I’m a doodler, designer and writer in Austin. I run a blog and a tiny studio (Chipper Things) comprised of my space heater and myself. I illustrate things like maps and books, and I also do brand identities. I prefer hand-lettering to not, and tea to coffee (I don’t like the smell of coffee, sorry.)
Central City, Iowa
Describe your path to art/ design:
I grew up as the art kid. In kindergarten I told my teacher I was going to write and illustrate books one day. In 2nd grade, I went to school an hour early to hang out with the pottery wheel. In 3rd grade I got my dad to help our class write a book to submit to a publisher. Spoiler: it was never published. In high school I showed up late everyday to math class with oil paint on my face and smelling like turpentine. I was on student council so I could make the dance posters (I later learned this was a bad strategy). It was no surprise that I went to Iowa State to study graphic design.
Who are your favorite designers or sources of inspiration?
I really like what Julia Rothman and Oliver Jeffers are up to. As far as old timey illustrators, I really look up to Mary Blair. If we’re looking for something older and darker, Aubrey Beardsley has amazing line work, patterns and detail.
I typically don’t look to the internet for inspiration unless I’m looking for something specific. If I was cool, I’d say it’s because “it’s all regurgitated.” But the truth is that it’s just information overload. For conceptual projects, I’m more inspired by people and experiences than screens or design books. After my improv class, I’d come home and just draw with crayons for hours.
What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in design?
Infuse personality into your work as much as you can while you can. If you work really hard, eventually you’re going to become really good. Why not add some flair along the way? It will make you stand out, have more fun, and your work will become irreplaceable.
Surround yourself with people with high expectations, stay curious, and welcome new, uncomfortable experiences.
Have you ever felt insecure about your work?
All the time.
How do you overcome?
Time and practice.
- I try to remember how far I’ve come. So long as I can see improvement, the gratitude for my progress outweighs the crippling fear of not being good enough.
- I tell my inner critic to get lost.
- I accidentally make myself tougher by stretching myself. When I level up, the former big things soon become the least of my worries. Example: when I was working on my book, I worried that designers I respected wouldn’t think it was very good. When it came time for publication, I could care less. I was thinking about book sales.
Don’t forget about that Roosevelt quote. You know, the one about how the critic doesn’t matter; it’s the person in the arena who gets the credit. Real good stuff.
Tell us about your book, Id’ Rather be Short
I’d Rather Be Short is on the exterior, a humor book containing the 100 greatest reasons why it’s great to be small. It’s a little book that’s available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books A Million, etc. Each page has a picture to accompany the reason (e.g. you’re less likely to get struck by lightning and you sleep like a queen in a twin size bed.) I wrote and illustrated it in 2012 and was lucky enough to land a super agent and a super publisher (Plume, and imprint of Penguin Random House). It was truly a dream come true. On the interior (METAPHORICALLY), it’s a bit of a love letter to my younger self. I didn’t like being small. I thought it was lame that I stood out for my size. When I realized there was no list proclaiming the shorty points of pride, I slowly went after it. I learned to embrace my 5′ stature along the way (as well as many other lessons.) It was one of the most personally rewarding things I’ve ever done. I love seeing how people react to it. It seems like every short person has their own personal version of every page.