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Jennifer Lioy is a graphic designer, illustrator, and feelings-haver based in Austin, TX. She makes things for screens, walls, mailboxes, and human beings. If given the chance, she will corner you in a bar to ask you what you’re afraid of.

Holstee: Where is home for you?

Jennifer: Austin, Texas

H: What is your definition of a successful life?

J: One in which I get to be creative most days, have the ability to support and care for the people I love, and contribute to the world in a positive way.

 H: Describe your perfect day.

J: A perfect day for me is really just one of balance and ease, one in which I get to draw, to make something in some capacity, connect with my people, see the sun, have some time for stillness and quiet, and eat tacos, probably.

H: Why did you get into design?

J: I always saw myself in a creative career, as a writer, musician, or visual artist. Design as a profession strikes a nice balance of creative expression and visual problem solving. And while it is still work (and comes with the challenges and tedium that most jobs do) it leaves room for a lot of good stuff, for making something out of nothing, self expression, experimentation, collaboration, and problem solving.

Most of my education and training is actually in writing, not design, so I sit firmly in both camps as a words and art person. I love letters and words and sentences equally, and the work I hope to do is in the combination of them.

Design as a profession strikes a nice balance of creative expression and visual problem solving.

H: Where do you find inspiration?

J: Poetry, sign painting, graphic novels and comics, stationery, editorial illustration, and textile design.

H: What's your dream design project?

J: I recently moved to the east side of Austin from Brooklyn, and have been inspired by and impressed with the street art here, particularly with its southwestern and Mexican influence.

So my latest dream project is to paint a mural. I haven't done anything on that scale, and (selfishly) it would be incredible to see my work as part of a city in that way.

H: Which designers or thinkers influence you?

J: Lately I've been most grateful for all the badass power ladies making and writing things that guide my life and my work. Just a few: Maggie Nelson, Lindy West, Tuesday Bassen, Roxane Gay, Sarah Ruhl, Hillary Clinton, Alison Bechdel, Ashley Ford, Phoebe Wahl, and Cécile Dormeau.

My latest obsession is this lettering girl group (!!!) out of Melbourne called The Letterettes who are are like the Pink Ladies if they were mega-talented at hand lettering.

H: What's the inspiration behind the design of the Gratitude print?

J: I wanted to focus on the idea of gratitude as a practice because it encompasses both the recognition of gratitude within—for what we have, what we can do, who we are—as well as thanks expressed and shared with others.

Gratitude is a super powerful thing. It can change one's perspective, offer healing, bring a little bit of ease to a tough day, and show recognition of the kindness others show us. I find it helpful to think of it as something to work at, to practice with intention every day.

Visually, this was sort of an experiment to see how close we could get to a watercolor effect with letterpress printing, a process which doesn't easily allow for the gradation of color and varying shades of true watercolor. So it's a combination of a lot of fun analog processes (watercolor washes, hand-painted lettering, a three-color split fountain on letterpress) and a little bit of digital magic.

[Gratitude] can change one's perspective, offer healing, bring a little bit of ease to a tough day, and show recognition of the kindness others show us.

H: At the moment, what's your favorite color?

J: Indigo.

H: Quote?

J: "Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" from “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver.

Check out more of Jennifer's work here including this month's Gratitude-inspired print, shown above.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Gratitude.

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