Artist Spotlight: Lindsay Jones

At Wild Rye, we pride ourselves on working with fellow female entrepreneurs and freelancers to create custom prints and patterns for all our shorts and base layers.  We love to see how each individual illustrator interprets our inspiration with their own creative twist and we certainly hope you do too!

In the first spotlight we sat down with Carbondale, CO-based Lindsay Jones illustrator and got to know her and her design process a bit better.

Wild Rye (WR): Where are you from? How old are you? Where do you live now? 

Lindsay Jones (LJ): I grew up in Lee's Summit, Missouri (a suburb of Kansas City), which I still call home even though I haven't lived there for a while now. I go back to visit as much as possible, because my family (including my identical twin sister) is there, so I love going back. I'm 38, and I currently live in a tiny little town on the western slope of Colorado. 

WR: How did you get into illustration?

LJ: Oh man, it was kind of a round-about path for me, and it took me a while to figure out how I wanted to use art as a career. The short answer is that my sister-in-law used to work for a fairly well-known women's shoe company in Los Angeles, and she hooked me up with making patterns for that company. I built a good relationship, and was able to get quite a few projects from them. I quickly learned that I loved doing this type of work, so I started to hunt down more clients who would allow me to continue working remotely as a freelancer.

The long answer is that I went to college for fine art where I studied painting, printmaking, and sculpture, but I never actually studied graphic design or illustration. When I graduated from undergrad, I freaked out because I didn't know what to do with an art degree, so I went to graduate school. Long, and confusing story short, I ended up going to graduate school a second time, but in between all of that schooling I had some pretty fun jobs, including being a cross country tour guide leading foreign vacationers on road trips across the U.S., as well as a job at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where I was an artifact handler and mount maker. I taught myself how to be an illustrator and a graphic designer once I was out of school, because those things were discouraged by the fine art programs I was enrolled in.

WR: What does your design process look like?

LJ: My design process really varies from project to project; a lot of the time I draw things out by hand, but other times I go straight to the computer to work things out digitally. My process is also dependent on how rushed the project is. I usually need to work fairly quickly, so I choose the most efficient route for the job, and it totally depends on the subject matter that I'm being asked to work with.

For example, for the Vicuña print I didn't really draw anything by hand. We were looking for a simplified illustration of a llama, so I played around with basic shapes and drew things digitally with the pen tool in Illustrator, to make up the body of the llama. For the icons that I recently made for the Wild Rye website however, I drew everything by hand, then went into the computer and refined everything.

When I'm working on my fine art (the gallery stuff, as opposed to the commercial stuff), my drawing process is completely different; I do everything by hand. It allows for a lot of spontaneity where I pretty much shut my brain off and let intuition guide me. It's a very natural process for me.

WR: What are some of your favorite projects?

LJ: I once got to have my artwork on two curated billboards in downtown Kansas City. That was pretty cool, especially since it's my hometown.

I have a bunch of personal projects that I'm always starting and stopping, like silly animations and illustrations of people I like. For the past few months I've been working on a project where I'm illustrating each of Colorado's 14er mountains. I love the way they're turning out, but it's a ton of repetitive work so I have to take breaks from the project every now and then.

Another cool project I worked on last year was a stage design for the local festival we have here in Colorado, where I created these huge painted flowers out of wood that I salvaged from construction site dumps. I had some pretty big ideas that I had to reign in a little because I was working solo, and had a limited budget, but it was really fun to work on such a large scale.

WR: Give us a behind the scenes look at the Vicuña print development (any images or iterations of the early versions etc?)

LJ: The Vicuña print was fun to work on. In the early stages we experimented with a few different shapes and plants that are native to South America, but they made the print a little too busy for what we were looking for. We also had a few more colors in the print, but decided to keep it simple with one color plus the background color. Like I mentioned earlier, I didn't draw any of the llamas by hand because it was easy to just make the shapes on the computer, and alter it that way. Once we settled on alternating the diamonds and llamas, all we had to figure out was the color.

WR: Who are your dream clients?

LJ: Ok, we're really diving into the dream world here, but Beck is my absolute dream client. He's where it's at. Music videos, stage projections, album art, t-shirts...whatever, if he calls me, I'll do it. Back to reality, I would love to do artwork for book covers and album covers. That, and the U.S. Postal Service would be pretty cool....I'd love to design some postage stamps.

WR: What have been some of your biggest bumps in the road – we like to get real here at Wild Rye, so don’t hesitate to hold back?

LJ: My biggest bump has been learning to navigate the freelance design world without having an education in marketing, or business. My fine art degrees never really taught me real-world skills when it comes to running a business, selling my art, or how to basically survive financially, so I'm always learning something new. I also jumped straight into freelance work without having worked for a larger company where I could make connections that could be carried over into a freelance career. Being in a rural area also makes it tough to make connections within the industries that I work in, so I find myself having to travel to trade shows, or meeting with people whenever I do find myself in a city. Fortunately I have some really great graphic design friends and mentors that have been generous with their time and knowledge over the years. I'm very grateful for that.

WR: What do you love to do in your free time? What are you passionate about?

LJ: I love all the good stuff: spending time with family and friends, road trips, cycling/mountain biking, travel, camping, and generally just being outside. Last year my husband started to teach me how to skateboard, and I really love it but I'm not very good. I also just started to teach myself the piano because I got tired of saying "someday". I think it's important to keep learning and doing new things no matter how old you get.

WR: Thanks for taking the time for sitting down with us and all that you do to bring playful, creative and unique illustrations to us and all our customers, Lindsay! To stay updated on Lindsay's work, follow her on instagram @lindsayannajones.


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