Meet a Mintie: Jody Wody

Minted designer and part-time Minted contract employee Jody Wody is buckets of fun. She is a joy to be around and her work is always exciting–we love, love, love seeing something new and different and Jody always delivers!

At age nine, you wanted to be?
A gymnast, an illustrator for Disney (I used to practice by pausing my “Little Mermaid” VHS to draw the characters), and a “camera-man” for a sitcom (I thought that sounded very exciting).

When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
It was a sporadic and incremental process! My mom is a painter and sculptor, so she always had neat-o art supplies for me to play around with. When I was in elementary school, I got hold of her old Letraset transfers from the ’70s, I would incorporate the rub-on type and office-themed clipart into my drawings. Maybe that was my first foray into graphic design? I remember in eighth grade I designed the cover for our school’s literary magazine, which may have planted the seed for publication design, and in high school I wrote for the school newspaper, which allowed me to do layout and editorial illustrations as well.

Do you have any formal design training?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, with a concentration in Digital Motion Graphics and Interactive Multimedia. Whew – what a mouthful! My minor was Creative Writing.

I actually didn’t do any print design in college until my last year, when I took a Publication Design class. At that point I was a little burned-out with motion graphics and video editing – everything took so darn long to render! I realized that I had chosen the wrong concentration – I belonged in print design. After graduating, I moved to New Orleans and landed a job at Gambit Weekly, which sealed my fate as a print designer.

How would you describe your style?
A little quirky and friendly, yet refined (I hope!). I like art that’s tongue-in-cheek, uses puns, and contains little surprises. I don’t think I identify with one distinct aesthetic; I like variety, and I have the most fun exploring different styles every time I approach a new project.

What is your normal workflow or process like?
It’s never the same, but I do have one consistent habit: if possible, I like to “sleep on it.” Wait a day, then revisit the project before sending it to the client (or submitting to Minted).

What tools, techniques, and mindsets do you find absolutely essential?
Black coffee and loose leaf tea
An organized font management system
Good podcasts and tunes lined up in my playlist
iCal alarms to keep track of my due dates and deadlines

What are the easiest and the most difficult aspects of the design process?
Most difficult = settling on one concept.
Easiest = Production and pre-press. With production, you have a concrete task to achieve, and a definable end. Sometimes it’s a relief to switch from right-brain to left.

Your designs are so fun and lively! Any tips on how to keep the design top-notch, without getting staid and stuffy?
To keep things fresh, I try to incorporate some kind of motion or momentum. The goal is to guide a viewer’s eye along a specific path, using a hierarchy of type, colors, shapes, and sizes.

A former creative director gave me some great advice that went like this: “Take a look at your page. If you see an element that’s larger than the rest, go ahead and make it 30 percent larger than it already is.” The 30 percent rule also works for small elements – it’s really about dynamics and contrast.

Do you have a favorite font?
Right now I’m digging Leitura Display Swashes by Dino dos Santos and Museo by Jos Buivenga. I covet Adios Script by Alejandro Paul.

Favorite color? Or favorite color right now?
I never thought I had one favorite color, but I’ve noticed that I do lean towards warm color palettes, specifically “sunset hues.” Taking a peek at my Minted entries confirms this – there are a lot of oranges, reds, and pinks in there!

Favorite pen?
Sakura Pigma Micron pens for writing and drawing. Prismacolor Premier Art Markers for fun and coloring.

Favorite notebook?
Right now I’m using a simple, sturdy notebook with puffy banana stickers all over the cover. There’s a banana playing golf, a banana holding a martini, and a banana dressed like a monk!

However, I have amassed a collection of design-y notebooks that are completely empty and sitting on my shelf. They’re too cute and pristine that I’m afraid to use them.

Favorite design tool?
My trusty ol’ scanner (it’s a clunker). I like to scan paper textures, ink blots, and old printed materials. Who knows when they might come in handy? I recently unearthed an old Icelandic airline paper ticket that I need to add to my random scan collection.

Did you send out a Christmas card? If so, what was it like?

Tell us about one of your favorite cards offered for sale on Minted and how you came up with the design.
I like Dinner Party. This sounds crazy, but I actually dreamed about the design before I created it. I must have gone to sleep thinking of ideas for the challenge, because when I lay half-awake the next morning, I had visions of chunky letterforms dressed up in hats, ties, and gloves. Very odd! When I sketched out the idea, it seemed to work. Then, on a whim, I flipped the first “n” and it all came together.

Talk Bubbles has been such a hit. How did you come up with that design?
I liked the idea of starting a written “conversation” with a friend, using stationery rather than email. It reminded me of the time my childhood best friend and I wrote short letters back-and-forth when I moved to Australia (it went on for years!). The design started out as a precise pattern of small talk bubbles, but I remember thinking it seemed a little flat and static. To add interest, I enlarged the bubbles, overlapped them, and added a texture overlay.

I’m personally in love with Flower Press. How did you decide to do that? And what was the design evolution like?
Aww shucks – thank you! I wanted to create a rustic and nature-y design without the “frills.” After poring over photos of different weeds and wildflowers, I noticed how distinct their silhouettes were. I traced the shapes of a few different plants and arranged them in a “haphazardly planned” way, to create the background.

Also, how did our community’s comments influence the design?
I knew I wanted the text to be minimal, but I wasn’t happy with the first iteration. The Minted community’s comments reinforced my decision to keep the type simple, but also led me to pick a more contemporary combination of fonts. Much appreciated!

What design trends do you think will emerge this summer/fall?
Lately I’ve noticed an emphasis on bare-bones geometry. I love the straight lines, angles and circles, and I hope to see more of this approach in design and fashion. I can’t predict that it will happen, but I hope it will.

What is your least favorite recent design trend?
It’s painful to see a great idea/concept with poor implementation. It’s not really a trend, but it’s something I see a lot!

What was your favorite Minted design challenge and why?
The stationery challenges: I like to envision a specific type of person or character in my head, then design something that they’d use.

How does living in San Francisco influence your design?
SF is bursting at the seams with designers and there’s a lot of competition, so I’ve learned not to be complacent with my skillset. I’ve been taking letterpress classes (fun!) and working on my web design capabilities (um, hard!).

What are the places in your hometown that you would recommend a visitor check out?
I’m a nomad and have moved just about every three years of my life (so far), so I don’t have an actual “hometown.” BUT…I can tell you about the two most recent cities I lived in:

Food: Pepper Tree for an addictive vegetarian buffet, and Baba Yega in the Montrose for a gorgeous brunch.

Shopping: In a city of malls, strip-malls, and parking decks, seek refuge at Rice Village for unique shops and cafes.

Art: The Museum of Printing History and the Menil Collection.

New Orleans
Food: Surrey’s Cafe in the Lower Garden District for breakfast (wheat grass shots for the brave), Parasol’s in the Irish Channel for po-boys, and Jaques-Imo’s for the most amazing, decadent, down-home creole/cajun food.

Shopping: Take a day to walk Magazine Street.

Art: Check out the Sculpture Garden in City Park, it’s pretty awesome.

Thanks for the tips! Hope to make it to these fun cities someday… Where do you go for design inspiration when you’re not traveling?
If I’m staring at a blank screen, the best cure is to get outside and walk down the street. There are so many cute boutiques, bookstores, and design shops around here – I’ll pop into any place that looks interesting and browse. Usually, something will pique my creativity and I’ll rush back home to get started!

What are your favorite online design sites and blogs?

What designers do you really admire? Do you have a favorite graphic designer? Fashion designer? Furniture designer?
Here are some designers/illustrators that always catch my eye:
1. Simon Page: International Year of Astronomy 2009 posters
2. The Decoder Ring: Ratatat poster
3. Jennifer Bowskill: textile design
4. Leandro Castelao: David Bowie illustration
5. Aubrey Beardsley (longtime fave): Cinderella’s Slippers
6. Office: Packaging for 826 Valencia Pirate Shop
7. Sanna Annukka: Soul Birds

Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
I miss New Orleans very much, so I go back whenever I can. Otherwise, I try to travel somewhere new each time I’m able take a trip, so I don’t actually have one favorite go-to spot. That said, I’d never decline a trip back to Ko Phi Phi Island (off Thailand). It’s my happy place.

Do you have any hobbies of note?
Singing – I was in the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans when I lived there, and the Houston Symphony chorus after that. I’m currently rehearsing for the upcoming SF Symphony Chorus auditions (they’re amazing, so fingers crossed).

Another hobby: hula hooping! My friends and I made a fleet of hoops from irrigation piping and sparkly electrical tape, and we try to get our hoop on whenever the weather’s nice. Hooping claim to fame: I hooped on the morning news while living in Houston!

Wow! I had no idea you had so many talents beside designing… Is there anything you can’t live without?
La Croix, this flavored sparkling water that has successfully weaned me off drinking Diet Cokes all day long. I have about five a day.

Always in your closet?
Too many cardigans (in all colors of the rainbow), patterned tights, shirt dresses, and a trunk full of costumes and wigs.

Favorite piece of clothing?
My cowboy boots! I have to stop myself from wearing them every day. Oddly, I never owned a pair the whole time I lived in Texas – my first pair was purchased after I moved away, while visiting LA.

Biggest self indulgence?
SWEETS. I never say “no.” Oh, and maybe overpriced candles.

Do you have a favorite design tome?
Print magazine – I really need to renew my subscription…

What was the last book you read?
I’m a tad scattered, so I usually read about 3 books at once (one in the living room, one on my bedside table, and one in my bag). The last book I finished was Mrs. Dalloway, as part of my monthly Book Club. We’re all about reading the classics that we should have already read.

What piece of art would you most like to own?
An authentic London Tube map, circa 1932.

What advice would you give a new designer?

1. A really easy way to enhance your workflow is to: learn keyboard shortcuts!

2. Pick your color palettes from nature. Photos of beautiful flowers, birds, and fish are such a great resource. Select 2-3 colors and experiment with the tones and hues until you have something that works for the piece.

3. Learn about printing and pre-press. Once your amazing design is finalized, you’ll need to be able to work with printers and understand their lingo. Make your pressman your best friend.

Find more of Natasha on her blog.

  1. commandrea

    I think I will take your 30% advice and apply it to all areas of my life, especially the dessert part (larger, not smarter.) Seriously though, you have a great eye for layout and control of the medium- it’s always a pleasure to see what you come up with!

  2. Pingback: Meet a Mintie: Jody Wody | | Modern Design

  3. jessicam

    Thanks for the logodesignlove rec…bookmarked!

  4. Nice article! Love the 30% rule…

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  6. Annie

    great interview! i absolutely adore all your new wedding suites and party hearty design has been a long time favorite of mine 🙂

  7. kim

    love the interview and the colorful photos! you have a really strong eye for color which shows in your work. i’ll try your color tip-pulling color from nature. thank jody!!!

  8. eaphilley

    That is so GREAT!! You are so talented. Your hard work has really paid off. I am really impressed. Your good at what you do keep doing it!

  9. jodywody

    Thank you for reading and leaving such nice comments, everyone!

  10. jody wody you rock! love your style – friendly but definitely refined…

  11. Leila

    Use keyboard shortcuts…hmmm….that has been flitting on the edge of my consciousness for a while. Must look into that!

  12. Love it so much! We just recently posted about Minted as a vendor review because we love you guys so much! Check it out 🙂