In this Designer Interview, we feature all the way from the sunny side of California Amy and Jennifer Hood who are Twin sisters and Founders of branding agency, Hoodzpah based in Orange County Southern California in the United States.
— The Logo Creative™ ✏ (@thelogocreative) October 3, 2018
In case you are wondering what the word Hoodzpah means it is an adapted spelling of the Yiddish word chutzpah, which is used to express admiration for nonconformist but gutsy audacity. The Pronunciation: hood-spuh with a kind of a throaty “h” at the front. The twins relish in creating designs that delight the senses and serve the purpose and have branded hundreds of businesses and designed on projects for cultural pillars like Google, Disney, Vox Media, and Target.
They have great personalities as well as impressive design skill and the best part is there’s two of them! They are also the first twin sisters and joint female designers to be featured on The Logo Creative designer interviews.
The Logo Creative – Hi Amy /Jen it’s great to feature you in our interviews.
Amy & Jen Hood – Really appreciate you thinking of us, and honored to have this opportunity.
The Logo Creative – What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer and how did you proceed?
Amy & Jen Hood – We were always creative as kids and we’d draw all the time. We made our own greeting cards for holidays from the age of like 6. Then in high school we’d be designing posters and album covers for our friends’ bands. I don’t think we realized it was graphic design. We called it art at that point. A career placement test at community college helped us apply the term “graphic design” to what we’d been doing and turned our rudders from art classes to an intro to design course. We loved it immediately. Amy was working at a coffee shop and a customer of hers offered her a design internship where he’d teach her on the job. She brought me in on it and we dropped out of community college to learn through apprenticeship. Between that and a lot of googled questions, we learned the basics of design.
The company we cut our teeth it was a little local mailer that went to different communities and was just packed to the gills with coupons. We were maybe designing 150 ads and doing layout design on 3 editions of the mailer a month. It was nuts! The group folded and we were unhireable on paper without a degree and with only small time ads as a portfolio. So we started Hoodzpah in about a week or two. We created a logo and website and just started shamelessly asking friends if they needed design help with anything. Thanks to mentors and business-savvy friends we were able to pivot and grow and get more smart about how we ran our company. It’s almost 7 years later and now we’re working on dream projects with such amazing companies. I love that we have such an unconventional come up story.
It feels like a Drake song, and it also let’s people with less money and opportunity know that you can start from less than optimal circumstances, and still make a great career for yourself. How? You gotta be proactive about reaching out to people, putting your work out there, and asking people for help. We were so transparent with people we trusted about how we did business, and they would let us know quickly if we should change or how to optimize. Both design peers and non-design business friends can be mentors to you. Do your best first iteration, then look for critique.
The Logo Creative – What does your day consist of?
Amy & Jen Hood – Fielding too many emails, Re-typing dictation texts to iPhone, Hoping DMs on our business account are nudes. Walking down the street to grab lunch at the Fun Zone (we have a mini Coney Island down the street here in Newport Beach and it’s awesome if you love having fair food for every meal) Getting some actual design work done, finally. Panicking because actual design work isn’t looking like it should. Bothering each other with questions and being mutually annoyed, haha. Trying to think of a clever tweet, Slow descent into numbness until it’s time to retreat to watch television and be a normal, off-duty civilian.
The Logo Creative – Are you a morning person or night owl and is there a reason why?
Amy & Jen Hood – We oscillate between either. We do try and keep regular hours even though we work for ourselves. We’re both usually always working between 10am and 4pm and then we’ll be either working early or late. The reason those odd hour work sessions are so nice is they’re usually when no one else is around, so you’re uninterrupted, you don’t have to respond to emails, and you can listen to whatever weird music you need to get pumped and focused.
The Logo Creative – What was the first logo you ever designed?
Amy & Jen Hood – Back when we worked at that coupon clipper mailer, we used to redesign logos for people all the time not knowing any better. A local company would want an ad but have zero assets. So, being young, excitable and naive (sub “dumb” for any of those, haha) we’d go about making them a logo and marketing idea for their ad. I can’t even remember which one we did first. There were so many companies. But I think it was a floor cleaning service? There was a lighthouse involved. And I think some Copperplate Gothic. That was one of those system fonts we’d use for anyone wanting that “professional” and “trustworthy” look. That was when we had no budget for new fonts, haha. Good times.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite Logo you have designed?
Amy & Jen Hood – Too hard to pick out of the children! Each has a fun memory and story. Docent brewing was a great brand identity to develop. I think it was extra special since we were also able to work on a whole suite of collateral and environmental pieces to support the logo and wordmark. It was a full-blown identity project, which is the best kind in order to really establish a cohesive and strong system.
You can see the project case study here:
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite Logos of all time?
Amy & Jen Hood – Logos are so tied to experience and personal memory of what you associate them with. So these answers might not reflect the logo design so much as the brand strength associated with the marks. Without much thought, Amy called out Good Year. Jen called out Arby’s and Rolling Stones’ mouth icon. Not sure why. Just impulse reactions.
The Logo Creative – Can you describe or give us an overview of your logo design process?
Amy & Jen Hood – Discovery – research with the client and target demographic about the company we’re designing for. Figuring out their values, what products or services they offer, why they’re unique, what kind of experience they hope to deliver, etc.
- Mood boarding
- Initial concepts (2 strong concepts proven across some use case examples)
- 2 rounds of minor revisions on 1 chosen concept
- Delivery of final files and brand guidelines sheet of some sort (extent depends on the package the logo was designed within. We try not to design isolated logos without designing an identity system of some sort).
The Logo Creative – What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your creative thinking?
Amy & Jen Hood – All-time is hard to say. Wouldn’t even know where to start. But some brands we’ve been excited about or impressed by recently:
- Intercom has an in-house agency that really keeps their product fun for their target demographic. They’re creative and unexpected.
- Casper has been an exciting one to watch since they invented a crazy way to buy matresses. I remember when it first came out thinking, “never in a million…” and now it’s as familiar and awesome as “duh, why not.”
- Love the new pivot Dropbox has made in its branding, and also the product and experience are tops.
- It seems like everything FX puts out for their shows recently has been so on point. The suite of key art feels cohesive yet so custom and uniquely right for each show. Sur Keath Moon is Director of Design over there and absolutely kills it at keeping things original and awesome, which suits their amazing programming.
- KFC’s rebrand was really an awesome solution that kept the old-time charm while modernizing. Everything from their updated marks and packaging to their ads have been hilarious and on-point.
- Spectrum TV – We used to be victims of Time Warner Cable, haha. So seeing their rebrand has been impressive on a broad scale. Their identity design wasn’t revolutionary, but the new attention to service and quality has made a world of difference and infused the new identity with a 180 degree meaning from what we all associated TWC with. In that way it was really successful
- Invision continues to be an amazing product and solid brand as far as delivering consistently remarkable service and tools and fostering community. Always impressed by them and how they infuse value beyond what they’re required to.
The Logo Creative – How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish?
Amy & Jen Hood – About 4-5 weeks if everyone is on it and timely. Most times, clients need more time to get group input and submit edits.
The Logo Creative – What are you recommended design books to read?
Amy & Jen Hood – I really enjoyed “How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul” as a young designer. I’ve been bad about not keeping up with industry books. I more check for new info and thoughts on Twitter and Medium.
The Logo Creative – Which software do you use frequently and is there any you would recommend to designers?
Amy & Jen Hood – For logos, always Illustrator. Photoshop and Indesign are supplementary for applying it to mockups or showing it in potential use case scenarios, and for laying out proof decks. If you’re interested in making fonts, check out Glyphs.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?
Amy & Jen Hood – We are somewhat known for a style that has a bit of yesteryear in it — but we can’t just do that one style for clients. The fun of logos is making a mark for a unique problem, so one favorite solution won’t always suffice. But we’re definitely into logos that live within a system. There’s not just one mark. There’s a main mark with variable solutions for different needs. A seal, a monogram, an icon.
The Logo Creative – What is your daily inspiration when you design?
Amy & Jen Hood – Today it was a book a friend sent us. Joshua Minnich gathered thousands of old marks and badges and labels into a book he’s put out called “Ephemera”. Every day it can change. Sometimes it’s something we see on Twitter, sometimes an old store sign, or a label at the grocery store.
The Logo Creative – When you’re not designing do you have a favorite free time activity you like to do?
Amy & Jen Hood – has recently been watching The Great British Bakeoff and is in a cooking frenzy, which I benefit from when she makes dinner for all our friends. It’s epic we live right by the beach and bay, so taking walks outside is a great unwind. Jen was recently given an old XBox and a copy of Skyrim and we haven’t seen her since. Thank goodness for streaming services like Prime and Netflix.
The Logo Creative – What was the biggest challenge you ever faced on a project?
Amy & Jen Hood – When decisions start to be made impulsively based on emotions rather than on the shared goals we outlined in the research phase. Non-project-related-drama has snuck into a few projects and either halted them or led to us stepping away from the project. We’re very diligent and dedicated so we try and make a relationship work to salvage the project, but sometimes you have to recognize when a pairing is just a bad fit and you should cut ties.
The Logo Creative – In your opinion what’s the best and worst part of your job being a designer?
Amy & Jen Hood – People. People are amazing and capable and imaginative. They’re what continues to propel our civilization into new territories. But they’re also prone to whims and insecurities and jealousy and odd reactions rooted in all kinds of things the rest of the world might not understand. It is our blessing and our curse. Working with people means you get both sides of that coin. Even with both sides, it beats working with robots hands down.
The Logo Creative – Who is the most inspiring person to you and why?
Amy & Jen Hood – Not sure about all-time. But on a recent level, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark’s side-project turned phenomenon in My Favorite Murder podcast was awesome. They’re around 40 I think and have made a completely new and lucrative career for themselves because they were still willing to work on a side project they were passionate about. Also, Masego, who find levity and poetry in every day. He’s hilarious on Instagram stories.
The Logo Creative – Who is your favourite Graphic Designer and why?
Amy & Jen Hood – Too hard to pick one. We’re not monogamous in that way. Tend to fall in love with a new designer every day, haha. Too much awesome talent out there. It’s a great time to be alive. But as for people seriously inspiring us right now: Simon Walker (type maker), Lauren Dickens (doing rad logo and identity work out of Austin), Brandon Rike (an amazing designer who can do no wrong in my eyes), Ryan Putnam, Danny Jones, Brett Stenson, Bethany Heck,
The Logo Creative – What’s your favourite design quote or quote in general, and do you have a mantra or saying you live by? (This can be included)
Amy & Jen Hood – Don’t really have one. But grandma used to say, “everyone’s got shit in their stables,” which was a hilarious reminder that life is tough and occasionally sucks for everyone. You can either wallow in it or try and shovel it out. Or get a Glade plugin.
The Logo Creative – In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
Amy & Jen Hood – Engaging the senses to communicate.
The Logo Creative – What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
Amy & Jen Hood – We created a logo, built a website, got on social media, and started reaching out to people. In person, via email. We had to think, “what would I do for a client”, to take the personal fears out of it. Sacrifices happen every day. Life is compromising. None of us have complete control over how things happen. The more we can adapt to how we get there, the more likely we might get where we want to, or find a better destination.
The Logo Creative – Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have changed early on in your career?
Amy & Jen Hood – Remembering that while we should be grateful for every client and job — that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our entire life to them. It’s ok to say “no”, move on, try new things. If you really want to advance, there will be some turnover and risk involved. Don’t accept only what’s handed to you, go after new things that weren’t offered.
The Logo Creative – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Amy & Jen Hood – see last question.
The Logo Creative – What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
Amy & Jen Hood – There’s not one thing, but a business mentor helped us:
- This is a business, not a charity. If everyone is saying yes to your prices and you’re overwhelmed and overworked, it’s time to raise your prices to meet the demand.
- Learn to communicate value.
The Logo Creative – What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
Amy & Jen Hood – Put in the time to practice and play. Just start. Put work out there. Don’t treat every piece so precious. Look for critique often. Reach out to your heros on Twitter. Don’t just sit back and wait for the perfect job. And so on and so on.
We recently reviewed Amy & Jen book, “Freelance, and Business, and Stuff” as they were kind enough to send us a signed copy which we could not wait to read and review for our readers and the book did not disappoint you can read and watch about the book on our Book Review Section.
Also published on Medium.