Photo Recap: Amy & Jen Hood of Hoodzpah Design Co

Bubbly, fun and nothing “short” of hilarious. You’re probably thinking we’re describing our event last week, but you’d only be partially right. We’re actually talking about the fabulous Hood sisters who were nice enough to stop in and chat with us for a little bit. They talked about their all but glamorous start to the industry, some fun and not so fun stops along the way and gave some much-needed advice that all of us creatives needed to hear.

You may have never heard of the Hood sisters, but we guarantee you’ve seen their work. They’ve worked with a few small brands like Google, Disney, Vox Media and Target (just a few shameless name drops for ya), but the refreshing part is they’re just as grounded as when they started. There’s hope for us all! Amy and Jennifer Hood are the owners of Hoodzpah Design Co. Co-founders of the creative meet-up Connecting Things that have meetups in CA, KY, TX, and CO. And they also design and sell their own posters, pins, and bandanas via their accessories brand, Odds and Sods.

If you didn’t make it out, we’re super disappointed you, but it’s probably a good thing because we were sold out. But as always we’ve put together a recap of the highlights of the night so you won’t be totally missing out.

Here’s a short synopsis of their start in the design industry: It all started 2007 (The year the first iPhone came out and the same year the first “Keep Up With the Kardashians” aired. They got a job interning at a magazine where their office was actually some guy’s house. And Jason worked with his shirt off a lot. (You’ve got to start somewhere) Annddd the magazine they worked for was knock-off a coupon clipper.

“We were working 13-hour days and building a magazine in Illustrator so we were doing it all wrong.”

“After the magazine died, we were left out on our asses after the magazine went under. All we had was ad work, so We had a terrible portfolio. We looked terrible on paper because we didn’t go to college. We were completely unhirable. It wasn’t glamorous, there’s wasn’t a Beyonce song playing in the background while we were like “We’re going to start our own business!” It was like “shit, we live in Orange County and it’s expensive and we need to get money ASAP.”

“We decided to start our own design firm and just bug our friends and be shameless on social media.”

“We knew we had the skills, but we had never had the opportunity or made the opportunity for ourselves to make the kind of work that we wanted to make. We just kind of let happen to us.”

“I’m so glad that we worked with friends when we were nobodies and treated it like we were working with Target. Because those people went on to do really great things and remembered us. A lot of them would think later on “Hey, we should bring Amy and Jen on this project”, but at that point, they worked for Asics or Target and some other really awesome companies. So it’s really important to keep in touch with your friends, because they’ll go off and do amazing things and hopefully, they’ll bring you along with them for it.”

“This was the day that I really felt I really became a designer…because Target tweeted at me! They were like “@amyhood, we’re trying to get a hold of you, we want you to do a project.” and I was like “That’s it, I have arrived!”

“When we had a lot of time on our hands while we weren’t getting hired, we did a lot of self-initiated projects.”

“It’s interesting how work begets work. So if you want to do more packaging work you have to have that in your portfolio and so forth.”

“We swing from these extreme highs and extreme lows all the time.”

“We can get addicted to the feeling that we’re really great at what we do or that the thought that we are completely worthless. And either way, it can be very damaging to us as creatives.”

“Your peers will keep you honest if you let them. But that’s the hard part, you have to let them in. You have to invite critique, you have to welcome people into your world and create safe space for that. It’s hard to do.”

“If you’re constantly comfortable, you’re not pushing your boundaries. You’re not really exploring who you could be, you’re just resting on who you have been.”

“Don’t be a creative dictator. Because that’s when you’re going to get left behind.”

Are you a creative dictator? Here’s a quick little quiz they gave us to find out if we were a Creative Stalin:

You might be a creative dictator if…

  • You’re afraid that your work is going to get stolen. If you’re not willing to show your work for fear that someone will take it, you’re not opening yourself up to the critique that could make it better.
  • You thrive in isolation. (And then murder…you had to be there to get it.)
  • You use emotional and subjective reasoning for critique (fuckin’ Janice)
  • Do you banish rivals? (You don’t involve certain people in your process because you know they’re going to be critical)

“So what we’re trying to say is you can’t control everything. The only constant is that change is going to happen.”

“How can we avoid drinking our own Kool-Aid?” View slide below: 

Amy and Jen, thank you so much for gracing us with your incredible presence and telling us what we needed to hear. And maybe, just maybe your coolness rubbed off on us Charlotte creatives just a little bit.

Have you noticed our pictures for these recaps have been getting better? It’s all thanks to AIGA Board Member, Clay Boan, for lending his talents to each event.

Also, we can’t end our blog post without talking about our amazing sponsors too. Thank friends at Sugar Creek Brewing Company for hosting us for the night. And the fabulous folks at to The Creative Group for your unwavering support.

By Katie Hodges
Published April 18, 2018
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