"One word. KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid" says Zee, a Jamaican writer, graphic designer and public relations specialist who is making waves throughout Jamaica and the world.
I reached out to Zee from Zhaneirie Maison Creative to be a part of my blog series of Q&As with Jamaican creatives which she agreed to. We linked up over the weekend and had a talk about her brand, projects she is working on at the moment and the future of her brand. Here is what she had to say.
Who is Zhaneirie?
Zhanerie is my personal brand. She is a music and art journalist, a style director and sometimes graphic designer.
Where are you from?
I was born in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, but I was raised in Clarendon, Jamaica.
How did you come up with the name for your brand?
Fascinating question. So I was sitting one day, and I said to myself “hmm I need a brand. She (the brand) needs to represent what I am, who I am and where I come from. So I combined two words together. Zhane is an African name that means “Gift of God” an Irie means something that takes me back to my roots; its happiness in Jamaica terms.
Where are you working right now?
I am a freelancer, so I write for different magazines, preferably music and art, but I am a writer. More extensively for a New York magazine called a Valid Review Magazine and I also have done work with DSC films Jamaica.
Do you have a daily routine?
So my daily routine starts with a few minutes of yoga and meditation, eat breakfast and then read scriptures which I share with my friends. Next, I’ll talk to my assistant, and we go over what needs to be done for the day and what needs to be done for other projects. In the evenings I eat my dinner and exercise. I’m trying to keep that mind soul and body together, so I try to meditate and eat right. I’m working on a lifestyle blog called “Just go her way” so that’s where I will be posting my wholistic type of vibe.
How do you handle rejection or criticism?
I take them with pride (laughs). I love it when people critique my work actually. Rejection is like when I pitch a story to a news outlet, and they reject a story because they don’t like it, or it doesn’t fit within the theme of the issue. But I take criticism and rejection well because I use them as a building block to know what to do next if I’m going to do a similar project down the line. I don’t take it too hard. I look at it from a positive perspective.
How would you describe your design style?
One word. KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid (laughs). So as a graphic designer, I really try to keep things modern, unconventional, contemporary, not sticking to the same rules that other graphic designers follow. I’m more of an “action person”, but the client leads the way in whatever design I’m gonna go. So if I had three words, I’d say modern, contemporary and unconventional, That’s my design style.
What tools do you use daily?
Audition, Photoshop, Illustrator and when I’m feeling lazy, Canva because it just gets the job done based on what I want to do for a particular project or client. Recently, I’ve been making beats, so I’ve been using FL studio and a drum pad.
What projects are you working on right now?
Okay, so right now, I’m working a project called “40 days around the world.” It’s a project where I’ll be interviewing, documenting, publishing stories about 365 creatives for the project or even more if I have the time.
The project actually started last year, so far I have at least 96 people inclusive of musicians, dancers, painters, fashion designer, actors from across the world. I’ve had persons from Ghana, Berlin, Switzerland, USA, Jamaica, Australia and Hong Kong. So its been a great project for me, I started to this project to shine a light on underground creatives around the world. I just want to help creatives from across the globe.
Right now, I have a community called Zhaneirie Creative, you can find us on Instagram. It’s a project that I see extending in the next couple of years. I hope I can at least (laughs) have an art academy or an art exhibition going annually. Inviting persons from all over the world to come to Jamaica.
What would you consider your greatest accomplishment so far as a Jamaican creative?
I would say 40 days around the world because it is one of my most significant accomplishments as a writer. I have met and talked to so many people across the board and different levels of the industry, and it is growing my network. I have several smaller projects coming from that one big project. From this project, I was able to interview people like Kabaka Pyramid, Protoje, Zia Benjamin, international singers. Wow, there’s so many of them! I’ve met so many managers and PR persons, and they are mentors now, so that’s why I believe 40 days around the world is one of my most significant accomplishments.
Who are your favourite kinds of clients?
My clients are mainly musicians, persons who need a PR representative, persons that are growing their brand. I like persons who are fun, who know what they want, who are easy to work with. I love clients who are not too picky but know what they want for a project. So, fun, serious, organised, knowledgable about their industry.
Any trends in the industry that have caught your eye?
Marketing technology with Artificial Intelligence. WOW, AI, especially in the music industry, has been improving. I know that some of us are going to lose jobs because of this. Still, the development of musical technology today is fantastic. The development of apps that can produce professional work, and you can even download them on your phone. You don’t have to buy expensive equipment.
I’ve been looking at marketing technology because, as a writer, I need to keep up so I can be more appealing to my readers, and provide them with useful information.
What do you like to do outside of work?
That’s an interesting question. I make beats; I write poetry, I work on my books. I have two books coming out; one is a kids book and the other is about my wholistic lifestyle and how I overcome my health issues.
I love to dance and play games with my nephew. I play Minecraft, call of duty and sometimes football. I love pizza. I can’t eat the regular pizza so I make it with my mom. I’ll call my friends every Friday, and we’d talk about the projects we’ve worked on, and we hold conversations about current topics. I draw, and I like to make concept designs for companies I’d like to work for.
Where do you find inspiration?
Life. Life situations. The stories that I hear from other persons when I interview them. In terms of graphic design, I take my inspiration from people who are already in the industry and see how they do it while being original in my work. I learn from other graphic designers by studying their works, I read their blogs, and I listen to their podcasts. They say art mimics life, and that’s where I get my inspiration from.
What are your go-to sources for industry news?
Fader for music, Apple News, Riddim Magazine which is a German reggae magazine, Huffington Post and A Valid Review Magazine.
How can people find you?
What are you doing to develop Jamaica’s creative industry?
As a writer and talent scout, I use every day to find that next hit factor from Jamaica. I am a writer, so I’m always looking for new magazines to showcase new talents. I’m always looking for new people from my country to highlight because I realise that even one publication can make a difference. Sometimes the underground artists, while talented, don’t know how to manage or brand themselves and I can help with that.
I want to collaborate and start some workshops as a community outreach with an organization that stands for the youth in the creative industry.
What’s next for Zhaneirie?
The Grammys (laughs). As soon as coronavirus is over, it’s the Grammys for Zhaneirie. I’m gonna be travelling the world. Zhaneirie’s gonna be building her brand and expanding to the horizons and publishing so I can add a few more accolades to my name, of course. The next big thing for me is publishing my two books, 40 days around the world and starting my own YouTube channel. So, that’s what’s next for Zhaneirie.