December 17, 2017

Founders Spotlight: 5 Questions for Arianna Orland and Dava Guthmiller

Now that you’ve been inspired by many of our speakers and partners, we thought we’d turn the tables and introduce you to the two rock stars who came up with the brilliant idea that is In/Visible Talks. Arianna Orland is a creative director, advisor, and artist, as well as the founder of Paper Jam Press, a letterpress poster and apparel company. Dava Guthmiller is the founder and chief creative officer at branding and design agency Noise 13, as well as a board member for Slow Food California and advisor for Get Gone Travel and Good People. Together these innovative women represent over 40 years of design and creativity expertise.

Be sure to introduce yourself to them in person at January’s conference. Meanwhile, here are some insights into their creative journeys.

What was your first job?

AO: “Party store salesperson. We made balloon bouquets for delivery and decorations for events. Think balloon arches, centerpieces, and something called the ‘Gumball’– an oversize clear balloon with one blue, one red, and one yellow balloon inside.”

DG: “Starting very young, I had miscellaneous jobs for my dad’s auto repair shop from picking up parts to washing cars. My first not-for-my-parents job was as an office manager for an insurance company.”

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

AO: “From a young age, I had a feeling, an indescribable sense almost. I wanted to draw, but I wasn’t very good at it. I wanted to paint, but again, not very good. When I discovered the camera at about age 10, I found an instrument that finally let me express myself. But it wasn’t until well after I graduated college that I realized I could be in a creative field and make a living at it.”

DG: “High school, I think it was junior year, I took an interior design class. That’s when I started really looking at the open fields where I could be creative.”

If you were starting on your creative journey today, what advice would you give your young self?

AO: “Don’t be afraid of your talent and your intuition.”

DG: “Let yourself be more free with ideas while in school, and really push the boundaries as much as possible. Reality is coming soon enough.”

Do you prefer to do your creating solo or as part of a collaborative effort? Why?

AO: “I love both. My work life is so busy these days that I really enjoy a singular creative flow. And there’s also nothing better than co-creating with a group of people you really trust.”

DG: “Collaborative for sure. I get really distracted working alone and feel like better ideas arise when I am working on a team. Even when I paint I need music or something else to keep me company. I can’t deal with the silence.”

Do you consider yourself an artist?

AO: “Yes, I do. But it took me a very long time to comfortably admit that. I viewed the term artist as something that was earned. It was something that people with more talent than I had got to call themselves, and that somehow I was an imposter. There was a time when I couldn’t say the word out loud about my own self. You can’t be an artist unless you first give yourself permission to become one.”

DG: “Wow! I just read Arianna’s answer and totally agree. I used to throw away my artwork in high school and college because I didn’t think it was good enough, or that I was just doing the process required for the class, not that I was so inspired on my own. Years after switching from art to design, I went back to painting and realized my design training and practice influenced my artwork. I still feel like I’m working on the art side, but I do consider myself an artist as well as a designer.”

Arianna Orland and Dava Guthmiller co-founded the In/Visible Project to bring people together through conversation about the art of design. The In/Visible Talks conference will be held in San Francisco on January 11, 2018.