Good afternoon, LuLu*s loves! Today I am super stoked to bring you one of the coolest things I’ve found in forever! After reconnecting a few months ago, I discovered that my lovely friend Rachel is currently working as a chalkboard artist at Trader Joe’s – yeah, she makes those awesome signs all over the store! She is awesome and she graciously agreed to submit to my interviewing her to give all you ladies a sneak peek into her colorful world!
So, we know you do the chalkboards at Trader Joe’s. What is your official title?
Crew member! My position is the same as everyone else in the store; I just get to do special tasks.
What do you do exactly?
All the signs in Trader Joe’s are handmade. With the exception of receipts, if it has words on it we design it in-store. On paper, I’m responsible for making sure that every product has a shelf tag with a price and for highlighting products. In reality, that has translated to everything from sewing a giant turkey, crafting a 4 foot 3D hot air balloon out of paper, small illustrations, and much more.
It’s pretty rare to be an artist in your twenties . . . and get paid for it. How do you feel about that?
I feel really lucky. Making a sign for cereal may not be the kind of art that allows for a lot of emotional expression, but I get the opportunity to experiment, learn new skills, and color almost everyday . . . and as you mentioned, get paid for it! You can’t beat that!
Do you have any artistic inspirations or role models?
Dana Tanamachi is definitely a role model. She is bringing a lot of positive attention to hand lettering. I love the vintage styling and how accessible her work feels. I want to apprentice under her!
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging part of the job is finding snap-inspiration when you just aren’t excited about the product. It might be the third time you’ve designed a sign for the same cereal, and you have to make it seem exhilarating . . . you gotta get creative.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten was to “get out of your own way.” Sometimes we create roadblocks for ourselves that don’t exist; you have to believe it’s possible in order to really pursue your dreams.
Favorite drawing medium?
Chalk is great for its handmade appeal, but I think Woodcraft markers may edge out chalk for my favorite medium. I use them at work almost exclusively and have recently bought a set for myself. They are so pigmented and you can use them on almost every surface imaginable.
And an extra-special treat, crafted just for us!
Like whatcha see? If you’d like to see more of Rachel’s work, visit her blog: Font or Fiction!