Interview: Jessica Richer on Graphic Design, Getting Satisfaction from Your Work, and Creative Networks

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My interview today is with the lovely Jessica Richer, a French graphic designer living in London, working with colour, and dreaming of travelling! Her work is fun and full of life, as is her story. I've absolutely loved chatting with her, and I think you'll also love to hear what she has to say...

Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Jessica! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Jessica Richer:
It’s a pleasure, thank you Megan! 

My name is Jessica Richer, I’m a French graphic designer from Paris. I’m obsessed with good design and creative things; I would be able to buy everything if a part of myself would not be quite so reasonable! I live and breathe in colour, and I would love to travel a lot! I also am involved in a non-profit organization I have co-created with my best friend called Cultur’Aid that supports the development of popular education in a youth culture centre based in Burkina Faso.

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your design style in three words, what would they be?

Jessica Richer:
Wow, it’s hard. I would like to say sensitive, colourful, helpful (I hope!)

Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into design? Did you study it formally or come across it as a hobby?

Jessica Richer:
Actually, I have decided to live off of my passion.

When I was a kid I was used to draw, to create some clothes for my dolls, and customize things. Then I took drawing classes for almost five years! I discovered the world of graphic design when I was a teenager and immediately knew it was what I needed to do!

I went to summer school for an applied arts course at a famous school in Paris (ECV) and did an intensive foundation degree in applied arts. Then I took a bachelor's degree with highest honours (Campus de la Fonderie de l’Image). It was a sandwich course; that means I was at school for two days and three days in a graphic design agency. It allowed me to combine practice and theory which was helpful! Then the agency where I worked decided to hire me full-time, so I worked there for nearly four years. It was a successful experience where I learned a lot. However, I decided to leave in order to find new inspirations and immerse myself in a new graphic culture. 


Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying and non-binary artists and their work. Which artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Jessica Richer:
There are a lot of women that inspire me in my everyday life: Morag Myerscough for her use of color, her patterns, and installations (her studio did the huge display 'Designer Maker User' in the Design Museum); Malika Favre, for her use of positive and negative spaces ,and the way she turns every subject into an elegant project; Evelin Kasikov for her approach, combining digital and craft methods. It makes me think of the relationship my mother and I have when we try to work together, as she's a seamstress and I'm a graphic designer. All those women are based in London!

I think the woman that influences me the most is Jessica Walsh. Behind her small build, I find that she is an extremely strong and inspiring woman. I admire the various initiatives she has carried out. She used the influence she has in the design industry to fight against things, such as the last political elections in the United States, and the place of women with her initiative 'Ladies. Wine and Design'. I really like the projects she did with Stephan Sagmeister or Timothy Goodman with '40 Days of Dating'. She uses her skills to highlight personal and human projects, I like it a lot.

Little anecdote: the last time I went to New York with my two best friends, I went to the studio Sagmeister & Walsh, in the aim to meet Jessica Walsh or Stephan Sagmeister but unfortunately they were not there. It was an impromptu visit and I was absolutely unprepared! At this time I was unable to speak a sentence in English. I have immortalized that time with a picture of myself in front of the door of their studio.


Magic & Musings:
Of all of your designs, which are you the happiest with and why?

Jessica Richer:
I don't think I can choose a favourite one. I always do my best to create designs that are visually appealing and in line with the needs of my clients and their customers. I always do my best to be proud of my work although there is always a part of me unsatisfied. I think that a good designer is never 100% satisfied of their work because they knows that they can always do something better, like they have no limit.

However, the designs which I’m the most proud are for projects about human behavior. Indeed I’m very concerned about it and I would like to focus my work on this kind of projects in few years (culture, education, charity, …), like my project for Cultur’aid or Disco Boco.


Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album to listen to?

Jessica Richer:
Ohhh yes..!

Every person that has ever worked with me will say that I can’t work without at least a cup of tea and a nice playlist! I’m quite new to London so for the moment I don’t have any specific place. But I really appreciate working in inspiring places with white walls and a cute minimalist decoration with some color keys. But obviously, it’s not a requirement. The most important is the cup a tea! Otherwise, I always have on my desk my Pantone mug, a mini cactus (I’m crazy about cacti!) and a notebook with a pen. 

Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Jessica Richer:
First of all, I call my mum or my boyfriend! We don’t speak about graphic design at all but their voices help me to relax. Then I take a bath, I go for a walk and I look for shops with inspiring furniture and books. It’s always inspiring to see what people do. I don’t think it’s bad or means that you’re not creative, rather, it helps you to be open-minded. 


Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in another medium?

Jessica Richer:
Unfortunately, it’s not always the case with my professional projects. It’s a little bit frustrating sometimes but the most important thing is to create a layout appropriate to the brief. However for Cultur’Aid I created some hand-made stamps; it was really fun. 

It was easier during my studies. I did some projects like 'Save The Serif' (an artistic performance where I created an alphabet using white powder without any stencils or templates) or 'Totem' where I created book cover illustrations by spilling paint pots. 

Otherwise I explore some mediums for personal projects. For example, with my mum (she’s  a seamstress) sometimes we create some stuff combining our skills. I also used to participate in workshops during my free time (that is to say rarely). I’m dying to explore screen printing!

Magic & Musings:
What would you say your relationship is like between your business and the internet/social media? Would you say this has helped you greatly in your success, or not?

Jessica Richer:
The internet and I are very close, haha! To be honest it would be hard to work without it. It’s a powerful resource that I can always have with me and everywhere! Social media helped me a lot to create a network when I arrived in London. For example, thanks to the 'Ladies, Wine and Design' Facebook Group I had the opportunity to meet amazing women involved in the creative industry. Social media like Linkedin or Creative Pool allowed me to speak and work on projects with people I have never met in real life and I would probably never meet without the internet. 


Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Jessica Richer:
“The ways to succeed in life are endless.” 

I don’t consider myself successful in my career yet because I still have a lot to experiment with and to discover in the graphic design world. However, I would have liked someone to tell me earlier that the ways to succeed in life are endless. I'm just starting to understand that now by myself and I think that if I knew it would have given me a more hours of sleep and less doubts. Some ways are longer and require you to work harder. I am convinced that each one, with the right amount of work, can make a successful career. The level of study or the quality of the school can be helpful but they are not the key to success.

This is what I try to demonstrate to myself. I have chosen to learn and progress through practice (by meeting people, working with mentors, ...) instead of theory.

Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading some things you’ve enjoyed recently, like a book, food, music, or cinema?

Jessica Richer:
Since I arrived in London, I've been reading a very interesting book about happiness, Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan. It’s about finding pleasure and purpose in everyday life and shows that wellbeing isn't about how we think but about what we do. By making deliberate choices that bring us both pleasure and meaning, we can redesign our lives for maximum happiness.

I’m a foodie! As I’m quite new in London I’m not sure that I will be able to recommend THE restaurant that (almost) nobody has tasted but since I’ve been here I've gone to some nice places to eat. Nothing fancy, but for example I have tried a nice Indian restaurant in Peckham called Ganapati (SE15 5DF) and also a Turkish Restaurant in Notting Hill called Fez Mangal (W11 1PY). As you can see I love world cuisine; it allows me to travel without taking a plane and helps to not to be frustrated, haha!

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work?

Jessica Richer:
I just want to thank you Megan for having me and for your initiative to celebrate women in the creative industries! 

If anybody want to find out more about me, you can check my online portfolio www.jessicaricher.com. I try to update it when I have free time. You can also find me on Instagram, Behance, and Linkedin.

Otherwise if you want to talk with me about graphic design or any project, feel free to contact me by email. If some of you are in London and want to have a meet-up, let’s have a cup of tea!

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