Ad Chat - Sunset Sealy - a creative eye in the Islands

This week we get to meet Sunset Sealy, Art Director & Photographer at Strawberry Samurai in Barbados, you can also find her teaching at Barbados College. Yes, Barbados. that country in the Caribbean that has sandy beaches, historical buildings like the George Washington House, and classic sports venues like the Garrison Savannah racetrack and the Kensington Oval. You should book a trip to check it out, right now. Sunset is both an all-round advertising creative and a photographer, she studied in Savannah College of Art and Design. There must be something in the water, or the mentality of Barbados, that breeds creative women who can do it all. That is where singer-songwriter and fashion designer Rihanna comes from too.

What was it that drew you to become a creative? At what moment did you realize that it could be your job?

Sunset : I think it happened when I was in my teens. I was always drawing on things and taking photos. My classmates at school would bring me their books and tools to decorate and design for them. Then when secondary school was ending and I had to decide on tertiary education, I realised that I wanted to keep drawing and taking photos. So I did!

Which mentor or teacher influenced you the most?

Sunset: Mr. Russell Hatcher from the Barbados Community College would definitely be at the top of my list of influences. He was very frank, very honest and very helpful all through my BFA degree. He’s one of the most “for the student” teachers that I’ve ever met. And also Prof. Stephen Hall from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Totally fantastic teacher. Supportive of ideas and the entire creative process. I couldn’t have met two better men in my career.

Which piece of work or project that you have done, are you most excited about?

Sunset: Right now I’m working on a website that hasn’t been launched as yet, so unfortunately I can’t share a full image, but it’s the most fun project I’ve worked on in a long time and here’s a sneak peek:

I can’t wait for it to go live! Apart from that, I have several personal photography projects that I love immensely and had great fun working on. As much as commissioned work pays the bills, sometimes it’s great to set up my own vision and see it through to the end.

I did a project on re-imagined fairy tales starting with Snow White:

I also really loved working with Zaheera on this beauty shoot:

How does your creative market in Barbados compare to where you studied, in Georgia USA? Is there a big cultural difference in how work is created and executed, or is it the same just localized?

Sunset: For the past few years a few businesses in Barbados have been striving to get it out of the doldrums. So many wonderful, creative minds exist here, but the clients and population in general have been stuck in a certain way of thinking for such a long time that it’s been a bit of an uphill battle to move forward creatively.

In Georgia, even back in 2007 when I started there, minds were way more open. I was surrounded by people from all walks of life, from all corners of the world who had a unique view on everything, and we were all willing to give those views a chance. On the plus side though, creative life is really starting to look up here in Barbados. There are some fantastic smaller businesses who are pushing the envelope and aren’t afraid to shake things up… which is what we need!

What is your best trick to get our of a creative rut?

Sunset: I submerge myself in creativity. That usually does the trick. I listen to music or read books or doodle or scour the internet for random pages of inspiration. There’s always something out there that will light a fire under me and get me going again.

What piece of advice do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?

Sunset: The real world is NOTHING like school. In school, you will be free to be as creative and expressive as you want. When you finally start working with clients, your dreams will be shattered again and again. Grow a thick skin! Also, stick to your guns. Your price is your price. Don’t let yourself be undervalued!

What excites you about the future of the creative industry right now?

Sunset: What excites me most right now, especially in Barbados is the rise of creative collectives and mixed media partnerships. Different people with different strengths and ideas working together to create one, big, beautiful project. And these days there are so many options for media: print, web, photo, video, ambient… the opportunities are endless!

If you could change anything at all about working in the creative industry, what would it be?

Sunset: I would like to change the way we are perceived in Barbados. We are a very old fashioned country where people are taught that success comes in careers like medicine or accounts or bank managing. Creative careers are still looked down upon a lot and seen as “not real jobs”. The perception has gradually been improving, but I would like to knock that old way of thinking right out the door once and for all!

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