Talking about yourself is a challenge. Talking about yourself in the context of your work is even more challenging. In my case, my practice is so very aligned with who I am as a person, that the challenge lies in separating my personal self from my designer-self. But alas, I’ve found solace in relaying how both go hand in hand.
Ironically, graphic design was never in the cards for me. Though I had applied to a myriad of degree programs under the umbrella of Art & Design, Graphic Design was my plan Z. Luckily, I had been awarded a scholarship to study at Cardiff Metropolitan University- everything I could have wanted and more; a chance to explore European grounds. However, to my dismay, my plan Z was listed big and bold in my acceptance letter, but I could not lose sight of what I truly wanted. So, off to Cardiff I went, lacking knowledge and/or preparation of what was to come.
Life has a strange way of piecing together these, at the time, detrimental circumstances that eventually become divine intervention. This is my favourite form of magic: coincidence. I had quickly and wholeheartedly fallen in love with Design and all that it had encompassed. It has been challenging as well as surprising to me in so many ways. It was the fast-brewed love for design and a dear friend of mine that encouraged me to live in Berlin, Germany for a year- a place that I will always hold close to my heart. Being there chiseled my sensibility and understanding for design and how it came to be. From art history, to architecture, to contemporary art, to cultural integration: I was witnessing my life and love of art being influenced by design in real-time. I’ll never forget learning about Erik Spiekermann, Berlin-based design genius, who designed the metro-map and brand identity for the major public transportation system in Berlin- something I was using almost everyday. And it’s in those moments that you appreciate your life’s journey. Design has connected so many dots, has introduced me to amazing people, and has curated new paths for the way I view my career.
John Berger, a prolific art critic, once said, “the relation between what we see and what we know is never settled,” and that is the best way I can describe executed design in relation to its process. It’s astoundingly humbling. There are design processes that span between 2 hours to two years, yet still we are constantly surrounded by and engage with design. Design is a language. Design is time. Design is a feeling. Design is reactive to everyday living. Ultimately, this is why I feel so passionate about the creative industry because it stirs conversation that resonates with and reacts to the human experience (as we know it).
That being said, I am an independent graphic designer and currently developing my brand/studio practice ’ZH.’ Additionally, I am grateful to say that I work alongside some inspirational brands such as Designer Island and NEW FIRE Festival- both pioneers in changing the narrative within Caribbean society. Together, they serve as inspirational platforms for me as a designer, but also for my personal interest in writing (zarnahart.com/journal). This form of reflection helps foster my curiosity and in turn, brings me closer to the creative community in the Caribbean as well as the rest of the world.
P.S. To anyone who may be reading this and wondering who that silhouette in your computer/ mobile screen may become, I hope that my brief reflection encourages you to strive for that one thing you’re almost desperate to achieve. Sometimes it’s okay to not know where you’re going or how a big life decision will affect you in the long run. Create the opportunities, appreciate the coincidences.
Branding, Editorial Design, Digital Design, Infographics, Poster Design, Package Design, Internal Communications, Art Directing, Pasta-eating (had to throw that in somewhere).
Choosing a favourite is quite difficult because I find myself enjoying most of the projects I do for varying reasons. I’d say some of my highlights of 2018 were Rebel Lion Youth (RLY), Unwine ~ Sip and Paint, Meiling’s Into The Night 2019 Collection, joining the Designer Island team and working on the brand development for NEW FIRE Festival 2019 (will post on the website soon!).
Most Challenging Projects
My most challenging projects are without a doubt, the most personal ones. Self-initiated work requires in-depth research, reflection, and if you’re a perfectionist like I am, a lot of time. At the moment, I’m working on a piece that discusses multiculturalism in relation to semiotics and branding- which I’m really excited about!
My design process lies in curiosity and attention to detail. Furthermore, my objective is to affect change in the way design is seen and treated, particularly in the Caribbean. I want what I do to give reason and purpose to how we live and who we become; to disrupt the things that we are afraid to change. I don’t know where my career will take me, but if my work, no matter what capacity, lends to a greater, socio-related conversation, I would feel as though I have done my job well.