Meet Jenny Beorkrem, Ork Posters
Ork Posters offers a line of modern, typographic neighborhood posters for cities across the U.S. and world. By ditching the 'vintage, illustrated' look of traditional maps, Ork designs its posters in a style characterized as simple and modern that has been well received by design-centric, urban dwellers and helped redefine the idea of a map as wall decor.
What do you love about your business and industry?
Although neighborhoods often carry stereotypes and stigmas, my design deduces each neighborhood to a certain one-ness - and reminds us that we, and our little bubbles we exist in, are part of a larger community. I also love being a part of the community of independent makers in Chicago (so much so that I opened a retail store, Neighborly, featuring independently made products). Being self-employed can feel a little bit like working on an island, but meeting, collaborating and consulting with other makers like me helps bring me back to the 'mainland'.
Tell us what inspires you.
I'm most inspired by good design, design that serves the purpose it was intended to serve, whether informing about a product, directing you through a space, or telling the story of a business - and simultaneously is easily understood and reaches the right audience without too much excess involved. I'm also inspired by other small business owner's stories, how they found their passions, why they decided to take the leap into starting a business, what are their struggles and successes.
What advice do you have for other creatives and entrepreneurs?
Make sure you're using a healthy balance of by-the-book knowledge and data, and throw-out-the-book intuition. Learn to recognize when something is really a roadblock, when you can sidestep the roadblock, or when it's only a roadblock you've manufactured in your head (like fear!). If you want to start your own business, you'll need guts. If you're not sure if you have them yet, then first work for someone who does.
What is something surprising about you?
I walked away from a full ride to an in-state college (in Iowa) to go to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and pay the out-of-state price (approx $90k). I trusted my gut because there was no sensical reason for me to do it, it was the first huge risk I would take in life based mostly on intuition.
What is the most common question you get about you and your business?
How do I decide which cities to make maps for.
Tell us about your process for making and creating.
It depends what I'm working on, but if I were going to design a new product, for example... I'd start by defining very clearly who the product is for, and why they will need the product. This can save a lot of time and money, because if you can't find your audience, or you can't say why they'll want the product, then you probably shouldn't be making that thing in the first place. Depending what it is, generally I'll look at what's already out there in the marketplace, because I'll want to fill a hole that's not already filled, I don't want to make something that's similar to something existing. Then I start the brainstorming process, weed through my best ideas, refine, weed, refine, weed until I come up with some ideas I like and that fulfill my original goals for the project. Maybe I'll get some outside input, but sometimes there's already a clear winner in my eyes and that's the idea I go with. So I make it!
Name three local makers and brands that you are inspired by and why.
Dan MacAdam/Crosshair Silkscreen - Amazes me with what is possible in the medium of silkscreen printing. Susie Daly/Renegade Craft Fair - Renegade has done so much for myself and other indie makers like me in Chicago, connecting us to local customers, especially for someone like me whose business started entirely online, as well as advocating for indie artists and makers. Angee Lennard/Spudnik Press Cooperative - Again, fueling the next generation of artists and makers in Chicago. Providing affordable classes, access to equipment and space is invaluable to creatives that are just starting out.
What is the best advice you've ever been given and how has it shaped your business?
The dream is free, the hustle is sold separately.
Discover more about Ork Posters at orkposters.com