Posted 01 June 2023
Interview by Frankie Faccion
Mention Shana Marie

Anyways’ junior creative Shana Marie on self-worth, finances and the media that inspires her

Shana Marie has worked hard to get to where she is. Despite doing all the “right” things, as she puts it – graduating with a first-class degree in graphic design and illustration and picking up creative experience during her studies – she still faced rejection upon rejection from agencies. So she gave freelancing a go, and a year later, she was headhunted by Anyways Creative – where she’s worked on projects such as YouTube Yoodles and community management for Paul Smith’s Foundation. Here, Shana tells us about the moment she, as a Black creative, stopped trying to make her personality “palatable” to employers, plus imparts some wisdom on managing finances and shares her favourite platforms for inspiration.

Shana Marie

Shana Marie

Job Title

Junior Creative, Anyways



Selected Clients

Google, Netflix, YouTube, Coca-Cola, The Lego Group, Paul Smith’s Foundation, Moody Month

Previous Employment

Freelance Creative (2020–2021)
Multi-Channel Design Assistant, River Island (2019–2020)

Place of Study

BA Graphic Design, University of Hertfordshire, (2017–2021)


PDF Portfolio

Social Media


What I do

How would you describe what you do as a junior creative?
Prior to working with Anyways full-time, I was a freelance multidisciplinary creative. Essentially, this meant I did a multitude of things instead of having one speciality.

At Anyways, my responsibilities vary depending on the project, but some universal competencies of my role include creating decks, liaising with clients and collaborators, art directing and conceptual ideation and research. Outside of project work and briefs, I research the latest creative trends, attend cultural events and share my learnings with the wider team. This helps to add another perspective and push our ideas further.

One of my favourite things to do is feed the company culture. As a smaller studio, we make time to do things together to keep morale flowing and bond.

The Anyways team

What’s your favourite thing in your workspace right now?
My bookshelf. It houses a thriving collection of editorial magazines, where you can find publications including i-D, Dazed and Wonderland. I own almost all the issues of Brick Magazine (a personal fave of mine) and loads of coffee table books: Life Between Islands, The New Black Vanguard and Hans Feurer to name a few.

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Selection from the How To Guide on Self-Employment, designed by Shana for Paul Smith’s Foundation

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What recent project at Anyways are you most proud of?
I have worked on a plethora of briefs for noteworthy clients, but I am so proud of the work I have been able to do with Paul Smith’s Foundation [PSF]. I have a passion for human-centred design and creativity, which is a real embodiment of what both Anyways and PSF represent. I thought of exciting ways to build on what they have done previously, pushing the platform forward with new ideas and art direction.

After a few weeks on the project and personnel changes, Anyways asked me to take over as the new community manager for PSF. This was a huge opportunity as it allowed me to work on multiple aspects of the project, from conceptual ideation, through to execution and now managing their social channel. In the space of five months, we have gained over 6,700 new followers and reached over 350,000 accounts, with our highest viewed post achieving 111,000 views.

I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to flex my copywriting skills, creating captions and scheduling posts, as well as maintaining a tone of voice that is inviting to our wide range of followers.

“I have worked on a plethora of briefs for noteworthy clients, but I am so proud of the work I have been able to do with Paul Smith’s Foundation.”

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PSF Advice Cards, assets designed by Georgia Mae and art directed by Shana

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How I got here

What kind of skills are needed to do your role? And would you say you need any specific training to do what you do?
You need an innate interest in the work. A lot of people glamourise the industry, when in reality the briefs aren’t always big or exciting. Sometimes it’s practical and the budget is small, or the turnaround is really quick. Without a genuine love for what you do, you’ll burn out.

You learn so much on the job that I don’t think specific training is necessary. A basic knowledge of Adobe Creative Cloud, an ability to work without an ego and ask questions to help you develop is enough. Networking plays a crucial part in thriving within the creative industry, so it’s important to know how to build and maintain relationships.

For anyone in a low-income household: there are so many online resources, mentorships and schemes that are just as beneficial, without the debt of university. These are just a few:

  • Pocc is a creative networking driving cultural change.
  • SocialFixt fixes the employment gap for Black talent in the creative industry. They offer access to events, resources and more.
  • Dazed Media offers an internship for under-25s with an accessible application process
  • Creative Debuts is an art platform that provides opportunities to emerging artists worldwide
  • Step is a creative internship programme for people living in east London

“For anyone in a low-income household: there are so many online resources, mentorships and schemes that are just as beneficial, without the debt of university.”

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Images from the Google Play Store project, illustrated by Rose Wong and art directed by Shana

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How did you land the job?
The creative director at Anyways, Ellen Turnill Montoya, emailed me after spotting my portfolio online and arranged a call to discuss my work. In preparation, I created a deck with a few pieces of work and a main case study that I felt highlighted my varied skillset.

During the call, I spoke confidently about my ideas. I included the reasoning behind my decisions, which gave insight into my thinking but also gave opportunities for open dialogue throughout.

Some of my failproof tips include:

Know your deck: Know your presentation inside out, so you are able to flick through the slides confidently. Being able to speak through your work whilst sharing eye contact allows the other person to feel connected to your idea and engaged in the conversation.

Curate a specific portfolio: Whether it’s a casual chat or an interview, curate a portfolio deck. It’s very likely the interviewer has seen some of your work and wants to get an in-depth look. Creating a separate PDF or presentation with fewer ideas demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to prepare. It also allows you to showcase your design and layout skills, as well as your ability to curate and art direct.

Perfect your opening: The beginning of an interview can feel nerve-wracking, but I’ve found the initial “how are you” chat is a great icebreaker opportunity. When asked it, don’t just say “fine” – elaborate on the answer. Talk about something you’ve seen recently, weekend plans or a book you’ve been reading. It doesn’t matter if you have similar interests or not, you will feel more relaxed and ready to answer questions after a casual chat.

A Yoodle (YouTube homepage logo) that Shana art directed for the International Day of Sign Language

What was your journey like when you were first starting out? Did you find your feet quickly?
My journey starting out in the industry was a humbling experience, to say the least. Unlike many of my peers, I worked through my degree – both in the creative industry and the retail sector.

Despite attaining experience freelancing for established brands such as MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Moody Ltd, I also completed a placement year at River Island working as a multi-channel design assistant. But to my surprise, I still struggled to find a graduate job.

I was confused and discouraged, as in my mind I had did everything “right.” I had a strong portfolio, a first-class degree, and years of solid experience. Yet I was still unemployed and being rejected by the few jobs that were being listed. I was also going through a personal loss in the family, after my uncle suddenly passed away. This made applying for jobs more difficult, resulting in a lack of motivation – on top of the industry being turned upside down by the global pandemic.

“I was doing everything ‘right’: I had a strong portfolio, a first-class degree, and years of solid experience. Yet I was still getting rejected.”

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Illustration for the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples YouTube Yoodle, illustrated by Luke Swinson and art directed by Shana

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Illustration for the Celebrating the Deaf community on International Day of Sign Languages YouTube Yoodle, illustrated by Gonketa and art directed by Shana

I always knew I wanted to have my own creative studio one day but expected this to be well down the road. However, with no luck finding a job I chose to rely on my faith in God and take freelancing seriously. I hired an accountant, redid my portfolio more times than I could count and made a lot of mistakes in the process. I was fortunate enough to live at home in London.

Capitalising off my personality and the connections I made networking, I was able to work with a plethora of clients like Netflix, YouTube, Vevo and The Lego Group in the first year.

Moving visual for the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples YouTube Yoodle, illustrated by Luke Swinson and art directed by Shana

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
No Signal Radio: Jojo Sonubi and the entire team are incredibly inspiring. A group of talented Black creatives in the industry working on initiatives, campaigns, events, and overall sick work to further the Black diaspora with music at the core. They have redefined what community-driven work means, in an authentic way that has provided jobs, opportunities and money to circulate within our scene.

Brick Magazine: Founder Hayley Louisa-Brown is such a legend and has been instrumental in my love for collecting editorials. We met back in 2018, when I was wide-eyed trying to understand the industry, at a Brick Pop-Up. After attending a workshop and an honest talk about all things industry, I left feeling inspired to create my own magazine.

The Receipts Podcast: This podcast has been a saving grace to my mental health but has equally taught me so much. Three incredible POC women existing loudly, being authentic and truthful with their experiences and overall, incredibly funny!

What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
My biggest challenge has also been my greatest asset. Being a working-class Black woman, born and bred in south west London, I have suffered with imposter syndrome as a result of micro-aggressions within the industry.

Lack of diversity in creative spaces is something people discuss a lot, but doesn’t seem to change. I have been one of the few Black members of staff in the majority of the offices I have worked in, and it’s definitely uncomfortable. I have often felt like the token Black person whose only role was to fulfil the quota.

If my other colleagues weren’t feeling uncomfortable at work, I decided I shouldn’t have to, either. This was such a pivotal moment for me within my career and has become a selling point for any company I choose to work for. If I’m spending 40 hours a week working there, can I be my most authentic self? Or do I have to code switch to appear “palatable” and achieve things?

I’ve come to recognise my self-worth and understand the value of what I bring to the table. My knowledge, skillset, perspective and network are all things that are invaluable and creatively push me. Why would I want to minimise myself or endure something that isn’t enjoyable for the sake of a salary or brand?

“I shouldn’t have to code switch to appear ‘palatable’ at any company I work for. Why would I want to minimise myself for the sake of a salary or brand?”

Have there been any access schemes, initiatives or mentorships you‘ve found helpful to your career or that have helped you get your current role?
The Guestlist
is one of the best resources out there for anyone in the creative industry. It was made by Shanice ‘Shannie’ Mears, co-founder and head of talent at The Elephant Room. The Guestlist, like the name, is a play on the exclusivity of the industry. In a world where it’s more about who you know, how to be invited and who’s going to be there. It’s a shared resource, filled with creatives from across the globe exchanging value and levelling the playing field.

I have used The Guestlist numerous times across the years to network with other creatives, find out about events happening within industry and even get help for my dissertation when I was at university. I would also recommend any creative follow The Elephant Room on Instagram as they run one-month mentorship schemes around Black History Month, International Women’s Day, and Pride Month to make the industry inclusive and diverse.

What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative?
Money is definitely something that as a society we have been conditioned to not discuss. I honestly get quite frustrated when people gatekeep their salaries. It is unprogressive and ruins the market for the industry as there is more than enough opportunity for us to all make money, whether freelance or full-time.

Through research and conversations within my creative community, I learned about The Ethnicity Gap that affects POC, especially Black people across industries. White men are paid the most, followed by Black men (patriarchy), white women and finally Black women. As depressing as it is, knowledge is power and having conversations around money helps to even out these racial inequalities.

Research always helps you to know your worth. Look on websites like If You Could Jobs, LinkedIn and Glassdoor to see the salary roles are being listed for. This helps you not only understand how much you should be asking for, but also to settle your expectations.

If you know you have more experience, bring value to the company and an extensive skill-set, you can always counter. Start high and negotiate lower – if you go in with your desired salary, 9/10 times your employer will try to negotiate down. Be confident and state your reasons for your chosen salary. However, [try to] find a middle ground [and] demonstrate your ability to be flexible and reasonable.

“If you know you have experience, bring value to the company and an extensive skill set, you can always counter. Start high and negotiate lower.”

Shana backstage at AGR’s 2023 Fashion Week runway

These are some tips I’ve found helpful:

Value > Money: Value and experience are equally as important as money. If you can learn a new skill in the process, work with a prestigious name in industry that you could leverage on your CV or make the opportunity add value to you (this could be credit, complete creative freedom, or free resources) it is definitely worth doing. Weigh out your options and pray on it. As a Christian, I pray to God for the power of discernment when it comes to decisions, and if it feels right, I will take it on.

Quick and Fast: Working as a freelancer, the money comes quick and fast. I remember getting paid £10.5K for about three months’ worth of work. All I could see was the zeros! I quickly snapped out of it and asked to be paid in three-part instalments so it could feel more like a salary, and I wouldn’t blow it all at once. Then I would put aside 20% for tax. We often forget that, as a sole trader, our salary isn’t taxable right away.

Knowledge: Sharing your salary or day rate helps other creatives to know how much to charge and what services are included in that fee. When I was starting out in industry I struggled knowing how much to charge and how to negotiate. I remember being on LinkedIn and seeing We Are Source posted their Salary Report, with a list of salaries and their roles. Having evidence of the market from an industry professional helped me build confidence, so when I was in these spaces and negotiating a salary, I had proof of my worth and could back it up.

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
“Don’t be discouraged by challenges and problems when working on a brief – instead, reframe them as guidelines that push your work further.”

This advice is something that is so relevant within the creative industry as we are constantly faced with challenges whether that be budget, materials, audience, or turnaround. When you adjust your mindset to see these as guidelines for innovation, the possibilities are endless for what you can create.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
There’s definitely a few things to think about if you want to get into a similar role:

Have boundaries: Don’t feel like you have to change your personality or morals to work in the creative industry. It’s okay to try new things or experiment with your style but don’t feel pressured to change who you are, your faith or your morals to fit in or get work.

Transferable skills: I went from studying graphic design at uni to working as a creative doing ideation, creative strategy and concepting. A lot of skills you’ve picked up on the way can be transferable if you want to change careers slightly.

Use social media: Take advantage of social media when looking for jobs. People tend to post the company they work for in their social handles or bios – use that when trying to connect and build industry relationships.

Make an “almost portfolio: If you’re anything like me and you want to change it every three months, your portfolio will never be perfect. So create a portfolio that’s almost perfect, that you’re happy with for the interim and put that in the world. It’s better than having nothing!

Interview by Frankie Faccion
Mention Shana Marie