If you’ve been on the female internet in the last two months, chances are you’ve come across a piece of Tessa Forrest‘s work. Since creating her quote typography account Subliming.jpg, which she dubs “for the visually passionate and emotionally confused,” several of her photos have gone viral, being shared on social media for hundreds of thousands to see.
Tessa was kind enough to chat with Pretty Decent about business, life and where she finds inspiration. Check out her Q&A below, and be sure to follow Subliming.jpg on Instagram for all of your colorful mantra needs.
How did you get started in typography?
I used to be more of a painter/illustrator growing up, but when I was in college in my advertising program, I lost a little bit of the energy it took to come up with a concept to paint and draw in my free time. Honestly, I’m so lazy when it comes to long and time-consuming works of art.
I purchased brush markers on a whim and just started jotting random lines down when I was bored in class or home after school. It helped me exercise that creativity in a much quicker way.
Have you always had an affinity for quotes?
I have! I was definitely one of those girls who had a quote on their Myspace bio growing up. Then when I got a Tumblr in college, they were everywhere. It was so satisfying to read all of them. I used to screenshot them from Tumblr and put them on my Instagram in pretty filters.
You’ve seen an incredible amount of growth in a really short period of time. How do you feel about that? Do you think there’s a particular reason for it, outside of your obvious talent?
I have no idea how to feel about it. I think I just happened to jump on the “blogging/reposting” trend it right before it became hot. I needed a creative outlet because I was working at a digital marketing agency and producing really commercial work. So I just went for it one day and thought that if no one followed it, “Hey, this can just be my creative dump.”
It turns out people connected with the quotes I shared and wanted to put them on their page too because they actually made their feed look good. It didn’t hurt that I was trying to get Sophia Amoruso’s (Nasty Gal/Girlboss) attention for years. I started tagging them in my posts (among other lifestyle brands like Bando, Refinery29, etc) and once I started getting reposts from them and others, it just kind of skyrocketed from there.
Why do you think Subliming.jpg stands out from other quote/typography pages?
When the idea started churning in my brain, I had seen so many quote pages, but they weren’t quite aesthetically pleasing. Just like Times New Roman on a white background. And on the other side of the coin, I followed all of these typography pages that were beautiful! But it was more about the art and design, so the word “Friday” in beautiful type doesn’t exactly pull at your heart strings. I know there were some accounts that did post stuff like me, but it wasn’t their “entire” thing. So I saw an opportunity and I just jumped at it. Creating repostable, shareable unique quotes that aren’t the typical “Live, Laugh, Love” thing. My favorite part is when someone tags a friend on a quote going through a rough time, or I get a message from someone telling me how much my page impacts them. I think the emotional connection really helps it stand out.
What are you looking to do with Subliming.jpg in the future?
I really want to create a real brand out of it. I have an account on Society6, but I’d love to produce my own products. I also really want to make a coffee table book of all the quotes. Ideally, to build a site where you can get posters and things of my quotes, my coffee table book, and a whole downloadable library of phone and computer backgrounds.
From there? No clue. I’m kind of just taking it as it goes! Maybe a blog aspect where I talk about the life experiences that brought me to share certain quotes.
What is your creative process like? Are most of your quotes hand-lettered first?
Selfishly, it all starts with me and my emotions. I can’t post a quote that I don’t resonate with. That’s why when people have requests or suggestions, I can’t post it. I need to ~feel it~.
Sometimes I go looking for a quote, sometimes I stumble upon it, and sometimes it’s one that I’ve heard it in the past but it doesn’t click with me until I’ve experienced the emotions related. Then from there, I just start messing around with what feels and looks right. Sometimes it’s a bold quote that needs a bold type. Sometimes it’s something more gentle that needs delicate handwriting. I usually try a few options and get the colors right until I look at it and know the visuals match the quote.
What advice would you give someone looking for a creative outlet like yours?
Go with your gut. Don’t try to be something you aren’t. Just start messing around with things that excite you at your core, and it will snowball from there. Low expectations.
You just moved to NYC. How has that transition been?
I did! It’s been amazing. I’m literally following the dreams that I’ve had since I was a little girl. Talk to me in January, though, and it might be a different story. I haven’t seen snow since I was 10. I’m terrified.
What’s your actual favorite quote?
If I had to pick: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
Tell us something about yourself.
I don’t even know where to start with that one! I’m 24, I have a dog named Annie, and I’m addicted to sugar. That pretty much sums me up.