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Lori Lejuene Feature Image

Artist Profile: Lori Lejeune

Each month, I will interview a different artist who is making her mark in the creative community. In September, I interviewed my talented friend, Lori Lejeune.

Lori Lejeune is an Atlanta-based artist and designer whose multimedia installations juxtapose digital images with hand-painted elements. Her FLIGHT SERIES offers a modern interpretation of birds and other creatures with wings. She creates large custom art installations by arranging canvases into patterns — providing a unique, signature look. Her work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects Atlanta at URBANfronts and in solo exhibits at the Southwest Arts Center in Atlanta, the Decatur Arts Alliance and the Aviation Community Cultural Center.
Lori Lejeune bird

What inspired you to start making art?

First of all, thank you for inviting me to discuss my work! Drawing always came to me naturally and it’s something I’ve done ever since I was little. The first time I was paid for my art was in fourth grade when my artwork won $20 in a parish-wide contest. My formal art career began with traditional drawing and painting. Then a move to California and living in Silicon Valley inspired me to begin exploring digital media as a fine art medium.

It seemed that when photography was first introduced, people had trouble viewing it as a medium for fine art; but many artists, including Ansel Adams, proved it can be used creatively and expressively. I see the development of digital work as fine art media as being similarly not as well understood. Exploring digital art as new territory is inspiring to me.</>

Lori Lejeune Installation

 

How would you describe your creative process?

There’s a playful part to it. An image frequently comes to me first, where I visualize the artwork fully in my mind’s eye, and work toward creating it. The playful part comes in when accidents happen along the way as I’m working on a piece. They often lead to a different and better outcome than I envisioned!

Lori Lejeune Flight Series

I originated a “shape combining” or “constellation” style of wall-hanging installation artwork in Atlanta and I have been exhibiting my signature style for over 7 years. My experiments with creating round work mounted onto compact disks evolved and led to my first installation of this type, which was installed in 2012. I frequently place small, medium and large round pieces together to create elegant and interesting patterns. Sometimes I add square and rectangular pieces to the patterns. Viewers have commented that my round canvas installations remind them of a constellation. A pattern of canvases can suggest a sequence, an emotion or a larger context.

Lori Lejeune with her installation

Do you ever have a hard time switching between designing corporate email campaigns and your multimedia installations?

It works for me. Many artists teach as part of their practice. Early on I decided to follow the path chosen by artists like Rene Magritte and Andy Warhol, both of whom had design and illustration studios in addition to their art practice.

Lori Lejeune Installation

Do you having any advice to artists who are just getting started?

The only part you can control is showing up and doing your work, so your focus has to be on doing work that’s meaningful to you and putting it out there. “Learn to labor and to wait,” are words that stuck with me ever since reading them. Henry Longfellow wrote, “Let us then be up and doing, with a heart for any fate. Still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait.”For artists just getting started in Atlanta, check out Kibbee Gallery. Ben Goldman and Preston Snyder at Kibbee Gallery are an important part of the Atlanta art scene and they provide a venue for local artists to gather and exhibit their work.

Lori Lejeune Installation

When is your next upcoming show?

>Little Things Mean a Lot at the Swan Coach House Gallery starting Thursday, November 15, 2018 – January 4, 2019 will feature some of my small works. The other artists included in this annual exhibit are great, the reception is always packed with people and the work can sell right off the walls so try to see it opening night!

Follow Lori on Instagram or Facebook.

type right feature image

Type Right: 5 Tips for Picking the Perfect Typeface

Type Right Title Graphic

Friends often ask me how to select the “right” typeface. Choosing the appropriate typeface for a poster, logo, or publication can be a daunting task due to the sheer volume of options. Many times, locating the perfect typeface is a combination of function, aesthetics, and attention to detail. Here are a few helpful tips to aid in your decision.

 

  1. Legibility:
    There are tons of typefaces available but if it is tough to read, avoid it. Small type may look fantastic on screen but can be very difficult to read. Building off this, do not use a decorative typeface for large quantities of text. I recommend using a serif or sans serif typeface instead. Save the handwritten and decorative typeface for titles, logos, and other small lines of type.

Hard To Read Type

  1. Usability:
    What is the typeface being used for, a logo for a small boutique or for a brochure on pest control? Be mindful of the purpose of the design. A brochure about bed bugs will look very different from a chic store sign. Each project has different requirements. Logos are a great time to experiment with typefaces that you would not typically use to explain bedbug removal.

 

  1. Body Language:
    Does the typeface feel friendly, confident, sophisticated, timid, or unapproachable? Like people, typefaces give off different vibes. Look for a typeface that is consistent with your overall message or theme.

Examples of Type - Body Language

  1. Audience:
    Who is going to be reading the information? Are you appealing to teenagers or baby boomers? Bat lovers from the city or disco fanatics who reside in small towns? Be sure to define your audience before starting your design.

 

  1. Visual Appeal:
    How does the typeface look? Does it make you want to keep reading or run far, far away? Look for a versatile typeface that has a variety of weights such as thin, book, medium, and bold. This will give you many options while maintaining unity in your type design.

type examples - width

For more tips on graphic design and typography follow me on Instagram at @meglinkdesign.

Lean In

Lean InI started my career post 9/11 in a terrible job market and accepted a position as a graphic designer at a conservative douchebag firm. I toughed it out for a few years while my design aesthetic was second guessed by rookie enginerds and my soul was slowly sucked dry. There was no such thing as an open dialogue. After a seemingly good performance review, my boss was angered when I asked him why my raise was half of what he had promised. I could not go to HR, because it did not exist despite the over 400 mostly male employees and the lack of a paper trail. You quickly learned to keep your head down and not to ask questions. If I was ever in need of a book, it was Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

 

As I read Lean In, I found myself murmuring clichés like “this is my truth” and “YES!” Her observations are spot on especially when it comes to gender and the workplace. When I completed graduate school, I proudly displayed my diploma in my cubicle. The same boss made a snarky comment to me that “at least you got something.” Meaning do not expect a raise, period. Would my boss have said that if I was a man? I would like to hope that companies have become more forward thinking in the last 15 years. We need more women leaders and more diversity in the leadership ranks.

 

Like many women, I stepped out of corporate America to find my own path to success. Working for myself, ensures that I no longer have to put up with toxic people or workplaces. I know that not every woman has that luxury and I am very grateful for the experience. As I look back on that crappy first job, two things come to mind. First, I met some amazing women with whom I am still close friends. If it was not for the strength of the community, I would not have been able to get through the day. Second, my boss helped to fuel my fire for success. I felt like each milestone on my list was a slap in his face.

 

Upon finishing the book, I encouraged my Asian-American boyfriend to read it. There are universal lessons to be learned from Lean In as we work toward equality. I quote Sheryl Sandberg “I believe that if more women lean in, we can change the power structure of our world and expand opportunities for all.” Now is the time to start a conversation about how we can work toward change. Maybe it is by raising our rates or setting priorities for our next job or simply by keeping our hand up.

Instagram Tips Blog Feature

Instagram Tips

Over the past few months, I have been stepping up my Instagram game at @meglinkdesign. I attended a few workshops by Your Social Media Team, which I highly recommend, have been reading up on social media strategies on Later.com’s blog, and I am devoting more time to improving my content. Here are a few tips that I have learned along the way.

meglinkdesign Instagram feed photos

Sign up for an Instagram Business Account.

Its free and gives you access to helpful analytics including charts that display the time of day and days of the week that your audience is the most active. This is immensely helpful for understanding when your audience is using Instagram. I try to post around 3pm EST each day since that is when the my audience is most active. I also like to post on the weekends, I have noticed that I reach a greater variety of people on Saturdays and Sundays.

Write thoughtful captions.

Tell a story, be authentic and engage your audience by asking questions. A good caption can go a long way, especially if it is funny. I recommend typing your caption in an email or word processing program and pasting it into Instagram.

Research your tags.

Try to find hashtags that connect you to similar accounts and potential followers. I like to create lists of hashtags in my phone’s notepad. After creating a new Instagram post, quickly copy and paste a group of hashtags into the first comment. Another popular method for hiding your hashtags is to create several line breaks before pasting your tags into the bottom of the caption.

meglinkdesign Instagram feed photos

Lighting is key.

It really does make or break your image. No amount of editing will help an subject that is lost in the shadows.  If your subject is not properly lit, move yourself or your subject to take a better shot.

Don’t zoom.

Do not zoom in with your smart phone’s camera. Move your body instead. This will result in a much better photo that will be easier to edit.

Use filters to unify your Instagram feed.

I spent hours editing photos in Adobe’s Lightroom until I was introduced to the free smart phone app, A Color Story. You can purchase a variety of filters sets to apply to your images. I especially like Candy Minimal, a set of filters that makes pastels pop, and Airy a filter set that softens and lightens images.  After applying a combination of filters, I use A Color Story’s adjustment tools to further edit my images.

Have fun.

Do not take your Instagram feed too seriously!

meglinkdesign Instagram feed photos

9999 Bananas

9999 Bananas Logo Design

I was recently contacted by the lovely Miss Banana to design a logo and business cards for her growing digital print company, 9999 Bananas. Her company produces tiny desk calendars featuring Miss Banana’s innovative photography. She also sells limited edition numbered prints of her work. Miss Banana requested that her new brand incorporate her crest drawn by the talented illustrator, Jet Landis.

9999 Bananas Logo Design

Styling a logo that meshed with the crest and her colorful photography was quite a challenge, so I intentionally kept the logo design very simple and type-based. A thin sans serif typeface was selected for the graceful 9s. I stacked the 9s into a square to create a more concise form and reflect the square format of her photography. The exaggerated Ns in Bananas add a whimsical element to the logo and better reflect Miss Banana’s playful personality and brand.

Since Miss Bananas has many aspects to her business, we selected a large color palette to represent each of her product lines and updated the crest with the corresponding logo color to create a cohesive and unified brand. 9999 Bananas business cardsMiss Banana’s business cards feature her photography. Like the 9999 Bananas logo, the square format business cards were selected to reflect the shape of her photography. The front of the cards feature her crest and contact information.

If you are interested in one of Miss Bananas calendars, be sure to place an order soon, they sell out quickly!

 

 

Illustrated map of Madagascar

Madagascar Poster

I designed a map of Madagascar to enter this year’s AIGA Atlanta Poster show. I chose Madagascar because the unique island nation is home to numerous plants and wildlife that can only be found there. Sadly, many of the animals in Madagascar have become endangered due to the rapid deforestation of the country. My poster highlights a few animals such as the Lemur, Aye-Aye, Comet Moth, and Fossa which are all indigenous to Madagascar.

Illustrated map of Madagascar

To research this illustrated map, I spent time reading about Madagascar and reviewing national parks, tourist attractions and the geography of the country. The most challenging aspect of this project was selecting a color palette and creating a system of organization for the map. I selected colors that reflect the geography of Madagascar while trying to limit the number of colors used on the map. The red adds a bright pop of color and directs the viewer’s eye around the map. The white “waves” are a unifying element and add a bit of whimsy and movement to the design. The white is repeated in the actual landmass to represent the central road system. Creating a sense of order while representing the major landmarks, cities, and the habitats of the animals was also quite demanding. That type of problem solving makes map making appealing to me.

Illustrated map of Madagascar

The image above is an earlier version of my design. It is interesting to note how much color changes the focal point and emotional feel of the map. In this stage, I had just begun adding vegetation and marking the mountain ranges of Madagascar but I had already established an overall style unlike the example below where I was still experimenting with different typefaces and design details.

Illustrated map of Madagascar

All in all, I am happy with my design. I definitely learned a lot in the process.

 

Just Peachy: T-shirt Design

Each year on the 4th of July, Atlanta hosts the AJC Peachtree Road Race, the largest 10k in the world. A race where 60,000 runners including myself scramble down the historic Peachtree Street while braving Hotlanta’s stifling heat and humidity. To commemorate the race, the Atlanta Track Club awards finishers with a t-shirt and opens up the design of the t-shirt to the public in the form of a t-shirt design contest.

Peachtree Road Race submission

My submission was not selected; however, I am very happy with my whimsical design featuring peaches running up and down the hills of Peachtree Street. Since the AJC Peachtree Road Race is nearly 50 years old, I used simple, minimalistic forms and a retro-inspired typeface, Amboy, to give my submission a 1970s feel. I customized the type by adding stars to the first letter of every word. I paired Amboy with the slab serif typeface, Chunkfive.

The fireworks were the most challenging part of this design. In the image below, you can see my first try at fireworks. I ended up using Adobe Illustrator’s Line Width Tool to edit a line and the Transform Control Panel to transform, rotate, and create 13 copies of my stroke. If you would like to learn more, you can access the helpful tutorial that I used here.

Originally, my design started off with 4 colors, red, blue, grey and a peach color but I paired it down to three colors to add more unity to the design and boost the retro appeal. Overall, I am very satisfied with this project. It was a fun was to brush up on my Adobe Illustrator skills.

Peachtree Road Race submission