Graphic Designer Joyce Hwang combines a love of illustration with local-focused book design work and engagement in the community. We sat down with this 2013 graduate of SCCA’s design program to hear about what she has been doing.
What was your time like at SCCA?
My time at SCCA was intense and wonderful! It was definitely a time of self-discovery. I knew I wanted to do something with ‘art,’ but wasn’t sure exactly what. I was also devoid of self-confidence and direction, and the program helped with those things; whenever I thought I couldn’t be pushed any further, turns out, I could. And I met so many great people!
Favorite student project?
I feel like I had the most fun with all the packaging assignments, probably because we got to do it all: make up the company, target audience, and the look and feel (which almost never happens in Real Life). And it’s gratifying to see a design on a finished, tactile project that you slaved and shed tears over.
You freelanced for a number of years. For those of us unfamiliar with the hustle of that life, what were some of the best projects you got to work on? Best and worst of that way of being a designer?
I’m probably not the best candidate to answer this question, as I’ve never freelanced full time, but I did learn a lot about taxes, invoicing, and being (somewhat) organized. The variety of projects you get to work on plus the freedom of plunking away either at midnight or at the crack of dawn depending on your energy level and/or bursts of inspiration is pretty nice. But I feel like there’s a certain level of self-discipline (or feverish enthusiasm) required!
One of my favorite freelance projects was an opportunity to work on a children’s exhibit about different kinds of puppets for the The Wing—it involved layout, logo design, and thinking about the space, which is a pretty cool combination!
You work as a graphic designer at Sasquatch Books. What is that company like and what is your work like there? What have been some of the most interesting projects you worked on there?
Sasquatch Books is a local, independent publisher that focuses on non-fiction and children’s books. It’s a company of a little under twenty, so everyone works directly with everyone else at some point in the process, which is nice. And through these books, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and collaborating with some amazing photographers, illustrators, food stylists, and designers.
At any given time, I could be simultaneously working on covers, interiors, and marketing materials, as well as brainstorming ideas about upcoming titles. (And, I’m totally guilty of sort of kind of reading portions of the books as I’m laying them out…) Our design department consists of just two people—me and my art director Anna Goldstein—so we’re pretty hands-on and close to every project!
Some of the most interesting books I’ve worked on at Sasquatch include World Spice at Home, The Lemon Cookbook, Social Animals, Long Story Short by Margot Leitman, and several others that are coming out later this year!
What are your creative habits?
I’ve learned that when I suddenly find myself super inspired, I should run with it as long as I can. I feel like that’s when the best ideas come out, so I just keep working until I’m tired. Other things can wait (i.e. food, bathroom breaks)!
When I’m feeling stuck, I use some techniques that I learned at SCCA, like writing down all the things I would associate with certain words or topics and making connections wherever they may happen. Sometimes logic needs to fall to the wayside! Also, browsing inspirational/aspirational things on the web and in real life helps put me in a can-do mood.
Fun hobbies or side projects?
I love to draw! Random things, cute things, fan art. I’ve tabled at Comicon for a couple of years with some friends, selling prints, stickers, and other nerdly items. Currently, I have some stuff on my Etsy, and hope to table again at Comicon and beyond in the future! I also take a lot of pictures of my cats. That’s a hobby, right?!
Check out more of Hwang’s work at behance.net/joyce-hwang.