How Jessica Rather Became an Illustrator for Restaurants (and Netflix)

In How I Got My Job, of us from throughout the meals and restaurant trade reply Eater’s questions on, properly, how they obtained their job. Today’s installment: Jessica Rather.

Jessica Rather spent a 12 months fabricating eyebrows and eyelids earlier than she graduated to crafting total puppets for stop-motion movies. She was sufficiently, if not efficiently, pursuing a profession in animation when in 2012 her buddy, chef Ari Taymor, requested her to design a brand and occasion posters for his new restaurant, Alma. Rather didn’t know this favor would change her life when she accepted, however when Alma shortly began gathering accolades, her graphic design work was on full show.

This publicity led to freelance gigs creating artwork all through the meals and beverage trade, an in-house design job at Sweetgreen, and, finally, the chance to work in TV. Throughout her skilled journey, Rather skilled the hurt of overworking and discovered when to say no to initiatives. In the next interview, Rather explains how she went from making fashions of eyebrows for motion pictures to creating title sequences for Netflix’s Street Food, and the way she continues to beat the loneliness of freelancing.

Eater: What does your job contain and what’s your favourite half?

Jessica Rather: My profession path has led me to 2 design jobs. The first is advertising and branding for the meals and beverage trade. I make occasion posters, design logos, and create general identities for eating places and meals and beverage merchandise.

The different half of my work is creating the feel and appear of graphics in a TV present. I’ll make the present’s title sequence together with some other graphics. Currently, I work on the Netflix collection Street Food, in addition to a number of others that might be launched [in 2020]. My favourite half about each of those jobs is how a lot inventive freedom I have.

Did you go to highschool for graphic design?

My preliminary love was filmmaking, however I have dyslexia, so I thought I couldn’t get into many faculties. I ended up going to Hampshire College, a faculty with no grades and a novel construction that allowed me to construct my very own main. In my sophomore 12 months, I constructed a program in order that I might begin working and residing in LA and pursue my ardour. For anybody with a studying dysfunction who can be motivated, that lack of construction might be extremely useful. So, I didn’t have a graphic design training, which made me [feel] insecure at instances, however I had a liberal arts training with quite a lot of hands-on artwork expertise.

What did you initially need to do whenever you began your profession?

I initially wished to work in stop-motion animation. I grew up loving Wallace and Gromit and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I liked the thought of bodily constructing an total world, so when I moved to LA, I appeared for jobs within the stop-motion trade.

What was your first job and what did it entail?

My first job was working as a puppet fabricator at Shadow Machine. I started as an intern making eyebrows and eyelids for over a 12 months. That result in an in-house job making puppets for Robot Chicken at Stoopid Buddy.

How did you get into graphic design for the meals trade?

While I was working in animation, my buddy Ari Taymor was opening his first restaurant, Alma. It was an actual DIY endeavor, and he reached out to me to assist him with the brand and advertising supplies. I had no concept what I was doing, but it surely was a lot enjoyable. He was a giant fan of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse’s previous occasion designs and wished to create illustrated posters for visitor chef occasions the restaurant placed on. This was about seven years in the past, so it was a extremely thrilling time within the LA meals scene. It was the start of the town actually changing into a meals vacation spot.

Incredibly, a couple of 12 months into opening, Alma gained Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant in America and Ari was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef. Because of the visibility that got here with Alma’s success, I was capable of meet some unbelievable cooks and winemakers, finally main me to work full-time as a contract illustrator.

The poster features an illustration of a white woman with long yellow hair holding up a fork with a Japanese-style catfish on it to her face. Below it reads “Alma Brett Cooper, June 13th, 2014, 252 S. Broadway, Los Angeles.” The style is very 1920s.

A poster design for Alma, created by Jessica Rather.
Jessica Rather [Courtesy image]

What was the largest problem you confronted whenever you began working as an illustrator within the meals trade?

I was extremely shy when I began. I’m nonetheless shy, however again then it held me again from increasing. I didn’t know the best way to promote myself and construct a correct enterprise. I additionally wasn’t skilled at an artwork and design faculty, and due to that, I typically felt embarrassed by my talent degree (traditional imposter syndrome). All I knew was the best way to put my head down and work arduous.

When was the primary time you felt profitable?

I’ve all the time been arduous on myself to be higher and work more durable, so I’ve all the time had a tough time recognizing my very own progress. A few years in the past, I started working at Sweetgreen as an in-house designer. It was extremely significant to me to be self-taught and employed by such a profitable firm. That was definitely the primary time I realized how far I had come.

Did you could have any setbacks?

For a number of years, I was working full-time as a contract illustrator, primarily making posters and net advertisements for the meals and wine trade. I lived in a home with my boyfriend and two extra roommates. I spent most days up in my room working from about 7 a.m. till I completed — which typically was [around] four a.m. (Yikes!). I was afraid of claiming no to work, together with tight deadlines, and I had little interplay with any people exterior of those I lived with. I suppose I actually misplaced my voice and identification at instances.

What was the turning level in your profession that led to the place you are actually?

When I began working at Sweetgreen, I advised myself I would carve out time to have a life. I was choosy about how a lot extra freelance work I’d tackle [while working full-time], and by stepping again, I was capable of really see my price. Because of that, I put myself in a a lot more healthy headspace. It additionally made me extra open, in order that when a novel alternative appeared, I was prepared for the problem.

One day, the staff from Chef’s Table reached out in want of a designer to do graphics for their new meals present referred to as Street Food. I was fortunate sufficient to get the job, and it was the best challenge I had labored on at that time in my profession. Working on that present mixed my biggest passions: meals, artwork, and movie. Since then, I’ve been capable of begin my very own enterprise doing extra title sequences and graphics for different TV collection, which is certainly my present dream job.

What had been a very powerful expertise that obtained you there?

Working at Sweetgreen, particularly below the artwork course of Joanna Hsu, I was capable of develop into a extra well-rounded designer. It allowed me to see and contact initiatives at a big scale from conception to print or publish[-production]. Having these expertise gave me the arrogance to maneuver on and do what I do now, which is working as a freelancer once more, however in a a lot more healthy and profitable method.

What would shock individuals about your job? Why?

It may shock individuals how a lot work I put into what I do and what number of hours I spend every week creating and desirous about how I can develop as a designer. I’ve additionally realized how essential it’s to carve out time for self-care and friendships — being a freelancer might be actually lonely.

How are you making change in your trade?

I suppose that the an increasing number of individuals care about design — about how a restaurant brand appears, how meals is packaged, or how TV graphics look — the extra thrilling our trade will develop into. I know I’m going to proceed to seek out my voice, particularly by the distinctive journey I’ve been on, and use that to attempt to push the trade ahead. I additionally need to discover some mentees and be the mentor I by no means had for different younger aspiring creatives.

What would you could have carried out in another way in your profession?

I had no concept the place I was going to wind up, which was typically actually scary. I suppose I put an immense quantity of stress on myself (and nonetheless do) to be higher. If I might give myself recommendation, it could be to take extra day out of my days to care for myself. In different phrases, I’d like to not suppose I should work each hour of the day.

What’s one of the best piece of profession recommendation you had been ever given?

When I was first beginning out, somebody advised me to by no means be happy with a primary draft. That all the time stayed with me.

What recommendation would you give somebody who needs your job?

I suppose all of us need another person’s profession path, but it surely’s essential to attempt to deal with placing your head down and simply do the work to get to the following stage. Everyone’s journey is exclusive.

Morgan Goldberg is a contract author based mostly in Los Angeles, California.
Photo of Jessica Rather by Brian McGinn.
Illustrations from the Noun Project: digital camera by Dhika Hernandita; coated dish by Made by Made; wine by Made by Made; lightbulb by Maxim Kulikov; hand writing by Pongsakorn.


This menu is coming soon!


Write Story or blog.


Upload Status or Memes or Pics


Upload videos like vlogs.

More Formats

Coming Soon!

My Style

Your profile's Look

My Followers

People who follow you

My Interests

Your Posts Preference

My Bookmarks

Bookmarked Posts

My Following

People you follow


Your profile's Settings


Log out of Rapida

Sign In

Login to your Rapida Account


Create account on Rapida