Jessica Walsh by Jonathan Quaade

The ways one could introduce Jessica Walsh are plentiful: partner at Sagmeister & Walsh, designer, illustrator, art director, a collaborator on the iconic project 40 Days of Dating, an enviable combination of creative & businesswoman, the “It” design girl or, as she as puts it herself, much more timid that you’d guess. Despite winning numerous design awards, Walsh has become increasingly well-known for the brave integration of her personal life in design projects. At the announcement of her new status as partner at Sagmeister & Walsh, at just 25 years of age, she dropped her clothes, posing in the nude alongside her partner Stefan Sagmeister.

From Left to right: “Poster design & photography for the RISD “Shared Voices” series. – “Jessica collaborated with Lacey on concepts + set design for Details magazine boots story”- “Branding, bags and boxes for the Jewish museum in New York City”

Jessica Walsh had a meteoric rise to become one of the most prominent graphic designers in world. After her stint at Print as artistic director, after graduating from RISD 2008, there was only company that drew her attention as she looked for new opportunities, Sagmeister. In her eyes, Sagmeister delivered an emotional quality their work which inspired her to seek Stefan Sagmeister’s advice on how to continue her career. He decided to hire her. Walsh became heavily recognised when she shifted from more commercial work at her studio to more self-initiated work. This is illustrated by her project 40 Days of Dating and 12 Kinds of Kindness both with Tim Goodman. The premises are as follows: two friends, with varying dating problems, date each other for forty days and two friends execute twelve different kinds of gestures to become more empathic individuals. It reflects Walsh drive to create work that touches people. She wants us to feel emotion and understand stories. For Walsh, design is a tool to do just that.  

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“The editorial publication for the 40 days of dating: Jessica Walsh and Timothy goodman try dating and record the results” http://fortydaysofdating.com/

Walsh has the ability to create strong relations with her clients and the drive to make work more just than good design. This is what distinguishes her from other graphic designers. Her style allows her to put her personal voice into design whenever applicable, making projects like 40 Days of Dating the mega success that it was, where she comes across as surprisingly broken throughout the book.  Many other designers would have removed their deep-seated flaws. “A lot of designers keep design confined to the box.” [1] Walsh brings design into her world, which she has received a lot of hate for from the industry especially for 40 Days of Dating, as many believed it was wrong to put her personal story into design. Even the media were critical. Gawker’s Defamer.com labeled the her and Tim Goodman as “insufferable,”[2] while Jezebel.com ran an article titled “40 Days of Dating Update: Couple Still Very Annoying.” [3] But the project is nonetheless a massive success. The project site has garnered over 10 million unique views since it’s launch and Warner Bros. have bought the rights for full feature film to be put into the works.

Despite her success, Walsh is always looking to the future. Her new fascination is generative and interactive processing language, not a shock considering her career started as an 11 year old coder and web designer. (She created an html site offering free templates for other kids interested in design). Walsh hopes to use it to bring branding languages alive e.g. have it react to human motion in order to add playfulness, personalities and story to her work.”My new goals it to focus less on form and beauty and dedicate more time to creating work that connects with people, starts important dialogues or touches people in some way.” [4] So by the sounds of it, it’s possible that we could see this new processing language and new exciting projects from Walsh in the near future.

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“Participatory installation illuminates at the Happy Show in Philadelphia”

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“Sagmeister & Walsh designed a visual language,for Frooti, one of India’s oldest mango juice brands”

Bibliography:

[3] “40 Days of Dating Update: Couple Still Very Annoying.” Accessed April 23, 2016

http://jezebel.com/40-days-of-dating-update-couple-still-very-annoying-1277313172

“Font of the Youth: Jessica Walsh, Graphic Design’s ‘It’ Girl.” Accessed April 20, 2016

http://observer.com/2014/04/jessica-walsh-graphic-designer-profile/

“Interview with Jessica Walsh, partner at Sagmeister & Walsh.” Accessed April 20, 2016

http://www.designboom.com/design/interview-jessica-walsh-sagmeister-walsh-graphic-design-01-07-2015/

[2] “Insufferable Dating Blog Forty Days of Dating Sells Movie Rights to WB.” Accessed April 20, 2016

http://defamer.gawker.com/insufferable-dating-blog-forty-days-of-dating-sells-mov-1339842962

[4] “Jessica Walsh.” Accessed April 22, 2016

http://www.okreal.co/articles/jessica-walsh/

“Jessica Walsh on the Great Discontent.” Accessed April 20, 2016

https://thegreatdiscontent.com/interview/jessica-walsh

“The Dating Game That Went Viral.” Accessed April 20, 2016

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/18/dating-game-went-viral-40-days-of-dating

[1] “The Evolution of Jessica Walsh.” Accessed April 20, 2016

http://www.printmag.com/in-print/the-evolution-of-jessica-walsh/

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