Original Interview: March 2014

Jennifer Denning

Jennifer is a recent graduate from Shillington, with a strong eye for typography she’s also done some posters for the recent Melbourne show Supergraph! She nailed a job straight out of study – she tells us how she got it, her ups and downs and her future plans.

Tell us about you – where/what did you study?
I studied at Shillington College in Melbourne. I completed their 3-month intensive course. My background was in Building Design (which is kinda the same as Architecture). I studied that at RMIT and landed a job working for a large retail company designing their fit-outs and co-ordinating their construction. After a couple of years of doing this, I needed a changed. I was working long hours for very little recognition. So I swapped jobs to another retail company, where I got to work alongside their in-house graphic design team. I loved watching them put together campaigns and was fortunate to help coordinate some of them. This was where my passion for design and creativity was reignited. I’ve always been a crafty sort of person, ever since I could work a pencil and a gluestick. After a lot of deliberation last year and after coming back from a trip to the US, I decided to quit my job and go back to school. I finished up on a Wednesday and started at Shillo the following Monday!

Where you are based and how do you think that affects your outcome?
I live in Melbourne’s outer south-eastern suburbs. Travelling into class each day would take one and a half hours one-way. I started at Shillo in the middle of winter so there were a lot of dark, early mornings in almost freezing conditions and coming home again in the dark. I think this made me more passionate about what I was doing because I was spending three hours of my day travelling to and from class. Also, it made me very time conscious, so I became more organised and smarter with what time I did have.

jennifer denning melbourne

jennifer denning melbourne

How did you land a job straight out of uni? (lucky duck!)
I think that is a combination of hard work, listening to my teacher’s advice and just pure luck! When I left Shillo I had a portfolio that showcased the best parts of 13 weeks worth of hard work, excessive amounts of coffee and a couple of sleepless nights. I organised a portfolio review with Shane from Liquorice Studio who then put me in touch with Jim and Chris from TANK.  Getting to show my folio and explain my ideas was invaluable. I really appreciated these guys taking time out of their busy schedules to sit and have a chat and go through my work. It gave me a little confidence boost too. I was also sending out a little typeface book I’d made to other designers and studios I admired, and emailing a PDF folio around too. This was the first time in seven years I had been unemployed so I did have a little freak out and think, shit, I really need to get a job! After not hearing back from a few job postings I started to feel a bit disheartened, but then on a whim I checked out the opportunities section on Shillington’s site, and saw an ad for a junior designer at a little studio in North Melbourne. Gave them a call, sent my portfolio through and got a call that afternoon to come in for an interview. The rest is history! I’ working as a junior designer for a small studio called Middlemen.

Tell us about your typographic posters for Supergraph!?
I created four typographic posters, each one showcasing a different typeface I had designed. The typeface I’m most proud of is ‘industrial’. The inspiration behind this came from seeing the shape of a table’s legs and thinking that looks like an ‘A’ and it grew from there. I was very nervous about putting my work out there and almost didn’t do it. But I’m glad I did.

jennifer denning melbourne

jennifer denning melbourne

We ADORE Wes Anderson, and your (sadly faux) film-festival identity was killer – tell us a little about it…
Thanks! So the original brief was to create an A5 finished size brochure showcasing his films at a dedicated festival. I grew up watching his films, and loved the quirkiness and different way of storytelling. Life Aquatic would have to be my favourite! A major theme that runs through his films is the communication between characters via letters. That’s when I had a light-bulb moment and thought wouldn’t it be great if I could make it look like an envelope that folds out like a letter. It took a bit of mocking up and and cutting and pasting paper to get my head around it, but it worked! Design and content wise you can’t go past Futura for the main typeface (all his films use this typeface), and the colour palette tied into the very primary based one he uses throughout his films. To extend this storytelling narrative I wanted to represent each of his films with three little sketches of elements from each. For example the falcon (Royal Tenenbaums), the jaguar shark and the Belafonte (both from Life Aquatic).

What are your personal and professional goals for 2014?
Hmm.. Learn to manage my time better! I’m doing some freelance work on the side and I really need to get better at prioritising my own time around a work schedule. Also, I’m thinking of doing some more origami work and turning it into a small market business, but again TIME!! Personally, I’m going to do a small bit of travel at the end of the year and just keep designing my way through 2014!

website: j-is-for
Aus In Front: jennifer denning
The Loop: jennifer denning
Supergraph: posters

jennifer denning melbourne

jennifer denning melbourne