Stefanie Vogl grew up in a small village of Bavaria, surrounded by trees that would bare the harsh, cold and snowy weather each winter. It was in this remote part of south-eastern Germany that the budding designer’s interest in the arts began, first accredited to the drawings that she made as a child. “I drew a lot and sketched a little comic book for my grandma’s birthday,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I made up a different story each time I showed it to her – I was too young to read or write back then.”
As time passed, her affection for the arts grew even more. In school, Stefanie was encouraged by her teachers to head to art school, and her family were more than supportive on the matter. Her grandparents, too, were interested in such fields. Her Grandma would often draw, and her mother’s father would make metal embossed images; her other grandfather was a carpenter and always told Stefanie to do the things that bring her joy. “First, I wanted to become a carpenter too,” she says, “but due to allergies I couldn’t.” Instead, she followed her teacher’s advice and went to art school, learning the ropes of painting, drawing and theory along the way.
Stefanie continued her education in Communication Design at Würzburg, and it was during her studies she was exposed to the many different fields available: photography, journalism, illustration and typography. Focusing first on writing and photography, it was in the very last semester that a spark for graphic design was lit, while working on her bachelor thesis. Now, Stefanie works as a graphic designer, illustrating on the side and creating new typefaces with utter joy. “I guess it was pretty certain that I would get into this field from a very young age, but I also had a lot of other interests,” she adds. “I thought about how it would be to work in a homicide division or in medicine. Those fields are still interesting to me.”
As a graphic designer, Stefanie adheres to an ethos of creating work that will make an impact – achieved through onboarding clients that share the same mentality. “I also only take on projects where the client really trusts me and like my design style; I want to stay true to myself.” Working in this manner has equated so a lustrous visual language, something that’s been in the works for quite some time and will continue to evolve. “I grow as a person and so does my design,” she says, referring back to older artworks that she’s made and noticing instantly how much her style has matured – “and so did I as a person.”
By pulling inspiration from all corners of life, Stefanie cites the mundanities of everyday as her key influence. This can be the movement of a shadow, a leaf that dances in the wind, a film or a good conversation, or a track she’s listening to or even just her thoughts. “I’m a little daydreamer,” she adds, appreciating the smaller parts of life and proving her ability to dissect these moments into her own designs. When designing for a client, Stefanie will engulf herself in the previous artworks used in order to get a feel for the brand or artist. Next, she’ll jot down adjectives and characteristics, before imagining the compositions in her head and beginning the sketching process. Once this section is complete, she’ll move on to the digital aspect and design in Illustrator and Glyphs to finalise the project.
Over the last three years, Stefanie has released four typefaces. One of which is Modal, originally composed as a sketch for Tunica magazine’s Extended Fantasy issue. Devised as two font styles of Regular – featuring lower and uppercase letters – and Mix, which contains two different fonts that incorporates lowercase letters for a more dynamic style, plus uppercase letters for a reduced version. A further typeface, that was first developed over a year and a half ago, is called Autark. The definition of the name means “to be self-sufficient”, labelled off the back of time spent thinking about her life and how much Stefanie valued being independent. “So I was sitting there with the strong feeling in my head and thought about creating a typeface that embodies exactly that.”
The process behind Autark began with sketching, where she drew single shapes and continued to add a flourish of emotion to the lines. This later became the stroke of the letters ‘d’ and ‘b’, and a process that spread to the rest of the typeface, “always checking if the feeling matched my shapes on the screen.” She plans to release the typeface soon, after months of procrastination endured over the course of the pandemic, which will sit alongside a collection of printed t-shirts.
Emotion is imperative to the making of Stefanie’s elongated and experimental typefaces. Without putting her feelings into the work, perhaps she wouldn’t get anywhere close to the work that she puts out today. Perhaps it’s a learning for us all – to not think too heavily about the process at hand and to create something simply for the joy of it, just like her grandfather once said before. “Just give it a try,” Stefanie concludes, “maybe you will find out it’s not your thing, or maybe it will be your new passion.”
Stefanie Vogl: Autark. (Copyright © Stefanie Vogl, 2020)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.