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Marian Bantjes | Jessica Hische | Dana Tanamachi | Adelle Charles | Susie Ghahremani

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Female Graphic Designers Talking aph TalkingGraphics G Graphics Graphic Talking Graphics


Talking aph TalkingGraphics G Graphics Graphic Talking Graphics

Marian Bantjes


Jessica Hische


Dana Tanamachi


Adelle Charles


Susie Ghahremani 17 VIU is a graphic design magazine, where all types of designers talk about what we do best: Graphics. The idea of an interview magazine starts within the need of inspiration for many designers and students, design is until this day a topic that only a few people can understand and even though there are many sources with information this magazines offers you the view behind all those works we are used to see, so the need of information is pretty big. We offer you the information from known and succesful designers from all over the world, our goal is to keep you inform of the trends, materials, programs and all the tools that will make you a great graphic designer.

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Female Graphic Designers Talking aph TalkingGraphics G Graphics Graphic Talking Graphics


Marian Bantjes

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Tell us a bit about yourself. Marian: I started out about 23 years ago, working at a publishing company, and I did 10 years as a book typesetter, so I have a very strong grounding in typography. After that, I had my own design company with a partner for 9 years. During that time, I did what I call “straight-up graphic design.” The kind of graphic design that the majority of people do – brochures, catalogs, logos, all that crap.Three years ago, I gave all that up and started doing this more arty thing. Basically, it’s got a lot more of my own personal involvement in the work. I have a very strong kind of look and style, and what people are buying is essentially a piece of me, my own personality.

How do you approach the creation of a unique type treatment? Female Graphic Designers Talking aph TalkingGraphics G Graphics Graphic Talking Graphics


Marian: There is a certain amount of analysis, if you will, in the work I do. Somebody will have a title or something, and I’ll take a look at what letters are in those words and what kinds of things I can make out of them – if there are common letters or two words with common letters that I can play off of. Basically looking at the letterforms as a visual toolbox.After that, I start drawing. I usually work with graph paper when I’m working with letterforms – they tend to have a fairly geometric look. From there, who knows what’s going to happen.

What are your thoughts on current type design and what’s happening in fonts and custom work? Marian: I’ve been really impressed with what’s happening in fonts. There’s some great stuff coming out. People are paying a lot more attention to craft than they were 10 years ago – there’s a resurgence in the interest of how well the letterform is crafted and how well the font is put together.In terms of custom work, though, I see very little of it, and mostly just see people using typefaces, and often at the wrong time. It

makes me crazy when someone does something that should be a custom piece of type and they just set it in a font. They don’t bother, if there are two e’s, to change one of them. Even when I see custom type, it’s usually not very well crafted.

What draws you to write about design through forums such as Speak Up? Marian: That is how I know I don’t hate graphic design. For one thing, I really enjoy writing. I’m also trying to give some kind of unusual perspective on something, to get people to look at things a little differently. To write from a perspective that will make them go “Oh, I never really thought like that before,” and if I can make them laugh at the same time, then I’m laughing. Trying to get a bit of humor in there is high on my agenda … Sometimes I make them mad, which is good, too.

You recently took a class with Milton Glaser. Tell us about that experience.

Marian:I can’t tell you a lot because those who take the class are sworn to secrecy. That’s the truth. It is a very remarkable course, and if you knew what happened, it would be spoiled to you forever. I will say it was the experience of a lifetime. Milton was absolutely incredible. I sat five feet away from him for six hours a day for five days and watched him move and talk and talked to him. I wish he wasn’t married and 77 years old because I would marry him in an instant.

How does your location affect your ability to get clients from major centers? Marian: In terms of getting work, the age of telecommuting has grown up. Almost all my clients are in the United States, and a couple are in Britain. I have essentially no local clients. In a way, I could say I’m unaffected by the fact that I’m living in the middle of nowhere, but in reality, if I were living in New York, I think I would be getting a lot more work. So it’s a funny thing. I’m able to survive, I’m able to reach people. A lot of people know about me, and once they find out about me, the fact that I live in the middle of nowhere is not of much concern.

What is your process when starting a project? Marian: I start by thinking and then drawing. I draw in pencil and often use graph paper – I have quite a bit of structure in my work. Even though it’s very organic and free flowing, there is structure inherent in it. Having worked with books and book typography, that’s a structured environment, and I think that influences me a lot. I’m always very aware of alignment and a perfection of curve. The graph paper helps me with that.I’ll draw and then I’ll scan and then I’ll bring it into the computer and either adjust or, if I’m making a pattern, I’ll start patterning, tiling units in the computer. Then I’ll print it out and re-draw it, making adjustments. This goes back and forth between drawing, scanning, adjusting, printing, until I’m ready to go to final. I’m either going to end up in vector art or have something that’s hand-drawn. If I’m going to final by hand, I’ll usually put it on the light table and trace it. If I’m doing something by hand, I’m doing something that’s very detailed that I can’t be bothered to do in Illustrator, so I’m probably tracing something that’s quite rough and then adding all the details. If I’m doing it in vector art, my drawing is usually absolutely ready to be traced. I never ever ever auto-trace. I always trace. Bézier curve by Bézier curve, and then adjust everything obsessively.

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What differentiates art and design? Marian: I had a little argument with Milton about this. To me, and Milton disagrees, art is very closely related to obsession. If you’re obsessed with something and you do it obsessively, it’s art. I guess I have to qualify that. If you obsessively arrange the soup cans in your cupboard, it’s not art.Design doesn’t have that obsession. Design is colder. It’s not that people aren’t passionate in design – they can be passitonate about it and believe in it and be totally into what they’re doing. But it doesn’t have that obsessive edge. It’s commercially driven. Obviously art is often commercially driven. I think that if the artist is just doing it for the money, they’re not making art. They have to be obsessed with what they’re doing.

Where do you turn when you have no ideas? Marian: I don’t really turn anywhere. I’m not one to flip through books looking for reference material. When I have no ideas, I usually just suffer and cry. I go for walks, I take a bath, I go to sleep. I’m frequently lucky enough to wake up in the morning with the idea. It’s not that I don’t get stuck. When I did the cover and interior for PRINT magazine, I had a massive case of stage fright and completely freaked out and spent quite a bit of time crying and banging my head on the floor, which doesn’t really help. My biggest problem is trying to make things make sense. Trying not to just do something in a style but to come up with something that has some form of logic underneath it. That’s a matter of thinking about what it is I’m working on and trying to make some sort of relationship between that and an idea.

What do you do to stay creative? Marian: I like art. I get a lot out of contemporary art and art of all kinds. To stay creative, I look at books of art, and when I go to New York, I go to contemporary art galleries and look at museums and stuff like that.Anything, really, can trigger me. It’s just a matter of looking around and seeing stuff. Looking at signage or whatever. It helps to be in an unfamiliar environment. If I’m in London or New York, I’m totally fired up all the time. When I’m at home, I have to rely on books. I don’t flip through books looking for ideas, but quite often I’ll be looking at something that’s not particularly related to what I’m doing – it might be photography or painting – but it will make me think of something.


Can design be taught in school? Marian: I absolutely think it can be taught in school. But, by and large, it is taught incorrectly. The emphasis on conceptualizing over skill is perhaps misguided. It’s not that I think there’s no room for teaching people how to conceptualize, it’s just that there’s too much emphasis on that. I really think there is a big lack of teaching logical thinking. When you think of how much of design is figuring out what is the most logical way to get from point A to point B, whether that is setting up the structures of subheadings in a multi-page document or way-finding signage or navigating a web site. I never see that being taught. I never see anybody talking about it, and there’s an unbelievable lack of it in our graphic society. There’s so much dysfunctional shit out there. That’s definitely something that should be taught – the world would be a better place.

What experiences in design have been the most educational? Marian: I’m going to say teaching. Before I started teaching typography, I had to cram because there was a lot of stuff I didn’t know. I knew a lot about how to use type, but I knew very little about the origins and the history of type. Being with the students and seeing how they learned and what was enjoyable and what kinds of things they came up with was hugely educational and inspiring. For myself, based on what I was teaching them, I started to re-examine my own work and became a lot stricter with it by looking at it and thinking, “Well, marks off for that.”

What’s been your biggest failure? Marian: It would have to be the nine years I spent with my former company doing straightup graphic design. I did learn a lot from it, but it essentially killed my interest in graphic design. It stole many years of artistic freedom from me. It destroyed a good friendship. And I produced, I think, absolutely nothing material that was worthwhile or worth keeping.

What role does design have in society? How important is it? Marian: You’re catching me at a time when I’ve become extremely lenient in my aesthetic taste. I know there are a lot of designers who feel they’re fighting some sort of good fight to win the battle against ugliness and eradicate all the really horrible stuff we see. That horrible stuff is proliferating at an exponential rate as more and more people

take design into their own hands and create their own flyers and menus and signage.I’ve started to kind of like it. I’ve started to shrug my shoulders and say, “Eh. It does its job. It tells me that this plumber is at this address or that this stupid little store is having a sale.” So I no longer have this kind of abhorrence of this really ugly shit that’s floating around out there. From an aesthetic sense, in a way I don’t really think design matters. Sure, there’s a place for it. If you’ve got a fancy store, it takes a lot of skill to get that message across. You can’t do it in Comic Sans. From an in-the-trenches perspective – and I say this somewhat reluctantly because I feel like a total traitor – people can just do it themselves. But I’m going to go back to that thing I said about logic. I really think that’s where design matters the most. In structuring information in such a way that people can understand it, and it’s the one area that most designers have the least skill in.

Marian: I really want to get involved in architecture, and I really want to get involved in stage design, and sculptural kinds of things. Even motion graphics, though I would have to partner with somebody on that. I will never in my lifetime have time to learn motion graphics.I’m really hoping to get off the printed page. Not forever – I love print and I love making printed things – but I do want to get into more of a three-dimensional, ethereal environment and do things that are more permanent. That’s my hope and my little dream, so we

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

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can be optimistic and say I see that in my future.

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What inspired you to get into design? I always knew I wanted to go to art school, in fact I transferred high schools in order to take more art classes. When I applied to school I thought I would be a painter or a sculptor—anything but a graphic designer—mostly because I didn’t really know what graphic design was. When I was in college I took a lot of electives in different art areas, always thinking I would end up majoring in that discipline. I loved glass, I loved wood-working, I loved painting/drawing, then I took a design class. I really loved the idea of having a problem to solve, of having limits and of having to communicate clearly what I (or the client) was trying to say. I liked how in design you were solving problems, that there were rules to follow, that the point was for people to GET what you were trying to communicate (unlike in fine art, where if people get it right away, you’re probably doing something wrong). I would procrastinate from all of my other work by working on design projects (I think a good way to figure out your passions are to look at what you do when you’re procrastinating from everything else). When there was an assignment for a single poster I would do five. I just couldn’t get enough of it.

How has your work evolved since you were a student? I think overall my work has become more sophisticated. The faces and people I used to draw were much more stylized and whimsical, I think now my figures are still fun but feel more thought out. My type has gotten IMMENSELY better. Type is a skill that you can only improve on with a lot of practice. Drawing it day in and day out for three years has had a massive impact on my type work.

How do you work? What is your process?

Jessica Hische

Almost everything I make is made in Adobe Illustrator. All the work is done in Illus-

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trator, even adding textures and whatnot. When I send finals to clients I send tiffs, because the files are usually too complex to hand over as is. For illustration work, I do sketches first which are REALLY rough and mostly to communicate ideas rather than a direct composition interpretation. For type I usually don’t do sketches unless absolutely necessary as most of my experimentation happens on the computer. I don’t use any fancy tricks or even a wacom tablet (I hold a pen like a child holds a crayon (in a tight fist that will only catalyze the carpal tunnel)). I use the pen tool to draw all of my type and don’t use any magic tool to make my curves. I usually work with the grid on at first, starting with a single weight line and then adding thickness or ornament later depending on what I’m trying to achieve. I make general decisions at the beginning to figure out what kind of type I want to draw (a script? slanted or upright? thick or thin? sans serif? retro feeling or more modern feeling?) and then add decoration / ornamentation after the “skeleton” is drawn.

Why did you start drawing type? Really, out of necessity. I was broke in college and couldn’t afford to go on an awesome font spending spree and didn’t have the time to pour through the free font sites for something actually worth using. I noticed in school that my hand drawn type would make the project feel more cohesive and special, so I tried to make custom type as much as possible for projects. Now, almost everything I make has hand-lettering in it. One major disadvantage to being good at hand-lettering is that I am TERRIBLE at picking out fonts for projects. Every time I’ve needed a crazy display font for something, I’ve just made it myself because it takes me less time to make it than it does to scour the internet for something good. Don’t ask me to recommend a similar font to anything I’ve made, I won’t know what to tell you and then I’ll feel like a lame designer.

How long does it take you to make things? Really depends on the project. Ribbon type takes FOREVER compared to other kinds of work, but for the most part I’m pretty quick. Sometimes it takes me just an hour or two to do things, other times it takes a few days.

What advice do you have for people that want to draw type? If you want to be a good type designer, you have to make as much of it as possible and look at as much of it as possible. Buy old type books (if you

can find them). Buy art history books about vintage type (Euro Deco is one I’ll always recommend — tons of great examples). Practice, practice, practice. If you have the patience to keep plugging along at it, you’ll be great in no time, I swear.

What are some of your inspirations? I worked for Louise Fili for two and a half years, she has definitely had the biggest impact on my work. Her collection of random vintage type ephemera is astounding. I read design blogs and look at images online a lot. I love vintage packaging. I like silly roll-your-eyes-ish jokes. I love talking to strangers. I love interior design and vintage/retro furniture design. I’m inspired by other designers and illustrators all the time, by their motivation and by their great work.

What other designers / illustrators inspire you? So many its hard to say. I have a major design crush on Marion Bantjes and a brain/concept crush on Christoph Niemann (you should reread the illustrated article he did for Print a few years back (2005? 2006?) on being an illustrator). I have a really talented group of friends that also keep my motivation high. I see work every day on sites like ffffound, the dieline, etc. that makes me seethe with jealousy. Envy can be a big motivator.

How do you chose your colors? If you saw my apartment, you would see that all the colors I use in my work are really just colors that I like. I love warm colors. I don’t really like the color purple. I am coming around to blue (aside from warmish robin’s egg blues which I LOVE). If I could put red/orange in everything I make I would.

I was exhausted, and starting to feel burnt out from work. I wanted to go fully freelance before I was so burnt out that I lost motivation to work. Also around the time I left people started mislabeling my freelance work as being Louise’s work, and I thought that it was probably the right time to branch out on my own.

What’s the biggest change you have noticed since recently making the move from full time employment to freelance designer? The main change for me has been managing my time and emails. Since I launched my Daily Drop Cap site, I get an enormous amount of emails, especially from students wanting to do interviews. I try to answer them all, but it can take me days or a week or two to respond to some of them. When you get between 4 and 10 interview requests a week, it can get a bit daunting. I end up having to spend probably 4-8 hours a week answering emails.

Do you think that people/clients value the craft of creating letters? At first some don’t, they try to get the effect they want by manipulating fonts themselves, but in the end you can only get true customization by hiring someone like myself to make it really work perfectly for the project. Sometimes after clients try to do it themselves, they’ll hire me and tell me to work from what they have but make it “better” or “make it work”.

Do you think that there will be a hand-lettering backlash because of Which do you like best, design, il- how popular it is right now? I think certain kinds of hand-lettering will evenlustration or typography? Definitely typography. I don’t even know why I love it so much, it’s just a really enjoyable process for me. I like to keep a good mix of design, illustration, and type. I think I would lose my mind if i had to do only one for the rest of my life. I do like to consider myself a designer/illustrator rather than an illustrator/designer. I think if people know design is your strong suit they trust you a bit more on things like book covers. A lot of illustrators are savvy about type and what fonts would look good with their work, but art directors can be a little slow to trust artists that don’t have a strong design background.

tually fall out of favor. I think anytime you are making something that is very current or trendy feeling, it will eventually fall out of favor because people will get tired of looking at it. I think incorporating vintage type in a subtle way is a good way to avoid making things that are too trendy. My goal is always to make something that feels a bit more timeless. I don’t want my type to feel to feel dated in 10 years like much of the grungy type from the 90s feels now.

What is the biggest frustration you encounter when creating your How did you know when the right work? The thing that frustrates me most is when clients time was to go freelance?

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someone that you are the one perfect for their project can be a challenge. When working on design projects, you sometimes have more freedom to experiment. It’s not about a style, it’s about doing what is right for the assignment. If someone saw my illustration portfolio, they wouldn’t think “let’s hire this girl that works in vector to What do you feel is the most punch the type out of metal with a hammer and nail”, I would love to do that, and am capable of challenging part of being a it, but because illustration is based on mostly on designer/illustrator? maintaining a style, I won’t get a call to do that I think pushing yourself to experiment can anytime soon. be really challenging. Once you are good at doing a certain thing, you fall back on it, instead of moving forward and trying What is your main priority when new things. You should be always chal- starting design projects? lenging yourself to do new things or at The main concern should always be “is this apleast to push the envelope a little bit. If propriate for the project/client”. Because I’m a deyou don’t, it can be really hard to stay signer and illustrator, people hire me looking for motivated. Time management and keep- a specific style, but I think to be a true designer ing a good schedule is also very challeng- you must be adaptable to any project. If a client ing. When you work for yourself, it can be comes to you with an identity for a restaurant you tough to not procrastinate or to spend too wouldn’t solve it the same way you did for a book much time on one thing and not enough cover. I think sometimes people lose site of this on another. It’s important to be really or- and the style becomes more important than the ganized, to have a calendar of all of your message. We’re designers, of course we want to deadlines, to only reply to emails at cer- make things pretty, but if it isn’t right for the job it tain times of the day, and to keep a master doesn’t matter how fancy you make it. list of jobs you are working on, what projects are in what stage, what needs to be What is it like to be a young invoiced, who needs a quote, etc. This is designer/illustrator in the busithe stuff you aren’t taught in school, and b e is not second nature to many people (in- ness? Do you think cluding me), but if you don’t stay on top ing young has of this stuff, it can really impact your work helped or in a bad way. are very picky about things that do not matter in an illustration. There are certain changes that I understand, but when some minute background element has to move ever so slightly for no reason whatsoever it frustrates me to no end.

far in your career? You get a lot of attention for being young and talented. There are a few competitions geared toward designers under 30 like ADC’s Young Guns competition and Print’s New Visual Artist competition. I think in the beginning, being young can be hard. Clients want cheap prices if they know how young you are, so at first it is good to disguise your age if you are doing freelance work. Once you get some momentum though and a reputation, everyone loves how young you are because you are an “it” person. Clients feel good for hiring someone that is in demand.

What advice do you have for a young illustrator or graphic designer? When you’re not doing client work, do a lot of personal work. It takes a lot of practice

hurt you How are design clients and il- s o lustration clients different? Illustration / hand-lettering clients are far different to work with than design clients, I find that I have to sell myself less—usually by the time people come to you for work they know they want to work with you. With design you have to sell yourself as much as your ideas. There are just so many good designers (and unfortunately good designers that will work for cheap!), so convincing

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and exp l o ra tion to be a great designer, so do it in any way possible. When looking for a day job, decide what is important to you. Jobs at big places or advertising firms tend to pay better but the work is less creative. Jobs at small studios pay less (much less sometimes) but the work can be really creative and rewarding. Plan ahead. think of the kind of work you want to be doing and try to find the most direct path to that.


What is the design/illustration scene like in

here, b u t it can be harder to stand out as a young designer for that reason too.

How has internet exposure helped promote your work? Internet exposure has helped immensely. I get a ton of emails from clients that have found my work on design blogs or have been passed my site from a friend or co-worker. The only downside to a lot of internet exposure is that you get a ton of requests for work from people that want a logo for $200.


Are you a serif or a sans-serif kinda girl? Hard to say, I think generally sans-serif. Everything I draw starts as sans-serif and then I decide later if I want to make it have serifs.

What’s your opinion on Ikea changing their font to Verdana? Do you think everyone has the right to be hyped up about it? I’m not a huge Verdana fan, so I was a bit bummed about it. I understand their reasoning behind it (wanting to be consistent across web and print media), but it’s generally accepted that you’ll be more limited on the web than in print in terms of type. That would be like saying “I can’t use this awesome hand-lettered word in my logo because I can’t get the font to work online”. That sort of thinking would really limit designers.

Why do you think people get so Why do you think Helvetica has passionate about fonts and typogsuch a cult following? raphy? To be honest, I have no idea. I think it’s a boring

I think people generally love language, words, phrases, and quotes so to see a great word illustrated appropriately typographically can be beautiful. Illustrated type is a very accessible kind of art. People with no background in art or design can look at a really beautifully drawn word and appreciate it and you don’t have to be on some higher cerebral plane to get the meaning of it. I think designers get passionate about fonts because to be an “expert” in font use and recognition makes them feel as though they are “expert” designers. But like anything, just because you What’s the best and worst thing have the knowledge doesn’t mean you can apply it perfectly in every context. In my opinion, the about being a graphic designer in really great designers are ones who have a good Brooklyn? working knowledge of fonts (but maybe aren’t The best thing is that there is so much to do. a walking font encyclopedia), and are really just There is always a design or illustration event to good at using what they know appropriately for go to and you’ll always run into people you know each project. there. It feels almost small-town-ish, in that I can show up to an event alone and know that there What fonts do you like? will be someone there that I know and can talk I have short love affairs with certain fonts, most to. It’s pretty hard to say what the worst thing is, of them coming out of H&FJ. I had a torrid afbecause I feel like this city is the perfect place to fair with Archer a few months back. I can’t stop be a designer or illustrator. Because there are so using Gotham on everything I make (for the tiny many designers here, the competition for work is type that isn’t worth hand-lettering). I also love very high, which can be great if you work for your- Coquette, though it can be a little funky. The numself or if you have enough chops to get a good job The art scene for each discipline is fairly tight knit. Illustrators tend to hang out with illustrators, designers with designers. The American Illustration party and Society of Illustrators parties make it easy to run into other illustrators and get to know other people in the city. Design is a bit different because it is more diverse. The advertising scene is very different from the boutiquey design scene. There are events for everyone.

bers are GREAT. Bulmer is a great text type which has an AWESOME italic. Neutraface’s italic is really good too.

font. It definitely is a very useful font, but not worthy of its cult status. Helvetica is great if you want the type to not be the focus of whatever you’re working on. It becomes invisible because we’re so used to seeing it, which is great for things like information graphics where the information is the most important part and if the type had personality it would take you that half second longer to absorb the information. I also think it’s relatively difficult to work with. It’s hard to make Helvetica look really good. The lighter weights are nice and elegant and the thickest weights can be nice for their boldness but everything in between is just too vanilla for my taste.

How does type affect your everyday experience? I have a theory that my process for drawing type has affected my memory negatively. I work in a sort of stream of conscious way when it comes to type, only making general decisions up front and letting the type kind of evolve as I go, and I think not having to consciously queue up “inspirations” as I go along is slowly destroying my short term memory.

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Dana Tanamachi

How would you describe your work in three words? Handmade, ephemeral, nostalgic.

Who is your creative role model? My Grandmother, Mitsuye “Mitzi” Tanamachi. Though she’s pint-sized, she packs a mighty creative punch. She learned to sew and make patterns in the Japanese-American internment camps during WWII. She used to create beautiful shoes, purses and garments with what little materials were available. These days, she sews, hand-embroiders and beads stunning Christmas stockings for each family member. Her patience and attention to detail are astounding. Everything she makes, she makes with love.

makes me think there’d be more time and energy for creative endeavors. Could be totally false, but it’s hard to resist the thought when you’re in the thick of winter in NYC!

If you could do a different job for a day what would it be and why? I would love to be a country western singer for a day—belting out old honky tonk tunes backed by a pedal steel guitar and fiddle; watching couples two-step all around the dance floor. Being a Texan through and through, country music is food for my soul. I’d love to step in to those boots if only for a day.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Progress, not perfection. To me, this is a reminder to remain teachable, humble and to take steps toward a goal instead of burning out or being crushed under the weight of immediate perfection. And it applies to all areas of life.

What websites do you use for inspiration? Etsy, CRAFT, Eric Ryan Anderson, Kelsey Foster, Jeff Rogers, Paper Parasol Press, Rifle Paper Co., Twigs & Honey, The Sign Painter Movie Blog.

What is your favorite homef you had an extra hour each day made gift to give? When do you consider a piece Hand-embroidered monograms inside tiny what would you do with it? wooden embroidery hoops. Or anything of your work complete? Rest and celebrate more.

made from felted wool.

What place in the world most What is your favorite object in your home? inspires you and why? Sunny Southern California. I find myself daydreaming about riding a bike along the Santa Monica pier or driving up the Pacific Coast Highway for a day-hike in the Malibu hills. Something about the slower pace and abundant sunshine

After I’ve inhaled a solid amount of chalk dust and my black hair turns to a dusty charcoal.

A big, (artificial) potted Aspen tree with white/translucent leaves that seem to glow when the light is just right in my living room.

13 Female Graphic Designers Talking aph TalkingGraphics G Graphics Graphic Talking Graphics

Adelle Charles

Hi Adelle, can you please are you self-taught? What’s your incorporating the two more and have been working on a site design ( hopetell our readers a little background and how did you get fully set to launch by January – maybe sooner. about yourself, where started? I received my BFA in graphic design in you’re from, what you do? Adelle: Please tell us, what are the tools 2001 from Rochester Institute of Technology. Adelle: I am 28 and am currently While growing up I loved drawing and painting you simply couldn’t live without? the Art Director for the CBS & FOX and when I discovered computers and the Inter- (software, web-app, etc…) affiliates here in Rochester, New York. I have been working in the Broadcast field for just over 5 years now but I started out working for an Ad agency in this area doing mostly print /web work right out of college. I also taught Graphic Design for a few semesters at a local college in Rochester. I also do some freelancing at night and on the weekends. I have known most of my freelance clients for a while or I have met them through interviews or referrals.

Have you studied anything in particular or

Female Graphic Designers Talking aph TalkingGraphics G Graphics Graphic Talking Graphics

net, my interest in designing took off. I knew I’d always do something creative since I can’t do math to save my life :)

You have your own portfolio site (, did blogging on Fuel Your Creativity helped you get new clients? How did blogging helped your design business? Adelle: Funny that you ask that – I have been thinking about that for a little while. When Fuel Your Creativity started out about 6 months ago, I had no intention of ever mixing my portfolio with my blog. The main purpose of my blog was to help others “fuel their creativity” and engage with other creatives in the community, to network and to get my name out there as a blogger. I never thought twice about getting my name out as a “designer“. Strange as it may seem! I’ve been thinking about


Adelle: Graphics: Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator CMS: Wordpress Invoicing: Invoice Journal + Paypal Organization: iCal, Evernote and gmail Sketching, Brainstorming and To Do’s: Pen and my moleskine notebooks! My Writer/Editor: Michelle Krasniak – Seriously I’d be lost without her!

What would be your single best tip for people looking into a graphic design career? Adelle: Sketch everything! I was never really big into sketching my ideas out before going to the computer. I wish I had done more of that in college to further the brainstorming process. Until recently I was still going straight to the computer and now I make myself sketch out ideas even if

they are as simple as wire-framing and text.

Do you have any idols or mentors in the graphic design field? People you look up to and that inspire you, who are they and why do you like them and their work? Adelle: Collis Ta’eed – I really love what Collis has done with all of his sites, especially and, he always seems to have big projects in the works for and I admire his entrepreneurship. Chuck Anderson – ( He really inspires me to get more into mixed medias in design. Mixing photography, illustrations and Photoshop seem to be the current trend in design. Jeff Finley – Been reading a lot about him lately and I’m now hooked on his blog (gomediazine. com). His website and company are kick-ass and I love what they are doing. Go Media has branched out and offers design help via Twitter, which is totally insane and awesome at the same time!

You already have over 8 years of design experience, but where do you see yourself in, let’s say another 5 years from now? Do you have some sort of exit strategy, or you can see yourself designing and working in this field for years to come? Adelle: My plan is to freelance, consult & blog from my own office wherever I choose to live. I’ve always wanted to move to Toronto but I just bought a house a year and a half ago and I’m in love with it! I don’t have an exit strategy for design because I love it, but I *may* have an exit strategy for my current situation.

The infamous question: Mac or PC? Adelle: Definitely Mac! Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now the question I have to ask everyone I interview: What’s in your iPod? :) Adelle: Well I’ve ditched the iPod for an iPhone and am totally infatuated with it! Currently I have a few movies, The Departed, American Gangster & of course some chick flicks :) How to Lose a Guy in 10 days & Serendipity. 

I also listen to so many different genres of music but to name a few of my

current favorites…Citizen Cope, Gym Class Heroes, Danity Kane, Rachel Yamagata, Sia & Madonna. Yeah I know – random!

Thank you so much Adelle or taking the time to do this interview, really appreciated!:) Adelle: Jon, thanks so much for asking me to be a part of an interview on Freelance Folder! I have been an avid fan of your blog since you started it.

15 Female Graphic Designers Talking aph TalkingGraphics G Graphics Graphic Talking Graphics

Female Graphic Designers Talking aph TalkingGraphics G Graphics Graphic Talking Graphics


Susie Ghahremani

When, and how, did you plies, paintings and shipping materials, there’s first decide you wanted hardly room for a person in there to be an illustrator and What is a typical working day like for artist? you? I’ve always been creative, and I’ve always drawn/painted, but it wasn’t until the college application process that I realized there was nothing I would rather do in life. Before the college application process, I never felt challenged into making a decision that would affect the rest of my life like that!

Where did you study, and what is your art background? I studied at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and earned my BA in Illustration. In my youth, I also formally trained at Interlochen in Michigan in drawing.

What inspires you the most? Nature never ceases to amaze me with its complexity, sweetness, patterns and colors. I find constant inspiration from the outdoors. I also find a lot of inspiration in my own memory – moments I remember from childhood, fascinations of my youth, e

What is your studio space like? It’s overflowing! I work from a studio space here in my home. Between the t-shirts, paper goods and all the other products I create and sell, and all my paint sup-

Female Graphic Designers Talking aph TalkingGraphics G Graphics Graphic Talking Graphics

My work days vary tremendously based on the project I’m working on at the moment. For example, if I’m working on an art show, I’ll spend the entire day painting and preparing for that. If I’m working on an illustration project for a magazine or publisher, I might be scanning and photoshopping a final painting throughout the day in between returning client emails and faxing contracts. If I’m shipping orders to my customers, I might be writing notes and sending emails and packing goodies

into envelopes… Some days I spend the whole day just trying to catch up with email, other days working entirely in my sketchbook. Every day is different, which is part of what I love about my life as an artist Most days involve a good dose of caffeine in the morning and some combination of the activities above…I usually spend about 15 hours a day at work!


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How do you approach each new project? I like to treat each project as a problem that I can solve! It becomes a sort of game for me…understand- ing the limitations and parameters, and then brainstorming how to best make use of those constraints. Coming up with new ideas is one of my favorite parts of being an artist.

Which projects are you most proud of? My Bon Voyage Travel Journal is something I’m most proud of. It’s an idea I had while on my honeymoon last year, and I spent the following months creating the artwork for it. It came together exactly as I dreamed it would, and I’m so proud of the end result. I’m also very proud of solo art shows I’ve had, such as “The Wild Life” in Los Angeles in 2008. It’s a lot of fun and work bringing so much art conceptually together in one room for an event, and installation requires so much planning that it’s a thrill when it all works out.

Are you planning any more collaborations with Chronicle and/or Ipop in the future? Yes! I have a pocket agenda for 2012 with Chronicle due for release later this summer, and I’m so excited about it! It’s called the Clockwork Agenda. I just released a new magnet collection with iPop as well! I love working with both Chronicle and iPop & hope to continue growing my collection with them both!

Female Graphic Designers Talking aph TalkingGraphics G Graphics Graphic Talking Graphics


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