07/15/14 By Heather Linder
Molly Jacques is the talented artist, illustrator, and teacher behind the beautiful hand lettering projects featured in the recently release Pinterest Perfect. In her Detroit-based studio, Molly crafts artwork for The New York Times, Martha Stewart Weddings, and The Wallstreet Journal, just to name a few. She also regularly blogs and teaches her calligraphy skills to students through various workshops. Basically, Molly does everything and makes it look good.
Photos provided by Molly Jacques
I got a chance to chat with her about everything from where she pulls inspiration to how to beat negativity and self-doubt as an artist.
Question: How would you describe your art? From where you do pull inspiration?
Molly Jacques: I describe my artwork as fun, modern, and distinctive. I've spent years developing my personal voice through illustrative letterforms, and I like to think that my style is a hybrid between traditional and naive techniques. I'm a big fan of artists like Edward Gorey and Tim Burton—both have great voices that blend naivety and tradition to make something really interesting. Obviously my work is not quite as dark as theirs, but that doesn't mean I can't pull inspiration from artists like them. A recent font I designed, Helsing, was actually directly inspired by Edward Gorey's Dracula.
Q: Any new or exciting illustration projects you are working on?
MJ: My business partner Dathan and I are working on a new hand lettering style font that has some killer personality. The family includes two different styles that you can pair for some great effects. Honestly, I think working on fonts can be the most exciting for me—I get to really express myself there in a different way than when I work on commissioned illustrations.
In terms of commissioned illustrations, though, I'm working on a book cover right now that I'm really excited about. Release date TBA. =)
Q: What's the biggest challenge you struggle with as an artist, and how do you take it head on?
MJ: Negative thoughts. I'm married to an extremely talented painter and we both deal with the same struggle so we lean on each other for support all the time. That little inner voice that tells you you're not good enough or you should be working harder, ya know? It's toxic. I'm so happy that I have my husband, Cody, because he encourages me and brings me back to reality when I tell myself lies. Taking an honest look at your to-do list and daily productivity is a good way to battle those thoughts from a rational point of view.
Q: Where/how did you learn your incredible lettering skills?
MJ: I studied at College for Creative Studies where I earned my BFA in Illustration in 2010 (I actually teach there now!). My senior year I focused a lot on hand lettering as a huge chunk of my portfolio was gig posters. I later went on to teach myself traditional copperplate calligraphy after I graduated through Eleanor Winter's book "Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy."
Q: What advice would you give to other artists looking to follow in your entrepreneurial footsteps?
MJ: Don't limit yourself. This is something that I tell all of my students because it's so so so important to hear if you're going into commercial art. ESPECIALLY illustration. I run a column over on my blog called The Freelance Diaries where I did a small post about opening your mind up to your true potential. I learned the hard way right out of school that having solid expectations of what your career will look like and never veering from that vision can really hurt you. Have a plan, but be open to opportunities when they come your way. Don't limit yourself to your plan because you could be so much greater than that plan.
Q: What are the best and most frustrating things about your work or your field?
MJ: The best thing about my field is connecting with people. My job is pretty exotic because I don't have just one job where I sit in my studio all day. I get to meet so many talented and amazing people when I teach, and I love it. I also love the fact that I get to use my imagination all day to come up with artwork.
The most frustrating thing about my field is that there really is no security. One month I could have work coming out my ears, the next - nothing. That's just the nature of the beast.
Q: Why did you decide to start teaching your art to others?
MJ: Calligraphy is deeply rooted in the master and apprentice system. I never saw myself teaching when I first started practicing calligraphy but, I think the process just came naturally. The more I taught, the more I loved it. Teaching others is one of the most rewarding things I can think of.
For more information about Molly and her studio, visit her website.
Heather is a journalist and writer living in Chicago with her composer husband and art-loving puppy, Lancelot. She's on an endless quest for the city's best coffee and is endlessly inspired by Chicago's magnificent skyline. Heather is a bookworm, aspiring chef, and NPR fanatic. She's in the process of teaching her beagle to use a French press and overcoming her fear of DIY.
An empty canvas is a living wonder, far lovelier than certain pictures.
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