Do You Think You Know Nikki Jeske?

Nikki JeskeI guess I can’t really recall or pinpoint when Nikki came into the whole process of these interviews, but really, it doesn’t matter. She’s been supportive of me and the output I do from the word go. It’s something I know I appreciate much. You can find her on twitter at .

You’ll learn below a little bit about her illustration career. Due to my desire to create a PDF Ebook of all of my interviews once they’re done(or at my current rate, once I say “stop” long enough), I asked her if she’d be interested in doing an illustration for the cover. I do believe we’re still on for that. Hopefully it all turns out great. That’s enough from myself for now, let’s refocus back on getting to know Nikki Jeske.

For those new to the “designcoyote”, who are you and what do you do?

Nikki Jeske: My name is Nikki Jeske and I am a web designer and illustrator. By day I actually work as a designer for a company that provides website services and database management to associations around the world and by night I do freelance design and artwork under the moniker “Design Coyote.” As Design Coyote, I create fun and colorful designs mostly for individuals who are independent artists or who have some focus on nature or animals. I describe my clients as “nature-loving, artsy folks” because that’s who tend to find me. My personal design work is always influenced by the natural world and earth-tones make up the majority of my preferred color schemes.

How did you come about the online ID of”designcoyote?”

Nikki: Before I started doing design, I was very much involved in the online illustration community. I also wrote a lot of short stories and one character that began to show up more and more in my work was a coyote that became known as Blackbird (named after my favorite Wallace Stevens poem – “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”). In a sense, she became my alter-ego and when I ventured more professionally into the design world, I took her with me: Design Coyote.

Your pets tell me that you are really into causes focused around animals. What are some of your favorite causes and if you could choose any one or two to design a huge campaign for, which would you choose? If you have been lucky to already, tell us a little about it.

Nikki: Most people know that I am a co-founder of the online animal welfare website I Love Rescue Animals and we do a lot of work with different rescues and shelters to raise awareness about the plight of homeless animals. It’s hard for me to just choose one cause to say is my favorite since I work with so many of them, but I think biggest we lean towards with our own website is that of developing a world in which no animal will have to be put down for lack of space. Spaying and neutering your pets is a huge part of that and so is adopting. I volunteer with a really awesome Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) feral cat group called Central Texas Feline Rescue and we work really hard to manage the local cat colonies and keep them from reproducing. We also take any cats that are found to be adoptable and get them into foster homes.

Other than creating the design and branding of I Love Rescue Animals and working with CTFR on some of their print designs, I’ve never had a chance to design an actual campaign centered around cause. If I had to choose though, I would love to create something for spaying and neutering pets, just because it would be a lot of fun to come up with some fun and silly slogans for the cause. 🙂

I recall a lot of excitement from you about a recent Dresden Dolls concert. Are there any lyrics by Amanda Palmer that really stick out in your mind, and what font are they written in?

Nikki: Hard question! So many of her songs carried me through college and it’s hard to pick from any. “Ampersand” is an incredible song but I especially love the chorus where she says “but i’m not gonna live my life / on one side of an ampersand / and even if i went with you / i’m not the girl you think i am” because I think it’s something that everyone can relate to. You never want to be just half of a whole – everyone is their own person. I also really love “Runs in the Family” and from the Dresden Dolls, one of my favorite songs is “The Jeep Song” because I think we’ve all been there at some point in our life. 😉

“Ampersand” is a script font to me. Something like Arcana (it has a pretty ampersand and has as many sharp angles as there are curves). “Runs in the Family” is hard and fast, bold and angry with edges like Banshee or Flood or Legault. “The Jeep Song” is fun and playful with wide curves like Vectora but handwritten. All of the lyrics in my head are handwritten fonts.

What are some things you’d love to be able to change the world with through the work you produce? Whether for your full time employer, through any freelance work you do, or through your own personal projects.

Nikki: One of the things I do in my freelancing is work with rescues and shelters to build better websites. I have found that many of the people who work in that business don’t have a lot of computer skills (because they have a lot more important things to do working with the animals!) and often times don’t realize how much having a website (a good website) can help their cause if they just learn to utilize it. By creating a user-friendly and beautiful website to showcase homeless animals, I am helping that group get their message out further to the people. This is something I am very passionate about and if any shelter came to me and said they didn’t think having a website was important, I’d be happy to help open their eyes.

In the spirit of Wile E. Coyote, what are some of your favorite ACME tools and tricks in your arsenal, when it comes to designing for clients?

Nikki: Well I love my ACME anvil. Comes in useful when I need to drop something heavy off a cliff. 😉 The tools of my trade are pretty common to any designer. I couldn’t live without Photoshop. It’s been my lifeblood since I first discovered 5.5 way back when (don’t worry – I’ve upgraded with the times and I’m on CS5). Nowadays I use Fireworks for slicing up artwork, and Illustrator for any vector work I need done. Recently I started working more with InDesign because I’ve been writing my first ebook which will be coming out soon (it’s about how associations and small businesses can utilize social media to grow their brand).

As for anything else, the tools of trade most likely open on my dock are CSSEdit, ColorSchemer Studio, OmmWriter, and iTunes.

When was the last thing anything in your design job took your breath away, in good ways, and what did it involve?

Nikki: Hmm, interesting question. I’m not sure anything that I’ve created has ever literally took my breath away, but I have worked with people, especially artists, who do work that really inspire me and that really influences in how I design. I loved working with Rachael Rossman, especially since I was able to combine my own artwork with hers in the design. It was fun to do and I still love the design I created for her a lot.

If you were an iphone app, what would you do, what would the name
be, and how much would you cost in the itunes store?

Nikki: Mmm… I would probably be called the floraFinder and if you ever needed to figure out what kind of plant is growing in the woods behind your house, all you’d have is type in a few features of the species and I would come up with a list of names and images that could help you identify that plant. This would have come in super easy for me when I was in college and trying to pass my Outdoor Education field classes. It’d be a free app because I don’t think teaching tools should have a price.

Which upcoming technologies have you excited like a new kitty?

Nikki: The iPhone for Verizon. I am not a fan of AT&T and I can’t wait for the Verizon iPhone to be a reality.

One day you return home from a long day of work with too little coffee, only to find two pets fighting. One is dressed as a pirate and the other is dressed as a ninja. Which are you cheering on more while also recording to post on facebook video?

Nikki: Haha, oh it would definitely have to do with who was dressed as who. Our dogs are normally dressed at pirates when we go out to dog events that have costume-themes and our cats like to go ninja on us sometimes so really this question is just asking me to choose cat or dog. I love all our kids equally but I’m going to have to go with the dogs on this one. I love pirates. 🙂

What, if any, bad habits do you notice in your work that you wish you could break, but just can’t shake.

Nikki: I don’t have ADD, but when I’m in front of a computer for long periods of time, it certainly feels like I do. One of my worst habits when I’m trying to work is my inability to hold still. I have to get up and walk a lot when I’m at work otherwise I’d go nuts and this usually means finishing projects takes longer for me since I’m always interrupting myself. I wish I could just zone for hours and get something done in one sitting, but that rarely ever happens.

Time for the toughest decision you’ll make for the rest of the……interview. If you had to settle on only one of them, which would you choose to go with? Design talent or illustration talent?

Nikki: Illustration. And really, it wasn’t tough at all. I’ve always been an artist at the heart of it all and I still hope to someday be a full-time illustrator for children’s books.

Tell us a little bit about a dream that has come true for you and a bit about one that has yet to.

Nikki: I have a Jim Henson dream. I have been a huge Jim Henson fan since I was really little. The Dark Crystal has been my favorite movie since I was little and all you have to do to cheer me up on a bad day is quote Kermit the Frog. Jim once said, “When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope still is to leave the world a little bit better for my having been there. It’s a wonderful life and I love it.” I want to do that. To make a difference in the world. And this is a dream I can honestly say that I have achieved, at least a little bit of it. The work that we have done with I Love Rescue Animals has continuously proven to me that we really can make the world a better place even if it’s just for one animal at a time. It’s still possible. Our site was recently awarded a Pettie Award at a BlogPaws conference in Denver, Colorado – we were voted Best Cause Blog out of some of the best advocacy sites on the web and this honor is just one more piece of evidence that what we are doing is going “to leave the world a little bit better.”

One dream that I’m still hoping to achieve is to travel around the world. I want to go to Ireland and Singapore and Nepal and the place I’ve obsessed over since high school: Antarctica. Someday, it’ll happen.

When birds stand on power lines and don’t get hurt, it’s most likely because of:

  • good timing, they only land between calls
  • body materials that are insulated from current
  • not touching anything else at the same time
  • they do get hurt, they just express it poorly

Nikki: None of the above. Birds are just magical. 😉

I hope I’m not getting too personal here, but the world needs to know…is the designcoyote as awesome as the animals say?

Nikki: Why yes. Yes she is. 🙂

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