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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Interview with Designer and Illustrator Risa Rodil

Back in May (where has the summer gone?), I featured some of Risa Rodil's work. I loved the playfulness and clear literary fan-girl-ness.


Seriously, her Harry Potter pattern is something I want printed on all of the things.


A 21-year-old designer, illustrator and letterer, Risa is an impressive woman who I can't wait to see more work from. She was kind enough to do a short interview with me for To Be Shelved and I'm happy to share it today.


When did you know that this world of design and illustration was where you wanted to be working?

When I was young, my original dream was to become a dentist. I’m not so artsy back then. I don’t know how to draw, I don’t carry a sketchpad with me and I struggle so much to pair up one color with another. Around 7 years ago, I found these really cool photo manipulations online and I thought to myself, “Wow it’d be so amazing to learn how to do that”. Getting my inspiration from there, I self-studied Photoshop when I was 14 and things just fell into place after that.

I enjoyed the challenge of being able to communicate with people through visual design. Of being able to convince people to watch the same shows I watch and read the same books I read, by doing designs that will make them look twice. And when these people start to notice and acknowledge the hard work you put into each piece, it feels very fulfilling. That was the time I realized that yes, this is something I’m willing to do for the rest of my life.

Keep reading...

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Thank you, Risa, for taking the time to share some of your life and work with me. I'm excited to see what's next for you!

You can see more of Risa's work on her website or her Behance portfolio. Her blog also keeps you up-to-date on where you can purchase her designs on a variety of items.

p.s. — I'm always looking for designers and illustrators to interview! If you think you or someone you know would be a good fit for To Be Shelved, email me! 

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an interview with Matt Roeser, before he was a full-time cover designer

if you're looking for a book to read, try this

but first, lemme take a selfie



I love the work you did for Harper Teen. Could you share a little bit about how that project came to be?
Thank you! It was around this month (May) last year when I received the email from Harper Teen. They wanted to commission me to do a custom typography for them after they found my designs through tumblr, specifically this one and these two posters for Divergent and Doctor Who. I was asked to illustrate three quotes by T. Michael Martin in the same style, which they will then use to promote in their social space.

What I love about this project is that they gave me the absolute freedom to add my own spin to the illustrations. They didn’t give me any specific brief for this. The only thing they required me to do is to design the posters in my own style, and that I did.


How is client work different for you from your personal projects?

The great thing about personal work is that I am my own client. I work within my own creative brief and I have complete control over my work. I don’t have to worry about the idea of getting my designs approved since I’m doing them mostly for myself. But of course, client work has its own perks. Aside from the obvious factor that I get to earn actual money, client work is a great way to gain exposure, to expand my portfolio and to constantly challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone.





You're a self-described fangirl, and a lot of those fandom designs seem to have very strong literary roots. How have those interests, and those books, influenced your work?

One thing I’ve known to myself ever since is that I am an ultimate fangirl. I love doing stuff for things I fangirl over, be that as my favorite book, TV show, movie or artist. And I noticed that the love I have for these things is usually the main lighter that fuels my creativity.

I’ve always been a fan of cleverly put words, main reason why I love to read. And these words, these concepts, and interesting ideas I get from books and TV shows, they stir up something inside me that I just want to share to everyone else. And as I mentioned, it’s a fun challenge to convince people to appreciate the same things I love through compelling design. Nothing makes me happier than to translate that love into something beautiful I can share to the rest of the fandom.


Is your series of redesigned book covers a personal project? How did that begin?

Yes, it started 2 years ago when I designed a minimalist cover series for The Hunger Games. It received quite an ample amount of positive feedback on tumblr, which gained up to 5k notes in a day (to my surprise). That fulfilling moment inspired me to continue the project, because let’s face it, reading kind comments from strangers feels really good. So the week after, I posted another cover series for Harry Potter, and the response I received was super overwhelming. And then one series led to another.. to another.. and another. As of this moment, I already did covers for Divergent, The Mortal Instruments, Percy Jackson, John Green’s books and so on.

Knowing that YA authors like Veronica Roth, Cassandra Clare and John Green have seen and acknowledged the designs feels surreal enough. As a fan artist, getting feedback from these people I really look up to is one of the most humbling moments of my fangirl career. And since then, every time I finish a good book, it kind of became a habit of mine to express my love for it through design.




You recently graduated from college. Can you talk a little bit about where you think your future is in this creative space?

It has always been my goal to set up my own design studio if the odds permit. It’s great to think of a future where I can work on something I really enjoy without having to feel like I’m working at all.

Do you have anything saved in the back of your mind that you'd love to work on? Anything big coming up that we should keep an eye out for?

Right now, I just want to continue doing redesigned covers and illustrated typography. I still have a bunch of pending books to read which also means that I still have a bunch of covers to redesign. The thought excites me more than anything.

Client wise, I’m happy to share that I’m currently doing an official work for Divergent, which I will be sharing very soon :)

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