Norma Jeanne from Red Rider Studios. My favourite fact about NJ is that she used to be a truck driver! We chat all thing about writing a memoir and working on plans for a school in Kentucky, and how there is no shame in any job if your end goal is to do your own thing and follow your passion!
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?
I remember being very drawn to typography at a very young age, it started with cereal boxes and later to album covers. Road trips with my family all over America led to my fascination and love for road side attractions and of course signage. I began with tracing off of the records I would buy as a youngster, and now I know that was a great exercise as it really taught me how typefaces move and flow.
What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened?
When I went to the California College of Art and Crafts, now California College of the Arts, I wanted to be a graphic designer, someday to work in the music industry designing CD covers, and CD packaging. I went all the way to my senior year and lost heart, it just didn’t do it for me, the computer. I ended up leaving and running a small sign shop in San Francisco for 8 months before starting Red Rider Studios and going out on my own. Best decision I ever made.
What are the three worst jobs you have done leading up to where you are now, and how did you learn from them?
I did a lot a really nutty jobs when I was getting Red Rider off the ground in Austin. I drove a city bus, and I drove a concrete truck, and did side work for a handyman. I never see any shame in any job if your end goal is to do your own thing and follow your passion. I’d rather been seen driving a city bus in a ridiculous ice cream suit, better than sitting around dreaming and not moving.
What is the design landscape like on your city and where do you fit in?
The design landscape in my small city right now is all over the map. A jigsaw puzzle of bad design and bad signage. We are taking small stabs at little projects around town and there is every reason to believe we will leave a nice footprint here in the years to come.
Whats the big goal in the next five years?
I really want to start a design and sign painting school in Appalachia. I am from Kentucky and I love the people of Eastern Kentucky. Sadly there is no outlet for creativity, really for anything at all. I would love to have an artist in residence program in an historic building in the Paintsville Area. And show these kids they have a future beyond marrying too young and staying put. You can always come home, I did.
Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?
I’m finally going to start writing my memoir, actually several. Start working on plans for this school in Kentucky. Mainly, while doing all this I want to find time to explore getting back to me. My business has been so overwhelmingly busy I forget sometimes that I need to nurture myself. Not sure how I will make that happen, but at least its on the list.
Salt Lake City
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and join our design community of emerging graphic designers around the globe.