Two iMedia Students Behind First Interactive Book Published by Smithsonian

by Katie Williamsen, Elon iMedia Class of 2012

One of my favorite parts about working with iMedia students is seeing all of the amazing work they do post-graduation. Recently I received an email from 2013 alumna, Ashley Deese sharing some exciting news. Since graduation she has been busy working as a media producer at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Recently, her and 2014 iMedia alumna, Nikki Schell, worked on a team to publish the Smithsonian’s first interactive book for Apple. Ashley was the creative director and Nikki was the interactive producer working to produce Expedition: Insects for the Smithsonian. Ashley was kind enough to answer a few questions about this project.


1. What do you do for the Smithsonian day-to-day?
My day-to-day at the Smithsonian always changes. I’m involved in everything digital media at the Smithsonian Science Education Center. During my time here I have produced videos, taken photos for textbooks, prepared print books to be published, developed an online game, managed projects from outside studios, maintained our blog, taught classes on digital media, given presentations, utilized my graphic design skills and the list goes on. I am currently working on a lot of new digital projects and strategizing on how to increase our reach worldwide with all of the exciting things we are doing.

Smithsonian eBook with the Team // Twin Stripe

The entire eBook team, Ashley is in the middle wearing pink and Nikki is directly to the right.

2. Wow! You have been busy. How did you convince the Smithsonian to let you and Nikki take on a brand new project?
The mission of the Smithsonian is “the increase and diffusion of knowledge” with a focus on broadening access worldwide. With that being said, an eBook was a very easy choice. Nikki’s role at the Smithsonian was to provide her expertise in producing a project for a global audience to broaden access. She was a natural fit for the project. I have been lucky to work with a supportive senior leadership and a talented team of interns that helped make this project possible.

3. What was your role in the project?
I was the creative director for the project. I made sure that everything we did stayed within the Smithsonian brand regarding art, scientific accuracy, tone of the story line, and the overall messaging. I also provided support to the team and made sure everything was done by our deadlines.

Expedition: Insect // Eye on iMedia Blog

4. What was the biggest challenge you faced working on the project?
This project was very easy since it was a culmination of all of the skills that I obtained from the iMedia program. Since I had a deep understanding of all parts of the production process, it made it very easy to set realistic goals and communicate ideas to everyone involved.

5. What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of how hard my team worked to bring this idea to life. The book has been very successful within the Smithsonian and worldwide.

6. Do you have more interactive books planned in the future?
Yes! This is only the beginning of interactive books at the Smithsonian!

Congratulations to Ashley and Nikki on producing the Smithsonian’s first eBook! If you are interested in finding out more about the prjoect, feel free to connect with Ashley via Twitter @AshleyDeese.

Wondering what else you can do with an M.A. in Interactive Media? Checkout other jobs here.

This entry was posted in Arts and Sciences, Career Ideas and Information, employment, iMedia Alumni, Projects by Katie Williamsen. Bookmark the permalink.

About Katie Williamsen

Katie is the web strategist and social media maven behind Katie Williamsen Web & Social Media Consulting, LLC. She helps lady bosses stop feeling overwhelmed so they can make effective changes for their business. Katie earned her master’s degree in interactive media at Elon University. Katie is also the editor of the lifestyle blog Twin Stripe, dedicated to helping fun, fabulous readers create a bright and modern lifestyle — that doesn’t cost a ton. When Katie isn’t strategizing with clients, blogging or working her 8-to-5 hustle, she’s spending time with her husband Chad and their pup Hobbes.

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