LDV: What inspired you to begin your career in graphic design?
JNG: It was an evolution of things, really. I worked in retail all throughout college as a sales girl, then as a stylist, and eventually as a buyer. I worked in a high-end department store and then made my way into smaller boutiques. I found that out of all the aspects of a retail environment, I most loved merchandising the floors, doing displays, and designing signage! I started my first blog while I was in college as well and designed it myself — it was right in the beginning of the whole world of design blogs, and even though I had no idea what I was doing, I began doing posts about all kinds of things I was into at the time — people found me (somehow!) and started asking me to do little design projects here and there. Long story short, it got so demanding that I quit my job and began freelancing full-time. So from my blog evolved my company! I reformed and re-shaped that first blog into The Love List, and it runs as a great compliment to my company, Front Porch Studio, to this day.
LDV: What do you most love about it?
JNG: I most love the creative process — especially when I have a client who gives great art direction and puts their faith in my ability.
LDV: What is the most challenging aspect?
JNG: The most challenging aspect for me, has really been a problem that isn’t really a problem — saying no! I’m really fortunate that my work has been in enough demand, but it’s been tough learning the art of delegation when you want to control every little thing! Having a retail background makes you always want to say yes to everyone all the time! But like I said, it’s a good problem. I’d rather work 24/7 than have no work at all.
LDV: Where do you find inspiration?
JNG: I find inspiration everywhere! I definitely go through phases — right now I’m very influenced by resort style, 60’s fashion, and textile trends. I’m also particularly interested in Deyrolle right now and 70’s album art — see? Everywhere! I think my work will always be influenced by my southern roots though.
LDV: Who are some of your personal style icons?
JNG: I’ll always love Ruthie Sommer’s work. Her work has influenced me in so many ways — I love her fearless mix of styles and colors, it’s completely natural to her and I love that. In fashion, I love Michelle Smith’s (of Milly) prints and femininity. And I really admire Tory Burch’s impeccable branding.
LDV: How would you describe your own style?
JNG: Honestly… I have no idea what I’d call my style. Southern bohemian with just a touch of Palm Beach, perhaps?
LDV: What is the trait you most admire in a person?
JNG: A lot of people would say honesty, integrity… and I suppose I should too, but in all honesty I most admire people who are confident and outspoken. Confidence in yourself and your abilities makes you magnetic, and I’ve always found myself drawn to friends and men who know how to make their voice heard… I got a crush on a guy in high school that I’d never even spoken to before when he stood up at a club meeting and spoke on topic so eloquently and confidently that I remember, at 15, being like “…whoa.” And I’ve always been drawn to people like that, so at the heart of it all, more than anything I admire confidence.
LDV: What is your principal weakness?
JNG: Oh, that’s easy. My big mouth. I tend to speak before I think sometimes and I can curse like a sailor. It’s gotten me in my fair share of trouble, but at least trouble isn’t boring.
LDV: What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
JNG: In business, I’ve never had any kind of direct mentor (I’m only 24! There’s still time!! haha), and no women in my family have ever struck out on their own in the way I have, so while I wish there was some fabulous woman in my life offering me soundbytes of wisdom, I have to say the best advice I ever got isn’t related to work at all, but family. My parents went through a pretty tumultuous divorce when I was a teenager, and my sister and I, as so many kids do, caught the brunt of the drama. I’ll never forget my Aunt, who I’m still close with, telling me one day after many tears; “All you have to do is live through it. After that, the rest is up to you.” And it is so true. I have met so many people who dwell upon the bad cards they’ve been dealt and blame their problems on all the things in their life they couldn’t control — and while I know first hand life can really shell out some drama sometimes, you just have to pick yourself up afterward, pat yourself on the back for making it through, and “party on, Wayne.”
LDV: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
JNG: My relationships. I have been lucky to make and keep genuinely wonderful people in my life.
LDV: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?
JNG: You know what, I think I have it pretty good. While most of my friends are in grad school or out there trying to scrape up a job in this economy, I have a great business, a happy life, a great boyfriend, and a house I love. Things are good right now, and I’m grateful. However, if I’m going to be greedy and ask for more, I hope life takes me on to bigger cities and more adventures. As long as I get to be with Travis, have a dog, and like what I’m doing, then the rest is just icing on the cake.
Bloom: Hydrangea, Camellia, Azalea. In that order 😉
Drink: Espresso. A company called Sweetwater makes a blend called Black Dog — it’ll put hair on your chest. I love it, it’s like rocket fuel.
Thing to wear: I pretty much live in dresses and flats — my favorites are Milly and DVF, I love Tory Burch and Miu Miu for flats, and of course a good pair of Jack Rogers… I am from Florida after all!
Destination: Palm Beach
Musician: The Avett Brothers, Ryan Adams, Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird… I was a music junkie before I was ever a design junkie.
Meal: Travis is training to be a chef, and he’s an insane cook, so I love when he makes me a meal.
Artist: This is like naming your favorite french fry — you want to devour them all! John Currin was my first love — and I love figurative art of all kinds. Also: Victor Rodriguez, Walton Ford, Cy Twombly, Eric Fishl, Jasper Johns… I love New Orleans’s Amanda Talley… and Ashley Longshore’s cheeky pop art.
Film: For sheer quotability, When Harry Met Sally. For visual feasting — Wes Anderson anything.
Television show: I’m not that into TV, but I’m a shameless “Real Housewife” fan — I really just love Bravo in general. Andy Cohen is just brilliant. I was also totally and hopelessly addicted to LOST when it was on.
Magazines: I have to say, I enjoy flipping through my sacred stack of Dominos more than I do a current issue of anything else. I’m so glad Lonny is around now, I think half my motivating factor in ordering an iPad was the idea of reading Lonny on it. I enjoy House Beautiful though. Garden & Gun is a beautiful, substantial magazine about the south that isn’t cliche or dumbed down, and I love Vanity Fair — I just think the writing and photography in that magazine is flawless, even if they do sometimes choose strange subjects and muses.
Blogs: La Dolce Vita, of course! i suwanee because Jamie is hilarious and inspiring, The Neo Traditionalist because I feel like she is a kindred spirit as we seem to love so many of the same things, Mrs. Lilien for her flawless execution, and Coco + Kelley because I think Cassie really has blogging down to an art.
Texture: Dog fur I love furry snuggles
Fabric or pattern: Lulu DK Moondance, anything John Robshaw, Scalamandre Zebra, Rubie Green’s East Village
Color: Turquoise! Deep, cobalt blue (almost navy)… and pink! All three together, even better!
Scent: Gardenia, Lemons, Freshly Ground Coffee, Rosemary
Extravagance: travel. shopping. both at the same time 😉
Quote: “Sometimes we have no particular way but our own” – Jerry Garcia