Subliming.jpg is the brainchild of Tessa Forrest, a graphic designer and meme-enjoyer, who just so happens to flex her chops as a designer at OV. For Giving Tuesday, we collaborated with Subliming.jpg to create a limited edition shirt, from which 100% of the proceeds will benefit Back on My Feet, a non-profit organization focused on helping homeless people gain independence, living skills, and connecting them with essential community resources through physical exercise, specifically early morning runs.
We chatted with Tessa about the inspiration behind Subliming.jpg, how she crafts her work, her obsession with type and color, and more.
I was going through a rough time, severely depressed and working as a graphic designer at an agency that was producing more commercial work. I wanted to expand my skills as a designer and have fun producing work that I liked looking at. I'd made a few one-off quote designs and posted them on my personal account, but I wanted to start making more of them and just have a safe place to dump them. The original goal was to make one per day — super quick stuff just to play around with colors and fonts.
How do you play with the aesthetics and tropes of inspirational posters?
I think simpler is usually better. I sort of want them to just seem matter of fact — yes, inspirational quotes are sort of corny by default but I think stylizing them in a way that emphasizes the message's simplicity is key. Also, usually softer colors for a soft quote and bolder colors for a stronger quote. Stuff like that.
How do you know if a Subliming.jpg text is a Ssubliming.jpg text? What works? What doesn’t? Is it a feeling?
Design wise — I can't tell you how many times I've been working at a quote for hours and just end up going to sleep because I can't find the right color or typeface to match the ~energy~ of the quote. I know it works when the message is (in my opinion) at its most impactful. It's really just a feeling. If you saw my drafts of some quotes in a different typeface, layout or color way then you'd understand how much of a different that can make.
Text wise — it can't feel super corny or cliche. One of my favorite feelings is a quote that puts something into such a unique perspective that I've never heard before. I love metaphor-type quotes, for example, "The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit" is one I posted the other day. Like damn, such an eloquent way of saying that you have to be patient for your hard work to pay off.
Can you share with us some bad ideas you haven’t turned into subliming.jpgs? Rejected sublimes?
Sometimes when I'm feeling super emo, I want to make ones that are a little more corny. Like ones about being loved, or "success" oriented quotes, boss lady type stuff. Ultimately I want mine to be a bit more about the human condition in general.
Some of the Subliming.jpg texts feel really connected to the Doing Things mentality — "Do It For Yourself", "Keep Going", "Start Before You’re Ready" — What's the Venn Diagram of Doing Things and Subliming.jpg to you?
To be very transparent, part of the depression that sprouted the Instagram was due to an eating disorder I was battling. Overexercising, obsessing over what I ate, etc. I think Doing Things when you aren't in a healthy mindset is a cause for concern. Doing Things with ease, humor and delight is very important — especially for people with extremist tendencies that can lead to things like eating disorders. This mindset of moderation behind Outdoor Voices and Doing Things is very important for our mental AND physical health.
What are some of the inspirations around your most popular Subliming.jpg posts?
One that I posted recently that has seemed to be a huge favorite is about retraining your brain to change your normal reaction to things. It was inspired by some anxiety that I had been experiencing that kept resurfacing. It was a message to myself that if I didn't want this problem to keep arising, I had the power to change it. It's still my phone background.
Buy the OV x Subliming.jpg "Don't Look Back" t-shirt and we'll donate 100% of the proceeds to Back On My Feet, a non-profit organization focused on helping homeless people gain independence, living skills, and connect them with essential community resources through physical exercise, specifically early morning runs. Learn more about Back On My Feet here.