Keeping up with Ogilvy designer Dyneisha Gross ’20, Graphic Design

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Monday, February 6th, 2023

If you want to keep up with 2020 graduate Dyneisha Gross, get yourself organized and buckle up:

It’s going to be a quick takeoff and a busy, busy agenda.

Gross earned her BFA in Graphic Design, magna cum laude, in 2020, and has landed at the Washington, D.C., office of Ogilvy, one of the world leaders in advertising and branding. There, she’s worked as part of a team of producers, art directors, creative directors, copywriters, executive creative directors, and other designers to manage clients, develop social media, create production designs and graphics, and brainstorm PR ideas — a full schedule for the former leader of the College’s Student Council. 

And that’s not all. On the side Gross runs her own business, ElevenThirtySeven, a stationery company whose name and purpose pay tribute to her grandparents.

Learn about the Baltimore native’s travels for work, how she uses social media to build a client base, and what lessons she carries with her from her time at PCA&D.

For you, what made PCA&D the right fit when you were looking for schools? 

Dyneisha Gross: When I was 18, I realized that what felt safe for me at the time was attending the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. PCA&D was the perfect fit for me as it offered a small, close-knit community in a city that was far enough from home. The welcoming community that I first encountered during my visit was the one that I needed as I transitioned from teenager to adult. PCA&D met my needs with its non-traditional dorm-style housing that felt more like apartments and its curriculum that was focused on Graphic Design without the additional programs offered at larger universities. Additionally, PCA&D was affordable and it provided me with a close-knit community that extends beyond graduation

Of all the majors, what drew you to Graphic Design at PCA&D? 
DG: In 2016, I had two dreams: to become a pastry chef and a full-time creative. I began my creative journey in fine art, focusing on charcoal drawings and the representation of underrepresented female bodies in media. I eventually discovered that graphic design was the formal title for the type of creative work I wanted to do, specifically in the music industry creating posters, ads, and art for musicians. I just didn’t know how to get there.
I still remember the night my mother, who is my biggest supporter, and I sat down to review a long list of colleges. She told me that I could pursue being a chef later, but that my lifelong passion was for being creative. She said, “Choose something that you can make a living from, that continuously brings you joy.” Little did we know that an ad for the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design would come full circle in my now-current career in advertising at one of the top agencies in the world.
Dyneisha Gross represents Student Council at the opening of Core Gallery, 2020.

Dyneisha Gross represents Student Council at the opening of the student-led Core Gallery, 2020.

You were really involved in lots of initiatives while you were here: how did you manage to organize your time? 

DG: Time management is a challenge for everyone and I am no exception. I have learned from my coworkers that even when I am feeling overwhelmed, I give the impression of having everything under control. Like many others, I struggled to keep everything organized at all times, but when I had a handle on it, I felt more confident leading and participating in various activities. Confidence is definitely one of the keys. From working multiple jobs to battling some major mental health and family loss during college, keeping an agenda, using Post-It notes and a detailed to-do list have helped me stay organized. To this day, these strategies have been essential for me in keeping everything together.

Tell us a little about your position with Ogilvy: is there such a thing as a typical day or a typical roster of responsibilities?

DG: In my current position as a designer on the creative team at Ogilvy, every day is unique, but it typically includes working in a fast-paced environment alongside a talented team of producers, copywriters, art directors, creative directors, executive creative directors, and other designers. During a busy week, some of my responsibilities include managing my regular client accounts by creating production designs, mockups, social media graphics, and suggesting PR ideas for brands hosting events or debuts.

I also assist in leading pitches for brands and businesses with a copywriting partner. Additionally, I am a part of the Ogilvy North America team that brainstorms and executes events for Black Diaspora, one of many cultural communities within the Ogilvy network. I enjoy my job because it is always varied, and I never know what the day or week will look like, which keeps me on my toes.

Tell us about a recent challenge at your job, and how you worked through it. 

DG: Being pulled onto any pitch is always a challenge. As a team, we are presented with one or even two briefs and a limited amount of time to come up with innovative solutions and ideas that not only outdo the competition but win global awards and recognition for the DC office. My biggest challenge was working with the Ogilvy UK team to come up with ideas to win over Dove.

The time zone difference and a brief that hit close to home made it difficult to refrain from putting all my emotions into something because, in the end, the goal was to meet the brief and the audience’s needs. With hours and hours of brainstorming, the team and I were successful, and Dove became my first global pitch and win as a designer in advertising. The best part is that, as a smaller office, we are sometimes seen as the underdog, yet time and time again, we prove that the quality of our work is worth every minute.

Graphic designed by Dyneisha Gross ’20, Graphic Design, for Ogilvy DC.

You recently returned from a Festival of Creativity in Cannes: Can you explain a bit about what that was, and what you gained from it? 

DG: My mentor and Executive Creative Director, Kristie Pope, and the amazing team at Ogilvy gave me the opportunity to be a part of the young creatives of color collective program, which started at the Cannes Festival of Creativity in 2018. The program aimed to bring diversity and diverse voices to the festival. The Cannes Can Diversity Collective (CCDC), started by Adrianne Smith, recognized that the festival lacked diversity, particularly in terms of Black voices and creatives. With advertising and a lot of other creative-driven work being culture focused, the Cannes Festival of Creativity lacked simple representation (4 percent of Black people in attendance in 2018). To address this, Adrianne purchases a space alongside the Googles and Spotifys of the world each year to create a safe space for Black creatives and industry professionals/allies to come together, learn, party, eat, enjoy the culture and exist safely while navigating Cannes. As an Ambassador, I had the opportunity to observe and learn from the outside, attending as many panels and meet-and-greets as I could while also networking and inviting them to our space known as Inkwell Beach.

I spent a week and a few days living in Cannes, attending panels, meeting people I never thought I would cross paths with, and connecting with Ogilvy and other creatives from other industries. I also indulged in occasional early morning walks to the local French bakery for croissants and partied with Issa Rae and Keke Palmer. I gained a lot from this experience, from learning how to be confident as a designer to understanding that creating diversity in the workplace and school goes beyond just providing representation or meeting quotas. I indulged in conversation on how this affects the way companies produce meaningful work. 

This experience not only gave me a well-needed reality check as an American, but it gave me the opportunity to meet people from across the country for the first time, who have now become my peers and friends.

Project design for Imani at Home, by Dyneisha Gross for Ogilvy.

Project design for Imani at Home, by Dyneisha Gross for Ogilvy.

On to your business: What inspired it? What do you do at ElevenThirtySeven? 

DG: I created ElevenThirtySeven in honor of my late maternal grandparents who taught me the importance of spreading joy through stationery. Every year, for any special occasion or holiday, from birthdays to Christmas, my grandparents would always buy my brother or me two greeting cards; one with satire and the other with beautiful art, and a sentimental message. With my love for stationery, spreading messages, and screen printing, creating a greeting card business to prove that stationery is not dead was a no-brainer. It also gave me the chance to pass on messages and affirmations to those around me while diversifying the greeting card market. 

My brother and I spent most of our time with my grandparents, and their passing was the first that affected me deeply. I chose to honor them with ElevenThirtySeven, a name that is a combination of their birth dates. My grandfather was born in March (the third month of the year) and my grandmother was born in July (the seventh month of the year), both on the eleventh day, hence the name ElevenThirtySeven.

What role does social media play in your entrepreneurial success, if any? 

DG: As a designer and a business owner, social media plays an important role in promoting my business and connecting with potential clients. Platforms like Instagram allow me to showcase my portfolio, LinkedIn provides opportunities to network with industry professionals, and TikTok has quadrupled my client base and grown my creative community across the globe. 

Additionally, social media and talking to a camera keep my communication and interaction skills sharp. Overall, social media is a powerful tool for building a personal brand, driving traffic to my website, and generating business and brand opportunities. I say all this as a pro to why social is changing the world around, but also caution and push the importance of health social media breaks. 

What are your fondest/proudest memories of your time at PCA&D? 

DG: My proudest memory at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design was being a part of starting a student-led gallery. While living in Lancaster, I faced many challenges related to race and identity. However, as student council president I was consistently trying to find new ways to create safe spaces for dialogue, and being able to provide the community with an uncensored platform to express themselves even post-graduation is something I’ll always be proud of.    

What can you not get through your day without doing/having?

DG: Whether it’s a workday or a weekend, I cannot get through my day without my first cup of coffee, which is like daily meditation for me, a to-do list, and a notebook to take notes or sketch.

See more of Dyneisha Gross’ work in action: