We had the good fortune of connecting with Jen Pace Duran and we’ve shared our conversation below.
How does your business help the community or the world?
It has always been my mission to work with passion-fueled and purpose-led brands and people. It is all about providing brand identities, patterns, and illustrations that look great and do good (and an emphasis on the do good part). For over the last 11 years, I have worked with various nonprofits, businesses, and people who impact the world. I’ve collaborated on design projects for national nonprofits such as Boys & Girls Clubs, 4-H, and ALS. I have had the opportunity to rebrand a gun safety advocacy group and several women’s rights organizations. I created the brand design for a social impact strategist and philanthropist as well as designing the cover of her just-released best selling book that shares the stories of social change warriors who have beaten the odds to stand up for what they believe in and lift others. Not only that, but I also designed the brand identity for a sustainable luxury clothing brand that focuses on creating clothes ethically and an eco-conscious way. It may seem like a wide variety of work, but they all have that common denominator – passion. I work the best when I’m connected to the mission or inspired by the passion that fuels people to change the world in their own way. I love that I can help through creating designs that help elevate and amplify their mission. I genuinely believe that with the help of bright colors, big passions, and bold patterns, we can play our way to a kinder, stronger, better world. Together.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
My parents joke that I was considered “advanced in coloring in preschool,” which makes sense given my adult obsession with design, colors, and the meanings behind both. (I could nerd out about it all day!) All my favorite things when I was growing up involved creativity and helping others, especially young people. I volunteered all the time, became a mentor for Big Sister for Big Sisters when I was 20. I also worked at a children’s playhouse in high school and college and helped design costumes and sets for the summer plays. My life has always contained this thread of inspiring creative confidence and helping people express their true essence visually. Now that’s what I do for businesses. The passion that I bring to the table and my design style sets me apart from others in my industry. My work is very playful, bright, and colorful. The brand identities, patterns, and illustrations I create for myself and clients feel like art because so much purpose and passion go into the process. My style has evolved and grown over the years, but the playful nature hasn’t changed. Building your own brand is a journey, and it is not easy, but it has been so rewarding for me. A lot of hard work and long hours go into it. It is also important to be proactive about learning new skills and practicing daily. The biggest lessons I’ve learned on this journey and is to focus on making connections and building relationships with people. A lot of the creative industry tends to be focused on Instagram and how many followers you have, but my business has flourished from the real person to person connections I’ve made. Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram, but I use it as a tool to showcase my work and design style. I’ve been fortunate to have worked on so many amazing projects over the years, and most of them have come from relationships I’ve built or from past and current clients referring me. At the end of the day, every project is a privilege. And I’m here to build my own creative legacy by helping others build theirs.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many fun and exciting things to do here. I love living here, except in the summers, when the long hot days are brutal. So let’s say my best friend is visiting in November when we can do more outdoor things. First things first, we would spend a day or two up in Sedona hiking and just taking in the red rocks’ breathtaking beauty. Back in the valley, we would visit the Desert Botanical Gardens because I’m obsessed with cacti and succulents. I jokingly refer to them as my spirit plants. We would have to have a spa day at the Montelucia. And throughout the week, we would stop by some of my favorite restaurants for happy hours, lunches, and dinners – Cibo, El Chorro, Worth Takeaway, Joyride, Grassroots, Sanctuary, LGO, Chelsey’s Kitchen, North and Blanco Taco.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my mom. It might be cliche, but it is true. My parents have always encouraged me and supported me, but my mom deserves more than a little credit. She is a fierce advocate for her children, and she is one of my role models. I appreciate everything that she has done for me now more than ever, especially after becoming a mom. At an early age, she recognized that I was creative and did everything she could to foster that creativity by signing me up for art classes, creative writing camps, drama camps, and more. And hopefully, one day soon, we will embark on our dream of publishing a children’s book together. She’ll write it, and I’ll illustrate it. My husband deserves some credit too. He and my mom like to joke about who the true president is of my fan club. Owning your own business is hard, and it is even harder to balance work and life, so I feel lucky to have such a supportive partner. 2020 has been a crazy year, to say the least, and one of the positive outcomes from living through this pandemic has been to slow down. I’ve started to read again, and there are so many books that have inspired me that I think are important to share: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller Start with Why by Simon Sinek Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo