Jennifer Jerde is the founder and creative director of SF-based brand identity firm Elixir Design.
Founded in 1992, Elixir's work includes corporate identity, marketing collateral, direct mail, packaging, web and catalog design in a broad range of industries. The studio crafts visual languages and verbal communications for clients who, though diverse in their industries, have earned the loyalty of their customers.
Jennifer, a fervent believer in the transformative powers of design and collaboration, is the force behind Elixir's North Star Process which she admits would be worthless without the boundless talents of her team. Elixir's brand strategists, designers, and writers create results by helping their clients communicate honestly with their customers and are occasionally retained to rethink and refine a company's branding and positioning, without being asked to design anything.
If you have a degree in what field is it? Art history and graphic design.
Which designer (or design studio), other than yours, do you most admire? Tibor Kalman and Howard Gossage.
What’s the strangest request you’ve received from a client? To design a tattoo.
If you weren't working as a designer what would you be doing? I'd be a naturalist of some kind.
What well-known identity is most desperately in need of a redesign? I’m trying to think of a worthy company whose product or service is great but whose identity is bad. Or, does this mean which well known brand is desperately in need of rebranding? If this, then... GAP.
From where do your best ideas originate? They come when I am talking to creative people.
How do you overcome a creative block? I physicalize any ideas over and over and over until the blockage gives way.
What’s your dream project (not client, but project)? To create a retail experience optimized for the iPad.
Do you have creative outlets other than graphic design? Coming up with ideas that help people or solve problems is a far bigger outlet than the creation of actual graphics.
What’s your approach to balancing work and life? I insulate my family from my work day. Then, I hold a mental picture that they are one and the same: I work with people I consider friends, bring my dog to work, help my friends and hope my clients become friends.
What product/gadget can you not live without? My iPhone.
What's your favorite quote? “Where are we going and why are we in this hand basket?” from a bumper sticker, and from Louis Pasteur “Luck favors the prepared.”
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Spend some of your day working without a computer. Evaluate comps.
What's one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? The definition of “annuities” (a fixed sum of money paid to someone each year). In other words, when you invest more energy than you’re being paid, it’s a good idea to at least ask to be compensated later. And, even when you do great work and knock yourself out for someone, they will take it for granted.