We live in a world of information overload. We’re constantly forced to curate our lives because we know that if we don’t, someone else will. Those of us who have found our home in creative industries are also learning how to hone our skills, manage our time, and coddle the vision that got us here in the first place.
So, with all of these distractions and opportunities, how do you force yourself to stay focused and just get the work done? Becky will talk about how she wrote and illustrated two books, created a backlog of art for 100 days, and is building a product company based on her illustrations. She will share her six game-changing lessons that anyone can use to prioritize focus, hunker down, and get started creating.
Only one person will ever wear the title of Adobe’s first creative resident, and her name is Becky Simpson, lettering and illustration stylist extraordinaire. Becky is an illustrator, author, and graphic designer based in Austin, Texas, whose work reflects her passion for connection, process, and play. After authoring and illustrating her first book, I’d Rather Be Short, Becky has spent the last year at Adobe, building an impressive body of work while showing off what today’s hottest tools and processes can really do to impact design. The focus of her work Adobe is on the creative process of designing a sustainable illustration business, and in all of her spare time she’s been writing her second book, The Roommate Book.
Becky’s work is regularly copied, but rarely ignored. She’s at the forefront of the lettering and illustration styles that are taking brands by storm. She’s been featured in Zooey Deschanels’ Hello Giggles, The Great Discontent, Parade Magazine, Buzzfeed, Man Repeller, and countless other publications including Design Milk, Refinery 29, Lifehacker, 99U, The Five on Fox News, Adobe Create (Book Process), Adobe Create (Lessons Learned from 100 Day Project), Houston Chronicle, Quartz, KWTX, Cedar Rapids Gazette, Waco Trib, Camille Styles, The Tangential, Jessica and Krystal, The Girls with Glasses, Anthology, B is for Bonnie, Adobe Creative Cloud (Speaking at MAX).
First off, you were born and raised in Iowa. Ron Livingston, the main character in the world’s best movie, “Office Space,” is also from Iowa. Do you know him?
Ha! No, I wish. He’s actually from Cedar Rapids, which is near me. Ashton Kutcher is also from there. Iowans love to support Iowan celebrities!
You’ve authored a book, are working on your second one, and you’re currently a creative resident for Adobe. What’s next?
After my residency is up this spring, I’m going to be launching my own product line. I’m so excited and I’m trying not to feel (too) overwhelmed. The plan is to start with prints and then slowly expand the product offerings. My goal is to build a profitable product line slowly and steadily.
Can you describe your creative process?
Well, that’s a loaded question! Honestly, as cliche as it sounds, I pretty much just do the work. The process looks different for each project, but my common practice is to start with concepts. My favorite work is creating content, and I typically start with little thoughts that turn into “when I massage this out, what could it become?” In general, I don’t use a pencil, because I like committing to my marks. I like that my art is quirky; I understand that the quirks are what make it charming. I’m not crippled by comparison and I usually just do my own thing. I don’t really fear the idea that I might not be the best at what I do; instead, I think my biggest fear is not reaching my own potential. It’s that fear that drives me, creatively and otherwise.
How do you stay on top of design trends?
Honestly, I really don’t. It’s not that I’m actively opposed to the idea, I just don’t participate much in that world. I am so saturated with art and design all the time that I try not to engage beyond that. I also feel like so much, trend-wise, is extraordinarily overdone, and I don’t want to be influenced by quickly-fading styles. I love working on stuff that’s fun and easy for me, things that are in my niche. I do what feels most fun and playful at the time, and I think it works.
Who are some of your heroes in the industry?
Which industry sites/blogs do you read regularly?
Which apps do you use daily?
Do you have a favorite design tool? Why?
If you had a magic wand and could create the perfect job, what would the job description be?
The perfect job would give me the freedom to have my own line of products that’s mainly managed by automated shipping and marketing systems. Basically, I’d create the art while other people and systems take care of the rest of the details. In a perfect world, my income wouldn’t be contingent on the time spent on work. I’d definitely love the flexibility to travel, teach, and do other things. In short, I’d say the perfect job would be one in which I make money from art & have flexibility.
Do you have a celebrity doppleganger? If so, who is it?
I would want it to be Emily Blunt. If I had someone playing me in a movie, I’d want it to be Parker Posie, Lizzy Kaplan, Emily Blunt, or Winona Ryder. I’ve been told I look like Sarah Jessica Parker, although I think that’s debatable.
Becky, you’re so smart, we just have to ask you: why doesn’t glue stick to the bottle?
Just to give us something to ponder, because, let’s be real, what else are we gonna think about if we can’t ask deep questions like this. Donald Trump is already owning the media, and there’s nothing else left.
One last thing: what was the greatest thing before sliced bread?