2 Minutes With … Leigh Chandler, Founder and CD at Sister Mary

On left brain/right brain creative thinking

With experience in branding and design that spans 20 years and several continents, Leigh is currently founder and creative director of Sister Mary. The scope of her work includes creating holistic brand worlds, packaging and activations for Guinness, Baileys, Smirnoff and many more. She has also collaborated on consumer cannabis products Roach and FUZED with House of Brands, and overseen development for Casatera, a Tequila-based ready-to-drink beverage.

We spent two minutes with Leigh to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.

Leigh, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I've had about 40 different addresses over the years due to an RAF childhood that sparked a desire to keep moving. I grew up in Germany and Derbyshire, spent most of my life in London, but call Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn home now.

How you first realized you were creative.

I had an obsession with CD booklets when I was a teenager. I loved listening to the music while reading the lyrics and immersing myself in the illustrations. I developed a fascination with the link between emotion, words and art. That fascination was a pretty good grounding to becoming a graphic designer.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

Sister Mary Corita Kent has been my idol since I was 15. I loved the spirit, vibrancy and optimism of her work. She was a nun, pop artist and activist who stood up for what she believed. 

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

My high school teacher tried to persuade me against attending art college in favor of reading politics at Cambridge, and to "do watercolors in my spare time." To paraphrase Coco Gauff, he thought he was pouring water on my flames but instead added fuel to the fire.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

I have an obsession for '90's trip-hop. Portishead, Tricky, Massive Attack. Their music conjures such vivid imagery and mood—it truly moves people.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

How To With John Wilson. I love his observations on life and culture in New York. He takes you on a journey from the mundane and trivial to touching and heartfelt in 30 minutes.

Your favorite fictional character.

Tony from The Sopranos. What a complex character. I'm only midway through Season 2 (I was a late starter) but I'm already obsessed.

Someone or something worth following in social media.

Cindy Gallop—she doesn't mince words.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.

In my previous role as ECD and partner at Vault49, we were given a test brief by Baileys. Over the following nine years I led the team across everything from creating brand worlds and experiential (Treat Bars) to packaging.

A recent project you're proud of. 

FUZED cannabis vapes. It was a collaboration between strategy and creative, and the client had a clear vision and trusted us. I loved the whole process, but especially creating personalities around each flavor such as Bad Apple and Strawberry Blonde. We had a ton of fun, and I won my first Clio award!

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

Sister Mary Corita Kent

Someone else's work you admired lately. 

Fishwife and Danny Miller—everything about the brand is just fun and gorgeous.

Your main strength as a creative person.

Left brain/right brain creative thinking. I can take an insight through to creative without missing a beat.

Your biggest weakness.

Being able to keep ideas on the table to marinate. I quickly develop a preference for one and can be quite stubborn about it.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in design.

Pulling pints.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

Advertise With Us

Featured Clio Award Winner



The best in creativity delivered to your inbox every morning.