Thank goodness it’s Friday. It’s been a good and productive week for Minted, but whew, after launching lots of wedding invitations, baby shower invitations, and baptism and christening announcements, we’re all looking forward to the weekend… and to get you on your way to happy hour we are lucky enough to have the lovely and talented Mandy Gordon with us. And in case this Q&A leaves you yearning for more Mandy, you can follow her on her blog here.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a graphic designer?
I always knew that I wanted a profession that involved art. When applying to college I finally decided on graphic design as a major because it still involved art (which was very familiar to me) and also involved technology which I found interesting.
Do you have any formal design training?
I have a BFA in graphic design from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The design program was great seeing that most of the faculty were also faculty at RISD as well.
How would you describe your style?
What is your normal workflow or process like?
I usually do some inspirational investigation before diving into a project. It’s sort of like a designer’s warm up routine. I’ll visit some of my favorite design blogs and websites, get inspired and psyched up to get started. I’ll use tracing paper and a #2 pencil to do some sketching (tracing paper is great for creating variations of the same sketch). I also make a list of words that correlate to the subject matter of the design which helps sprout even more ideas. There is a great website called visualthesaurus.com that really helps your brain get cooking some ideas based on one simple word. Lastly, there is always caffeine involved. Gotta have my cup of joe!
How many iterations does it take for a design to become final?
This definitely depends on the project, but in general 3’s a charm.
What tools, techniques, and mindsets do you find absolutely essential?
The mindset that I try to follow is, use your best effort and skill given the parameters. It’s always so easy to say “If only I had more time…” I think most designers/artist would agree that if they were given all the time in the world, it still wouldn’t be long enough to finish a project. That is the perfectionism in us.
What are the easiest and the most difficult aspects of the design process?
The easiest process is the designing part, the most difficult part is always looking back at certain finished projects thinking of ways it could have been improved.
You have such strong children’s designs. From ice cream to fire hydrants to guitars to lacey bibs, you always come up with interesting themes—where do you go for all those ideas?
Like I had mentioned earlier, I make word lists. These help me broaden my range of thinking towards a particular project. Children’s designs are my comfort zone and I love illustrating so it comes to me naturally.
I know you also do lots of fun toy and packaging designs—how is this similar or dissimilar from card design?
It’s similar in the way that I brainstorm and sketch, but different because there are elements in children’s package design that are otherwise challenging. There are a lot of regulations and rules that have to be followed such as age grade information, warnings and package structure. These issues all effect (and sometimes create barriers) to my design process.
Favorite color? Or favorite color right now?
I would normally say my favorite color is teal, however I’ve been starting to have feelings for grass green lately (that could be winter’s cabin fever dictating, I don’t know).
Out of all my fancy pens and pencils, I still always reach for a good ol’ #2 pencil.
Although I have many sketchbooks, I always reach for my tracing paper. It allows me to sketch over sketches.
Tell us about one of your favorite cards offered for sale on Minted and how you came up with the design.
My favorite is “Home Tweet Home”. It originally started off as a Christmas pattern that I was working on and I soon altered the design and colors to fit a general pattern theme. It’s very folk art and gives me that warm and cozy feeling.
What was your favorite Minted design challenge and why?
I definitely loved the Valentine’s Challenge! I really loved creating illustrations geared towards children.
What are the places in Newubryport that you would recommend a visitor check out?
Oldies Marketplace is a great little antiques mall. I find so many inspiring things there from furniture to vintage concert posters. Chameleon is a great little shop full of a plethora of art and design. They sell everything from handmade jewelry to trendy little kitchen magnets. It’s a great place to buy handmade treasures from local artisans. Lastly you have to visit Plum Island. It’s part of Newburyport and is the essence of coastal New England life.
Where do you go for design inspiration?
Portsmouth, NH has some great little shops in town that always get the ideas flowing. Boston is also a great place to go for inspiration. New York City is by far the best. ABC Carpet & Home on 888 & 881 broadway is my favorite. I just love the mix of textures! I also look towards music to create inspiration in my designs and illustrations. My top musical picks are Imogen Heap (British), St Vincent (American) & Sia (Australian).
Where do you like to shop? What are your favorite stores?
I love antique and thrift shops. I guess I’m always on the hunt for something rare and inspiring. I found some 60s vintage wrapping paper with sensational children’s illustrations for a quarter and it was still in it’s original packaging! It’s now posted on my corkboard of inspiration along side an owl plate from Chameleon.
What are your favorite online design sites and blogs?
Printandpattern.blogspot, orangeyoulucky.blogspot (Helen Dardik – illustrative genius), thedieline.com, frenchpaper.com (brilliant papers and printing treatments!) I have a few french paper company prints framed in my home. (see pic)
What designers do you really admire?
I am in love with the illustrative styles of Helen Dardik, Tad Carpenter and Kate Sutton. Helen Dardik has a very distinct illustrative style and fabulous color palettes. Tad Carpenter creates wonderful little character illustrations but also has a great sense of composition. I just adore the line quality in Kate Sutton’s work!
Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
Usually tropical places. This year is Puerto Rico in April, I can’t wait to take photos of Old San Juan!
What can’t you travel without?
My camera, it’s my back-up visual memory!
Do you have any hobbies of note?
I do some sewing. I make small little plush critters. Recently I purchased a woodburning tool and hope to create some unique art with that. I’ve also bought all the supplies I need to paint some kokeshi dolls. So much to do, so little time!
What can’t you live without?
Electricity – just recently lost it due to a severe wind storm here. I was helpless. I need it to power all my technology.
Biggest self indulgence?
Buying blind box items, like Dunnies figures (with designers like Tad Carpenter & Amanda Visell). It’s silly, but I always like the surprise of not knowing what I’m getting!
What was the last book you read?
Read? I’m a designer, I look at the pictures. ha!
What piece of art would you most like to own?
A few years ago I got to see the The Hallucinogenic Toreador by Salvador Dali at the MET. It was stunning! It was much larger a painting than I had originally thought.
What advice would you give a new designer?
Always ask questions, you’re never too experienced to learn.