In this series on The Southern C, meet some great Southern creative minds – the artists, designers, makers and doers – that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity. Go behind the scenes to see where they work, what they are working on, the path that led them to this moment and just what made them “take the leap” from idea to doing.
The subjects may vary but most share many of the paradoxical traits of creative individuals – they daydream, observe, ask big questions, people watch, seek new experiences, view life as an opportunity for self-expression, take risks and bounce back all while following their true passions. We hope you will be inspired as we spotlight the creativity that abounds in our region. According to Einstein, “Creativity is contagious” and this is one thing we are happy to spread!
Meet Graphic Designer Amy Kinslow
Southern Fried Design Barn – Lebanon, TN
Describe your brand/business/product:
Southern Fried Design Barn is 1/2 paper goods and 1/2 design studio located right outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Our paper collections consist of greeting cards, social stationery, notepads, art prints, gift tags, cocktail napkins and a line of holiday goods. Our most popular products are our southern sayings greeting card collection that highlights many of the old southern sayings such as, “bless your heart,” “lord have mercy,” and “lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.” Our designs showcase original photography of local Middle Tennessee farms and landscapes captured by yours truly.
Alongside Southern Fried’s papers goods business I also run a design studio where I work with creative entrepreneurs and local businesses to create logos, brand collateral and anything in-between.
How has your background influenced your work?
I was raised on a cattle and quarterhorse farm in Lebanon, Tennessee and spent many summers at my grandmother’s farmhouse helping her shuck corn and can fresh summer tomatoes. I can remember being a little girl checking the barn hayloft for newborn kittens in the spring and I remember my first calf I had to bottle feed. My whole life has been immersed in the southern/farm lifestyle and still is to this day. Everything from my late grandmother’s vernacular, my life on the family farm, to country music, new and old, I draw inspiration from.
Favorite blogs or websites that inspire you or other ways/things where you find inspiration:
I try not to always follow the trends online, because I believe some of the best inspiration for original work can come from not being behind a computer. I don’t religiously read any blog, but there aretwo that I do enjoy and do my best to keep up with –
1. Junk Gypsies I think these gals are the real deal. Tennessee is my home, but Texas has a little piece of it too and through Amie and Jolie I’m able to keep my Texas love alive.
2. The Pioneer Woman I don’t follow Ree for her recipes. Cooking is not my favorite past time. I do follow Ree because she makes me feel like I’m up at the crack of dawn riding horses through the Oklahoma plains herding cattle. Some days I wouldn’t mind switching places with her.
The idea of creating a line of stationery had always sat in the back of my mind ever since I had worked in my local stationery boutique in high school. In December of 2010, I graduated Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design. Upon graduation I began to brainstorm ideas for my business in the midst of trying to find a big girl job. Just a few months later in the summer of 2011 I attended the Stationery Academy in Pensacola, Florida. At this intimate weekend conference I meet multiple other women who had the same love for paper and design that I did. I had the opportunity to share my business idea and model with this group of women which included a handful of industry professionals such as Whitney English and Natalie Chang. Upon hearing their positive feedback towards my ideas for Southern Fried Design Barn, I began to think that maybe this could work, maybe I wasn’t crazy for wanting to create a brand of southern-inspired products. I believe the extra support and two thumbs up I received from the Stationery Academy was the leaping point for me and Southern Fried Design Barn to move forward.
How, where or what do you do to escape/relax?
I love Friday night dinners with my girlfriends. Nashville’s restaurant choices are endless and the city’s atmosphere is just super fun right now. I think for me, being with them, having a drink and enjoying the city is what helps me escape the hustle of the week. I leave my phone in my purse and I don’t check it until after dinner.
It’s so easy to get caught up in social media these days and I find that when I give myself a full afternoon/night without checking my phone, I feel very calm and the “need to know everything/gotta check my phone” feeling is not there.
Best and worst part of being a “creative”
1. I constantly have ideas running through my mind. I will lay in bed at night unable to fall asleep because my mind simply won’t turn off.
2. I want to implement EVERY idea I have.
1. Creating something from nothing. It’s such a gratifying feeling.
2. Seeing how an idea evolved from start to finish and the lessons learned from the process.
3. The ability to use my talents to help others. When a client is super thrilled with your work and you see how it impacts their business for the better, there’s no other feeling like it.
I believe this quote came from an old Tracey Lawrence song, “Up to Him.” The first time I heard it, I connected with it and I’ve never forgotten these lyrics:
“Work like it’s all up to me and pray like it’s all up to him”
To read about more Southern creatives in the studio:
Meredith Anne Sutton – click here
Elizabeth Stafford White and Jacquelyn Stafford Buckner – click here
Whitney Wise Long, co-founder of The Southern C and contributing editor for Southern Living, loves to connect with Southern entrepreneurs and learn more about their creative endeavors. This series – “In the Studio With” – offers her the perfect opportunity to do so!