Meet Shelby Zink. Designer, public health advocate & Co-Founder of ALL CAPS.

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Photography by Hannah Betts of Lives Styled


We are thrilled to feature Designer Shelby Zink, who is hosting a one day conference on June 15th titled Cultivating Creative Agency: A Platform for Diversity in Art & Design.

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Tell us who you are and what you do.
My name is Shelby Zink. I'm a social impact designer & public health advocate. My work lies at the intersection of design, community upliftment & health. I create work in a variety of mediums ranging from physical products to digital design, community organizing, and health education tools. I also facilitate preventive health courses to inner-city youth.

I recently started a new group called ALL CAPS with one of my best friends. ALL CAPS is a collective dedicated to amplifying voices and supporting the prosperity of BIPOC womxn, trans, & non-binary people in the creative field. Our first event, Cultivating Creative Agency, will take place on June 15th at TGW Studio and will feature a panel discussion and maker faire.

Another project I’m working on involves recycled synthetic braiding hair and functional fiber art. Hair Bowls are handsewns decorative vessels that weave in themes of upcycling, preservation and transformation of energy. You can check out the full project on my website.

As a young girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a fashion and interior designer, a model, and/or a dermatologist.

What did you learn from your recent Design + Diversity Fellowship.
The fellowship opened my eyes to the growing field of design for social impact, which is using design to intentionally create opportunities for change and giving voice to those who have been systematically disenfranchised or marginalized.

Before the fellowship I didn’t know how to define my work or my long term career goals. I always wanted my design work to be meaningful, impacting society for good instead of creating more trinkets for those who can afford them. It has been inspiring for me to see how many designers are also thinking in a similar way. Connecting with the D+D community taught me that there isn't one right way to make a wave in the industry you just have to put yourself out there.

Why were you inspired to host the Cultivating Creative Agency Conference here in Rochester?
Although Rochester has a growing creative scene, Black, Indigenous + People of Color (BIPOC) womxn in the creative fields don’t always get the opportunities or recognition they deserve. I wanted to create a platform that could highlight some amazing work being done both in Rochester and in the broader art and design field by BIPOC womxn. One of my favorite things about Rochester is that we have a community of allies and ALL CAPS has already received positive support for this event. Part of the magic of this city is that it’s so possible to create anything you imagine.

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Who is Cultivating Creative Agency Conference for? And what do you hope they take away from this event?
It's for creative BIPOC womxn to feel connect to a community.
It’s for someone who wants to shop local to support a diverse group of artist at our maker faire.
It’s for industry professionals to learn more about supporting diversity in their companies.
It’s for anyone who wants to listen to some dope speakers and meet someone new.

I hope our attendees take away: tips on how to build a successful creative practice, a deeper understanding of equity in the creative field, lots of art that they buy at the maker faire, and a new connection to Rochester.

Name some fellow local creatives that inspire you.
Imani Olear with Yoga 4 A Good Hood
Hannah Betts with Lives Styled Studio
Rachel DeGuzman with WOC Art
Sarah Knight with Roc Girl Gang

A few friends who are always creating, reinventing themselves, and sharing their talents: Hayley Dayis, Jamison Clark, Ryn and Ryan with Headwater Food Hub