Alumna Iannah James-Smith Designs Her Own Path

Media studies major is already an emerging design leader in Georgia

Dec. 12, 2018

“Never stop working on perfecting your craft. The more you practice, the stronger your skills will become.” Iannah James-Smith

If you’ve seen FVSU’s official university flag flying over campus, it’s just one of many creative designs, flyers, and art work, Iannah James-Smith ’18 has helped created while a visual and performing arts student at Fort Valley State University. James-Smith worked with the university’s marketing and communications on the design of the flag.

James-Smith graduated on Saturday, December 15 with a degree in media studies with an emphasis in digital media and design. College, however, wasn’t her where her creative spirit first emerged. She began pursuing her artistic passions as early as middle school.  Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, she grew up in South Fulton County,  Georgia. A career pathways program in high school encouraged her to pursue her passion for art as a college major.

Smith’s most recent project was participating in and coordinating Unleashed, a senior art exhibition, held for graduating seniors to showcase their artwork to faculty, staff, and students.

James-Smith’s work includes designs for Fort Valley State University, Atlanta’s ZuCot Art Gallery, the Howard (University) Law Review, and her own personal projects.

James-Smith says of all the things she appreciates most about FVSU, she values the way the school brought her out of her shell most. As an underclassmen she joined the FVSU Designers Guild, connecting with other creative students on campus. As an upperclassmen, she joined and became an integral part of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (NCNW), FVSU Collegiate Section, and she serves as NCNW’s graphics liaison for the state of Georgia, covering 20 chapters.

Unleashed show
Student artwork displayed at the “Unleashed” exhibition, which James-Smith helped coordinate and curate. Miss FVSU Tanzania Walker attended the exhibition’s opening.

She also believes in the power of student networking and feels it has contributed to her success thus far. Much of her experience has come by helping students and campus organizations design promotional and event materials.

Walker and James-Smith
Miss FVSU Tanzania Walker with Iannah James-Smith at the “Unleashed” exhibition.

James-Smith (second from left) with faculty and students from the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and Media Studies at the “Unleashed” exhibition.

“I started talking to people on campus to get certain opportunities,” she said. “I was able to network with the Student Government Association and other organizations on campus to design flyers and social media advertisements.”

She’s taken her networking skills off campus, becoming a co-founder of The Primary Movement. The Atlanta-based organization promotes, connects, and showcases artists. She has also provided graphic design services for Muse and Melrose, a fashion company, and most recently for the Howard (University) Law Review. As an intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications at FVSU, she has worked alongside media professionals and built her portfolio for nearly two years. She feels that FVSU has prepared her for the future by enhancing her skills in drawing, layout, and newer software programs. Her art professors, she said, have shared the knowledge they gained while working in the field and have provided her better insight on what to expect when she graduates.

Smith has already accepted a job offer and hopes to work toward opening her own design company. She also wants to empower other designers through the establishment of a co-working space, studios, and resources to assist them in their craft. She would also like to give to give back to the community by offering summer camps which help youths feed their creativity through design, dance, and photography and assist interested ones with building a career in graphic design. She believes her skills have improved dramatically by working on creative projects and helping others with their marketing efforts.

“Never stop working on perfecting your craft,” she said. “The more you practice, the stronger your skills will become.”

 James-Smith created the official design for FVSU’s 2018 Homecoming activities calender for students.