Beautifully illustrated quotes pepper feeds across social media. From Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest, users are constantly posting illustrated inspirational sayings that are more eye-catching than plain black text on a white background.
Molly Jacques is a hand lettering, calligraphy and heavy-illustration artist whose designed quotes are recognizable across the Internet. After receiving high praise from a pirate ship she drew in her third grade art class, Molly decided to devote her life to a creative pursuit. Now she’s a successful freelance artist, priding herself in the small details of each letter she illustrates and her ability to evoke emotion with word aesthetic.
We caught up with Molly as part of our “Influencer Spotlight Series” to get a peek into how she got her start creating striking and inspirational images using letters.
MJ: Being an ‘illustrative designer’ is a pretty broad term. I usually refer to myself as a hand lettering artist, calligrapher or illustrator. With any of those labels, it means that I solve visual problems for clients using a combination of hand drawn words and images.
360i: How did you get your start in hand lettering?
MJ: I’ve actually been hand lettering for quite some time. I used to always illustrate titles and artwork for projects back in high school. I was that person who got all excited about creating a visual aid for a history project. That being said, I started hand lettering more seriously when I was a junior at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, Michigan. I had just started finding a ‘style’ that I was into and wanted to start developing it more.
360i: You clearly have a beautiful signature style when it comes to your work. How did you come about creating this distinctive style?
MJ: I get this question a lot, and there’s really no set answer. Style comes from a lot of factors. First and foremost, it comes with experience. The more you draw, paint or write, the better an artist you become. You also become more aware of what you like and what you don’t. Most importantly, because you have become well versed in the craft, you can execute editing details. Secondly, style comes from your personal voice. What are you trying to say with your artwork? Are you happy, sad, contemplative or aggressive? And finally, style comes from influence. Similar to my first point, it’s about knowing how to keep things you like, omitting what you don’t.
360i: Not only are you a successful artist, but you’re also a teacher – how did you decide to start teaching calligraphy and hand lettering workshops?
MJ: I started teaching calligraphy in early 2012 just as something fun to do to meet and connect with other artists. As the demand and my skill set grew, I started teaching more and more. In May of 2012, I was invited to teach a private workshop in Seattle. After that, I decided I really loved to teach and wanted to set up a few more workshops for that year. Last year, I had the opportunity to teach at college-level at my alma mater CCS.
360i: How have the rapid changes in the digital world, especially in social media, affected your work?
MJ: Over the past few years, things have rapidly changed in the illustration field. It wasn’t long ago when illustrators needed to send their original artwork off to agencies and document it. Because technology has moved so quickly, I can now work completely from home. I can create artwork, get feedback on works-in-progress from clients, send final artwork, self-promote, etc. – all from wherever I want. It’s pretty amazing, and in my opinion, gives artists the best opportunity for getting inspired for the job. On a similar note, because of the vastness of social media, freelancers can also be a part of a community surrounding their crafts. It’s no longer a necessity to live in Los Angeles or New York anymore to work and network. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some really amazing artists across the nation via social media that I now go visit whenever I travel.
360i: What kind of content do your fans react to best? What’s the secret to keeping them constantly engaged?
MJ: One thing that I’ve found about the people who follow my work is that they want to consume a lifestyle that betters them. The individuals who follow me react best to inspirational quotes that encourage them to be the best they can be. They also love to learn which is why I try and give bits of advice here and there to help them along their journey. I’m still figuring things out for myself, so I also appreciate their comments, concerns and discussions about any content I put out.