I love design and art. It is one of the most expressive forms of storytelling. So, when I discovered Vincent Skyers and his work as Creative Director at SmileDirectClub, this story was inevitable. We sat down, virtually of course, and discussed his rise to being creative director for one of the country’s fastest-growing companies, how Nashville has some of the nicest people and why the pandemic has been a refreshing change. Probably, one of the biggest things you will take away is Vincent’s unwavering love for his wife, children, and family. All that he is doing and accomplishing is for them. Who doesn’t love to see that. Plus, photo credit goes to his wife Melinda Coston-Skyers. Creativity runs in the family.
Tell us what are you currently creating in Nashville?
I am the creative director and a designer for SmileDirectClub. I’m super excited about the work we’re doing. Our core mission is providing people with access to care and helping them obtain and maintain the smile they love through clear aligner therapy. There is a bit of altruism there for me as it resonates with my personal brand. Working on a team with others who are passionate about the mission of connecting customers with something they’ve been yearning for and the confidence that comes along with it, is super awesome.
When I’m not professionally creating, I’m taking on freelance projects. My most recent one was for a friend who is in the neuroscience space. This is his second book that I’ll be helping with. In order to do these things and help with the book layout, I’m reading the book as well. So I’m learning cool things about cognitive decision making, selling and buying.
I’m also a mentor with a local organization called the Knights of Prince Hall. We work with young men to develop them and usher them into the next phase of life. Then, I also have 4 kids: 3 boys and a girl with my wife, so we’re continually creating our family here in Nashville too.
To round out the creator space, I was previously in a hip hop group for about 10 years.
To round out the creator space, I was previously in a hip hop group for about 10 years. I did the whole thing. We toured a bit and released an album. During the quarantine, my buddies and I discussed looking for a catalog of unreleased songs to revisit. We’re thinking about the best way to take these songs and fulfill a passion project of creating that second album we dreamed about.
You’re originally from Brooklyn, New York, so how did Nashville become your home?
I left New York as a young art director about 15 years ago, so I’ve been in Nashville for a bit and have been able to see the growth of the city. I moved here a year after my then-fiance started her PhD program at Vanderbilt. We dated long distance for a year before I proposed and then moved here. I joined a small legal compliance company as a senior designer and over the next 13 years, helped grow that business through the recession, a few corporate transitions, and other obstacles. I helped that company place a Nashville footprint in 5 different states before getting an offer from SmileDirectClub about 2 and a half years ago.
Through those years and even now, my wife and I decided to stay in Nashville and build our family here because Nashville is a super warm city. We’ve been able to find support through our church community, The Village Church Nashville and other organizations. Even the small things like going trick or treating with our kids for the first time and knocking on everyone’s doors made us feel at home.
Obtaining the coveted position of creative director can be a wild ride. What did your journey look like?
I was that kid that would just draw all the time. I loved comics and visual storytelling in comics. I went to the local Boys Club in Brooklyn and the art teacher there, Mr. Smith, was that influential person for me. He was a staple in the community, that I will never forget and really looked up to. Having someone at a very young age to help curate my affinity for design helped to get me into various art schools. Including, LaGuardia High School, the FAME school!
I got my first internship at 14 years old. Instead of running around and doing what normal teens were doing, I would spend hours in the studio learning Photoshop and other design programs.
Professionally, I started super young because I had really accomplished mentors and big brothers in the design field. I got my first internship at 14 years old. One of my friends at the time had a parent who ran a design agency. Instead of running around and doing what normal teens were doing, I would spend hours in the studio learning Photoshop and other design programs. Having the opportunity to work in a real agency at such a young age and seeing projects come to life was a grounding experience for me. I leveraged those skills into starting my first imprint, V Sky Designs. I was making flyers, brochures and connecting with print vendors. In college, one of my professors was Dorothy Haynes, a black woman who is truly a big deal in the design world. She instilled in me the discipline and dedication to my craft that’s kept me on the line to this day.
What would you say has been one of your biggest rewards and your biggest challenge?
My biggest reward is easily being able to provide for and succeed at something for my family that I am passionate about (say that one more time for the people in the back!). I remember my mom thinking me wanting to go to art school was a crazy idea! Speaking with her recently, she always thought that my talking so much as a kid meant I would become a lawyer. I know that I could have studied and been a good lawyer or a decent banker, but I would’ve been miserable. I’m just happy that the stars aligned and God moved me in the right direction. I’m very fortunate and blessed to have had the opportunities to engage with the people, the brands, and the work throughout my career.
In terms of challenges, I’m a huge believer in synchronicity and the belief that things happen for a reason. I try not to painstakingly search for those relations, but it’s also never hard to see them. So, I actually appreciate challenges because when you’re challenged, you have an opportunity to be inspired by that challenge. That plays out in design where you could have very strict brand guidelines or a client who only wants things their way, a tight budget or whatever. Those challenges afford us a new opportunity to step outside of that box we’re used to and get creative. There’s definitely inspiration in that.
As a creative, how does it feel to still be on the cusp of new projects in the midst of COVID-19 and racial injustice?
Speaking on the topic of racial injustice as a creative, which is broad and deep; I was yearning to do something. A friend of mine actually reached out to me, to help put together a list of creatives to work on a special project together. I’m so happy he called on me to do the work and think our project will resonate with a lot of people. We‘ve gathered photographers, artists, and other creatives to help with this. The pandemic has made things a bit more complicated, but it’s still moving forward. I can’t speak too much on the project right now, but it’s going to be something really good.
We’re definitely going to look forward to this project! You mentioned a yearning to do something out of your norm. Has this new season forced you to look at life through a different lens?
Absolutely! I was always rushing somewhere or always engaged and stimulated by something! Even on my drives to and from work that were supposed to be my time to decompress. I was listening to an audiobook or catching up on the news still missing the silence needed to really process and think clearly. Now, we’ve all been forced to find this work-life balance from our actual home as professionals and it’s been difficult for a lot of us. I can say, I do have those moments now of stillness where I’m left with just the thoughts in my head, and it’s refreshing.
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