Lettering artist Risa Rodil tells her story about how a random idea spark turned into typography love flame
Handmadefont continues to explore the other side of arts – people who stand behind works that make us breathless. We are glad to welcome on our board a brilliant designer, illustrator and letterer – Risa Rodil from Manila, Philippinesю. Thanks to her we’ve learnt how reading influences graphic design, why you shouldn’t give up even on those dreams that seem to you impossible and why it is better not to be ashamed of your interests.
— Once again we are lucky to get to see a great artist eye-to-eye. Risa, it feels so good to see you taking part in our huge blog project. And speaking of ‘taking part’ – when did you decide that graphic design is something that doesn’t let you go? How did it captivate your heart and mind?
— I found my passion at age 14; it was the time I first discovered about Adobe Photoshop. Suddenly, I was getting too fond of the program that I found myself studying tutorials online to teach myself how to use it. Since that moment, my passion for art and design just kept on growing as time passes. The more I learn, the more I become enthusiastic about the field. Shortly after, I decided to make a Tumblr account just so I have a place to dump all the random creative projects I’ve been doing that time. Eventually, people started to take notice. When I realize that art is giving me an outlet to channel my interests, I’m meeting fellow enthusiasts in the process, and there are people out there who appreciate what I’m doing, I think those are my main triggers that really convinced me to formally take this career path.
— And from all the diversity of graphic design, you picked up typography. Why?
— I can’t say I’m a wide reader but I do have an extreme love for books. I read when I’m bored, when I’m stressed, or when I just need to take my mind off something. I guess it was mainly because of that I started to become really fascinated with the written word. Being a designer, I had the random idea that maybe it would be fun to fuse my love for both design and words — and that’s how my love for typography was born.
— And that was it? But did you try some other paths and directions to gain experience in design?
— Yes! Before I focused on typography and illustration, I used to venture on website design, mobile interface design, infographics, and a little bit of motion design — which I still do from time-to-time. My love for each of those didn’t take long before I realized that typography is where my heart truly belongs.
— Many people say that an artist’s first project is something that’s impossible to forget. What are your memories of your big design entrance?
— It was crazy surreal! As a designer who loves books, it has always been a long time dream of mine to see my work grace the cover of a published book. Anyone who has been following me on Tumblr can attest to that. For so many years, I’ve been living my dream vicariously through recreating the covers of my favorite books for fun. In a stunning turn of events, a publisher luckily came across some of them online and decided to hire me for a project. The publisher was Macmillan Books and they told me that they’re working on an upcoming title that they want me to do the cover for. A couple of months after that project, I was browsing through the teen section of Barnes & Noble when I spotted something very familiar. It was the book cover that I designed – now officially published and tangible. I couldn’t possibly contain my excitement that I just had to take a photo!
— Do you have any principles or, let us say, rules that determine your work, your style?
— Start from your obsessions and pull your inspiration from there. When you enjoy what you’re doing, it will clearly reflect in your work. I’m someone who built a career doing fan arts and I’m not ashamed of it. Celebrate your passion and interests, and use them to your advantage. It definitely worked wonders for me!
— Inspiration is a delicate thing and sometimes it is hard to find it. Is there anything that affects your motivation to go on? Do you have your personal inspirational sources?
— A lot – mainly my favorite shows, movies, books, music, and most of all, the internet. I’ve met a lot of friends and found my platform because of it. It is because of the constant support that I get from the internet that continually inspires me to keep going. On the other side of the spectrum, I also get inspired by words. Since the moment I became fascinated with typography, I’ve been making the conscious choice of illustrating uplifting quotes in hopes that it could inspire people the same way they inspired me.
— And when you feel yourself tired and don’t know what to do next, how do you recommend to get through the tough times?
— Take a break. Don’t force yourself to create something when you can’t. Remind yourself why you loved doing it in the first place and take your cue from there. Sometimes, just by browsing through design inspirations online can do the trick for me. If that still doesn’t work, I try to get out there and visit new places. Just think of anything that normally entertains you and use it to refresh your mind and soul.
— You said ‘think of anything that entertains you’. What are your hobbies? Does this passion influence your projects?
— It definitely does! Most of the subjects featured in my designs are taken from pop culture references and books. Every time I illustrate content that I personally enjoy is the time that I’m the most focused and motivated.
— Can we hope to see more incredible illustrations from you in the future? What are your plans for now?
— For now I just plan to keep doing what I’m doing. I have a couple of personal projects in store that I hope I can squeeze in between client projects. I’m hoping for the best!