Jayde Fish Talks About What It's Like Being an Artist/Designer in SF?

"Girl on Bike"

"Girl on Bike"

Jayde Fish is one of my favorite illustrator-designers who lives in San Francisco. I love her clean, crisp line work and her color palette is always on point; but mostly, I appreciate that her sense of humor and awesome personal style come through in all of her work. 

You might be more familiar with Jayde's illustrations than you even know – her works have been featured in Vanity Fair, she's illustrated stories for The Bold Italic, and she's worked for clients like Modcloth and Anthropologie. Even more likely, you and your friends have used her Fox Friends or Prickly Cactus stickers on Facebook. Yeah, Jayde designed those!

I reached out to Jayde Fish to ask her about how she got her start as an illustrator, and what it's like being an artist living in the most expensive city in the U.S.

Photo of baby Jayde

Photo of baby Jayde

Where are you from originally? When and why did you move to the Bay Area?

I was born and raised in Stockton, California. I moved to SF in 2005 for college because I always loved the place as a kid.

When I was about 10 years old my parent’s band was hired to perform at the Alcazar Theatre. We moved to SF for a few months for the show and I made some great memories – going to the Exploratorium, watching skateboarders bomb unreal hills, hearing ghost stories about the Transamerica building, watching Twilight Zone marathons, and eating Chinese takeout in our tiny apartment. SF was (and still is) exciting and unpredictable. 

"Boy on Bike"

"Boy on Bike"

How did you get your start as a designer? Did you go to art school? 

I went to the Academy of Art (AAU) and studied Graphic Design. I had always been into drawing and painting but I wanted my career to be something that… had more promise of financial stability. ;) I remember the advisor saying, “That sounds like Graphic Design,” so I dove right in! AAU was a great experience for me; the curriculum was challenging and the teachers were incredibly supportive. I have a lot of love for AAU.  

What's it like being an artist/designer in San Francisco these days? There's been a lot of talk about how the tech industry is changing the cultural landscape of the city. On the one hand it's getting more expensive for artists to live in the city and so many creative people have had to leave the city, but on the other hand, there are opportunities for some artists to work with, or in, these companies and get paid well and get good exposure for that work. I'm thinking in particular of the work you've done with Facebook making their Stickers. How has the changing culture in the Bay Area affected you and how has it affected your work? 

I think I land somewhere between artist and designer, so I often feel torn between two families. I design an app every so often and then I'll do art shows in between.

I definitely feel that the tech industry has helped boost my design career as well as my art career. My work with Facebook has been incredibly rewarding, I get emails from sticker fans across the globe who tell stories about how my drawings have kept their long-distance relationships alive, or how a character reminds them of a missed family member. It’s become something really special and emotional for people, something I had not predicted. 

Facebook Foxes designed by Jayde Fish

Facebook Foxes designed by Jayde Fish

I’ve never understood the line that’s been drawn (no pun intended) between artists and techies. I don’t think that techies are so different from artists really. Most of the people I know who work in the tech industry are also artists - writers, photographers, and illustrators. Techies are the new creatives. 

It’s uncool that SF has become so outrageously expensive... but that's what happens when people fight over the same AWESOME piece of land. 

"So Many Murrays"

"So Many Murrays"

What are your favorite types of projects – personal and professional – to work on? Is there anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?

I love to work on projects that challenge me… like teaching myself to animate, learning to paint big, or sewing his & hers hamburger outfits. I love to learn new skills. 

I’m excited to be included in a couple of group shows at Hashimoto Gallery in SF and Spoke Art Gallery in NYC. The other participating artists are incredibly talented and diverse, so it’s fuel for me to try and push my own work to the next level. 

Jayde's inspired by Hermès scarves. You can see it in this piece "Forest Creatures."

Jayde's inspired by Hermès scarves. You can see it in this piece "Forest Creatures."

Who are your design inspirations? 

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of inspiration from the fashion industry. 

Some of my current obsessions are Comme des Garçons, Vivetta, Hermès scarves, and Walter Van Beirendonck. Silhouettes, textures, patterns, and color palettes are all things I pay close attention to. A teacher in college once told me that I should never design a logo or use a color that I wouldn’t wear on my body, and it really stuck with me. 

Jeremy Fish and Jayde Fish in the best matching couples outfit ever!

Jeremy Fish and Jayde Fish in the best matching couples outfit ever!

I know you've worked on collaborations with your husband, Jeremy Fish, before. Do you have any more collaborations with him or other notable artists in the works?

Jeremy and I are currently working on a branding project together for some of our favorite restaurants - Don Pistos, Chubby Noodle, and Pisto’s Tacos. It involves everything from logo design to websites to murals in the restaurants themselves. It’s exciting because we get to draw inspiration from delicious food and we get to work together, which is always full of laughs and good times.

"Kubrick"

"Kubrick"

What's the best piece of advice for designers who are getting their feet wet in the industry that you wish someone gave to you when you first started? 

Learn all you can. Learn all of the design programs, learn how to draw, learn how to build something, and learn how to code. Walk around the TL and then walk around Saks to take in the eye candy. Embrace new technologies but also exercise the classic forms of art, because having a diverse range of skills is what will ultimately keep you in the game.