Jessica G. Leonard

I studied at the Durban University of Technology and qualified with a distinction in the History of Graphic Design (2001). After gaining experience in various agencies in South Africa, I moved to London, United Kingdom, in 2006. There, I continued to work in the field of design and further gained knowledge of design from a web development perspective. I returned to South Africa in 2010, and began family life in Johannesburg. Now I’m back in the creative zone with WOW! Media, a freelance and home based Creative Design and Development room, where designs are functional, practical and aesthetic.
Brief Career History
In the infancy of my career, I had the rewarding opportunity to create the branding for a well known shoe company in Durban: Designer Shoe Outlet, sister company to Grand Shoe. This was a major project in my budding career, where I designed the original company logo, used as their signage in various malls, promotional material, and adverts that were published in leading magazines and newspapers.

Other awesome projects at that time were for Alternative Beverages, Gap Foods, and a variety of BTL advertising.
As a designer, thinking is not limited to one type of media. I also offered my input for some radio advertising, which was used in a commercial. Slogans created by me were:
• “Good Night. Good Morning..” for a mattress company, making its way onto a billboard.
“Come alive with every bite” was another slogan, for a spicy take away.

Dream Builders International and Zakiya Communications:
I won’t forget the words of one of the directors of Zakiya Communications when they discovered me in my office at Dream Builders International. Mandy was standing behind me and watched me put together a brochure, to which she exclaimed: “You work so fast!” Shortly after that, I was designing the pilot in-house magazine for Unilever (Mojo) and the Unilever Fair-trade Magazine.
Other companies that I provided artwork to included Three Cities, Pick n Pay, Spar, and I created the artwork for packaging for Identi-Kids.

Working at Patrick Coetzees, Dream Builders was really like having a dream job at that time. I met the most inspiring and motivational bunch who made everyday so special ! It was sad to have to say goodbye, but London was beckoning…

London, United Kingdom.
My first job in London was in a busy print shop, where I had a lot more responsibilities than graphic design. I was assisting customers with their prints, attending to customer queries, and attending client meetings. Highlights at the print shop was the ZeeTV commercial for the print shop (and dressing up for it), creative license to design for a number of clients, and of course eating out at Bricklane every other day!

I joined this seemingly chilled out company in the mid of 2006 where I was employed as a Design expert. In the beginning I worked as part of a call center team who edited a vast number of images and brochures online, and in between calls.
Gradually I assumed a more creative role of designing bespoke brochures. Some of the brochures were for businesses like Savilles, Carter Jonas, Fine & Country, etc. While that went on, my interest lingered into website development in the quiet times. I started exploring flash and researched a bit more about web design. Soon I learned to hand code HTML and CSS. Then I was the only female on the IT team, totally loving the experience of merging creative design into websites, while conforming to W3C standards and optimizing images and code for faster load time. For me, that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Given the recession and how it impacted the property market, I decided that it was time to freelance, take a break, and start a family.

Freelance: London / South Africa
As a freelancer, I spent a good deal of my time on the internet, researching web design, exploring Flash, experimenting with HTML and CSS and of course Adobe CS3. Some nice projects I began were Zaryan, Nansen Village and voluntary designs for ISKCON Soho.

After returning to South Africa and settling in Johannesburg, I worked on my own little initiative for the ISKCON devotee audience. This was a rewarding learning curve, encompassing a range of skills into a recipe book: food styling, photography, icon illustration, and design and layout of the printed book (Ekadasi Recipe Book). I later created the e-book for self publishing.

Graphic and Web Design Course Facilitation
In 2011, I was contracted to facilitate design subjects at a popular college. My duties were to run through course work material, engage discussions and free thinking, assess assignments (and listen to stories 😀 ).

While I also designed for individuals, organizations and NGOs such as GAIA No Burn (United States) and GroundWork Friends of the Earth SA over the years, I researched trends and changes in web design and coding, making certain to keep in line with Web Standards. As before, I continue to expand my knowledge and interest into design in a techno age, i.e. mobile devices, and media within the internet arena. Design for web has influenced design for print which will still very much be an ongoing medium of communication. As a designer, the learning does not stop. Designers are always looking at ways to improve their environment, and designers are instrumental in shaping the future.

For anyone trying to understand a creative, in the book, The Design of Advertising comes a very apt passage: “Studies show that creative people have an unusual capacity to record and report experiences…They are less likely to repress their impulses. They are less interested than others in what people think of them (so they are freer to be creative.) They are not conformists, but they are not nonconformists, either. Rather they are “independent”. … The chances are that creative people are not pleased with the way things are. … Creativity does not emerge from a state of relaxation,” said Rollo May, author of The Courage to Create, “but from a state of chaos…” There are extroverts among creative people, but the tendency is toward introversion… Creative people delight in complexities, and when they find them, they look for unifying principles. … Creative people have a wide range of information on hand. This is important. For creative people essentially engage in arranging items of information into combinations. The more creative people know, the more combinations they can come up with. …Creative people often become restless, looking for new challenges, moving from job to job. … People who are creative in one area are usually creative in several. … Youssef Karsh, the portrait photographer, thinks that “The loneliness of great men is part of their creativity to create…” ”

For more, you can contact me.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

~ Socrates

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.

~ Ellen Parr

Other stuff About me that I don’t quite talk about:
I used to write songs and have recorded one… Would love to do more someday!
I participated in the Miss India SA, in 2003 (if I recall) I made it to First Princess in the Regionals, and due to some rules, was not able to actually take part in the Finals.
I participated in the Miss India KZN 2004 competition and got as far as the top 5.
I actually did these contests to get up my confidence and it was very exciting and nerve wrecking!
I’ve been to Punte Del Este, Buonos Aires, Paraguay and Uruguay, Sao Paulo and my first time flying was 23 hours with an added 6 hour transit period, and boy was I exhausted.
I’ve visited the pyramids in Egypt, cruised down the nile, and snorkelled to the Blue Hole in Dahab! Wow! what an adventure.
I treasure every moment of my life and am ever so grateful for all I get.
There’s more but this isn’t going to be the place I introduce it! 🙂