Jenn Gietzen is a woman after our own hearts — she has a thing for creating witty pieces of art and text, loves the South and claims tacos as her favorite food group. This graphic designer/hand letterer went off on her own a few years ago to start Write On! Design and has been creating clever, gorgeous work for many beloved Southern brands, including her own! Get to know the very cool Jenn Gietzen, today’s FACE of the South — she even created a custom card for all of us StyleBlueprint-ers!
Tell us about your ties to the South. What is your favorite part about living in Atlanta?
We moved to Atlanta in 1995 from Houston. Even though I’m definitely an Atlantan, I still claim Texas (whoops, sorry y’all). My favorite part about living in Atlanta is that there is always a new restaurant popping up somewhere! I can get lost on a back road I didn’t even know existed and find my new favorite spot with the best patio you’ve ever seen.
When did you realize you had an eye for design and lettering? What type of training did you have to develop those talents?
I grew up in a sports family, but just couldn’t stay away from the paints! Ever since I was little, my mom was constantly having to buy me new watercolors and brushes and calligraphy sets. She put me in art classes and private lessons starting in middle school. At 15, during a painting lesson, my teacher told me, “You’d be really great at graphic design.” I have a BFA in graphic design and have been freelancing since my freshman year of college [at the Art Institute of Atlanta]. Throughout that time, I was still “playing” with calligraphy, and what I didn’t know was hand lettering. I started taking that side of things seriously about 3.5 years ago.
What is the best and worst thing about being “a creative”?
The worst and best thing (for me) go a little hand in hand. Creative ruts are my enemy. Feeling uninspired can be the worst and put you in an Alice in Wonderland downward rabbit hole. But then, when you get out of it and are flooded with so much inspiration that you can’t get the artwork out of your head and off your fingertips fast enough … that’s a high I always crave and look forward to.
What’s your creative process and how do you translate what a client is thinking into tangible work?
My process can be different with every client. Now that we have Pinterest, it can be nice to get a mood board together and channel their ideas into pictures. However, I prefer to have a conversation or two and work more from words, phrases and verbal ideas so as not to have my mind and imagination blocked from a photo (as I’m such a visual person). The sketching process starts from there, giving several options and styles before moving to digitize it all.
Your bio says you lived out of your car for a summer. Can you share some life hacks you learned in your mobile home?
Dry shampoo. It became my best friend that summer.
What has been your favorite project, professional or not, thus far? What’s it like running your own business, Write On! Design?
Ah, so hard to choose! I do have a personal project in the works that I’m pretty excited about. In my first full year of having Write On! Design, I did a yearlong project that I called Write On! Market. Each month I collaborated with a different maker or artist (even did some solo) to produce limited edition, handmade products. I loved being pushed out of my comfort zone to brainstorm and work with someone I normally wouldn’t have had the chance to.
Running Write On! Design, it gives me all the feels. Some days are the happiest and filled with little dance parties; others are filled with a WTF moment over admin stuff, and the rest of them you fly by the seat of your pants.
Quick, what’s your favorite Microsoft font?!
You can never go wrong with Helvetica.
Based on your body of work, it seems like you really enjoy tacos. Where’s your favorite place to get a delish taco and why?
Ha, it’s true! Tacos are my love language. There’s a spot down the street from my house, El Taco, that has the best fried chicken taco I’ve ever had! My friends and I go there quite a bit; they might even know us by name.
You’ve done a lot of work for many local, beloved brands. Is it weird seeing your work when you walk into a Southern spot?
YES, so completely weird! Surreal even. Sometimes it will take me a minute to recognize it and think, Oh my gosh! That’s mine! And then I do a mini happy dance in my head.
We LOVE the clever cards you sell in your online shop (your Sorry card is perfection). On the fly, can you come up with a card directly for us StyleBlueprint-ers?
“Thanks for being my best bitch (and not in a prison sort of way).”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Actor Chris Pratt posted this to Instagram: “I had to hustle hard and go hungry … And I never had a plan B. I never stopped believing. Ever. Don’t give up. Apply constant pressure for as long as it takes. It will break before you do. Go get it.”
A lot of family members have pressured me to quit and go back to a desk job. My response? HELL NO! I’m doing this for me. No one else. Proving to myself that this life is worth it, that I can do it. For me and only me.
What are three things you cannot live without, minus friends, family and faith?
Bright pink lipstick, wine and really loud, guilty-pleasure music
Our thanks to the very busy, very funny Jenn Gietzen for sharing more about her story and creative process. And for our very own StyleBlueprint card!
As always, our (figurative) hats off to CatMax Photography for today’s wonderful photos!