Creative Series: Delia Jalomo

I got the pleasure to meet Delia Jalomo awhile ago when she came to talk about illustration and page design while I was at The Shorthorn. Delia is the art director at the TPJ (Texas Jewish Post) and even aided in redesigning the newspaper, creating a shortened name and fresh look. Now you even can own some of  Delia's artwork with her recent creation of an Etsy account, kitchenwizard.

Creative Moxie: How did you get your start in design?
Delia Jalomo: I always had an interest in it but having not ever taken an art class my high school counselor really thought design was not the right path for me to take in college. I always had a fascination with newspapers too so I pursued writing, but after having a bucket hurled at me by an angry club owner I was interviewing, I decided I really didn't have it in me to be a reporter. I have crippling anxiety and I bruise easily. 

So then I figured I'd give an art degree a shot, but I failed beginning drawing. I wound up somehow getting a part-time job at a large newspaper doing layout and was able to stick around for a while.

In other words: I really have no idea. By all practical lines of thought I should really be horrible at this. 

CM: One of the first things I noticed while looking through your work is your illustration technique of mixing a lot of textures and using very rich colors. How did you develop this style?
DJ: About 3 years ago I became fascinated with textiles and textures, and started doing some collage in my spare time. Knowing that my drawing strength was in line art, I tried fusing this in with textures, and that's kind of what I have now. It's a more organic approach to the line. But the lines are always there. They don't quite match up with the textures, but they're there. My approach is very very simple shapes, then more complex lines and textures. It's a very layered approach and each piece is never done. I just find a place to stop and stop.

CM: Who or what inspires your creative work?
DJ: The rich colors of nature, wood grain, vintage cookbooks, walks through attics and Half-Priced Books, and the idea that everything old is new again. 

It's like you're sitting at Waffle House, and the booths have this dark fake walnut woodgrain and the cushions are this ridiculous red orange and the globe lights are hanging above you, and this should look really awful and cliché, but the combination of shapes and textures and colors in and of itself can really be very lovely.

CM: If you weren't doing design what you would be doing?
DJ: Newspapering! Or back in the big news industry in some way. I love a big newsroom. :^)

CM: If you could design or illustrate or even redesign for any project, what would it be for?
DJ: I'd love to do large-scale illustrations for restaurants, spas, coffee shops, etc. I'll walk into a place sometimes and think "Wow, this place would be like 1000x cozier with a great piece of art on one of these walls."

CM: You have redesigned the Texas Jewish Post (TPJ) giving it a more modern look and continuing that style in each paper. How hard is it to bring in fresh ideas and adapt them to the publication that has a very niche audience?
DJ: The AME of Design at a large metro once told me this: Readers call more often and angrier when you screw up the crossword than when you redesign. 

And I've found this very true. I threw several ideas out to my publisher and was actually kind of shocked at the one she picked because it was such an extreme change. It even freaked ME out. But I figured if it really became an issue, we're such a small publication it wouldn't be all that hard to scale back a little. Luckily, our readers responded very well and we actually got a LOT of good feedback. 

I think the key was really really knowing our audience and our goals. A large percentage of our readership is well over 60, but we still needed it to be attractive to younger readers. I picked the font because it's able to adapt to looks that are both older and more modern. And we use a lot of vintage photography and ephemera because we have access to some great historic archives. I think those things are timeless and appeal to everyone. History is cool. And our paper's history is especially cool. :^)

CM: Any advice to new designers?
DJ: If you think you are or can be good at it, just do it. For every one venue you can't get into or every class you fail, there's seriously like 10 other ways to get your foot in the door. BUT make your honing craft your #1 priority. Meet the right people. Be ready to take chances, and be ready to pay your dues.