My Story: Art and the NYC Creative Industry

Posted by on Jan 1, 2017 in Design | No Comments

My name is Jacqueline Wadsworth and Image Swim is my branding and content development studio. Here is my story…

It all began with art.

Art and illustration were my gateway to the NYC creative industry. I studied communication design and illustration at Pratt Institute and worked with master artist and mentor Dave Passalaqua for 10 years during and after Pratt. Dave made me fall in love with art and all things creative. He taught me about communicating meaning, digging for knowledge, and inadvertently, branding.

I was lucky enough to land an in-house illustrator’s job (almost unheard of) with the NYC Department of Education. At the DOE I drew, and drew and drew until I drew so much I didn’t want to ever draw a picture (for a curriculum guide) again.

And so, I honed my skills in graphic design and convinced Rich Clarke, the principle at a small ad agency in NYC called Clarke Advertising, to hire me as an art director. He trained me like an athlete and become my mentor. So began my love of advertising and branding.

Brand communication was always the objective at Clarke Advertising, and this was long before the word ‘branding’ became a term applied to practically everything (often with little understanding I might add).

I worked at Clarke Advertising for a few years then left and came back and left and came back. When I left I gained experience through freelancing at agencies such as Ogilvy and Mather (American Express, Pepperidge Farms) and Angotti, Thomas, Hedge (Fuji, Saab); Media companies such as Conde Nast (Gourmet Magazine) and Hachette Fillipachi (Travel Holiday Magazine); and non-profits such as United Jewish Appeal and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

In between all of this, I still made art like crazy and decided to start an art and creativity program for children called Do Art. I figured out how to get a fiscal sponsor and write a grant proposal and Do Art became partially funded by the Brooklyn Arts Council.

After 4 years of running Do Art, I had my last stint at Clarke Advertising. Things were changing as Clarke dissolved and became Fifteen Degrees. And so I decided to change too. I took on a new role as digital project and marketing manager. This role was vital for me in gaining the digital and account side experience I needed to eventually start my own business, Image Swim.

As digital project manager, I learned how to make projects flow from start to finish, write strategic content and creative briefs, and create estimates, scope of work, and proposals. I also worked on developing content for digital and traditional campaigns, my favorite being The Heart Institute, and coordinated all aspects of web projects including UX and UI.

I worked for two years as a digital project manager and one day Rich Clarke asked me if I wanted to take on a few smaller clients who were being neglected. I said “yes!” and decided to go out on my own. This is how Image Swim began.

Image Swim is now in it fifth year and I have learned so much about branding, web development, and content creation in the past few years. To my surprise, one of my favorite part of the job has become cheerleading, teaching, coaching, and holding the hands of clients through web and content development. I do all I can for my clients and am often a sounding board for business strategies and plans. I can be a brainstorming partner for promotions and collaborations or a push for getting clients out there on social media. I feel like I am an important part in making my client’s dreams come true and that is the best feeling in the world.

More and more my art and illustration background is merging with the creative work I do for clients at Image Swim. It feels like I am coming full circle creatively and at the same time giving my clients unique work that makes their brand shine!

To see some of my art, illustration and writing on art visit my personal website: