I’d seen her at different GroundUP art shows and noticed the talent behind her digital designs a while ago, but it wasn’t until a separate art show in the summer of 2008 when I finally met her and saw her portfolio. My friend and photographer Neilnorman showed me the new glossy business cards he just printed, and they were some of the most professional and eye catching I had seen.
I asked him who designed them and he pointed me to a beautiful young woman across the room. Once we talked, I knew I wanted her to design mine as well.
A year later, it finally happened. I asked her if she was still available to do my cards and she enthusiastically responded saying that she could and requested that I send her details of what I wanted. I had a picture in my head and a few colors I wanted to work with, but I wasn’t too sure how I wanted it to look. We went through a few revisions, and I fell in love with the final result.
Once everything was said and done and I sent the design to be printed, I asked Janice Gaspar if I could interview her. I knew she had a busy schedule, so I held my breath for a response. To my surprise she was interested and the answers I got were very thorough and encouraging to read. If you haven’t met her, allow me to introduce the individual behind Design Freedom!
Your name, age, and business name.
Janice Gaspar, 21, Design Freedom
What kind of creative design did you start out in?
Growing up, I was always surrounded by art. My two older cousins were amazing painters who won many awards from the state for their artwork. And my brother could draw something amazing in seconds. So I would just watch them and eventually, I picked up a pencil as well. I was always “Most Artistic” or “Most Creative” throughout elementary.
And I would always draw things for my friends. But it wasn’t until I was about 12-13 that my family got our first computer and from that point on, I went from drawing on paper to completely digital.
Who or what inspired you to get involved in this particular media?
Before Myspace and Facebook, there was this other online community called AsianAvenue (oooh the memories haha). I stumbled upon this one man’s page that didn’t look like any others. It was so different and I was so interested in how he got to make his page look like that. Later on, I learned it was all because of a program called Photoshop. I felt so honored when he actually responded to my messages. He’s really inspiring, and still to this day I can look at his work and just be in awe of it.
Where did you get your training or were you self taught?
I basically taught myself. I’m the kind of person who can’t learn well by just reading and watching. I have to actually get on there and do it myself. So in the beginning, I would just open up Photoshop and click on all the buttons to see what they did. People always ask me for help and advice on how to become a Graphic Designer. I always tell them that it’s one thing to learn the tools and techniques, but creativity cannot be taught. It’s something that I believe all of us have. It just has to be exercised and challenged in order for it to become something great.
There’s so many things that you do, but what are you most passionate about?
I just love design as a whole. Web, graphic, print, interior, architectural, fashion, makeup…this list could go on forever. It always frustrates me when people tell me I should be in a different career instead, assuming that designers aren’t that important. But when you think about it, this whole world revolves around design. God was the first designer and just like Him, I love to create.
People mainly know me as a Web Designer but my first love was always print design. There’s just something about seeing your work PRINTED that just makes it so much sweeter.
What do you do when you suffer from a creative block?
Oh man first off, I get really frustrated when this happens. I begin hating everything I come up with. So I usually just get off the computer and rest my mind for awhile. Your brain is just like any other part of your body. When it’s worked out too much, it gets tired. It needs to get refueled. Many people would say that they look at art books for inspiration. In all honesty, I rarely do that. There’s nothing wrong with gaining inspiration and ideas from others but I just love it when I am able to create things from my own ideas. It kind of builds self-confidence when you can step back and be like, “…yea. I made that.” Haha!
How do you incorporate your faith into your business?
My faith is the foundation of my life. It keeps me grounded with my work and helps me to stay humble and grateful for everything I’m blessed with, good or bad. It always reminds me that money should never be the main reason why I do what I do. Because when you end up doing what you love for the money, you begin to stop loving it. I am an artist because God has blessed me with that gift, I design because it’s what I love to do and the rest of this story…has always been in God’s hands. And that’s where I like to keep everything.
Where do most of your referrals come from?
It started with me spamming bulletins on Myspace about my work. You gotta start somewhere right? Hahaha! No but in all seriousness, if it weren’t for REVO and GroundUP, a lot of things wouldn’t be possible for me today. These two groups gave my art a chance to be seen. I got to meet a lot of amazing people because of them. I started off by begging people to work for them and now, I have people begging me to work for them!
It’s insane! But it’s actually very humbling. To see how far I’ve come, it kinda seems impossible to me sometimes. It just really shows that with the right focus and determination, you can really make your dreams happen. Because in this life, you have to be a go-getter. I’m just so thankful for everyone who’s helped me throughout everything.
How do you manage your clients and full time school?
It’s hard man. Seriously. I’ve been through some crazy moments where I had too much to work on that made it humanly impossible to finish with the amount of hours we’re given each day. So I eventually learned how to balance my life and take in a few clients at a time. When my life’s not balanced, nothing is to me. I go crazy.
Where do you ultimately hope for your talents to take you?
I really want to open my own design and print center one day here in Hawai’i. Right now, my room is my office. But I’d love to just expand this and do more things. I have so many ambitions and ideas. I’ve always felt so lucky because I knew what I wanted to be since I was really young. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life and I can only pray that God continues to guide me.
As far as your artistic style, how would you describe it?
This question is always hard to answer. I’m not sure if I can explain it. When it comes to my own work, I create things that are more meaningful to me. Whether it’s a quote or someone I look up to, I try my best to put myself in there as much as I can.
As far as style goes, I love using bright colors, bold graphics, oh and composition is everything! My art always starts with composition. To me, it’s the most important design element.
How do you prepare yourself to begin working on a request for a new project?
First off, I need to make sure I have time and space to add in another project. And when I do, I start off by asking them to be as detailed as they can in describing their style. Often times, people send me pictures or sample websites they want me to take a look at. Those help a lot because I really want to create something that represents who you are. I don’t want to just give you something that looks nice. I want to give you something that you can fall in love with.
What would you say is the most difficult aspect of designing for others?
The most difficult part is mainly trying to understand their style and direction they’re going for. Because if you don’t understand what they want in details from the beginning, then you’re pretty much screwed for the whole project. It’s always about creating what they want and then finding a balance of mixing in your own style. But when I get a wishy-washy client, that’s a different story. Those are the most difficult to work with. I just try my best to deal with it because when you get someone that’s so hard to please, it just makes it that more challenging and more of a learning experience.
What is most rewarding about it?
That, “oh my God! I love it! This is exactly what I wanted!” moment.
My job as a designer is to bring your ideas to life and I never want to leave you unsatisfied. I’ve worked with many difficult clients where it takes a long time to finish what they need but when they turn out to love the end result, that makes all the stress and frustrations completely worth it. I absolutely love my job and I love making people happy.
❤ K. Love