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    Also from the “Power of Women” issue. We had to come up with an illustration to kick off a story about the challenges women face in the film industry, and thought this quote by “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke was pretty great. Mary Kate McDevitt made it super great.

    Lettering I did for Variety Magazine

    Anonymous said: I'm a recent design graduate but I feel like I can't design at all. My layouts always look like they're wrong and I'm always experiencing mental blocks after having my designs rejected multiple times by the creative director. I left my 1st job after what might seem like a really short 9 weeks to others (but it was ridiculously long to me). However I now exp moments of panic when I try to apply for new design jobs. I'm not that good at design, but if I don't do that, I don't know what else to do

    The design world can certainly be intimidating after you graduate. I had a similar experience when I entered my first job as a designer. I was making all these fun projects in art school then when I started working at a design studio I felt pretty lost working on catalogs and eblasts. When I left that job, I decided to just go freelance. I didn’t want to go through another design job I knew I wouldn’t be good at.

    I believe I have some advice that might be helpful.

    Don’t focus on these rejected designs and not being happy at this particular studio. Instead, focus on what made you get into design in the first place. Look at your favorite designers, watch these amazing videos by James Victore and get psyched. We all lose steam time to time, focus on what energizes you and you’ll get back into it.

    During this hiatus, start a project that means something to you. Design something for your friends band or business, design your own poster, do the dream project that you didn’t do at school, just make something. The best way out of a mental block is to just ignore it and make it.

    This is the perfect opportunity to find your voice as a designer. Working at a design studio isn’t for everyone. You might find you like working for yourself. Find a day job doing something that will pay the bills, and focus on your design work at night.

    Good luck out there! 

    Anonymous said: I live in LOS ANGELES, CA, So I am looking for local Modern Hand-Lettering courses or online. When will your course be available? Is this an online course? thanks:-) Anastasia

    Hi there! My skillshare class is all online and is self-paced. So you can watch the videos and take part in the class whenever you want. You can sign up here

    katiejart said: I've been a fan of your work for years. I just graduated with my Illustration degree, and I've been applying mainly for graphic design jobs, but so far the search has been pretty bleak. Any tips on breaking into the market? I'm also in a new city so I've been doing my best to network as possible. Thanks!

    There are plenty of ways to get out there, not all of them will be successful but try different approaches and you will find one that works best for you. Being new in a city can be a great opportunity for jobs, you basically have to get out there and meet people. Go to design events and befriend other designers. There isn’t an exact science for getting jobs but I feel the process I went through is pretty typical, so here are my tips.

    For illustration jobs, get some good postcards printed up and gather a list of art directors you would like to work with and mailing addresses and send them out. You can invest in adbase to get a good list, it is a bit pricey so you may want to split it with some friends.  You can even email art directors, keep it short and introduce yourself in a friendly way. Don’t take it personal if they don’t email you back either. Magazines are a great way to start. Even better, local newspapers. They typically like working with local artists and they are always looking for new talent. They don’t pay well but you never know who will be reading the paper and see your work.

    I’m not as familiar with getting freelance design work. When I graduated I worked at a small design studio. I was asked to come in for an interview when they saw my profile on the AIGA website. I’m not sure how active your city is in AIGIA but it was super helpful for me as a fresh graduate. I would say find your favorite design studios in your area and ask them to have a look at your portfolio and casual interview. Even if they aren’t hiring, some studios are happy to look at your work and keep you in mind for future work. If you do get interviews, always send a thank you card. A beautifully hand made thank you card.

    Another way to get your name out there is to have a good online presence. I started an etsy shop when I graduated to sell my art but it was also working as an excuse to make new work and make a few extra bucks. When I felt like my shop was ready for more customers I started emailing some of my favorite design blogs and wrote personal (but short)  emails to each of them why I think their readers would enjoy my work. I was making Mini Goals Chalkboards at the time so there was a designy, arty, product that bloggers could write about rather than just a print. My chalkboards ended up being featured on a bunch of blogs and from there I was getting asked to start creating illustration work. 

    It certainly is not easy getting your work out there but you just have to keep at it! 


    Laid-back Lettering

    Since being introduced to Mary Kate McDevitt’s work I’ve noticed the coffee and cat lover’s lettering appear more and more.

    Her portfolio embraces a relaxed, natural style that avoids formality or stiffness but maintains it’s vibrancy. On collecting some examples of her work, I realised her style is exemplified by a vintage look depicted in orange and light teal.

    She recently moved back to the East Coast after nearly four years in Portland, Oregon. New York was at the top of her list of cities to live in and she’s now settling into Brooklyn.

    She graduated from Tyler School of Art in 2007 and built her portfolio in just six, very productive, years. I had the opportunity to ask her about it:

    Mary Kate: Once I graduated, I was on a making frenzy. I think anyone who graduates from art school has the “okay, now how do I make money?” panicked moment. I worked as a designer for 2 years but was making new illustration work in my free time. I started an etsy shop in early 2009 that I filled with hand painted chalkboard and screen printed posters. As I got more sales, it really motivated me to think of new ideas and trying new things. I’ve kept that trajectory, always making new things and coming up with new projects. That helped me build a portfolio that I feel proud of. I think that shows to clients that the project I work on with them, I will really pour myself into it and be proud of the result.

    Jamie: What marks out your style of lettering work from your contemporaries?

    Mary Kate: Since most of my contemporaries are inspired in some way or another by vintage type, we’ve had similar reference material. But the end results are always different because to be a successful letterer I think your personality should show in your work.

    Jamie: What would your perfect design brief consist of?

    Mary Kate: Besides a hefty budget, I think something that is more of a challenge. Maybe it involves a large-scale installation, or it needs to be animated, something that is out of the ordinary. But there really is nothing stopping me from experimenting with these new mediums so I may just go out and try these on my own. Most of the projects that come through my inbox, I find there is always something I can get excited about and sink my teeth into.

    Above artwork: