Welcome to my weekly Q&A sessions where I talk to Jamaican creatives about their lives, their work and the contributions they make to Jamaica through their art.
Today’s interview will be with Kaela Smith from Klustr Inc. (@klustr.inc), a Jamaican branding agency that specialises in brand identity design, UI/UX design and animations.
Kaela and I first connected when I came across her rebrand for Serge Diary’s Monster Milk on Instagram. Seeing that level of work produced by such as small account at the time was very inspiring and I looked forward to having an interview with her eventually. Fast-forward to a year later and here we are, the official Klustr.inc interview with Mikhail from wwworkshop.
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What is Klustr.Inc?
A branding agency where our main focus is bringing the best international standards in design to Jamaica. We also do UI/UX design.
Where are you from?
I am from Montego Bay, Jamaica. Born and Raised.
How did you come up with the name Klustr.inc?
I wish it were something very interesting (laughs), but it was literally just me wanting to find something that had the first letter of my first name in my business name, without it being tacky, you know. I also did not want my name in it, was purposely avoiding that.
Where are you working right now?
I am working remotely for right now because we were recently established, and I have always liked the idea of an online business. Eventually I am looking to have an office location where people can walk in for requests and meetings later in the future. I would still be working remotely majority of the time.
What is your daily routine like?
Honestly, I do not have a set routine right now. I have been trying to get into a good one for months now. Luckily, I can admit to myself that I have not been disciplined enough to stay on a routine, I am working to curve that though so I can get more things done during the day.
The trial-and-error routines were from multiple YouTubers, namely, Nathaniel Drew, Ali Abdaal, Matt D’Avella and may others. They have beautiful routines, but I recommend not following any one you see exactly, not everything works for everybody. Find out what works for you, it might take weeks or months, but you will get it right.
How do you handle rejection or criticism?
Take it and turn it into something good. That is the best you can do. There is no point in letting it manifest into something awful that could affect your work. Do not overthink it, you need rejection and criticism to grow. Sometimes you can be stuck in one place and be unaware, criticism can be the catalyst for your growth.
How would you describe your design style?
Very minimalistic. I try to be as clean and thorough as possible with my designs. Nothing fussy but still unique. For right now, I am trying to stand out amongst the others nationally and then I will work my way up.
What tools do you use daily?
My sketchbook. This is the first and most vital thing. All my ideas and jottings are done in my book first. My iPad has been a blessing with sketching as well. The software comes next, Procreate, Adobe XD, Photoshop, Illustrator and I have recently gotten into After Effects, Premiere Pro and Lightroom.
What projects are you working on right now?
I'm currently working on multiple branding projects, UI/UX design projects, while still learning everything I can about After Effects, Premiere Pro and Photography.
What would you consider your greatest accomplishment so far as a Jamaican creative?
Pushing past the boundaries that have been set for our Jamaican creatives. Too many of us do not focus enough on the international standards. A lot of them do the same thing and not try to stand out and see if they can get out of just focusing on the Jamaican industry.
Who are your favourite types of clients?
People who know exactly what they want, they are clear and precise. They give details and an outlined brief of the project you should be working on. Ones that do not ask for multiple unreasonable changes to the design. Clients that do not give impossible deadlines. Clients that do not try to low ball my prices because the work delivered is going to be worth it.
Any trends in the industry that caught your eye?
Muted colour palettes, minimalistic designs, beautiful animations and heavy & simple fonts.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Reading. I grew reading books anywhere and anytime I could. I loved living in the figurative world they created. I also like poetry and film.
Where do you find inspiration?
Find inspiration anywhere I can. Sometimes I see designs while driving around somewhere and get my own ideas. Mostly, I search on Pinterest, Google and Behance for inspiration. What is your go-to sources for industry news? I don’t really have any to be honest.
How can people find you?
Instagram & Facebook - @klustr.inc
Behance - Klustr Inc Branding Agency
What are you doing to develop Jamaica’s creative industry?
Make my designs stand out as best as I can. Educate my growing audience on what is out there and all the principles of design.
What is next for Kaela?
There are a lot of goals I have set for myself and I am determined to reach them. I am
going to work on them and then let you guys see the results. But as for smaller goals, right now I
am trying to concur After Effects, Premiere Pro and photography.