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South Carolina School of the Arts

Ozmint loves the variety, creativity of her work

Ashley Stone Ozmint has always been drawn to art. Then in high school she learned about graphic design and set her sights on a career. After graduating from Anderson University, she went to work at Asheville-based Atlas Branding and Design. Since then, she’s quickly moved up in her job titles and now is a senior designer and illustrator. She loves the challenge of helping businesses find their visual identity. She also loves the variety of projects. One day she might be designing a logo. Another day it might be an illustration, a web design project or an opportunity to be a creative director on a photo shoot. She credits her professors in the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University for developing skill sets and thought processes needed to succeed as a graphic designer and advance her career. 

How did you become interested in creative work? 

I’ve always been an artist. My dad is an artist and so I grew up drawing and painting with him, and of course I took all the art classes in high school and studied a little bit of art outside of school, so I knew I loved creating and drawing and painting and all that kind of stuff, but I also didn't totally think I wanted to be a painter full time. 

As my senior year rolled around, I discovered graphic design and what Photoshop is and using art digitally little bit more. I enjoyed the process and started to discover what good design is. The first interaction I had with designing was honestly just well-designed T-shirts.  

Throughout college I would do projects that involve branding, logos. I really latched into helping small business clients—empowering businesses to communicate to their customers with the look and feel that they needed—I love learning about how to deal with that, and so that's what steered me in the branding direction in graphic design. 

What are some ways you feel your program at Anderson has prepared you for the work that you do now? 

Anderson covered so many topics, but I think most importantly, it taught me how to ask the right questions to figure out the effective solution. We would have so many different kinds of projects where we had to think really critically and come up with a lot of concepts—you had to really dig deep and research. Nothing was ever surface level at Anderson, so I really appreciated learning the ‘why’ behind what we’re designing and who we're designing for. I think that was a big piece and then just having relationships with a lot of the professors who just poured a lot of time into us and ignited the passion for good design in us, which was fun and helped us a lot. 

Do you feel like AU prepared you well for entering work at a branding agency? 

I think Anderson, compared to other schools, digs a lot deeper in the scope of projects that they're doing, and so we're already conditioned to spend a lot of time in the process of design and think a lot deeper than some design programs encourage. 

How did you decide to come to Anderson? 

I applied to Anderson and (another college) and got into both of them. Being a believer and just having like a strong faith, I knew that I would find good community at Anderson. I would do it all over again. I definitely am glad I made that choice and it's been affirmed ever since. 

What are some favorite memories of college? 

My favorite memory was probably living off campus in the house that I lived in with a group of girls pretty close to campus. It was so fun to hang out and do all the things…  Obviously, the design program holds a lot of memories.  

What role does your personal faith play in your creativity? 

I think design really gives me an avenue to serve others with what God has given me. I think this work helps me connect with the idea of God being a Creator and the source of all beauty, order and creativity. 

Is there a favorite project that stands out that you've worked on—something especially gratifying to you as a creative person? 

I would say one that sticks out to me right now is Lavender Coffee—it's a coffee shop in Denver—we did their branding and design. I got to have a lot of creative freedom with that project. It was kind of the intersection of all the things that I love to do. I have an art practice outside of my job with oil painting. I got to paint a landscape to use as the back of the coffee bags and then I got to design a custom type for the logo to use on the bags as well. That was special to me. You could blend all my loves of art and design together to set this brand apart in Denver and help them have a really nice brand. That was definitely one of my favorites, but I've loved a lot of the projects I've gotten to work on. 

What is the scope of your company’s clientele?  

We have some local clients, because we do really support the Asheville community, and then we have about 60 percent out-of-town brands and 40 percent Asheville brands. The national brands are all over the U.S. and they're usually small businesses. We're working on a national client right now… It's kind of a nice variety of local and national. 

You mentioned that you do some oil paintings. What are your favorite subjects to paint? 

I paint oil landscapes of the land around Asheville and Upstate South Carolina. It's definitely a nice place to be. I had my first solo show at the Grand Bohemian Lodge in Greenville this winter, so that was a blast. It's been fun to grow that alongside the design practice. 

You love living up in the Asheville area? 

It’s so pretty. We live downtown in the city, but we go hiking and go to the river and lakes.  

What advice would you give to somebody wanting a career design like yours? 

Do all that you can to foster your own curiosity about things. Find out what you're curious about. Do anything that can help you be more curious. Ask questions. Do research. Dig into things. Follow the rabbit trails. I think a general sense of curiosity has really helped me in my creative practice and in my job since you work on so many different things, not just your stuff... There's always a way to be curious about what you're doing and able to have more empathy to come to a solution for your clients. Then I would say foster your own perspective as you're going through art and design. It's easy to look at what everyone else is doing and follow the trends, and of course there's a balance to that at some point. Hone in on what you really love to do and what you're really good at and find that intersection of what voice you want to have in the design world. 

Do you primarily do package design? 

We do the full scope. We do logos and type and colors and the whole brand identity. We do packaging for food products or whatever needs to be done. We also do websites. We've done photography, art direction… we've had our hands in a lot of a lot of different things. 

Of all the places to go to study art and design, what makes Anderson University stand out? 

Anderson University stands out because of the professors… You get a lot of one-on-one time, you're poured into a lot, you've got life lessons coming at you. The quality of people that Anderson hires really ignites the passion for design and in the students who really want to learn—that's what I experienced—just having smaller class sizes where you get to know each other and having some really in-depth critiques and bouncing thoughts and ideas off each other and becoming close. There’s lots of room to explore. We’d have a self-started project where you got to do whatever you want to do and just have your professor kind of guide you along the way; I thought that was really special—to be able to have that kind of one-on-one guidance with your professors. 

Ashley Stone Ozmint
Ashley Stone Ozmint
Graduated from Anderson University: 2020
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design
Title: Senior Designer and Illustrator, Atlas Branding and Design, Asheville, North Carolina