Jen Peters, Graphic Designer & Illustrator

Image of Jen Peters

We got to know Jen through her 100 day patterns project, #jbp100patterns, where we fell in love with her whimsical happy little patterns that made every day feel like a warm spring day. Based in Los Angeles, she also happens to be a very talented graphic designer and illustrator that has worked with clients like Nickelodeon, Billabong, Maroon 5, Universal and the Cartoon Network. We love her beautiful approach to both her work and her life. Thanks for sharing Jen!

What do you do?

I am an independent graphic designer and illustrator living in Los Angeles. I work on a range of projects from branding design to illustration and surface pattern design.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

A dolphin trainer (ha!), a teacher and an artist.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a freelancer.

I studied, graphic design in college, and fell in love with it. After school I was hired at Mattson Creative and worked there for six years. I met Ty Mattson (my former boss) at a portfolio review my senior year. He took a chance on me and hired me as his first employee. Working there was such an amazing experience. We worked with a huge range of clients, and I learned so much. However I always craved the flexibility of freelance. Two years ago, I decided to take the leap (as hard as it was to leave my mentor and team) and start my own studio. It has been the best decision for me. My husband is a freelance entrepreneur and I love the flexibility that we both have to travel and work remotely whenever we want. I also love being able to choose projects and the pace at which I work.

Illustration by Jen Peters
When you first started, how did you find clients?

At first it was mostly word of mouth, and friends and family referring me. I started taking on some freelance projects before I went out on my own, to see if I liked it, as well as, to make a few connections with clients for when I decided to make the leap. Today word of mouth continues to be a great source of my referrals, as well as Instagram and Pinterest.

Do you have a motto that you work by?

Trust your gut. It is super hard to say no to certain projects, especially in the beginning, but if your gut is giving you red flags, it’s most likely a project that will not end up being the right fit. By saying no to something that isn’t the right fit, you are opening up space for a project that is.

How do you stay productive?

I like to have a running to do list that I can cross off items as I go. I also like to take little breaks throughout the day to cook food and go on walks. I always come back feeling more refreshed.

Illustration by Jen Peters
Illustration by Jen Peters
Illustration by Jen Peters
The more work you make, the more you are able to grow as a designer and also find your own unique style.
What are you working on right now?

I am working with a couple of exciting clients on illustration and surface pattern projects at the moment. One of them is a collaboration with a wallpaper company, which has been a dream of mine for a long time. I am also working with a party goods company on surface patterns for paper plates which I am really excited about.

What is your dream project?

To continue to collaborate with and license my art to amazing companies. It is a dream of mine to work with Anthropologie, Target, Crate and Kids and West Elm.

Illustration by Jen Peters
What one piece of advice would you give to a freelancer just starting out?

Make lots of work. The more work you make, the more you are able to grow as a designer and also find your own unique style. I am a huge proponent of personal projects. Over the past couple of years, I have done a number of 100 day projects and they have been so helpful in pushing me to explore my style. For example, this year I really wanted to get into the surface pattern world more, so I started the year off with a 100 day project where I made a pattern a day. That project led to me collaborating with a number of companies this year. Personal projects are not only a great way to just create without overthinking it, but they are also such a good way to show potential clients a style that you enjoy working in.

What is the best piece of advice you've been given?

Live in the moment. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but it always leads to happiness and so much less stress. Now days with social media, it’s so easy to compare our lives to others and miss out on the amazing things happening right in front of us. Make time to notice the sunshine, make a good meal, enjoy the company around you, listen to the birds. These are the small magic moments of our daily lives. Pay more attention to them, and live from a place of gratitude, and your whole world will open up in amazing ways.

Tell us about a time in your career when you struggled.

Quoting projects and figuring out how much to charge for my work has always been the most challenging aspect of running my own business. I have definitely gotten more comfortable with it as time has gone on, but it still causes me stress to this day. Recently I started working with a mentor who is really good in this area. It has been a game changer to get advice from someone on the outside looking in at my business. Working with and learning from him has already helped me so much in refining my quoting process.

What are you listening to, reading or watching that is inspiring to you lately?

I can’t get enough of podcasts lately. Some of my current favorites are; Good Company with Grace Bonney, Over Share by Working Not Working, Gamechangers, Up and Vanished, Committed and Where Should We Begin.

How can we find out more about your work?