Interview: Designer Annie Stout on Storybox, Business and Books

We caught up with Annie Stout, the graphic designer behind the visual rebrand of Storybox Books, to discuss working with us, starting a business, and of course, books.

We loved your work on the Storybox visual rebrand; can you describe what your occupation entails?
I work with a lot of different people, which I love. Branding is my favorite kind of design work because it’s such a challenge. I typically get to meet someone, or talk on the phone, once or twice. Then I need to translate ideas or feelings they have into a tangible graphic representation. I’ve always been a behind the scenes kind of person, so I love that I get to use art and design to help other people achieve their big goals, by making their business or organization look professional and communicate what they’re all about.

How did you get started in business?
This is a funny story actually. I was just in the right place at the right time. My friend Mirandy made a post on Facebook about creative moms looking for time out of the house. I had two small kids at the time and regular creative time out of the house sounded amazing, so I asked her what it was. Parker Lane Art & Design Studios (formerly Captured Community) was looking for painting instructors. I went to Ashman Plaza for an interview and met some wonderful people…As they looked at my resume, they saw I had a degree in graphic design. They just happened to be rebranding the building at the time, so they asked if I could help out with that. That led to the eventual branding of Live Oak Coffeehouse, which led to an invitation to Brave, a community for entrepreneurs. I’ve been working with small businesses ever since. I connect well with people who are passionate about what they do, so entrepreneurs are my people.

How did you begin working with Storybox Books?
Justin first reached out to me via email. I knew right away I wanted to work with Storybox! I love reading and as a parent I know how important reading is to kids. The importance of literacy in every aspect of our lives is immeasurable. I think the more exposure to reading children get the easier everything else will be in their lives. If you can read well and comprehend, it removes a burden when learning new things. If you don’t have to struggle reading through directions, you can focus on the meat of the new information. I don’t have the time or energy to start a non-profit to help with literacy, but I can help brand one!

We love how you matched our organization to new branding: How do you manage matching organizations to visuals?
It usually starts with a simple conversation. Graphics for a logo are typically drawn from the name or mission of the company. Storybox was a literal interpretation: book + box. Often, it’s as simple as that. Then it’s just a matter of matching personal style preferences in fonts, color, and overall feel.  There’s no magical formula. I just go with my gut until it feels right, then work to edit it until it feels right for the client too.

You’ve worked with many organizations over the years; are there any projects you have lined up or are excited to work on in the future?
I’m currently wrapping up branding packages for four businesses; two local and two out of state. I get excited about all of them, because the energy of the entrepreneurs I work with is contagious! I can’t share those quite yet, but I always post new projects on my social media after they company has launched with the new branding.

Has quarantine affected your creative process in any way?
I am having a much harder time being creative in quarantine. I have two elementary school aged kids, so I’m helping them with distance learning, my husband is working from home most days now. I’m used to creating for long quiet blocks in the day, but now I’m creating in stolen moments, and in the evenings. My priority is with my family, so the art has to wait. Everything still gets done, it just takes longer. I do feel a lot of worry around the state of the world, so I have to work a little harder to tap into my creativity.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your work?
My main objective as an artist is creating connections. When it comes to design, I’m helping connect businesses to potential customers. When it comes to art I hope to connect to people. I also started an online creatives community for artists to connect called Art is a Record ( ).

Lastly, what are some of your favorite reads?

The last book I read was Kiss Me Like a Stranger, by Gene Wilder, which I really enjoyed. My favorite book I’ve read in recent years is Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I also really love Walden, by Thoreau. When I was a kid my favorites were The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, by Julie Andrews and all things Calvin and Hobbes.

For more information, catch up with Annie on Facebook and Instagram at @paperheartdesign or visit her website .

Be sure to check out Storybox on social media to see some of her work!

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