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Hang Time LA: Speaker Spotlight on Amy and Jen Hood

We’re so excited to have Hoodzpah Design founders Amy and Jen Hood speak at Hang Time Los Angeles. Founded in 2011, Hoodzpah is a boutique branding firm based out of Southern California, specializing in bold, brazen, and unapologetic graphics. We absolutely love their work and can’t wait to see what insight they have to share at the Hang Time LA main stage this year. Don’t forget to purchase your ticket now!

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In the meantime, read about why the Hood sisters are excited for Hang Time LA:

Tell us about your design background.

We were trained under the apprentice method. An amazingly patient and vivacious human named Jason Staggs brought us on at a local print shop and publication and taught us on the job. The real deadlines and clients made it sink or swim, and we learned incredibly fast about the soft skills of client interaction thanks to him, while we slowly honed our design skills. We’ve always been students of peers and the internet too. We didn’t know much, but knowing how to Google answers and ask for help was and still is key. Knowledge is everywhere. We were invited by Josh Hemsley to a creative meetup of local Orange County, California designers and those friendships we made with seasoned designers were invaluable. They told us what we were doing wrong, gave us advice on how to better price, etc.

Learning early how to receive critique allowed us to adapt and grow faster. Ryan Ford, Marc Hemeon, and others who attended the meetups were so awesomely helpful and transparent. Later through the years, I remember pivotal conversations with Mackey Saturday and Aubrey Johnson (they probably don’t even remember this!) where they gave me so much insight into pricing and pitching and communicating value in compelling ways.

We started Hoodzpah because no one would hire us without formal design school background (plus our portfolio from the early publication/coupon clipper days wasn’t super appealing to most agencies who were hiring). That was seven years ago and it’s been a wild ride. We started as generalist designers. We’d do anything that paid. We were just excited people were hiring us. Now we’ve narrowed our focus to brand identity, illustration and custom lettering/type design.

What are you working on right now?

We’ve got lots on the burner, but some exciting things of note: A wine bar identity, something really exciting but really secret in the sports space, new typefaces we’ll be selling on Hoodzpah’s shop, and workshops based on our book we launched this year titled Freelance, and Business, and Stuff: A Guide for Creatives.

  1. Freelancing Calligraphy Exploration
  2. LAFC vs Galaxy for ESPN
  3. Woodland Creatures Card - Design for Hope

During Hang Time Los Angeles, we’ll be exploring the willingness to Try New Things. How do you incorporate trying new things into your workflow?

We were inspired by 72andSunny to create a criteria list for taking on new projects. 72andSunny is a great LA-based agency and they released information on how they’re trying to be diverse and inclusive in their work. It included a checklist that they test all new projects against. We made one for ourselves, and at the top of the list is “Does this challenge us in new ways?”. We also say “Yes” to way too many opportunities, but it gets us into a lot of projects that we’ve never done before. If someone asks us to do something we’ve never done before, we’re always terrified and yet super excited all at once.

We were asked to speak at a conference, which was terrifying at first but has led to such amazing opportunities since. It led to us writing our eBook about starting our business, which led to teaching a class at a design college about professional practices, which led to rewriting the book and releasing a print edition, which led to workshops. All of those experiences opened up new connections and friendships that have led to new and exciting work. Besides that, we’re always looking for new projects we can start ourselves that can make us passive income as a Hoodzpah product. That’s how we got deeper into designing our own fonts.

Tell us what you’ll be speaking about at Hang Time LA.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-chaaa-aaanges!

What are you most excited about for Hang Time LA?

Hanging out with great friends! People have been at the center of what has led to our success since day one. Amazing people who are willing to share their stories and knowledge. People we’ve met on Dribbble and then connected with on Twitter have become fast friends—allies.

Tell us about your local design community. What makes you super excited about LA’s design scene?

We’re actually more in the Orange County design scene. But I feel like in the OC the community is so transparent and available to one another. It’s amazing. We share tactics, refer each other’s work, and it makes for an amazing environment.

See all the Hang Time Los Angeles speakers and purchase your ticket. Want to hear more from Amy and Jen Hood right now? Follow them on Dribbble, Instagram, Twitter or at hoodzpahdesign.com.

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