Graphic Design Merchandise Design Photography

JULIA FLETCHER [@juliafletcherphoto]

Julia Fletcher is a music-based designer and photographer based in Manhattan, NY. She is a merchandise designer for Second City Prints, a photographer for AdHoc Presents, a Brooklyn event promoter and print publication, and an editorial intern for Alt Citizen, an online music publication for NYC music & culture. Inspired by the colors and artwork of 70’s/80’s new wave/post-punk album artwork, she brings a fun, colorful, and nostalgic feeling to musician’s identities through poster design, album artwork, and merchandise. Her personal work explores internet culture, online perception, and appropriation, usually through the lens of humor and personal experience. 

TRIGGER WARNING: This interview talks about substance abuse and emotional/domestic abuse.

Absolutely love your collection of writings ‘Private Show’ you shared on your Instagram. Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind creating this?

My senior year of college I was dealing with a lot of emotions and trauma I couldn’t even begin to process. I knew I wanted to make work about it but didn’t know how to go about it. I thought long and hard but nothing really seemed to click, but sometimes things that are meant to be come out naturally. One night I just thought “well what if I put my writings about alcohol on a liquor store receipt so the presentation matches the subject matter?” and from there everything else was easy.

Receipt from ‘Private Show’ by Julia Fletcher

You‘re a photo major, what did art school do for you in regards to finding who you were as a designer?

I graduated with a BFA in photo from art school thinking I was going to get a job as a photographer. I quickly learned that’s a lot harder than I thought, so I adapted to the job field around me and picked up more of those multidisciplinary jobs that allow you to do design, video, photo, animation, etc. for social media. The NYC job industry hasn’t exactly been kind to me, so I got sucked into healthcare to help me pay rent in the city while I looked for something else. While I accepted a corporate job, I started designing after I got home from work to give myself something to do. I found that I liked it a lot more than I thought, and created a brand new portfolio for myself and started pursuing that more. Art school didn’t do much for me as far as me figuring out who I was as a designer because I figured that out by myself post grad! 

Young creatives often find a lot of pressure to know “all” the design programmes, is this something you think is overrated? And for those wondering, what are your go-to design programmes to use?

You definitely don’t need to know all the design programs. I find that it’s easy to cheat your way to the top — all of my work is creating in Photoshop and sometimes people think I use Illustrator but to be honest I don’t know the first thing about Illustrator. If you can get the work done on your own terms, don’t feel pressured to learn how to make things another way.

What advice would you give to someone trying to find their “style” within design?

As designers I feel like our style comes out subconsciously whether we know it or not. What we make is inspired by every single piece of media, advertisement, and graphic we’ve ever seen and admired. So even if you don’t think you have a “style” yet, you definitely have styles you gravitate towards. The best advice I could give is find work you really love and try to figure out why you love it, and just keep making stuff because you’ll find out quickly what you do like do make and what you don’t like to make.

You love music-based design, where do you draw most of your inspiration from?

I draw almost all of my inspiration from album artwork and music itself! Specifically 70s/80s punk album covers and posters. Sometimes I’ll hear an album that will inspire a certain graphic style or color palette, based on how the music makes me feel. When I’m designing for a specific artist, like a commission for example, I’ll listen to that band to get a better feel for them as artists, to see what about them inspires me. Also constantly inspired by the internet and small artists I follow on Instagram.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Create work for yourself! Not for other’s approval — there’s that saying “If someone else likes it, that’s just a plus” and I stand by that every day.

Graphic Design

LAETITIA ARNOLD [@_lae_art_]

Laetitia is a self-taught creative originally from the French part of Switzerland currently living in London. Her music driven graphics and funky fonts make an eye catching insta feed waiting to be noticed by main stream pop artists. We believe she is one to keep an eye on.

Music seems to be a huge inspiration for your designs, Little Mix especially (!), what is it that motivates you to design graphics for musicians?

Music is a big inspiration to me, it’s like the brief and I create from that brief. Little Mix are one of my favourite artists if not my favourite! Pop music is very inspiring for me visually for some reason. It motivates me to design graphics for musicians especially because I think that the visual part is very, if not, as important as the content (the song, the music video). Nowadays, with social media and the digital world, we count a lot on images and the visual aspect. So associating an album, an artist, a musician, a song, a music video to an artwork is something I love doing. The fact there are “no rules”, no brief, it gives me more freedom to create these concepts, fan-art works.

What advice would you give someone wanting to teach themselves to create designs for artists?

One advice I’d give to someone wanting to teach themselves to create designs for artists, is definitely the Internet of course. For some designs, I do a lot of research about a theme in particular – i.e let’s say I’d like to create a vintage poster, I’ll look for different posters online, popular and known works and get inspired by the recurring elements, colours, shapes, typography styles. I also watch a lot of tutorial videos, step-by-step videos and then add my personal touch. I am a “go with the flow” person too, so I’d try different things and see what works, looks the best.

Did you attend any art colleges/university? If so, what skills did you learn that you have been able to transfer into your work?

I never attended university. I did business studies in Switzerland before moving to London. I took some Media and Art classes within my International Language campus course when I came to London a few years ago. I gained skills in Marketing, Journalism, Photography and Screenwriting even, which were quite different than just Graphics. I think the interest became stronger as living in London and my love for pop music in general.

What are your go-to programmes when designing a print?

My go-to programme is Photoshop. I have used Illustrator once for a couple of designs. I liked it but it was more complicated for me. I like learning new skills on Photoshop and getting to know it better.

“I think that the visual part is very, if not, as important as the content (the story, music video)”

Where do you draw most of your inspiration from?

I draw most of my inspiration from other creatives on Instagram. Behance is such a great platform too. I sometimes have a glimpse on Pinterest. I also go with trends. Another form of inspiration would be a music video for example. I love a photomontage, collage, and adding a strong typography to the piece. So I’d say musicians obviously are a big inspiration for my designs.

Apart from Little Mix, who would be your dream artist/s to design an album cover for?

I’d love to design an album for upcoming artists maybe. I don’t have anyone in particular in mind. But the idea of creating a whole brand, image is very interesting I think. With Little Mix, I use this base (fonts, photos) I have and work around it. I would certainly love to work on an album cover with them (dream!!). Someone else I’d love to design an album cover for could be an artist doing a comeback and needing a rebrand. It would be quite challenging!

I’m not professionally using my art (yet) but would love to turn my “fan-art”/concepts into reality and work in the creative industry maybe. For creatives. it’s now easier to get your work out and seen with the different social media platforms. However, I think there might be too much going on sometimes and it gets messy. So it’s great when there’s a (new) platform just for just creatives and I do support new creative businesses, brands and magazines, etc.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Something I’d like to add is: creativity is therapy. For me it’s a form of getting your mind out of things. Focus on a particular artwork helps. Learning new ways, new skills. Also, the feeling of accomplishment, achievement when your work is seen and appreciated. 

I recently took part in this campaign with “Creatives Against Covid-19” – creativesagainstcovid19 on Instagram – where creatives, anyone, could submit a poster with the theme “Soon” and a small brief. This was something I’ve never done before so I had to look on how to have the right size and margins etc. for my document. Then posters being sold via their website and funds going to two different organisations. 

So with that, knowing your work has some sort of impact is amazing. Contributing, taking part in something like that was excellent and new for me. I got very inspired by others! 

Another thing is when the artists themselves appreciate your work, it feels like an achievement. The goal with social media and creatives is obviously your work to be seen and have an impact somehow. So when it happens, it’s a lovely feeling. It also reminds people of the good side of social media and how people can support each others.