Updated: May 6, 2020
This week we are featuring a very talented designer, illustrator, and lettering artist based in Dallas, TX, Jessica Molina! We asked Jessica to tell us about herself and this is what she had to say:
I am a lettering artist, illustrator, and designer in Dallas, Texas. My work is a combination of traditional analog and digital illustration, which allows me to create 100% custom artwork for my clients. I create work in both print and digital spaces, and I am known for my bright color palettes, bold letter forms, and sassy and sarcastic artwork.
We also asked her a few questions, and here are her answers:
How did you get into illustrating and lettering?
I remember being a little kid and learning cursive letters for the first time. I became obsessed with copying my teacher’s gorgeous writing, and eventually I had the best handwriting in class. I guess you can say lettering and typography are things I’ve always been curious about; I just had no idea it was possible to make a living out of creating letters by hand until a few years ago.
My journey as a designer and lettering artist started pretty unconventionally. I graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in architecture. After I graduated, I was unsure if I wanted to continue with architecture. While searching for a job, I taught myself how to use design programs with online tutorials, and I started doing freelance projects to make some money. Eventually, I got a job at a small family-owned billboard advertising firm, and that was the beginning of my career as a graphic designer.
I began dabbling in hand lettering a couple of years later after seeing some of legendary lettering artist Jessica Hische’s work online. I taught myself the basics of lettering with more online tutorials and lettering challenges. Fast forward a few years, and I have started a side business of lettering and illustration apart from my full-time graphic design job. My goal is to eventually leave the corporate world behind and run my lettering business full-time.
What/Who inspires you?
As I mentioned before, Jessica Hische is probably my biggest inspiration from the lettering world. I found her work early on in my career, and my mind was blown. Everything she created was so precise, so feminine, and so beautiful. It was the perfect combination of everything I wanted my design work to be. My mind was blown, and that was the first time it occurred to me that I could carve out my career doing something I truly loved.
Generally speaking, I always find myself inspired by the stories of people who take big risks with something they’re passionate about. This could be as small as starting a business or as big as discovering something the world has never seen before. Like most creatives, I spend way too much time doubting myself and making excuses not to take risks; stories like these inspire me to trust myself more and have confidence in my decisions.
Can you describe your creative process?
Since I specialize in lettering, everything starts with a word or a phrase; this is the most important part of anything I create. For my work, I often tap into my most sarcastic, humorous, cheeky side by brainstorming unique phrases that fit the project I’m working on (and hopefully make people laugh). From there, I sketch a series of thumbnails to get an idea of the layout of the words and/or illustrations. I then sketch out some letter styles and perhaps do some research on similar fonts to the styles I’m considering using. After that, I begin the process of sketching out the piece to scale, usually digitally on my iPad. I sketch multiple layers (as you would with tracing paper), refining the entire piece on each new sketch. Once the letter forms and illustrations are finalized, I choose the color scheme and add textures to finish the entire piece.
On a much broader level, my creative process isn’t as refined as I would like. However, I recently finished reading The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry, and I can’t wait to implement many of his strategies into my creative process. Henry advocates for building structure into your life to cultivate your creativity by intentionally scheduling time in your calendar for things like pure ideation, building beneficial relationships, creative “play,” and periodic check-ins on your goals and progress. Together, these practices can establish a consistent “creative rhythm” to stay inspired and to experience greater productivity.
What advice would you give someone that is starting out?
For anyone like me who has no real formal training in their respective art form, don’t let that stop you! It’s a small challenge that’s easy to overcome if you just do a little homework. I think being meticulously observant about other people’s work really helped catapult my own work from decent to good in a short amount of time. Seek out as many different typography and lettering sources as you can, and study them intently. Think about why certain pieces draw your attention and figure out what specifically you like about them. Download a bunch of different lettering and calligraphy practice sheets to help you learn how to physically form letters the way they're intended, and then draw them over and over again until you can draw them in your sleep. Hard work will get you far.
What is the best advice that you've been given?
This question always makes me smile because it’s so incredibly difficult to answer! I think the answer changes depending on the day, what’s on my mind, and what challenges there are in my life at the moment. Today, I think the answer is, “done is better than perfect.” As a recovering perfectionist, it’s often really difficult for me not to be too critical of my work. The reality is, “perfection” in art doesn’t exist; therefore, it’s futile to spend your energy trying to achieve it. Following through and finishing things (even if they’re not “perfect”) will ultimately get you much further in your creative expression.
Head over to instagram and follow Jessica at https://www.instagram.com/seejessletter/ to see more of her work!