Amaphiko Academy fellow, Amanda Brinkman, the designer behind the viral “Nasty Woman” shirt that came out of the US election, is back at it. She’s just released a card game that celebrates, educates and pokes fun at pop culture and politics. We spoke to her about her creative process, how she’s created a brand, as well as her active Kickstarter campaign.
Why a card game?
After the success of the shirts, besides generating a lot of money for nonprofits and creating a community that could visually recognize one another in the shirts, what I noticed was that a lot of conversations were starting.
It struck me that a card game was a vehicle to push those further and there wasn’t a game already like this. This is a perfect way to create something new, to not be redundant and to create conversations around something that’s actually really funny. Comedy is a great way to make people comfortable and get people talking. It’s inclusive, and generative of ideas.
I know you worked with a number of people, tell us about your collaborative process.
A lot of work that I do is collaborative and what I find really interesting is that if you work really closely with someone, you share lot of same beliefs but the way you come to conclusions might be different. It’s really enabled me to think expansively and to think about different problems. I think collaboration requires a lot of negotiation as well. What makes for a great collaborative partnership is when each person recognizes when to defer to one another. That’s kind of a learned skill.
Your company used to be called Google Ghost and you’ve recently renamed it Shrill Society. Why?
Google Ghost was never intended to be a brand. It was a creative outlet for me when I was working my curatorial job during the day. It wasn’t a name that had any meaning behind it but in the process of going viral, it appeared all over the place. It’s tough to get Google to rank you highly since you can’t really compete with them using their own name!
Where did the name come from?
The word shrill is something that has historically been used to rob women of power and only applied to women. It was a funny way to use it as a position of power.
I wanted to make other products besides apparel and I knew that creating a network was important. Shrill Society is not a collective or a membership based organization. It’s more of an inclusive brand.
How did you come up with it?
Brainstorming the name meant getting the opinions of people I knew, customers, and people who are involved. It was really sitting down and thinking about what actually makes sense, what’s funny, and what resembles the brand. I think the brand is funny, produces things that are tongue in cheek and generally have a double meaning. This seems to be the perfect fit for it.
Did you have any backup names?
There were like 50 backup names! Girlfriendly was one that a lot of people liked. I just thought it was kind of soft; it could have been leggings, makeup, etc. I hope someone else buys it because it’s a good name!
You mentioned that you’ve felt the need to develop a personal brand. Why?
This is an interesting question because I think of myself more as a creative producer, like someone who writes books, generates intellectual work. So I guess I feel that’s what I’m doing, more so than being a voice. I think through getting different kinds of partnerships, whether it’s doing more live events with my game, etc., I want to make sure people know who I am.
You are currently raising money with Kickstarter What have you learned in preparing for it?
Doing a Kickstarter campaign is a lot more difficult than I assumed and it requires a ton of work and oversight. Part of me wanted to do a pre-sale but I thought that would be limiting it to those who are already on the site. Gaming is such a big category on Kickstarter and I wanted to meet that community there.
Do you know any of the people who are donating to you?
So far there are 180 backers and I know 20 of them.
Do you have any favorite cards?
I love Kathleen Hanna and Audre Lorde. They’re different from each other but complementary. They produce creative work as part of the feminist canon. Those are two of my favorites, for sure.
Tell us three things that most people don’t know about you.
I’ve been a competitive skier and horseback rider my whole life.
I moved to the US when I was six years old and dressed like Madonna because I thought that’s what it meant to be American.
I skipped 11th grade.
My project is to create another approach to teaching self- awareness, self-development, and self-love to young girls.