Typography Spotlight: Jessica Walsh

ADC Young Guns 8 winner explains why "Z" is last in the alphabet but first in her heart

Friday is here! We’ve all survived the first full work week of 2015! It’s also the end of the first week of ADC and Monotype‘s Typography Month, a feature on the ADC Blog that has received lots of love these past few days.

Just like last year’s Photography Month and Illustration Month, ADC Typography Month features a daily Typography Spotlight, highlighting ADC Members and Young Guns who love working with words and letters. Some of the names are already famous within the design community, while others will be new for you to discover, but all of them are card-carrying ADC Members from around the world.

We’re closing out the first week of Typography Month with a bang; a kickass ADC Young Guns 8 winner who was recently added to Forbes’ ’30 Under 30 2015′ list.



New York, NY, USA

(718) 395-2480


Where did your interest in typography begin? It’s generally not something kids in kindergarten aspire to be. When did you discover that you could actually make a living out of it?

When I was 11, I started coding and designing websites. I created an html help site that offered free graphic templates for popular blogging platforms. All the templates had different themes and I remember my first experimentation with illustrative type in Photoshop and Cinema 4D for these templates.

How much of your ability is self-taught versus through schooling?

I was self taught in high school. I went to the Rhode Island School of Design for college, which gave me the space and time to work on my craft and explore various techniques and styles. One of the biggest things I learned at RISD was the value of working with my hands. The first year you don’t go into the major, you work in all sorts of analog crafts like woodworking, painting, sculpture, etc. I ended up applying that knowledge back into my love for design and typography. I also met people in that year from other majors and I started learning the value of creative collaborations and working with others to help execute creative concepts.

How would you best describe your style? How did you foster that style? Do you tend to lean towards one type of lettering?

I strive to create concept driven work that not only has good form but is provocative or evokes emotion in some way.

“I love content creation and expressing myself with words and phrases.”

Walk us through your usual type design process.

Depends on what its for. If I am doing handwriting, I just draw with Sharpies or brush tip pens and scan it in and then refine it in Photoshop. When I am doing more elaborate concepts, for example all the 3D installation typography or body painting typography for Aizone/Aishti, it’s a more involved process. I start by quick shitty hand-drawn sketches, then more elaborate mockups in Photoshop, then I work with teams of photographers, producers, set designers, and even digital retouchers to create the final images.

What is your favorite ‘practical’ font, one for everyday use?

I like Replica. We use it for our Sagmeister & Walsh materials. It’s legible and comes in a nice variety of weights. It has some slight quirkiness with the cuts on the terminals.

Do you have a favorite letter of the alphabet when it comes to experimenting with design?

My husband’s (I just got married) name is Zak and I’ve been loving drawing the letter “Z”.

Who wins in a fight: serif or sans serif?

Depends on what the fight is over of course. Is it for print or digital? Is it for fashion or for movie titles? What is the tone? So many factors can greatly influence who would win.

What other artistic passions do you have? Where else do you find inspiration?

Lately I’ve loved dabbling in fashion and photography.

Which professionals do you look up to the most in the typography/lettering world?

Marion Bantjes, Erik Marinovich and Jessica Hische.

At the end of the day, what do you love most about being a typographer or letterer?

I love content creation and expressing myself with words and phrases. As designers / illustrators / letterers we have the huge advantage of being able to easily enrich these messages by adding our personal or handmade touch and the tools & knowledge of how to deliver these messages effectively.