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Sara Ridky

Designer, Illustrator

Primary design concentration:

Clean brand design and whimsical illustration

Most preferred tools for designing:

Coffee/Tea, Adobe Illustrator, My lovely pens

Brand and print design for Dose Market

How and why did you choose to become a designer?

For me, it has always been one of those things that I couldn’t pry myself away from even if I wanted. My entire family is creative, and as a child, art and creating were always my biggest passion. I don’t think I, or anyone else, ever expected me to be anything other than a creative. I feel lucky in this way, that my path was already so sound at a very young age. It does feel great to have something that just calls to you, even when everything is upside down, at least this is one thing I know.

What are some of the challenges you encounter as a designer and how do you deal with them?

One of the biggest challenges I have encountered in being a designer is only something that has recently reared its head in the past several years. Clients. No matter the small business, you have to deal with people, and that is not quite my forte. Over the years I have gotten much better, but I would still always prefer a cave of blankets and seclusion to a client phone call.

Greeting card

What is your definition of an “elegant solution,” that is, good design?

Well, I do love problem-solving, and I believe that every solution should be elegant or else it wouldn’t be quite a solution at all. This is definitely a trait of a perfectionist, but this is probably one of my most favorite parts about design—the challenge. The time and brain power it takes to find a solution that is not only logical, but also beautiful in functional design, is what gets my heart pumping.

From skills to values, what makes a designer successful?

In my opinion, the key to being a successful professional designer is organization. I know us, creatives, have the weird stereotype for being a constant mess and working in an enormous paper and paint-filled loft, but this is not the truth. It definitely takes an extreme amount, almost obsession, for attention to detail and organization. Without this, your clients, your work, your appointments and deadlines will all manifest into a giant hungry octopus trying to devour all your hopes and dreams. Lists are my life—they are what keep my head on straight.

Brand and stationary design for Dujor

How do you stay motivated and grow personally and professionally as a designer?

I like to feel good. I have also noticed that when I feel good, I work good. This means that I pay attention to my overall well-being and have put a lot of effort into what I put in, on and around my body. Living a healthier vegan lifestyle, practicing moving my body in yoga, and getting my mind going with playing the piano are a few things that really make me feel great. I think one of the greatest things you can do to help yourself go further in any career is to take care of your mind and body. There is so much information out there today about how our bodies work that we were never taught, and I find it extremely interesting and inspiring.

For those aspiring to become a designer, whatever the discipline, what is your advice?

My advice on diving into this world, as any type of creative, whether you chose it or were born into it is not to force anything. A lot of the time in college, when stress was a very big factor in my work, I found that when I finally stopped trying so hard, the work just flowed out of me. It almost became amusing after a while. I knew that if I would just stop, put away my stuff and go do something else, I would somehow find myself back at my desk (well, usually the floor) working on my projects in a better mood. Once you stop freaking out, you’ll start to see that the magic just happens, because you have it! Although, do not confuse this with procrastination—as this puts you in a constant state of anxiety and worry.

Brand and stationary design for Fruit On A Limb

What is your quest in design, from a professional practice, education or evolution standpoint?

Oh, I love this question. If I could, I would fix everything. Redesign the world. Not only visually but in every way. My solution to this very out-of-reach need is to create children’s books. The world is changing, faster than ever right now and being apart from that is totally inspiring. The idea of creating beautiful children’s books that put goodness out into the world, to help the newcomers grow, motivates me. Not only does it fill the imagination of a child with beautiful ideals and lessons, but it also lets me travel back in time when I was a kid when I thought everything was magical and new. My quest in design is to eventually have these books be my prime focus and create a series that I write and illustrate until my last days.

Sara Ridky “specializes in creating iconic brand identities, fresh print design, and whimsical illustrations for clients big and small.” She highly recommends Gary Hustwit’s documentary film “Helvetica.”

Images courtesy of Sara Ridky. Her portrait photographed by Collin Hughes.

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