Connecticut Creatives

Carissa Decelles

What do you do and where do you do it?

I am an Art Director and the Brand Development Lead at Miranda Creative which is a brand management agency out of Norwich CT. I have worn many hats in my time there, but my main focus now is collaborating with different members of our team and our designers to create or revitalize brand identities for our clients. The fun part about brand work is that it encompasses everything from the logo mark itself to things like stationery, packaging, websites, etc. I love seeing brands through from beginning concept development, to a finalized identity that is ready to launch. 

What inspired you to choose this profession, and what makes you stay in it?

Growing up, I was always good at art but I didn’t really appreciate my skill or find my passion for it until around the time I was in high school when I took my first design class. I liked the direction that graphic design provided vs other forms of art that were literally an overwhelmingly blank canvas. I think that having a significant physical disability played a lot into what I chose to go into as well. Growing up in a world with limitations and barriers, you end up being a professional “out of the box” thinker. I really enjoy the puzzle that is graphic design… there are so many things that factor into ending up with a final result that works: best design practices, target markets, stakeholders, deciphering what the client wants (even when it’s not what they tell you they want). The challenge of figuring out how to put all of those pieces together and getting to experience the outcome is what keeps me coming back. That, and working with some pretty awesome creatives and clients.

What is your career highlight so far?

When I was going through the design program at UConn, I always viewed the Connecticut Art Directors Club (CADC) as sort of the pinnacle of design excellence. In my head at that time, if you were the recipient of one of their awards that meant you were a good designer. Many awards, and years later, I find myself on the board for the CADC serving as the Vice President (college me would probably be speechless). I have been a member of the board for many years, but the opportunity to become VP came with the honor of helping to redefine who the CADC is and what they stand for… focusing on creative excellence, yes, but also a greater mission of connection and support for our future creative thinkers. We our so excited for some of the things we have planned for the next year, and cant wait to see everyone at the awards show in July!

What do you want to accomplish before you retire?

Lord knows I like to stay busy too much to ever fully retire! Besides continuing to do good work that is impactful… I have toyed around with both the idea of teaching in some capacity, and maybe creating my own agency someday. I guess I will find out when I get there. 

Who/What are your biggest influences?

Edvin Yegir, is still probably one of the biggest influences for me in who I became as a designer. Head of the Communication Design program during my time at UConn, Edvin just had this way of bringing out the very best in you – not only the work that you were creating, but the way that you thought about doing it. To this day I find myself running my work through my mental Edvin filter to see if it’s there yet, or if it needs more attention. It’s so hard to believe his influence is no longer with us. 

Who are the best creatives you’ve worked with?

I love working with and being surrounded by other creatives (of any genre) that inspire and push me to think differently and from different perspectives. I am a huge proponent of the idea “the more eyeballs on a project the better,” because we all see things a little bit differently. I love the magic that happens in creative collaboration… there is nothing else quite like it and it has definitely produced some of our best work. 

What cause means the most to you?

It’s funny because growing up, my disability was the last thing that I ever wanted to bring attention to. I hated the idea of being an activist and fighting for, or educating people about disabilities… I wanted to be “normal” and become successful in a job that was unrelated to it. So I did that! Now, many years later, I find myself being drawn back into disability advocacy work. I am excited to see myself grow into this space more over the coming years and to see what that ends up looking like. Stay tuned! 

Why Connecticut?

Well, the simple answer is that I grew up here — so it kinda happened by default. As it turns out though, largely through my experiences with the CADC — I quickly learned Connecticut really has an awesome community of creatives that do some truly amazing work. I am honored to be a part of that community and at a point in my career where my name and my work is known across the state. 

I am also becoming an expert at making CT shaped logos now, so I can’t just walk away from that!

What are your loves/passions outside of this field?

Well, the whole COVID experience turned me into a crazy plant person. Before it I think I had like four houseplants? Now I have… I don’t even want to count… probably over forty? I love it though, my apartment looks like a little Pinterest jungle. The cats love it too, sometimes too much.

I also want to get a bit better about setting time aside to travel. I recently took a road trip to Florida which was my first time traveling in quite a while (you know, COVID and all). You forget how absolutely vital it is to step away from your day-to-day life, recharge your creative battery, and find new inspiration… not necessarily for a specific project (though that definitely happens too), but for your life.  

What do you know now that you didn’t know then?

Being different and unique is a gift that allows people to remember who you are, and want to hear what you have to say. Find what makes you unique and celebrate it!