Anna Zhang (DC ’23) is well known for her accomplishment as a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree on the Art & Style list, but her combination of artistry, innovation, and creativity extends to the personal as well as the professional in life. From creative photography to inspiring app ideas, Zhang has photographed for Keds and Fujifilm, started a publication to share the stories behind youth leaders, and designed a mobile gaming app that advocates kindness in games, rather than violence.
Zhang credits her passion for photography for the start of her journey in all of her projects. First experimenting with landscape photos, she soon decided to try her hand at concert photography. After cold-emailing over forty artists’ management and record labels, Zhang finally received a photo pass to photograph Magic Man. Soon after, she was approved to photograph other concerts, and grew her portfolio from there.
“I started a music blog on which I shared my concert photography, and this blog ultimately transformed into my magazine, Pulse Spikes. I founded Pulse Spikes because there weren’t many publications at the time that spotlighted young people’s work, and as a photographer, I was particularly interested in people’s stories,” Zhang said. “To bring Pulse Spikes to life, I had to create a website, which is what prompted me to learn how to code.”
Pulse Spikes has featured artists and entertainers including notable names such as Lana Condor, the star of the Netflix movie To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart. With over twenty thousand readers per issue and fifteen million social media impressions, Pulse Spikes is a well-established publication made by youth for youth.
“It’s definitely a lot of work, but I just love hearing the stories of different people around the world. I also get to collaborate with other incredible young artists and writers who are passionate about Pulse Spikes and sharing these stories to the rest of the world,” Zhang said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Zhang decided to rebrand Pulse Spikes and expand its mission. Rather than focusing on arts and entertainment as the publication has done in the past, she hopes to highlight the voices of young people around the world, whether it’s an interdisciplinary artist sparking conversations around environmental justice or an author celebrating women of color.
“It’s easier in some way to do entertainment stories because there are managers, publicists who reach out to you with pitches and story ideas. But there are also incredible people who don’t have publicists to reach out on their behalf or advocate for them. We want to try to uplift the voices that are not traditionally heard in the media, rather than those that are already heard,” Zhang said.
Zhang hopes to find an intersection between the arts and computer science. She’s already well on this path, having ideated the award-wining game Brightlove. As the winner of the 2019 Google Play Change the Game Challenge, she served as the Creative Director of Brightlove when bringing the game to life. Brightlove aims to award players for positive actions, and all the objectives circle back to kindness and standing up against injustice.
With over ten thousand downloads on the Google Play store and a spot in an exhibition at the National Museum of American History, Brightlove is a product of her spontaneity.
“I just thought of it one day when I realized the number of games that reward violence. I don’t think innovation necessarily has to come from a ‘I’ve never seen this before’ sort of an idea—I think it can come from elements that have existed separately in the past and combining them in a different way,” Zhang said.
Zhang hopes to continue her creative weaving of multiple fields in one by majoring in Computing and the Arts at Yale. While she is still exploring her potential career interests, she ultimately hopes to put innovative ideas into the world that bring people together.
“I’m just in the same boat as everyone else. I don’t really know what I want to do career-wise, but my general interests are in the intersection between technology and art. I’m not too sure what the future holds, but I am excited about all of the possibilities.”
Anna Zhang. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/profile/anna-zhang/?sh=76b9a1e210c4
Interview with Anna Zhang [Online interview]. (2021, February 6).
Zhang, A. (n.d.). Pulse spikes. Retrieved February 16, 2021, from https://pulsespikes.org/\