Jennifer Wick has been a Mintie since last fall and she’s been steadily gaining steam! You no doubt couldn’t miss her first prize in our recent 3+ Holiday Challenge for her in all things Thanksgiving card entry. We’re thankful to have Jen in our community and we’re looking forward to meeting her in person at NSS… but until then, we really enjoyed this Q&A with her and we know you will, too.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
I didn’t settle on studying Graphic Design until 11th grade, but I knew from a young age that I wanted to be some type of artist like my mom. She was an art teacher until she had kids, then went back to her first love of doing pen & ink drawings of homes and architecture. I always loved doing art projects, but I wasn’t as good of an artist like my brother and sister. I was drawn to children’s book illustrations, fun packages and logos. Thankfully, my high school art teacher saw my potential and said I should study Graphic Design at college. I felt great to finally put a name to what I loved doing!
Do you have any formal design training?
I have a BA in Graphic Design from Penn State. Let’s Go State!
How would you describe your style?
I would say light-hearted, sometimes hand-crafted, illustrative and typographic.
What is your normal workflow or process like?
For minted challenges, I like to write down any idea that comes to mind no matter if it’s good or not. I also like to create pages of pictures, colors, fonts, anything that catches my eye for inspiration. Once I have a few solid ideas, I draw thumbnails to get the basic look of the card. Then, if the design requires illustrations, I draw them, scan and work on them in Photoshop and Illustrator. Then I spend hours fleshing out the design until I’m satisfied.
How many iterations does it take for a design to become final?
I am so indecisive, so I typically have 8-14 versions of a design, because I like to explore every possible color and style option. It also frees me from feeling like I am making a mistake. If it isn’t working, I stop and go back to an earlier iteration that looks promising and go from there.
What tools, techniques, and mind sets do you find absolutely essential?
My mechanical pencil, a pile of white paper, my beloved Mac and a large Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream and sugar : )
What are the easiest and the most difficult aspects of the design process?
One of the toughest things for me is to wait for the ideas to come. Great ideas don’t come quickly for me. I have to think and think, doodle and wait until something pops in my head. Another aspect that I struggle with is marrying type with the illustration. I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but I enjoy seeing the design take shape but exploring color and type choices.
Your illustrations are so adorable—I love the little hats on Snow Birds and everything on Bookends is just incredible–how do you go about creating them?
Oh thanks! I’m especially happy how Bookends turned out. I first had the idea to do a shelf with the copy going in between two bookends. There was too much for the shelf, so as I sketched copy above and below, the idea hit me to do a whole bookcase. I wanted it to have an sentimental cottage style like our friend’s summer home we stayed in every summer in Maine. I drew a bunch of items that might work for the bookcase, then kept playing with it and editing it until it came together. A seagull and lobster buoy didn’t make the cut!
Snowbirds was inspired by my youngest daughters collection of tasseled hats. I first had the hats facing each other, but I couldn’t get the profile right, so I sketched them forward and that worked. The hard part was getting the typography to work with the illustrations. Katie Wahn, Lynn Knipe and Nam Bourassa really helped me to simplify the type and get to the design to feel resolved.
Do you have a favorite font?
At the moment, I really love Clarendon and Rockwell. I always want more fonts, and I find myself envying those who have the expensive ones I want, like the entire Archer family : )
I prefer mechanical pencils even though I smear my sketches with my left hand.
I like notebooks, but with children at home, they tend to “disappear”. I just pull paper from my printer as needed.
Favorite design tool?
My Mac and Adobe CS5.
Did you send out a family Christmas card? If so, what was it like?
I love to make our Christmas cards each year, even though it stresses me out, and I wait until the last minute. Last year we didn’t schedule our family portrait in time, so I had fun making a more light-hearted card with the kids in the snow. I’m also happy with my card from 2008 – I felt it captured the spirit of our family Christmas traditions.
Speaking of traditions, my grandfather started the tradition of hand making cards. He was a tremendous photographer who had built his own darkroom. I didn’t appreciate the time it took to create his cards until I took a B&W photography course at college and had to develop my own film and prints. Now, I treasure his cards.
Tell us about one of your favorite cards offered for sale on Minted and how you came up with the design.
I had a lot of fun designing Let the Baby Games Begin. My younger two kids were playing, and the one yelled, “Let the games begin!” It made me think about some of the crazy baby shower games I’ve endured. Quickly sketching the words, I could see that the words stacked nicely, so I went right to the computer for this one. I wanted it to a have a retro circus poster feel, so I had fun to using fonts that rarely work anywhere else.
What design trends do you think will emerge this spring?
I wish I could forecast trends. I hope the hand-drawn type style will stay for awhile. I’m seeing a lot of mid-century inspired illustrations, which I adore. Ann Gardner made a good observation in her blog, that the overly glossy, 3D button Web 2.0 fad is over. Yeah!
What was your favorite Minted design challenge and why?
I enjoyed the Save the Date challenge for several reasons. Some of the options were for beach destinations, fall and winter weddings. All of which I love! I also felt like I was finally feeling comfortable with my card designs. It took me a while to transition from doing corporate design to card design. It’s a whole different mind set.
How does living in Harrisburg influence your design?
I wouldn’t say where I live influences my design, but rather it’s my family, my travels and my fond childhood memories that shape my ideas. Even though I make fun of living in Central PA, I love the rolling hills, quaint farms and rich history.
Where do you go for design inspiration?
There are many online blogs, design and illustration sites I like to visit, but I really love looking at magazines like Real Simple, Martha, Better Homes & gardens and Coastal living. I also enjoy getting new children’s books for my kids and for me to gaze at the illustrations. I like to hang my children’s newest artwork on my bulletin board so I can glean ideas from them!
What are your favorite online design sites and blogs?
I have a bunch of bookmarks of great designers and illustrators that I check occasionally, but the ones that I visit daily are Eight Hour Day’s blog, Uppercase and Pinterest. Eight Hour Day does a great job showcasing talented designers and Illustrators and I can spend hours viewing new boards on Pinterest.
What designers do you really admire?
Saul Bass and Joe Duffy are iconic designers in my book. As far as illustrators/designers, I’m enthralled with the works of Sanna Annukka, Jon Cannell, Lab Partners and Matte Stephens, just to name a few.
Is there a celebrity or famous locale whose style or aesthetic you envy or want to mimic?
I adore Candice Olsen, the amazing Interior Designer of Divine Design, on HGTV. Her style is flawless and sophisticated. Yet she is quirky, funny and unpretentious. I love her motto, “I take my work seriously. But I don’t take myself seriously”. She let’s her work speak for itself.
What advice would you give a new designer?
Think about your specific design strengths and play off them. Do you have unique illustrative style? Showcase it. Is typography your strong point? Push yourself to create a fabulous typographic card. Don’t get discouraged if your designs don’t get chosen. Use them as learning experiences, and focus on creating a few strong and unique designs. And most of all, have fun in the process!
I know you have a family and also a thriving design business… Any advice on how to balance it all?
You are kind to call it thriving! My business is still in it’s infancy, so it is very managable timewise. Before my children were in school, I freelanced for the design firm where I worked before I had kids. It was ideal because I could work from home, take only the jobs I wanted , and work around the kids. It helped me regain my confidence after not working for seven years. One by one as the kids went to school, I slowly started accruing my own clients through friend’s referrals. I look forward to growing my business, but I don’t want to take on more work than I can handle with three active children. So my advice is to be realistic with the amount of work you can handle, and know that you will have more time to devote to your business as your kids get older. That is where I’m grateful for the example my mom modeled on how to raise three kids while growing a business. I’m also so thankful to have a husband who supports me growing my business. His encouragement makes me want to succeed in my endeavor. I absolutely love designing and illustrating, and can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.
Find more of Natasha on her blog.13 COMMENTS