I Create Birmingham: Graham Yelton

“Birmingham has a way of growing on you. There’s something so cozy about this city. It’s has changed and grown tremendously, but that comfortable quality has stayed the same.”

Name: Graham Yelton
Occupation: Photographer & Graphic Designer / Co-Owner of We Have Doughnuts
Creative Industry: Visual Arts & Crafts / Design


1. You went to college in Birmingham; what made you decide to stay and how has Birmingham changed since you moved here?
I’m a typical independent-first-born, so I wasn’t about to move home to Nashville and live with my parents. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) Birmingham has a way of growing on you. There’s something so cozy about this city. It’s has changed and grown tremendously, but that comfortable quality has stayed the same. I think I’m most excited about the revival of the local business and the local farmer.


2. You were the art director and creative director for a local firm; what made you want to venture out on your own?

My photography was picking up steam, and I really wanted to merge both graphic design and photography under one freelance roof. And, if I’m perfectly honest, I wanted the freedom to choose my own clients & projects. I love fashion, interiors, food, nature… so I gravitate towards those types of projects. And my portfolio now reflects that. I actually look forward to work each day, because I’m excited about my clients and their passions.

3. What advice do you have for start-ups looking to make a mark and distinguish their brand?

Get your branding right the first time. Find a reputable designer or branding shop that can get you started on the right track. Steer clear of your neighbor’s cousin who “knows how to use photoshop.” A good designer will not only help you with the visuals, but assist you in understanding what really makes your company unique and how to tell your story.

Educate yourself. I love the book Zag by Marty Neumeier. This is a great read for any business owner.

4. It’s a pretty big jump from graphic design and photography to doughnuts; how did you get there?

Let me be very clear: I do not make the doughnuts. (Baking is my nemesis!) My husband, Jay Yelton, and I spent about 10 years renovating and rebuilding our home in West Homewood. Phil Amthor, a local architect and city planner, helped us with the design. We bonded over our mutual love for bourbon and old fashioned doughnuts. Eventually, Phil and his wife Sara, a graduate of the Culinard, started experimenting with doughnut recipes and they turned out so delicious that they had to share them with Birmingham. I came on board as co-owner to manage the brand. My responsibilities range from store front design, to social media, to helping strategize flavors and pop-up locations. Until this point in my career, I was limited to just “skin-deep” branding, but a cohesive brand runs so much deeper than just the visuals. To help grow the personality of a company, and make sure that it’s products & actions match up with its’ core goals & intentions… that is where the real fun happens. We Have Doughnuts has been the most rewarding project to date.

5. You wear a lot of business hats; are you working on any personal projects at the moment?
I love shooting film, so I document our life and travels on my Polaroid, Canon AE-1 or Mamiya RZ. I documented our trip to Alaska and North Dakota. Currently, any free time is devoted to our vegetable garden or the 1969 airstream that we recently purchased. I have a feeling that once we get that renovated; I will have the means to do some serious personal/travel work!