Judith Mayer

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m an Illustrator/Lettering Artist/Designer celebrating my 20th year of self-employment.

Where are you from?

I’m from the Midwest. I’m in Chicago currently, but have moved back and forth between Indiana and Illinois my whole life. Also, I’m proud to have come from an immigrant father.

How did you get started?

I earned a BFA at Ball State, with majors in graphic design and photography. My first job out of college was in textbook design, but I didn’t really care for it, so I moved into corporate communications. Then I worked as a web designer for four years before striking out on my own.

Do you have a side hustle or hobbies?

Too many distractions to mention! I love learning new things. Letterpress printing, wheel-throwing pottery, and calligraphy have my attention right now, but the only one bringing in money is calligraphy—I’m an instructor at my local art center. Professionally, I currently volunteer on two boards. I am the Marketing Director for South Shore Arts and the Programs Director for the Society of Typographic Arts.

What was one of your biggest mistakes and what did you learn from it?

Staying at a job too long because it felt safe was a mistake. I learned early on that there’s no more security in a full-time position than in freelance. Relying on another person is often less secure than relying on yourself. Jump before you’re ready!

What are the top tools you need to do your job?

Common sense, information, creativity, and communication.

Who or what inspires you and why?

Travel inspires me. It’s that whole learning new things thing. Different cultures, languages, designs, traditions people and environments are fascinating.

What do you love about Northwest Indiana?

I have a love/hate relationship with NWI. Family, friends, and clients are what bring me back every time.

What resources are you finding to educate yourself?

Seeking out experts I admire and learning directly from them works best for me. Most experts teach, which is handy. I may have to travel to take a workshop, but see above regarding travel.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your industry?

Don’t ignore art and design history. Your work will benefit from learning from everyone that has come before you. The more you know about everything, not just design, the better you will be. And finally, be inspired, yes, but for the love of Pete, don’t steal. It’s despicable.

What’s next for you?

Hopefully something exciting and challenging. What’ve you got?

Where can we find you?