Rachel tells us about her love for exchanging design knowledge, her mission to put a stop to shitty typography and why creative communities make her happy.
Rachel Elnar is co-founder and partner of Ramp Creative, co-founder and producer at TypeEd, and teacher at Cal State University. (We already heard about her a few weeks ago, remember? She makes her partner, Michael Stinson, happy.)
What makes Rachel happy? Creative communities. Years ago, while teaching at California State Polytechnic University, she realized she really enjoyed speaking with her students and having them in class. What Rachel enjoyed the most however was the social interaction of watching them grow and learn something new. This was so much fun to her that she and a friend started Designers and Drinksâ€”get togethers during the summer to connect with other Cal Poly Alumni and some students. After 10 years she realized this wasnâ€™t serving too much of a purpose as far as design was concerned. and thatâ€™s when she decided to get involved in AIGA (Check it out!).
The ability to share her interests and the love that she has for design with others is what makes Rachel happy about creative communities. She gets to share the struggles and successes of the fieldâ€”a true exchange of ideas and practices. And although non-creatives are a part of her community, the ties to them are not as tight because that exchange is not present.
Rachel didnâ€™t attend a dedicated art school, so she didnâ€™t get a sense of a creative community thenâ€”making her desire to be a part of creative communities even greater. She doesnâ€™t know if if she would still have built communities just for the sake of building them had she attended an art.
Originally, Rachel wanted to be a professor so she could teach for two days, go home, paint and call it a day, but now Rachel feels people inspire herâ€”they make her feel energized and provide mentorship. In fact, she recently started a Meetup Group for her days ofâ€”which arenâ€™t really days offâ€”called L.A. Is Just My Type, a type enthusiast group.
All her groups make her happy but Type Ed is special because itâ€™s full of people that want to be better at their craft. Rachel tells us there is a world full of awful typography. Instead of taking on all of these clients individually and fixing their type crime themselves, Rachel and her partner Michael teach their students who are already doing this to be a little more sensitive to their craft and get appropriate feedback to grow.
Sheâ€™s built and helped build many designer communities, including an AIGA Facebook group she got a LOT of flack for because this was before the organization had an online presence. Does she feel like sheâ€™s inspired others by having done this? Maybe. But the reasoning behind their creation remains the sameâ€”building a community she didnâ€™t feel she was a part of initially and giving her students the opportunity to learn what good design actually is through her best practices.
Rachel feels very passionately about providing people a space where they can think. She tells us how much work is simply put up and out there without having gone through any type of filter. People wait for someone to look at their work and tell them what to change instead of being critical about it on their own. And while putting yourself out there in this way isnâ€™t good or bad, the fact remains that the most talented people will always rise to the top.
Other things that make her happy? Michael, her partner, typewritersâ€”because it was the first time she got to make art with an instrument other than her own two handsâ€”and teaching Type Ed classes. Her happy food? Champagne.
Links / Read / See / Hear
Jason Zappolo for editing and mixing this episode; follow Jason on instagram.
Orly Margulis for social media support; follow Orly on linkedIn.
RocÃo CastaÃ±eda for ongoing support; follow RocÃo on instagram.