Inspire Interview

Get to Know The Woman Behind The Yellow Conference


We love finding stories of people living out what they're created to do and then sharing those stories with our community. Joanna Waterfall's story is highly motivating as she's working hard to build a thriving community and inspire people to live passionately.

Later this week, 300+ creative women will descend upon Los Angeles for The Yellow Conference--a gathering for creative women who want to ignite passion and bring goodness to the world through everyday living. Los Angeles native, Joanna Waterfall, started the conference out of a vision for inspiring and equipping creative women to do good in the world.  

We had the pleasure of speaking with Joanna to get a peek into her world and learn a little more about The Yellow Conference. We found her responses to be super helpful, insightful, and fun -- and we think you will too! So here she is:   

Let’s start at the beginning—your beginning.  Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in Burbank, CA (which is oddly where I live now, we moved when I was 2 and I came back here at age 23!) I moved quite a bit growing up. Lived in San Francisco, and even lived in Atlanta for a bit. But mostly I grew up in a little beach town on the central coast of CA called Pismo Beach.

When did you first discover your passion for creating things? What caused you to pursue that passion?

I can't remember a time when I didn't love to create. I've always been creating. Anything from coordinating shows in the living room with my little sister, to creating forts in the backyard, to creating drawings and paintings, it's always been a love of mine. I was fortunate enough to grow up with parents who really encouraged me in my art. They saw I loved it, and they saw I had a talent for it. So they enrolled me in art lessons, they would buy me supplies I needed, and later in life encouraged me to pursue art as my major in college. Something most parents wouldn't feel comfortable allowing their kids to major in. I think it was their encouragement in my life that caused me to pursue my love for creating. Without that, I'm not sure what I would be doing today!

What inspires you?

I think it depends on the day honestly. Sometimes, I'm inspired by a conversation. Sometimes I'm inspired by the bravery and courage of another. Today, I watched this YouTube video that brought together multiple clips of people hearing for the first time. I was bawling my eyes out and was completely inspired by technology, love, and the magic mystery of life. So, to answer your question, I think the things that really inspire me are the things that make me feel something real. And depending on the situation, that could come in many different forms! 

What's the biggest misconception about being a creative you'd like to dispel?

Gosh, there are a lot... I think the sad part is a lot of them are true instinctually, but we have the power to be disciplined and change our ways. That's what people need to know. For example, saying creatives are unorganized by nature. This might be true in a natural sense, but I've been told that organization is a skill that can be learned and perfected. I'm a huge believer in that. I'm learning every day how to be more organized. I can proudly say that I'm a much more organized person this year than I was this time last year. Creatives, let's show the world we can be wild and free but still be responsible, get stuff done, and be organized while doing it. It will make us better artists and creators.  

Was there someone in your life that pointed you in the direction of graphic design or believed in you?

Graphic design actually fell into my lap. My junior year of college my dad had just started working at a university. I decided to transfer to the school he worked at because I got free tuition (heck yes!). I was an art major my first two years of college, and was thinking I would continue on that path, but when I saw the art department at my new school, I was not impressed. The school did have an up and coming graphic design program that looked very appealing. I decided to give it a try and the rest is history. I always had mentors, professors and my parents who encouraged me all the way through that.

What's the most valuable lesson you've learned in the last year?

This is a GREAT question. I think honestly I've learned how important it is to just CHILL OUT. I've learned so much about myself this year. How I function, where I excel and where I'm flawed. I've learned that when I get frantic, stressed out and worried about things, it effects every single area of my life in a negative way. I've learned that when things get stressful, taking a step back, taking a breath and remembering how small I am really helps me. Chilling out helps me create better, get more done, and be an all around better person to be around. It's such a simple thing, but this year I learned to see this in a different light. It's been a game changer for me.

There’s a difference between designing for work and designing for fun. What was the last thing you designed for fun?

Everything having to do with Yellow Conference! I do most of the design work for Yellow, and I love it. It's my passion project! There's no client standing over me telling me what to do, what colors they want, etc. I'm the client, and it's a blast to design for something I love so much and have complete freedom within the brand.


 Dogs or cats?

Gahh this question!! Why does it have to be one or the other? Can't someone love dogs and cats equally?? I hate when people ask me this because I just don't see why there has to be a separation between the two. I love cats. I love dogs. Both. Both is my answer. (Steps off soap box). 

How did The Yellow Conference start? 

It was an idea that came to me in the shower - a place where our brains can finally slow down for a moment, allowing us to pay attention to our ideas. I had recently met some amazing women who were working hard, running businesses and doing it all for a positive purpose. I started thinking about how special these women were, and what a great example they are to me. I started to think- do other women have these kinds of examples in their lives? They should! How great would it be to get a group of women like this together to talk about and teach others how to use their gifts to spread good. I have a lot of ideas on a day to day basis (too many!!) but this was one I knew I had to follow through with. It was one of those things that made my heart beat fast, made me feel extremely scared, yet totally excited at the same time. I knew it had to happen!

Why “yellow”? Why not orange or purple? 

When I was thinking about what I wanted this conference to be, I started thinking how I wanted to encourage women to be like bees. Bees are hardworking, they live and work in community, they do nothing but what they were created to do. And in doing what they were created to do, they make flowers bloom, plants grow and give us fruit to eat. They don't even realize the impact they are having on the world, because they are just being themselves. This is what I wanted to encourage our attendees to do. Be themselves, work hard, and see the blooms spread. Bees are yellow! Also, being a graphic designer, I loved the idea because I could see the entire brand in my head. Everything yellow. I knew it would stand out, it's happy, positive and bright. Everything fell together! Aaaand the domain name was available. Always a good sign.

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