Can you really pursue a successful career doing something you love? Well, take a look at lettering artist Jackie Rivera. From her doodling days to her university years, Jackie’s kept working at her craft, eventually building up an impressive roster of clients including Snapchat and Facebook. (No big deal.)
Jackie is the artist behind some very popular stickers promoting self-love and self-appreciation. If you’ve ever been on Snapchat, you most likely have stumbled upon Jackie’s work.
Jackie’s style is dominated by bright colour palettes and playful letterforms. She’s not afraid to let her ‘70s-inspired retro style shine through. In fact, Jackie tells us she dreams of a world filled with good design, lettering murals, and the colour pink. Now that’s a planet we’d gladly live in (and trade for in these gloomy times).
We caught up with Jackie to find out where her love of lettering began, what her creative process looks like, and so much more.
When did you first develop an interest in lettering?
I’ve been obsessed with letterforms since before I even knew what graphic design was. As a middle schooler, I’d search for cool typefaces online and try to learn how to draw them in my sketchbook. It wasn’t until the end of high school that I learned what graphic design was and decided to go for it (so thankful I didn’t stick with my original plan of going into the medical field). Lettering was experiencing a big boom the summer after high school, and that’s when I really started taking lettering seriously and practicing consistently.
How did you get started? Looking back, would you do anything differently?
I was really inspired by other lettering artists on Instagram and started posting my own work online. After a few years of practicing, developing my style, and posting my work on Instagram, I started getting commissions! As a college student, this was extremely exciting (and also terrifying because I had no idea what I was doing). Thankfully, my professors and design peers provided a lot of much-needed guidance and encouragement. By the end of college, I gained a lot of valuable freelance experience (and some awesome clients like Snapchat and Papyrus).
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I think it was good for me to go through challenging experiences and learn through my mistakes. All those late nights balancing college papers and freelance gigs paid off in the end!
You have a very unique and defining style. Can you tell us what the process of finding that style and perfecting it has been like for you?
I feel like I’m still trying to nail down my style, but I think I’m getting closer! If you look at my Instagram page throughout the years, you can see pretty distinct changes in my style and preferred mediums, but I’m finally getting close to a style that really feels like me.
I think I achieved that by letting my own voice and personality shine through my work, as opposed to trying to copy someone else’s style.
I’m also really inspired by retro typefaces, artwork and music from the ‘70s/’80s, indie films, and my Mexican-American heritage.
Can you describe your creative process? Where do you start? What do you usually have on or around you?
Music is a huge inspiration for me! I always start out by listening to music to get my creative juices flowing. Once I’m feeling inspired, I start making some rough sketches. I’m not the kind of person that needs to perfect a sketch before taking it to the computer. As long as I have something I can go off of as a rough guide, I’m good to go. Once I land on a solid sketch, I take it into Illustrator and start vectoring. Vectoring my letterforms is almost therapeutic. I love getting into that “flow” creative state and just letting the magic happen. When I’m done vectoring, my go-to finishing touches are adding colours, retro grain, and sparkles!
What do you do to get out of a creative slump?
When I’m in a slump, it’s really important for me to take a step back and have quality time with friends, have new experiences, and enjoy my other hobbies.
I will get nowhere by trying to force myself to be creative.
You have to take breaks! It’s also really important to take care of my physical and mental health through exercise and healthy eating. Taking care of my mind and body allows me to be the best version of me, and I can’t do that if I’m inhaling cheese for every meal and going to bed at 3AM.
Can you tell us a little bit about your favourite project, and why it’s your fave?
One of my favourite projects was making sticker packs for Snapchat! I made two sticker packs (16 stickers each) for users to decorate their snaps with. This project was one of those rare gems where I had complete creative freedom. Colours, sayings, shapes, and style were all up to me. It was awesome having the opportunity to go wild and to let my groovy ‘70s style shine through (and get paid for it). More projects like this please!
Instagram is an important marketing tool for creatives these days. Do you find yourself curating your art based on what your followers want to see? How do you find a balance between what’s trendy and what you want to work on?
Instagram can be hard to balance sometimes, but I’ve found that people really value authenticity and relatability online. Making artwork that is a genuine expression of my opinions and feelings has attracted a much larger audience than I expected.
I use lettering as a way of expressing myself and processing changes happening in my life. All of my personal work is inspired by my real-life feelings and experiences.
That being said, I do have a set colour scheme I work within, but I’m the worst at posting consistently!
Are there any artists, designers, or illustrators that you are loving at the moment?
Everything @themarisjones makes is SO cool and blows me away every. single. time.
What’s one thing you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime?
I would LOVE to learn guitar and be in a band! The idea of performing is something that both terrifies and excites me, and I think I need more of that in my life.