Jennifer Kesler is the creative lead at Lojo Group, a branding, marketing and advertising agency based in greater Sacramento, California. She has received numerous awards from the Sacramento Ad Club and lives in the foothill town of Cool with her husband and menagerie of animals.
Learning on the Curve
If you have a degree in what field is it? A BS in Graphic Communication with an emphasis in Design Reproduction Technology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Which designer (or design studio), other than yours, do you most admire? I admire Mucca Design a great deal. I like that they will often develop a custom typeface for a project to get it just right – and it seems they always get it just right. I also admire their attention to detail; if they are working with a restaurant, for example, they take into consideration every aspect of the customer experience and make sure it's a pleasure to look at or use.
What's the strangest request you've received from a client? I'd say masking around the members of the band KISS for a benefit concert promotional piece in Photoshop was one of the strangest requests I've received. I was up-close and personal with lots of leather, hair, studs and platform shoes for the better part of a day on my 27" iMac. Coworkers were definitely wondering what I was up to.
If you weren't working as a designer what would you be doing? If I wasn't a designer, I'd probably be an architect. I started out as an architecture major in college, but found I liked design better. I've always liked the way architecture shapes our lives and the extent to which it can influence your mood and demeanor just by stepping into a space.
What well-known identity is most desperately in need of a redesign? I have to say Sherwin Williams Paint. Every time I see one of their trucks with "Cover the Earth" on the side, I can't believe my eyes. The image of the earth being coated in globs of red paint seems like a message that can't resonate with the environmentally-conscious consumer of today.
From where do your best ideas originate? Half of the time my ideas come from intense concentration and focusing on a project, the other half of the time an idea will hit me while doing something totally unrelated. I think those lightning bolt ideas originate in the vast areas of a designer's brain that store random bits of info we pick up pretty much everywhere and every day. A few items collide while floating around and emerge as a fully formed idea. It's magical, really.
How do you overcome a creative block? I tend to try and plow through it. I'll flip through some inspiring work that is relevant to what I'm working on. If that doesn't spark anything I'll start to break the project down into it's basic pieces, like what it should accomplish and start to think about what would work to meet those requirements.
What's your dream project (not client, but project)? I really enjoyed taking book design in college and think that designing a book, both the jacket and all the interior pages, would be tons of fun. I don't know a lot about book design, so it would be a learn-while-doing experience that I think I'd enjoy. And if the book were by a famous author, all the better.
Do you have creative outlets other than graphic design? I think it's a bit of a problem that I have so many creative outlets other than graphic design and not enough time to pursue them. I have dabbled in painting, photography, fabric design, weaving, cooking, and have recently been designing every aspect of my upcoming wedding.
What’s your approach to balancing work and life? I don't tend to think about work much when I'm at home, but outside-of-work experiences definitely end up influencing my work in ways I don't usually anticipate. I also leave work at 5 pm every day. I'm more productive knowing that there is a cut-off at the end of the day.
What product/gadget can you not live without? My Moleskine day planner. I still like to write everything down; I also like being able to make a list for the day and doodle in the same place. When I look back at my planners, the drawings mixed in with the handwriting show a level of feeling and depth that I don't think are present in most digital calendars.
What's your favorite quote? "The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away." - John Steinbeck
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? To keep learning. This is one of the most important things in our industry. There won't always be someone there pushing you to learn something new, either; you have to take the initiative and keep expanding your skill set.
What's one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? I wish I would have known that it does get easier. There is a learning curve before you settle into your creative process. When you're starting out it can be difficult to figure out what is appropriate for a particular client, so you try lots of things that don't work. After you've worked for a while you have a much better idea of what is appropriate and effective. At that point the challenge lies in constantly pushing yourself to always do better and think bigger.