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7 Influential women in the creative industries

  • Written byCarys Thomas
  • Published date 06 March 2023
Alia Hamaoui painting in the studio: Camberwell College of Arts | Photograph: Alys Tomlinson

To celebrate Women's History Month, we caught up with 7 influential women in the creative industries. These women have each made important contributions to their creative field, ranging from technology and advertising to cosmetics and creative writing. Read on to discover their top tips for building a career in the creative industries.

Embrace your passion, seek out opportunities to learn, and always strive to be a positive force for change.

— Mimi Nguyen, Doctoral Researcher and Assistant Professor at Central Saint Martins
Mimi Nguyen

Mimi Nguyen

Did you know that just 12% of top technology executives are women (source: report by Harvey Nash)?

“Don't let the underrepresentation of women in the tech industry discourage you from pursuing your passions,” says assistant professor and short course tutor, Mimi Nguyen.

Mimi’s passion for technology and new media art brought her to Imperial College London, where she began her PhD studies. Her research on creativity and human-computer interaction has been published by Cambridge University Press, TIME magazine and the Design Research Society.

Mimi currently teaches on the MA Innovation Management Course at Central Saint Martins and runs two short courses with a focus on fashion and the metaverse and blockchain art.

“The tech industry is a constantly evolving field, where programming languages, tools, and systems change frequently,” she says. “To succeed, you need to continuously learn and improve both hard and soft skills, stay curious, and be adaptable to change. It’s not just about coding anymore, creativity is becoming increasingly crucial in the tech industry.”

“With the rise of technologies like blockchain or AI, future leaders will need to be able to ask the right questions and approach problem-solving with a creative mindset. Embrace your passion, seek out opportunities to learn, and always strive to be a positive force for change. By doing so, you'll make a valuable contribution to the dynamic and innovative tech industry.”

Read more about fashion and the blockchain.

Valerie Lawson

Valerie Lawson

After spotting a gap in the market for high-quality affordable makeup tools and accessories, award-winning makeup artist and educator Valerie Lawson was inspired to launch her own company CVL Beauty. Since she launched the business in 2017, Valerie has built a strong following for her work and led a number of beauty educational masterclasses for aspiring and professional makeup artists.

Valerie, who previously worked as an Artistic Director for Maybelline NY in Ghana, loves to share her knowledge and passion for the craft with others. “Makeup plays such an important role in the entire fashion and arts ecosystem,” she says, “it allows for self-expression, boosts self-confidence and serves as a source of income.”

“My advice would be to spend time with yourself to discover what your unique gifts and style as an artist are,” says Valerie. “It is only when know yourself that you will know how to apply yourself as an artist. Once you know what opportunities align with you, you will know how to draw boundaries and pursue your goals courageously.”

“Have fun and don’t lose your heart and spirit in the process,” she says, “if you gain everything and lose your spark (your kindness, your goodness, your light), you really would have lost everything. The journey will be one of your greatest gifts and teachers.”

Sevil Yesiloglu

Sevil Yesiloglu

Dr Sevil Yesiloglu is a senior lecturer in advertising and digital media and course leader for BA (Hons) Advertising at London College of Communication.

Sevil’s research covers digital aspects of advertising including online harms, brand-related content, influencer marketing and social media usage. She is co-editor and contributor of 'Influencer marketing: Building brand communities and engagement' (Routledge, 2020).

“The marketing industry is fast evolving which makes it very competitive,” says Sevil, “my main advice for women starting out in the industry would be to stay open to new challenges. As an academic, I have always been open to learning new things and embracing new challenges and roles.”

“Until you know what you want to be and what you want to be known as, you need to be willing to say ‘yes’ to new challenges, roles and projects. Because you never know what it will teach you and how it could help you progress your career in the marketing industry.”

Take a look at our Influencer Marketing for Marketers Online Short Course, run by Sevil Yesiloglu and Jonathan Hardy.

Elise Valmorbida

Elise Valmorbida

Award-winning author, CSM graduate and short course tutor, Elise Valmorbida, has taught creative writing at Central Saint Martins for over 20 years and currently runs our Creative Writing Fact Or Fiction Beginners Short Course.

Elise has published a range of journalism, poetry and short stories as well as three non-fiction books and four novels, including The Madonna of the Mountains, which won Australia’s biggest literary award in 2019.

Elise’s latest work, The Happy Writing Book: Discover the Positive Power of Creative Writing, explores how creative writing can enhance wellbeing and offers over 100 inspiring writing prompts. Read more about the positive power of creative writing.

Elise's top five writing tips:

1. Don't fear making a mistake. Make lots of mistakes.

2. Aim for adequate. Good enough is good enough.

3. If you can't decide whether to go wild or behave, go wild.

4. Don't put off till tomorrow what you can write today.

5. If you want to be a writer, write.

Jo Beardsworth and Tina Lilienthal

Tina Lilienthal and Jo Beardsworth

Creative Tina Lilienthal, and commercial coach Jo Beardsworth, are the founders of the Human Skills Academy. Together, Tina and Jo run various professional development courses designed to help participants develop essential human skills such as creativity, team building and communication. The pair have years of experience, insight and knowledge of developing personal and business performance within the fashion sector.

Since founding her own label over 13 years ago, designer Tina Lilienthal has collaborated with major international brands such as Paul Smith, The British Museum, The Museum of Arts & Design NY and Anthropologie. Tina’s expertise ranges from design, product development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and brand strategy.

Jo Beardsworth’s experience in the fashion business spans over 30 years, with roles in senior management and working as an entrepreneur. Over the last five years, Jo has focused on professional development and specialises in leadership, confidence, stress management and motivation.

“In an increasingly complex and digital world, focus on developing your human skills. Be curious, authentic and persistent. Learn how to fail well and be adaptable to change. Knowledge is becoming an easily accessible commodity, what you do with it is what will set you apart.”

- Tina Lilienthal and Jo Beardsworth, Human Skills Academy

Find out more about the Human Skills in the Digital World Online Short Course.

Sara Shamsavari

Sara Shamsavari

Interdisciplinary artist and educator, Sara Shamsavari, explores themes of global identity, inclusion and transformation in her work, which has been exhibited internationally in galleries, museums, and public spaces in Chicago, Miami, Paris and New York, among others.

Several of Sara’s projects explore challenging stereotypes and common preconceived judgements at a time of increasing division, conflict and polarisation.

Sara currently teaches on our Art, Ethics and Social Change Online Short Course, which offers students an overview of the role of art, artists and art institutions in challenging and shaping the beliefs of our society.

“Art changes the way people feel and because of this, art and artists can powerfully shape perspectives,” says Sara. “Every day women engaged in the arts take risks and sacrifice to create a more representative world. Like many other women, I’ve come across all kinds of barriers including underestimation, intimidation, and pigeonholing whether based on gender, my Iranian heritage or my refugee background or a combination of these things. These assumptions usually stem from harmful stereotypes that don’t reflect reality.”

“My advice would be to never let others define you based on stereotypes projected on you as a woman,” she says. “Find a place where you can exist as yourself without the noise or labels of others. Build your community and make a point to support other women around you.”

Feeling inspired? We offer a huge range of short courses for all levels of experience. Check out our upcoming short courses to find out what's coming up.

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