing for me long term, and the next week I was called into the office with HR to be told they were restructuring and no longer needed me. It naturally flowed into freelance for me, which I don’t think I would have pursued on my own. It was one of those things where a power that is greater than you knows better than you do.

Having the chance to be a freelancer showed me how working independently was perfect for how I wanted to work and connect with people. Then the opportunity to brand Nashville Design Week came and we really saw the potential of joining forces.

Establishing a new business together, what are the decisions you’re making as a couple and business partners?

We’re working with a business advisor called Ellevated Outcomes that’s based here in Nashville. So much of our work with them is doing a lot of deep thinking about who we want to be, who our ideal client is  and getting clear on the unseen work of how our business works and evolves as we grow. We both had ideas early on about what got us personally really excited, and now we’re breaking it down, thinking in terms of functioning as a business: what to charge and how much our time is worth, what’s the value with the addition of branding and motion together since it’s not as common, but is more and more valuable.

Right now we’re pretty happy  just being a two-person operation. We have the ability to scale up to do bigger projects as needed but we don’t want to rush in to bringing on full-time staff and then be forced  to take on bigger and bigger projects just to keep the lights on. We always want the work to be satisfying in and of itself.

A goal for us, too, is being able to have a studio model that supports us doing client work that we love and focusing on finding the right partners to work with. Not just being hired hands, but partners who seek us out for our approach, and our point of view to work on projects where we can make a real difference. Something that has been exciting in my career is that shift from being a young junior designer, where you just want to make things that are beautiful and cool visually, to using my skills to support a business or cause I believe in. There is so much power in using design to solve real problems.

Running our own studio as a couple is also really exciting to have the control to make business decisions based on our lives — we don’t take on a huge project if it means we can’t be together as a family and enjoy what truly matters to us. We can structure our work to support our life.

What’s your relationship with Nashville? Why were you drawn to Nashville? What sets the city apart?

There were multiple times where we thought we’ll move to a bigger city, that to play in a bigger field we would need to move to a big city. We thought we were going to move to the west coast to go to San Francisco or maybe Seattle or Portland or something. It’s been really cool to see how Nashville has grown and we’re so glad we stayed. Our ideas for what we want personally and professionally have changed too, and it’s beautiful to see that evolution.

We both moved here in 2007. Nashville was still considered a small city. At that point, Nashville was really just still known as the country music capital.

It was right before the boom.

It wasn’t necessarily known for such a wide range of creative industries and creative talent aside from music. I was drawn to the city because it was so friendly. I’m from South Carolina, so it was bigger than where I grew up in Greenville. A few years after we moved here,  it got the title of “It City” and suddenly there was an influx of growth, especially people moving from bigger cities which I think naturally just brings different perspectives, and ideas of how things could be approached. There’s certainly pros and cons, you know. I’ve been missing some of the character that Nashville had when it was smaller and a little less metropolitan. But so many exciting things are coming, including bigger opportunities for us creatively so I’m excited for the evolution and growth.

How did your sense of community change when you made this shift to form the studio?

I don’t know that mine has really changed. I mean, obviously the biggest thing was learning to work together and learning the language that we speak and how to give and take criticism and that kind of thing. Lindsey probably has had more of a dynamic change going from full-time to independent.

I’m definitely an extroverted person and I love to be surrounded by people. My fear of going freelance was that I’d be lonely or I wouldn’t have people around me to push me.  Throughout my career,  i have made a point to reach out to people that I admire and ask to connect. If didn’t have to have a full-time job, I’d just want to meet people and essentially be a professional friend. It’s always been a gift that I credit my dad for, being able to reach out to anyone or walk up to anyone and let them know, “Hey, I really admire you. I’d love to connect and hear more about you.” And from that you just naturally learn a lot.

And so I think something that was really incredible was that instead of my world feeling smaller working independently, my community actually grew significantly. You know, you’re not in an environment where you are just talking to the same people every day – and I certainly worked with incredible people over my career, and I’m still very connected to a lot of them, which I’m grateful for – but it expanded so much. Talking to people across the US and hearing their stories, hearing from their experiences behind the scenes at agencies or studios I really admired, it really opened my view of what a studio could really be.

Allen has his community within the motion world, and I have mine in design, and now we’re merging it all together and learning from peers and people we admire.

Are there studios or artists you’re inspired by who have found balance between passion projects and profits, work and non-work life?

Locally, some of our friends run IV Studio, which is a motion studio. Allen met them initially working freelance for them. I think they were one of the early motion-specific studios in Nashville. We’ve stayed friends with them over the years, but one thing that’s really cool is that they’ve essentially taken the things they’re very passionate about and created products and businesses. So from their own coffee brand to designing their own board games, and now they have a series of shows on Youtube. We want to create our own products and side projects too, so it’s encouraging to see your peers doing it when it can feel so challenging.

They make board games, they make mobile games. They’re awesome. There’s also a studio called Gunner in Detroit who does a really great job with this. They are an amazing motion studio. They do client work for huge clients, and they do great work in that realm, but they also have put out a crazy amount of purely studio-driven, personal work. I don’t know how they do it, but it seems like they set an intention at the outset that they wanted that to be a part of the work that they do, so they’ve set up the foundation to be able to support that. That’s kind of an encouraging example that that balance is possible.

There are so many artists and creatives who inspire us here in Nashville and Nashville Design Week has been a great way to connect with even more. New Hat is another studio who not only have become dear friends, but who inspire us and show what a successful creative business can look like outside the mold.

What’s next? What are your dream projects as a studio?

Experiencing Nashville Design Week this year and actually seeing all the work come to life in person created so much energy and momentum for us. Designing the brand for 2020 was great, but we missed out on the in-person components of design in the project because of Covid, so the chance to see that come to life, from projecting our animation work onto walls 20+ feet tall to supporting each event with signage to buttons for volunteers, gave a real look into the effect the work can have. That was pretty incredible.

As far as dream projects, we’d love to partner with companies and creative visionaries who really believe in what they’re building. It could be brands, products, services, events, museums… we’re thinking a lot about how motion-led branding would be most useful for communicating and creating experiences. And we’re looking for projects that can be fun and truly interest us. Let’s brand the Sundance Film Festival next. Let’s create really special projects in Nashville that make our city an even more amazing place to live. Let’s create our own products, make a children’s book, and create public art. We want to make commercial and personal work equally important.

There’s certainly a balance in commercial work where people believe you can’t have all three F’s: Fame, Fortune and Fun… I was told early in my career that you can pick two. Recently, we’ve been trying to break that belief. I think it is possible to have the work and life we want. We’re working on a clear vision, taking action to make it happen and trusting it will all come together.

“I think it is possible to have the work and life we want. We’re working on a clear vision, taking action to make it happen and trusting it will all come together.”

Follow along @lassostudio and say hello.