Jenny Beorkrem Interview
Move over Rand McNally, this isn’t your grandparents’ wall map. With her signature neighborhood maps, Jenny Beorkrem has taken typography from the pages of books and periodicals to the walls of city-dwellers of and movie sets alike. Her trademark design is so prolific, she receives requests for new city designs. As an independent entrepreneur, Beorkrem shares insights on meeting big demand with small-scale production and maintaining the integrity of one’s art.
No not at all. Each new city is a new challenge and a fresh design, even though it’s the same idea applied over and over. I don’t see much difference between what I’m doing and a period of a painter’s work where they also apply the same idea over again, but the form is reworked.
What are the challenges of having two creative brands, Ork and Trim Tab, and how do you balance the two?
You say on your website that you don’t have an advertising budget for Ork, but the posters are pervasive. What do you credit their popularity to?
I’m fortunate to be able to say that, but I think it’s rarely possible unless it’s a product like posters that advertise for themselves because they’re hanging up on a wall or hanging up in a store window. But the features of the posters that make them pervasive is that they are attractive in design and transparent in subject matter, and the subject matter is relatable.
You have done graphic design for a range of industries: corporate commercial, small business, magazine, and non-profit. Do you have any suggestions for forming good business relationships with your clients?
LISTEN! If you have an email correspondence, it’s easier. But make sure you go back and reread it all before you start designing. If it’s a phone call, take scrupulous notes, paying particular attention to adjectives that the client uses. Hopefully the client will be clear about the most important factor of the project, but sometimes it will be your job to find that, so you really have to pay attention when the client is giving you their time.
You have built a network of retailers who sell your work in their stores after it’s been printed in-house. What advice do you have for artists considering this type of distribution, which uses a middleman between the artist and the customer?
The only reason I have embraced the middleman, in this context, is for the customer to be able to see the artwork in person before purchasing. I haven’t been able to find a way to represent the posters online in a way that’s fair to what they look like in person. If that’s the benefit for the customer, then you have to weigh the cost of working with retailers and decide if it’s worth it for your particular product. My advice is to have very clear terms established from the get-go and do as much research on the retailer as you can before you begin a relationship with them.
You have extended the neighborhood design to merchandise like the DODOcase for the iPad2. Can we expect to see Ork on any other accessories in the future?
The DODOcase was not a neighborhood design, it was a typographic map design, but it was a unique design celebrating the literary history of San Francisco. I wouldn’t expect Ork to show up on any accessories in the near future. At this point, we want to preserve it as wall art. It seems to start to function more like a logo if we put it on all sorts of other objects. What’s more likely in the future are some accessories with new designs in a similar aesthetic style to Ork’s.