One Year On with 2019 Emerging Designer, Jessica Horrocks

As we look forward to the 68th ABDA Awards later this year and celebrate our shortlisted designers, we thought it would be a good time to check in with the 2019 winner of the Emerging Designer Award – Jessica Horrocks. ABDA spoke with Jessica earlier last month to reflect on her win, her recent work and designing the catalogue for this year’s awards.

What were the highlights from your year as Emerging Designer?

Being a judge in the book design awards has definitely been a highlight, it’s such a privilege to see the entries and be trusted with voting on them! It confirmed what everyone in this industry already knows: there’s a huge amount of design talent sitting on Australian bookshelves. I also joined the ABDA committee, so I’m seeing first-hand the sheer amount of hard work and dedication that goes into running the awards—it’s made me realise how fortunate we are to be part of such a supportive community. In terms of projects, I really enjoyed working on Blueberries. It’s just been published and is getting lots of attention and praise already, with some nice comments about the design floating around. I’m sure it’ll continue to do great things and I feel honoured to be connected to it!

Did winning Emerging Designer open up opportunities to you?

It definitely opened up opportunities for exposure, Books+Publishing published an industry profile piece on me after I won. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day so I really appreciated having the opportunity to reflect on my path to book design and how lucky I’ve been along the way.

How has your career changed in the last year?

Pre-pandemic, there was a plan for me to be promoted to Senior Designer at Text and for a Production Coordinator to join our team, with my role becoming a bit more design-focused with more cover projects to work on. Luckily this plan is still going ahead—I know I’m fortunate to even have a job at the moment, so any career progression is very much a bonus.

How did you choose to spend your prize money?

I’m embarrassed to admit I was boring and practical: fonts and storage. I needed a bunch of new external drives because I don’t delete unused work, which is very anti-Kondo and precious. But I often revisit unused ideas to help inform new ones, so it does further my work in a roundabout way. And fonts, well, no such thing as too many.

What projects are you currently working on?

I recently finished up work on Please Don’t Hug Me and got to see the advance copies before our office went remote—definitely wins the award for Most Relevant Title.

Metal Fish, Falling Snow is another one I designed recently. I just finished up the internals, weaving through cover elements without distracting from the wonderfully poetic writing.

Currently I’m in the middle of concepts for Show Me Where it Hurts, a collection of essays by Kylie Maslen about her experiences with invisible illnesses. There’s been a positive response in-house so hopefully there’ll be something approved and out in the world soon!* Editor’s note: Shortly after we interviewed Jess, this beauty below was approved!

Do you have any advice for this year’s Emerging Designer?

I’d encourage them to make sure they have their recent work easily accessible online: on instagram, a website, an ABDA profile, anywhere. They’ll get exposure and people will be curious, so it’s a good opportunity to showcase their folio. Meanwhile I’m terrible at this, I haven’t updated my instagram with new work since I won, oops.

As the winner of Emerging Designer 2019, you were given the opportunity to design the catalogue for the 2020 Book Design Awards. Can you give us a hint of what we can expect to see this year?

I did the concept work back in January, when the bushfires were still raging and the Australian publishing industry had just closed a tough year. So I decided to focus on the positive and really hone in on the celebratory nature of the awards, which seems even more appropriate now. Or maybe less? Either way: you can expect a bit of shine, a lot of colour and a whole heap of pos vibes.

The 2020 winner of the Emerging Designer award will be announced at the 68th ABDA Awards later in 2020.