Stefy Loret de Mola graphically visualises cycles of depression, personality types and self-recognition

The Chicago-based designer discusses the juggle between freelancing, personal work, mental and physical health.

24 February 2021

Estefania Loret de Mola (otherwise known as Stefy) describes herself as an artist at heart, who works in graphic design because it’s “the perfect medium that allows me to seamlessly express my artistic creativity while satisfying my type-A brain.” Ideas are gently streamlined and refined through her design process and communication is fundamental. And, in this way, Stefy has very much been doing graphic design from a very young age, though she didn’t know it at the time.

As a highly artistic eight-year-old, Stefy recalls her PowerPoint diary full of word art graphics – doused in Curlz MT, hot pink shades and clip art imagery, of course. She remembers the treasure digital journal as her magnum opus, and tells us, “nothing I make today will ever compare to its sheer genius and perfection.” These days, as a freelance graphic designer, Stefy is known for her beautifully philosophical works, expressed through pared back illustrations and soft muted colours. She doesn’t restrict herself to a particular style or aesthetic but that being said, the Chicago-based designer has a strong affinity to creating systems. Throughout her work, she consistently asks herself: “How can I take a thought or idea and translate that into an experience?” Always thinking about the viewer and how they will perceive the work, Stefy is determined to design an interactive and intimate experience between the work and its audience.

In this way, Stefy’s work explores notions of self-recognition, the meaning of imperfection, habit loops and sensory perception. Before we delve further into her contemplative works however, the designer tells us how she came to develop her overlapping interests in art and design. The youngest daughter of two Mexican immigrants, Stefy was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where she was surrounded by dual cultures. When she thinks of her upbringing, she remembers both the autumnal colours of Cleveland and the dry summers spent in Mexico with family. Currently, she tells us, “I have no real distinction of where I belong or where I should be going. I’m still discovering that feeling of ‘home’.” Something that can be felt in her emotive graphics.

While Stefy grew up with creativity all around her – her mother is an artist who deeply encouraged her daughters to pursue the arts – it wasn’t until her sister studied graphic design that she realised it was the art form she’d always been looking for: a balance of creative expression and real world practice. She went on to study graphic design at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, graduating just last year, and went onto to study fashion design at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. But with freelance work piling up, Stefy continues, “my own struggles with mental heath, the massive workload of fashion school and the pandemic, I decided to drop out after the first semester and focus purely on my mental health, designing for my page, and freelancing.”

GalleryCopyright © Estefania Loret de Mola, 2021

The last year has seen a huge change for Stefy. As well as graduating, she’s gone from being surrounded by her closest friends, who all supportively pushed each other creatively, to attempting to navigate life through a pandemic. Though she hasn’t been able to see friends and riff off each other creatively like they used to, the designer has found an alternative community in the mean time, through Instagram. “It’s definitely not the same,” she says on the matter, “but it’s unique and inspiring in its own right. I get to be connected to people all over the world, each creating from their own perspectives.”

In a similar way, Stefy’s work is universal in its theme which ultimately explores human nature. Her graphic designs-cum-artworks explore fundamental human endeavours, like the search for inner peace for example. Through innovative infographics, she’s depicted the cycle of depression and perfectionism, words of affirmation, personality types, and methods of shifting head space; just a handful of uniquely insightful concepts she explores through her work. In other work, Stefy has embarked on a submission-based photo project titled here/there which she hopes to continue and grow in the near future.

“The idea is to create a collection of poster curated with smartphone images around a specific topic, for instance a landscape, a loved one or a moment of peace,” she explains. With each topic, she’ll launch a submission period where people can send through their images by DM with a corresponding time, place and description. It’s a project delving into Stefy’s interest in how we all “connect, share, consume and experience the world seamlessly between digital and physical scapes.” Here/there celebrates the fact that we all have a digital diary of sorts in our phones, and the project aims to share a piece of that diary in a curated collection from all over the world. She hopes to make posters from the images, and is also thinking about creative a small zine or book in turn.

For now, Stefy is continuing to find a balance between the hectic juggle of freelance, personal projects as well as the all-important physical and mental health. For those desperate to get their hands on Stefy’s alluring works, her first round of Riso prints will be available to pre-order this month. And other than that, the designer finally goes on to say: “Everything feels quite hectic these days so I guess I’m just taking baby steps towards grounding myself.”

GalleryCopyright © Estefania Loret de Mola, 2021

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Copyright © Estefania Loret de Mola, 2021

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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