OWNER AND EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR
WELLER SMITH DESIGN (WSD), VALLEY STREAM NY
Weller Smith Design is an award-winning boutique design agency. With over 20 years of experience in the design and publishing industry, LeAnna received the 2020 Top Graphic Designer of the Year Award from The International Association of Top Professionals. Before starting WSD, LeAnna worked for LaPlaca Cohen, designing marketing and event materials for The Met, American Museum of Natural History, The National Gallery of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and more. She also worked at Artisan Books, where she designed high-profile cookbooks, coffee table books, and the full line of Audubon Calendars. Striking out on her own, LeAnna continued to work with high-profile clients, including Food & Wine Magazine, Travel + Leisure Magazine, Daryl Roth Theatre, Rizzoli, Abrams, Stewart Tabori & Chang, All in Together, and more. Over the years, WSD has continued to work within the corporate and cultural sectors and has expanded its reach to include thoughtleaders, non-profits, and small businesses. LeAnna is on the Board of Spark Design Professionals, is a former mentor for Women Who Create, and continues to work with mission-driven companies. She is the creator of Productologie by Weller Smith Design®, and is also the host of Creatively Speaking, a videocast on YouTube. LeAnna recently launched her publishing imprint, Lowercase Ink, to bring small personal projects and collaborations to life.
Has the pandemic changed your workplace and your workflow? Do you expect to return to pre-pandemic ways of working or will any changes become the ‘new normal’?
Our current business model has been remote for the past 8 years, so the pandemic did not change the way my team and I work together, or how we work with clients, but it did highlight some areas where we could be more efficient. During this time, we were able to refine our processes and systems, as well as work on things that we wanted to create to grow our own business. All the changes we made have had a positive impact on our business, and we will expand upon them moving forward. In addition, we have learned that our clients crave community and connection (part of our core values) and are also passionate about making an impact (another core value of ours). In 2021, we need to double-down in this area so we can continue to support our clients to provide innovative solutions to better serve their communities. What we hope WILL return to some sort of ‘pre-pandemic’ state, is meeting in person, networking, group outings, dinners, travel, and more!
What do you expect 2021 to hold for graphic designers and the design business? Have the challenges of 2020 changed the way you think about your job and career or the role of design?
2021 will be the year to diversify our client base, incorporate multiple streams of income, and rethink the way we do business. With more businesses moving to the online space, and niche markets popping up, 2021 will be full of opportunities for designers to connect with businesses looking for our knowledge, we just have to be open to seeing the possibilities … even our own expertise can be packaged up to become products … the sky is the limit! As far as the future of the design business, as a Minority and Women-Owned Business, we have experienced the barriers that surround this industry. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we ALL come together to work towards a more diverse and inclusive environment. As a team, we are determined to continue to make a difference. I am optimistic that 2021 will crack open the design industry to allow it to become more accessible, more creative, and more inclusive.
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