Meet Graphic Designer and Illustrator, Tessa Forrest. Forrest is the force behind Subliming.jpg, a project that combines type illustrations and inspirational mantras and quotes in order to find a blend between art and vulnerability. We chatted with Tessa about her creative process, how she handles creative ruts and of course the role that CBD and cannabis play in her life.
How did you get into art and designing?
My grandmother was a fine artist so I grew up in a very artistic home — from the age of 3 or 4 I would draw at my kitchen table all day long. I actually used to draw clothing catalogues (lol) with my friends, so I clearly had an affinity for graphic design without even knowing it. I painted and drew until I was a tween and got onto Myspace and Livejournal, which sucked up all my time. My sisters and I were spending too much time on the computer so my dad gave us Photoshop Elements when I was about 12 so that we’d still be creative if we were going to be online so much. That’s when I started actually playing around with graphic design. I’d make Myspace layouts and Livejournal icons for me and my friends.
What does your creative process look like?
It sort of jumps around a lot. It’s a convergence of a lot of things. If I just did a black and white post, but the quote I have in mind and am feeling only looks strong in B+W, I save it to use or keep messing around with it until I can get it a different way that feels right. Or I stumble upon a quote and just have to make it, and feel it’s “energy” and sometimes I’m lucky if that flows with my feed. But there’s usually always something about the feed view of my instagram that plays a part. Like, I don’t like to have two of the same background colors stacked upon each other, or the same typeface usually. I just like to have a balance of long form quotes, short form, fun type, basic type, bright colors + muted colors. It’s just a matter of which quote I’m connecting with and how to visualize it within that balance.
Where do you find the words that inspire your work?
All over. Tumblr, the internet, instagram, books, friends, sometimes I walk past a storefront that has a good one written on a chalkboard sign. Everywhere!
What does CBD lend to your practice?
CBD is everything to me (literally). I take it every morning when I wake up! It helps me stay calm like as if it were my anxiety medication. I love taking it first thing in the morning because then when I have my coffee I don’t get caffeine jitters or anxiety. It zones me out just enough to feel calm and relaxed into the flow of what I’m making, while still keeping me sharp and focused.
How do you find your wellness, state of mind shapes your work?
This is so hard to answer because it shapes the entirety of my work in every way. Communicating the messages that I do comes straight from my state of mind, whether that is a stressful or sad or grieving or happy or inspired one. The basis of my messages are centered around this as well, and spiritual thoughts and mantras that help to heal or inspire myself + my followers through whatever state of mind we’re in.
What's your greatest source of inspiration?
My hardships! And boatload of day-to-day emotions.
What is the relationship between the written word and visuals for you?
When I read a quote or piece of text, it embodies an “energy.” I can sort of visualize the feeling and vibe of what this message is getting across, and I love to create that in order to make the message come off as striking and impactful as possible. I try to show other people what I see when I read it.
How do you make time for learning new things and growing as a person and artist?
I don’t know if it’s making time as much as it is allowing for the time to pass. I don’t rush that stuff. I think 2 or 3 years ago, when I wanted my design skill to be where it is now (or better), I was frustrated that it wasn’t. But I think learning new skills and growing just simply takes the time it takes. I can’t wait to see what my stuff looks like in 5 years. I think you just can’t rush it.
Do you ever find yourself in a creative rut? If so, how do you get out of it?
All the time. I just wait it out, honestly. I keep trying here and there to make stuff (if I even feel like trying) and if nothing’s working, I’m usually a little annoyed, but I just get into other stuff instead. Like rest, books, TV, exercise, whatever. Maybe the greatest artists in the world had endless inspiration, but I know personally, my brain needs to rest. If I’m just constantly executing and ideating, I drain all my creative juices. It’s just not realistic for me to never get into a creative rut. So when they happen, I just go with the flow and know that whatever is coming after this pause is going to be so so fun and inspiring and flow right out of me.
How have you been staying productive in these uncertain and scary quarantine times?
I would say one thing that’s helped for sure is still maintaining working hours and personal hours. It can be really easy for me to just keep designing into the wee hours of the night, but that’s usually how I fall into a creative rut. Giving myself nights and weekends to truly unplug to gather energy and motivation lets me come back more fresh and full of creative ideas.
Where did the name subliming.jpg come from?
My tumblr is “subliming” and it was taken on instagram so I added the “.jpg” and called it a day. No idea where it came from, just like the way it sounds. I think I was 19 when I came up with it.
How has social media impacted your practice?
I think at first it dictated a little bit how I would make my work. At first I was a lot more feminine in my designs because those were the ones that would do the best, but over time that wasn’t what I wanted to be making anymore and I was prioritizing growth. Now I just do what I want. I think that has made the right audience for me that is most aligned with my creative style. It’s brought me so so many friendships and connections and partnerships. I feel really lucky for my Instagram community.
What is the role of art in your life?
Art is everything to me. Since growing up, it has played the biggest role over anything in my life. I don’t know what I would do without being able to express myself through art.
Who is your favorite artist?
This is so hard to answer. I don’t know if I have a favorite. This might be cliche but I really love Van Gogh.
What does unwinding mean to you? How do you unwind?
I think unwinding is very important. My favorite way to unwind is either through exercise, or through smoking weed or taking CBD and relaxing with some music and either making some art or cleaning my apartment. Preferably exercise THEN making art. Also, just vegging out watching TV all day and ordering takeout. Sometimes you just need days like that.
What's your current obsession?
The Sims 4!!! I just got it and haven’t played since I was a kid. It’s so fun. I love making the houses, that’s my favorite part.
I don’t know if I could say I have a favorite anymore, but for a while it was “You could be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.” by Dita Von Teese.
Song on repeat right now?
Dull Boys by Archy Marshall + Daysleeper by Dirty Art Club.
Best life hack?
You don’t have to paint your nails neatly, just let them be a mess and wait for them to dry and then either shower or just rub off all the excess on your hands under warm water! I don’t know if this is the best life hack ever for me but it’s the first thing that came to mind.
Person you admire?
My dad. He had a lung transplant when I was 15. He’s had one lung for 12 years (that’s not even his) and is a champ. He doesn’t complain about anything and is grateful to be alive every day.
Committing to loving, accepting and respecting yourself is probably the hardest and most worthwhile thing you will ever do.
What's your favorite Sweet Reason flavor?
I’m going to have to go with Strawberry Lavender.
Tessa Forrest is a graphic designer and illustrator residing in Brooklyn, NY, who has created a project called Subliming, which combines type illustrations and inspirational mantras and quotes in order to find a blend between art and vulnerability.