Design Notes is a show about creative work and what it teaches us, hosted by Liam Spradlin. In this episode, Liam speaks with illustrator Libby VanderPloeg about how she relates to her unique illustration style, deciding what to share with the world, and what happens when your work takes on a life of its own.
Watch highlights from Design Notes, episode 12.
On the emotional impact of illustration
“It’s funny, when I’m drawing, I mirror faces as I’m working on them. I’ll be at my computer and realize I’ve been smiling for the last ten minutes. I feel those feelings as I create them. And maybe that’s why I don’t want to delve into sadness too much, because I’m afraid I’ll feel that myself.”
On creating joyful work
“I may create something that feels light and free and joyful, but the process of creating that feeling is work. It's just like everything else—if you want to get something done to your expectations, you have to research and you have to do it step-by-step.”
“Generally, the stuff that’s gotten wide circulation I feel really good about. That’s why I shared it. It’s doing something positive—making people feel a collective energy.”
Handy info and links for this episode:
- VanderPloeg’s book The Art of Stripes is a style guide to wearing the classic pattern.
- VanderPloeg maps cities in her signature illustrative style. She notes that Chicago’s strong and distinct grid translates well to an illustrated map, while Miami’s wide north-south streets and rectangular blocks pose more of a challenge.
- Listen to this interview with Spring.St, where VanderPloeg discusses what she hopes to communicate through her work.
- Download a PDF transcript of Design Notes, Episode 12
On the next episode, Liam speaks with interdisciplinary designer Sang Mun about a computer-fooling typeface, how technology interacts with human perception, and how design can empower people in their everyday lives.
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