Creative Genius: Molly Jacques
This modern calligrapher's approach to hand lettering inspires others to learn the art, and gives us total heart-eyes.
Recognized in the art and business communities for her contribution to design, Molly Jacques is a calligrapher who leaves her mark. Her reinvention of the art of illustration at a time when hand lettering is experiencing a major resurrection drew us right in (pun intended), and to say we’re inspired is an understatement. Molly’s art is an extension of herself – playful, fun, and energetic – and it’s hard to look at any of her work and not feel happy.
While her inspiration is drawn from calligraphy of the past, her ability to embrace the modern world of digital illustration has helped her business and talents grow tremendously in the last 5 years. I think her style will draw you right in, too. While many of Molly’s clients may demand digital output as the finishing touch on their own creative vision, she still keeps plenty busy by teaching calligraphy and hand lettering to groups of students – some, she reports, have proudly taken their talents to the next level. Whether you’re practicing on paper or on a chalkboard, Molly offers lots of insight on her social channels to fans who can’t necessarily join a class in person.
In the video and interview below, see why Molly Jacques is a total Creative Genius.
Calligrapher Molly Jacques 03:18
Hand letterer Molly Jacques discusses the inspiration behind her designs.
Let’s start at the beginning. Of all creative avenues, what is it that drew you to illustration? Were you young when your interest took hold? Was it a natural talent?
I’ve always loved illustration. When I was in elementary school, I was drawn to the illustrations in books and loved to draw in art class. I remember I drew this pirate ship and my teacher was so impressed by my drawing skills – her enthusiasm really motivated me to keep drawing! My parents were also super supportive. Having that encouragement when you’re little is really helpful; it gives you confidence.
I continued to draw throughout my younger and teen years and learned a lot from drawing my favorite Sailor Moon [a popular Japanese series] characters. Again, my parents really believed in me so they sent me to art school at College for Creative Studies. I’m a pretty sensitive person so I don’t think I would have even moved forward with it if I didn’t have that encouragement. Once I started in college, I really had to try hard. Everyone else was so good, so even if one has the natural talent, you have to ‘compete’ with all of your peers who are equally good if not better, ha!
Hearing this gives me the warm-and-fuzzies, Molly. It’s a nice reminder that the support we give our kids early on is critical to building the foundation they need to pursue a dream like you did.
Was it after college that you became interested in calligraphy and hand lettering?
I first started with hand lettering after gaining interest in gig poster art. There’s a love for hand-drawn type in that world and I decided to add a few gig posters to my portfolio. Those posters are what got me my first lettering gigs and then I just continued from there!
Have you had a chance to do BIG installations, or is it more often small and/or digital?
I usually work in a smaller format, as most of my lettering just lives as digital files sent off to clients. However, I have had the opportunity to work on a few fun large-scale installations. I did a project with Cole Haan a while back, creating a huge chalkboard for a brand promotional video. It was super fun!
Why did you start teaching?
I started teaching because I was getting so many people asking me to teach. Once I taught a few times, I discovered that I was actually OK at it so I just rolled with it to see where it would take me. I enjoyed meeting new people and, even more so, enjoyed seeing others progress and enjoy the craft.
What is the vibe in your classes? Do students catch on quickly? (As in … could I actually be good at hand lettering?)
My classes are pretty structured in terms of curriculum, but the vibe is definitely light-hearted and encouraging. I want every single person to walk into one of my classes feeling good about what they accomplished.
That sounds fun! Do you have any tips for someone who is just starting out in learning the art of hand lettering?
Every artist excels in their own way. Some artists are really great at certain letters and others not so much. My suggestion is to start out learning the basic shapes and mastering those first before even jumping into letters!
Have you made any fonts that are available for download/sale? For anyone who doesn’t catch on to the art of hand lettering but still wants to create their own gig posters or custom cards, it’s always nice to have a good resource for beautiful typefaces.
They’re so happy! I also like that you also have some free fonts on your website.
Any tips for budding artists looking to take their passion to the next step?
It’s hard to say this + that = success. It’s different for every artist. That said, a great start is to build a relevant, good portfolio. Once you have that, build up friendships with other artists and clients. A great way to do that is through social media, connecting via local design groups like the AIGA or attending workshops. When you do get a job that you’ve been wanting – work hard. Put your best foot forward and be nice to those you work with.
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