It really should come as no surprise that I’d have an interview with Rachael at some point. If you’ve read over previous entries in the blog, *cough* My Time, So Far, as a Minion post *cough*, you know I have a long standing history of working with her on various projects. You can follow her on twitter at caffeinatedelf (Twitter) or find her at The Caffeinated Elf It’s with that wonderful relationship that I am very happy to present her responses to the fifteen questions I posed to her. Lets get to them.
Your identity and branding are based off of coffee and caffeine. How much do you drink on a productive day?
Rachael E.C. Acklin: I drink about two cups, if I’m paying attention enough to finish them before I forget they’re even there. I make a small pot of coffee in the morning, and it only holds about 2.5 mugs’ worth of coffee in it, so I end up washing about a half a cup down the drain when I rinse out the pot. I used to make a big 12-cup pot, but I never even drank half of it so it was a huge waste. I don’t believe my own hype enough to drink way more coffee than I actually can handle. 😉
Why should someone take a drink of your “coffee” and hire you for all their design needs? What sets you apart from other brews?
Rachael: A very specific thing that sets my design style and work style apart from many other designers is that I really care about my clients’ success as it relates to the project I’m working on for them. I spend a lot of time talking with them, asking them questions to help their own creativity and idea generation processes. I also incorporate every piece of feedback that I get from them, whether I can actually deliver what they want, or can explain why something won’t work and give them a different suggestion. I’m not one of those designers that is so convinced they know their craft that the client is always wrong, and I don’t get so personally attached to each design that I get upset when the client needs me to change it. I am really proud of the way I’m able to build a trust-filled working relationship with my clients because of the way I do things.
You’re planning a party at your favorite local coffee shop. Who would be some of your twitter cohosts for this gathering?
Rachael: OH MAN. There are so many fantastic people that I’d love to cohost a coffee party with: Crystal (bigbrightbulb (Twitter)), Adam (adamkingstudio (Twitter)), Sarah (leianajade (Twitter)), Kyle (kpdurand (Twitter)), and Andy (andrewghayes (Twitter)) are the first people who come to mind. And everyone else I talk to every week. THIS IS A TRICK QUESTION, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO CHOOSE?!
What are some of the most overcaffeinated and energetic fonts in your collection and can you describe any projects that you got to use one of them in?
Rachael: You know, I don’t really use very many overcaffeinated fonts. I like fonts that imply intelligence, strength, character, and occasional quirkiness. Recently, one of my favorite thing to do is pair a script font with a sans serif font. However, Scriptina and Georgia have become my brand fonts in the last several months, and I love how they compliment each other.
What is your favorite coffee roast and from what country?
Rachael: Dark roasts taste the best to me, although hilariously, they contain less caffeine. HA HA HA. I’ve loved and enjoyed coffee from Africa and South America, but none are my favorites. They all taste marvelously perfect and distinctly different.
You know 8-bit graphics are a bit trendy right now. Have you ever been tempted to fire up MS Paint or some other basic bitmap pixel editor and do some mockup work there? What type of project do you think this would actually be good for?
Rachael: Nope. For real. Maybe I’m not very good at following trends. 😉 However, I think that 8-bit graphics might look really sweet on a geek-style webcomic design, along with some hand-drawn illustrations.
If money was not a question, what would you purchase or upgrade in order to achieve “the perfect setup” with your office space?
Rachael: I would scour the earth in search of the perfect ergonomic chair and desk combination that works for EXCESSIVELY SHORT PEOPLE who have EXCESSIVE SHOULDER PAIN from all that awesome design work. It’s so difficult to find chairs that work for you if you’re just over five feet tall!
A ninja has just swiped your source of awesome and coffee. Do you call him a traitor to your ninja brethren or do you gather up your pirate crew on deck in order to pursue?
Rachael: First I am upset and I have a good cry. Then I gather up my crew and explain what’s going on, and tell them how I need their help. We find the ninja, find out what happened, and find a solution that works for everyone. Even horrible problems have solutions if you’re willing to work at finding them.
What lessons do you want to pass on to new designers? Are there any that you wish you learned earlier?
Rachael: First lesson: don’t take jobs just because you need money; take jobs because they fit what you love to do. Second lesson: if you have a client that you cannot make happy no matter what you do, and you’ve actually tried everything and been honest, don’t be afraid to fire that client. Third lesson: you can’t please everyone, so stop trying; find your right people and stick with them. (All of these, I wish I’d known earlier than I learned them.)
Have you ever found direct design influence in anything that one of your kids has created or drawn? If so, tell us about it.
Rachael: I haven’t been directly influenced yet, because I haven’t needed to put explosions, airplanes, dinosaurs, and aliens in a design yet. YET. However, their creativity never ceases to amaze me. It’s really fascinating what they will create with only a few sheets of plain white paper and a box of crayons.
Did you ever hear back from William Shatner at all? I recall you trying to drum up support for you to redesign his website.
Rachael: No, the Shat never got back with me. KHAN!!!!!! But it was fun, trying to get him to respond. Also, I am actually more fond of him now than I was before, despite the fact that I had no contact with him whatsoever. The internets are so awesome like that.
What are a few things from cubicle life that someone couldn’t pay you to miss?
Rachael: 1) Uncomfortable seating arrangements; 2) guilt over taking a needed break; 3) fluorescent lights; 4) lunch at my desk; 5) never knowing if I was doing a good enough job; 6) driving to work and back every single day.
Whatever happened to the Caffeinated Podcast? Is that a project that never got to take off? or is it just dormant at the moment?
Rachael: It’s just dormant right now. One of my awesome friends, who is also a ninja for me sometimes, is going to team up with me and we’re going to bring it back, BABY.
What are some stereotypes that you wish designers had?
Rachael: I wish that designers were known for good communication skills. I also wish that designers were known for caring about the client, not just the specific project being worked on.
If you could, what coffee company would you purchase some stock in and why?
Rachael: I would find a coffee farmer in the third world who needs money to make his business bigger, and invest in that. I wouldn’t even want him to pay me back, like Kiva.org, even though the work they do is phenomenal. I would rather put money into something that can become a great and sustainable thing, than to buy stock and sell it later, honestly.
5 thoughts on “Do You Think You Know Rachael E.C. Acklin?”
This is probably one of top favorite interviews – great questions you posed, and great answers from Rachael. Both of you rock!
Though I am surprised by your 2 cups a day. I’ve got you beat at about 3 right now. 😉
Weirdly enough, when I drink more coffee, all I get is MORE HEADACHE. Not more energy. Apparently I just can’t handle that much caffeine. 😉
Why thank you
The secret is that they’re really big cups. 🙂
Great interview, guys! (And I’m going to go find out about this Shatner story…)
Wow – my caffeine intake is a LOT HIGHER. BUZZ BUZZ.
Great interview though. Lots of interesting questions (and answers). Can’t wait for that big coffee party. =)