We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessie & Ricky and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessie & Ricky, how do you think about risk?
Jessie: Risks, while scary, are definitely a net positive on my life/career. It took me a while to learn that if something scares you, it is probably the direction you should take. Growing up I was extremely risk-averse, and followed a very conventional path, which was “get good grades, go to a good college, and get a good job.” How does one really define a “good job” though?
My mindset now is this: if you really want something, take the risk. I don’t believe there are any right or wrong decisions in life as long as you put effort into the decision you’ve made, and learn something from it.
Ricky: It may seem like a bit of an obvious answer, but the risk I took was to become a graphic designer/artist and go to art school and sign myself up to all that that entails. I was lucky to have discovered graphic design late in high school and was able to pivot my interests and career path towards making that happen. I told every club and sport in my high school that I would make their flyers, posters, T-shirts, whatever, for free and some of them actually bit. None of them were any good but that’s how I first started practicing and the rest is history. Prior to that I thought I was going to become a history professor or something, haha. I never believed I had an artistic bone in my body but I surprised myself at how interested I was in art once I was exposed to it.
I’m a lot more risk-averse these days as I’ve gotten older, but I thank my younger self for being brave enough to take the risk and go down this path because he believed in himself. I’ve been fortunate to be able to carve a career out of that one decision I made in high school.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Jessie: As I headed into my first semester of a master’s program for Accounting, I desperately searched for something that would distract me from the anxiety of feeling like I was getting myself deeper and deeper into a career field I didn’t enjoy. I’ve always loved stationery, and discovered a new world of decorative sticker planning. A week later, I took my first big risk in my “career” – I hadn’t yet thought of this as my career, still with the mindset that I was going to be an unhappy accountant for life. I took a big chuck out of my savings and purchased all the equipment and materials needed to make my own stickers, spent a weekend struggling to make said stickers, and by Monday I had opened an Etsy shop called oddloop.
I wish I could say everything was smooth-sailing from then on, but my career journey definitely took a few detours. I juggled the Etsy shop and my master’s program for two years, but once I graduated, I wasn’t risk-averse enough to go full-time on my shop and drop accounting. Everything I had done up until that point was to get a “good job,” and I was too afraid to do anything else. It took three years, two accounting jobs, and lots of tears and frustration before I finally took my second big risk. I quit my stable, corporate job and worked full-time to rebuild the stationery shop, and I can honestly say I’m all the happier for it. Taking that risk was the best decision I’ve made for myself and my career.
Ricky: I think I am most proud of my most recent body of work. My collage portraits were borne out of the frustration I was feeling with my own style and how it just looked like everyone else’s. Prior to the collages I was doing fairly predictable vector illustrations. I had joined the bandwagon when flat vector illustrations were the new trend a decade ago and has since endured. Creatively speaking I felt like I was at a dead end and I was looking for a way to break forward into the next chapter of my career. Everything had been done before in every style imaginable. Like I said earlier, every piece of art is in someway connected to another piece of art that came before it. Nothing is created in a vacuum. I find it very interesting to be able to take these disparate images and styles that come from a certain history and bash them and morph them into something new that becomes asynchronistic of its origins. There’s a deeper philosophical idea that I am not yet articulate enough to explain, but I enjoy the many “happy accidents” that occur when you merge seemingly unconnected images together to create a new form.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We’re homebodies so even though we live in sunny LA, we’re not the type to take advantage of the outdoors and go exploring and all that.
However, you would be a fool to miss out on the food scene here. K-Town, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Little Bangladesh, Little Ethiopia, Thai Town, just to name a few, we have so many ethnic enclaves here in LA all with amazing food and tastes. Not to mention the insane amount of amazing food trucks that line all up and down our streets. Boutique coffee shops are dotted all over the place and I love hanging out at coffee shops. It’s the thing I’ve missed the most in the pandemic. So definitely a foodie tour is the highlight for me. It’s all we ever want to do when we travel anyway, eat and drink!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Jessie: Of course my partner Ricky deserves recognition, as he’s half of the whole oddloop operation. Without his designs, our stationery brand oddloop wouldn’t be what it is today. I’m also extremely grateful for my parents’ support when I told them “I am quitting my job to go make stickers full-time.” It’s not something a parent necessarily wants to hear, so I really appreciate that they took it in stride and didn’t give me too much grief over it.
Ricky: Most of the professors I had in college all changed and shaped me in one or another. Clive Piercy, who sadly just passed away recently, stands in my story as someone who profoundly changed the way I see myself as a designer and an artist. He opened up my mind to not just contemporary design but our shared collective history as artists and designers and how every generation is drawing from, reacting to, and engaging with the ones that came before us. So often we only remember the seminal big names, but lost in the cracks are hundreds and thousands of other great artists and designers who just did solid amazing work but were just lost to time and memory. Clive opened up that world for me and exposed his students to look beyond the internet, beyond just Googling for stuff. Really reach into the past and see where your ideas come from, see how you can build on top of it, and how you can carve out your voice by listening to those that came before.
Instagram: @oddloop // @rickylinn