I’m pretty stoked to share today’s Career Chat (formerly known as: Style to Inspire) interview with you guys! Whether or not you know her name, I guarantee you know her work: designer Joanna Reynolds is the creative force behind many of Sugar Paper’s beautiful cards, prints and collaborations with mega brands like Goop and J.Crew. I’ve known Joanna for some time — we went to college together! — but funnily enough, have only recently re-connected with her when our worlds sort of collided. I was thrilled to learn about what other ventures she has going on besides working as a freelancer for Sugar Paper (see: new textiles collection, and a growing costume design business). Today, I wanted to get the scoop on what it’s like to manage so many different types of creative ventures, and of course, how she got into the lettering and illustration business to begin with. Enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in lettering and type development? Did you always think your career would go in that specific direction?
Lettering is something I started doing relatively recently; I studied fine art at USC and developed my illustration skills while studying fashion design at FIDM. My mom is an artist and one of those people who can make absolutely anything, so my childhood included an amazing mix of art history lessons, fine art, and every craft project you can think of. I’ve always known that I wanted to work in a creative field, I just wasn’t sure which.
About two years into working at Sugar Paper as the Custom + Production Manager (a job I got because of my art/craft background) an order came through for a stationery set with a bespoke monogram. We didn’t have a specific illustrator lined up for the work, so I asked the principal designer, Erika Finney, if I could have a go at it. She didn’t hesitate for a second in saying yes, which I will be forever grateful for – that monogram was the start of more lettering opportunities with the company, and having the support of Erika and the company’s two founders, Chelsea Shukov and Jamie Grobecker, gave me the confidence to eventually take the leap and become a designer full-time.
What are your favorite types of projects to work on at Sugar Paper?
Every project that I do with Sugar Paper is different – the inspiration is always something fresh, the end use is often varied, and the development process is a great, creative back and forth that often inspires other new projects. I get to mess around with chalk and paint, play with calligraphy, and build more traditional style lettering with carefully measured lines and curves. One of my favorite things about working with the girls on the Sugar Paper collaborations with Goop and J.Crew was that we did 4 or 5 completely different styles of lettering for the various products. I really love the variety of work that I get to do, as projects never feel old or boring.