Chloe Scheffe

Jon Sorrentino: [00:00:00] Welcome to Wellfed, a podcast for hungry creatives. I'm your host Jon Sorrentino a designer based out of New York. And on this podcast, I speak to some of my creative heroes to learn from their experiences and discover the ingredients to grow within the creative industry. 

On this episode, my guest is Chloe Sheffey graphic designer primarily working in editorial design, but in no way, does that stop her from writing, creating illustrations and art directing, especially when it comes to the work she has done for Nike, the New York Times, Away and Lucky Me Records. I've admired Chloe's passion for design and typography through social media for a while now and I was super excited to finally nail down some time to have her as a guest. 

Before we get into the episode, I just want to share a few things with you. First, if you want to stay up to date with the podcast, you can head over to, where I have all the episodes as well as videos and articles with tips for creatives, just like you.

Second for this season, I just launched a Slack group that you can join by going to There you can share work and connect with other designers, illustrators, and photographers from all over the world. Last, but not least I'm doing free one-on-one portfolio reviews over zoom for anyone that signs up for the newsletter on the website.

Wellfed I've already had a few of these with listeners and we've talked about things like getting more clients, ways to present your work on your website and a bunch of other topics. All you have to do is sign up for the newsletter over at Now that we've got that out of the way, I hope you enjoy this episode.

Um, so Chloe Scheffe thank you so much for joining me on this episode of Wellfed. Um, I cannot tell you how excited I am to have you as a guest. I feel like we both have a, an exceptional passion for, uh, typography and some of your work has just been amazing to have discovered through the ways of social media, the wonderful web.

And so I'm super excited to talk about that and to get to know you a little bit more, um, and what you're doing today. So. Before we get into that, Chloe. Um, I've been kicking off each episode with what I'm calling five questions in 50 seconds. Um, there's no timer right here necessarily, but, uh, we'd like to keep things quick and fast paced.

So if you're ready, I can go ahead and ask you this first question. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:02:09] Yeah, sure. First, thanks for having me. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:12] Thank you for joining. Um, Chloe, if you had to give up bread or cheese, what would it be? 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:02:17] Bread.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:21] This is a very New York question. I'm sure you had this before you moved. What is your sign? 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:02:26] My sign is cancer, but I'm very unlike a cancer I've been told, which I'm sure has to do with my rising sign or something, but I don't know enough. Yeah. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:34] All those birth charts and stuff like that. Um, cat or dog. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:02:40] Dog.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:42] Do you have any, do you have any currently. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:02:44] No, I've never had pets actually my parents weren't pet people. So actually it would be neither if we're being very honest. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:50] That's okay. I'm all for that. The pet aspirations. Um, If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be? 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:02:59] This is hard.

Um, I think you would actually be like croissant and a cup of coffee, if I can do kind of a duo, which probably a surprise given my bread answer for the first question. But, um, the backstory behind that is that, um, I've actually been gluten-free for the last year and a half, not by choice, but, uh, I was cleared by a doctor to start eating gluten again.

So actually last night I had the first glutinous normal pasta I've had in over a year. And so I'm literally just anticipating able to eat croissants again. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:34] Was it, does your body just have like a complete high as soon as that first scoop of pasta? 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:03:40] Yeah. I mean, luckily I'm nothing out of the norm happens, so that's great.

But yeah, it was really nice just to be like, I don't have to worry about this. So like read the label. I mean, I'm still kind of in the reentry periods. I'm not fully there, but. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:53] You have to take it slow. You can't just go all in on like a cream cheese and pasta. You have to take, take baby steps back into the garden of gluten.

Chloe Scheffe: [00:04:00] Exactly. And look, it's not will be the end. It will be my arrival, back into the bread world. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:07] That's awesome. Um, last question, Spotify or Apple music, 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:04:11] Spotify. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:12] I like never really had a, uh, a music subscription before. And I was like, so against it. Cause I was like all about podcasts and stuff like that. And now I see why people love Spotify so much after like now signing up for it.

It's, it's pretty amazing. It's nice. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:04:27] I've just been using it for so many years and actually I was introduced to it by, um, one of my parents exchange students and she was from Norway or something. So very cool and ahead, ahead of us at the time. So yeah, I've been committed ever since. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:43] Um, so Chloe, you know, we've been trying to connect, I think obviously through this whole pandemic, it's been pretty crazy.

Um, as you've mentioned to me earlier, you had just made the move from New York over to Seattle. Now it's just going to be somewhat of your semi-permanent residence. Um, and you, you had mentioned that you grew up there. So I was wondering maybe you can kind of paint me a picture of what. You know, young Chloe was or who young Chloe was growing up, you know, what were you doing?

Where'd you grow up? Let's talk about that. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:05:10] Yeah, sure. Um, yeah, so technically I kind of grew up, uh, all, all up and down the coast of Washington. Um, and I didn't actually live in Seattle proper until I was in college. Um, but yeah, so very much for West coast specific or the West girl, um, Yeah. And I was just, I think probably most of your guests say this, but I was your typical artsy kid, always drawing obsessed with horses, drew them constantly.

I have very clear memories of being on my bedroom floor with my twin sister. Who's also a graphic designer, ironically. Um, and both of us just drawing horses on those reams of paper that had the dots on the side where they're connected with the perforations and just going forever through like a ream of that, just drawing horses.

Um, And yeah, I actually went to an arts-based high school in the Seattle area. Um, and did, I mean, I focused on, you know, sort of classical visual art there, but it was where I was introduced to graphic design for the first time. So I think I took my first graphic design course when I was 16, 15 or 16. Um, So that was kind of my early origins in design.

Um, my sister and I are also your kind of typical artsy student in that we did, you know, very bad posters for the school plays and things like that. Um, long before you really knew the principles of graphic design or what it was, but just kind of started started art sort of foray into the world that way.

Um, Yeah, it's actually funny because I remember really hating graphic design, um, in the class, because it was kind of all about reduction in about, you know, the sort of opposite, um, things that I had learned with the principles of drawings, like taking away detail, um, and making things, um, you know, sort of simple and graphic versus being realistic and kind of true to life.

And, yeah, but at some point, I don't know, At some point I tipped over and began to like it. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:17] Like, let's make this a career now. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:07:19] Yeah. I think I had an early realization too. I've always joked with people that like I'm a little bit mercenary and a lot of the appeal of graphic design has just been that it's like a viable career to do in terms of being an artist.

And yeah, I've never, I've never been able to kind of be the starving artist. I've always wanted to sort of make money and live and do my thing. And graphic design was kind of the perfect sort of field too.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:46] I've had that, I've had that same thought where I grew up as a painter. And at some point I was like, I had the panic moment of like, what am I going to do?

I got to go on from high school and stuff like that. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:07:57] And of course now I'm seeing back around and I just feel like all I want to do is make drawings. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:02] Yeah. Of course. Yeah. Now you're like, you know, type and color and vectors. It's just way too much. I got to get different places you mentioned. So you started early in design, you know, having a class at 16.

Um, and then you have a sister it's just, they're also in designers. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:08:18] Yeah. Yeah. She's a graphic designer too. Um, yeah, she kind of works more on the web side of the world, so. She has like a set of skills that I totally don't have. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:30] Any questions that you have about websites or anything like that are forwarded to your sister and vice versa.

She's like, what's print. And you're like, Oh, it's this thing. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:08:38] Yeah, exactly, exactly. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:41] Um, so as I was going through your experience, I've also come to find out that you went to RISD, which apparently I have just been targeting RISD students, you know, alumni here, you know, Carly was a guest. She was from RISD, and Jon.

Oh, wow. So this is, this is, yeah, there's a lot of RISD. I mean, I had Kevin Lyons, who's like an OG RISD grad and, you know, just like all of these people. So, you know, what kind of drew you to RISD, and what was your takeaways from going through the program? You know, how did you, what did you go into it as, and then what did you come out as?

Right. Cause that's always the interesting to see. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:09:19] Yeah. Well, I had kind of an alternate route through RISD. Um, I kind of, I learned about it in high school. It's funny because I don't have like a specific memory of being sort of obsessed with it as a high school or, and being like, this is the school I want to go to.

But at some point I did kind of become obsessed with just being able to get in and go there. And, um, I was definitely the kind of person that was really oriented around like achieving and doing the best I could do and really responded to being competitive. Um, So I was like, well, that is like a fantastic school.

It's one of the best schools you can go to. So I want to go there. Um, and also coming back to the sort of, um, pragmatic part of me, even in high school, I was like, well, if I'm going to pay for an art school, I'm going to go to the best one I can possibly go to, you know, tuition is crazy. So my money has to be well invested.

Um, I feel like I'm painting a terrible picture of myself, but, 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:10:10] No everyone has that thought. You're like, I'm going to be burning this, this money. So might as well. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:10:15] Yeah. Um, so what I ended up doing actually was going to community college to study graphic design first. Um, so I went to Seattle Central, which is actually a great graphic design program in terms of, you know, its reputation and in Seattle area and just being accessible for people, you know, because you can get an art, you know, an art education for a community college tuition.

So I started there and then I actually transferred into rusty, which meant that I did not do the foundation year. Which is kind of the, you know, ethic, the, the sort of story making they work you into the ground kind of year. Um, so. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:10:48] You were the outcast? 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:10:50] Yeah. A little bit. A little bit. Yeah. But when you're a transfer student, um, you actually declare your major.

So I came in knowing that I would do graphic design. I didn't have that sort of moment of being like, what major do I want to, uh, want to do? And I actually think if I were to do RISD again, I would do a different majors to be honest. Um, not that's no comment on. The program, because it was fantastic.

That's a comment on me. I'm learning about myself in the years since I graduated, which was in 2015, but yeah, so I kind of entered the, the design track right away. And it, I mean, I think those were some of the best years of my life. I loved RISD. I loved Providence. It was just a fantastic place.

Everybody's so passionate and hardworking. And you do these crazy hours and it's really brutal, but it's fun because you're all doing it at the same time. And professors are really interesting and the proximity to Boston and New York was really nice and yeah, Providence is just like an idol. It's, you know, it's that quintessential kind of new England college campus feel. 

Which for me, like, I'm totally the type of personality. That's a sucker for that. And like, and really got it in Providence, but yeah, like, you know, Rusty's next door to Brown. And so you kind of have this entire sort of world of like academia and the collegiate feel all around you. Um, so yeah, I loved it there 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:12:12] You, um, You had an internship with Pentagram too, right?

Chloe Scheffe: [00:12:17] In my junior year, between my junior and senior year at RISD, I interned at on Michael Beirut's team. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:12:23] No big deal, you know, like how, how does, what was the path to going to that? Because I think nowadays for me, you know, the things I look back on going through a program. One I get a lot of questions sometimes of like, do you need to go to school to be a graphic designer?

Right. I come from the train of thought that. Now looking back, having done that. I don't know if, I don't think you do have to. Right, like, let's go on now for a little bit. Like, I think it's very attainable to become a successful graphic designer or a graphic designer that is doing work, you know, just like getting gigs, jobs, whatever it may be going from high school and just sort of finding the way of like, okay, well, what kind of work do I want to make?

And then trying to work for those people or get internships, all that stuff. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:13:06] Yeah, I think we're kind of in a changing world where even when I graduated like six years ago now almost, um, I think that was less true, but I think now it has truly become about the portfolio versus the degree. Like, I think the degree really got me through the door or at least got me some interviews at the time.

So that was really valuable. But I think, yeah, now, like I think graphic design is kind of in this place where it feels less, 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:13:32] um, there's no more gated garden. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:13:35] Yeah. And more like this open place, almost more like fine art in a way at its best. I mean, at its worst, it's not like that, but at its best, let's think about it that way.

I think it is kind of this porous place where yeah, if you're, if you just have an eye for it and a talent for it, then yeah. I think you can get work. And I mean, depending on the work you're doing, I think it is beneficial to get education for like the finer points of understanding what makes good design.

But I think, you know, if you're working in it and you have people that you can talk to, or like a community of people that have experiences where you can get feedback and start to hone what you do, then. You'll get to that point. Um, so yeah, I think he would kind of piece together what would be the equivalent of an art school education just on your own and being sure, totally agree.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:14:21] Totally agree with that. And the other thing I look back on now is that like the opportunities or that the sort of like competitiveness that pushed me to look for things like internships, right? Because like, you're going through school, everyone's sort of in that panic, you know, your, your co-students and you're like, I need an internship.

What do I do? So I, I was pushing myself a lot. I had an internship every semester and I'm curious, like, you know, obviously getting an internship at Pentagram on Michael Beirut's team is like a very high bar to achieve. So, you know, what was the thought process? If you can remember, like, you know, what were you aiming for at that time?

Chloe Scheffe: [00:14:56] Yeah. Um, well, interestingly, my strategy between my sophomore and junior year was to just go back home. So I got an internship in Seattle and I want it to be like, you know, back with family and like process the year kind of recover from it. If I'm honest and do something that wasn't very demanding. And so I think, you know, by the time I hit between my junior and senior year, my sort of desire to, to pursue graphic design really.

Purposefully and intensely kicked in. Um, and so. You know, actually the Pentagram internship is an interesting story because I actually didn't apply for it. And we, their, um, intern recruiter reached out to me and I don't know how he found me. Um, but he asked me to apply for the position which I did. Um, and it was a really bizarre.

Bizarre email to get, because I actually never would have applied to pentagram on my own. I would have thought it was out of reach. And I think that was a really good lesson to learn early on was just to not sort of eliminate the possibilities, which isn't to say, you know, um, go for everything, even if you're deeply under-qualified, but it, I think it means, you know, have, have a confidence in yourself that is appropriate for your skill.

And like don't, you know, don't eliminate opportunities, um, without trying. And I think that's a super, you know, it's a basic, basic lesson, but for me it was a good one to learn while I was still in college. So. Yeah. That's how that came about. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:16:23] Um, if I had, if I had sound samples and the production level on this podcast was like way better.

I'd have like the DJ Khaled air horn, where it was like, because like to have like someone from Pentagram reach out as a student, I think says a lot about like the kind of work that you were doing or the work ethic that you had to kind of really put together a portfolio that, that said something, you know, and I think that's, that's really cool so kudos to you on that one. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:16:51] Quickly. I think one other thing that may have helped just thinking back on those years was that I did get some early press while I was still in school. So I had like a feature on it's nice that one on, um, like graphiq. So I think things like that helped too, which, I mean, I wouldn't recommend, you know, prioritizing getting, press over doing your schoolwork or doing your work.

But I think that probably helped cause I don't, I just don't know how else they would have found me. I mean, unless they were kind of keeping an eye on it, RISD students 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:17:19] The type of work that you're doing so that people may actually recognize you and keep working hard at it. So that when, so that then the opportunities are more likely to come rather than trying to prioritize like you said, press over quality of work right after school. You know, what was, I know you ended up at the New York times, but was there anything before that, what goes on in your head? Because I know that's always a stressful time for students as well. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:17:43] Yeah. That was a really intense time because yeah.

Similar to your school experience, we definitely had people kind of talking about securing full-time jobs before graduation. And there was this kind of like undercurrent of intensity and just a sense of like, who has a job who doesn't. Um, but I actually didn't have one when I graduated and I ended up, ended up splitting my summer between two internships. So I did two months at Othermeans in Brooklyn, which was fantastic. Um, those guys are great and I think their work is really interesting. Um, And honestly, I felt really out of my league with them because they were kind of, they had this sort of like in my mind at the time, very like European approach to design that was like very interpreted, very conceptual.

And it was something that I was still trying to learn how to do. So that was a good experience, but I didn't really make anything for them that they used or that I used, but it was good to kind of just be around a different kind of studio environment. Um, and then I immediately went to Metahaven in Amsterdam and did two months there.

Um, yeah. Which that was, that, that was a direct, a direct by-product of the lesson I've learned about Pentagram, which was, you know, don't eliminate those opportunities. So Metahaven was not something I ever would have applied to do had I not gone through Pentagram, I don't think, or had that experience, um, of learning that, like I was at a level to do that.

So yeah. I just reached out to Daniel van der Velden, one of the principals there sent him an email and said, You know, I I'm available these two months. I'd love to come intern for you. Do you, can we have an interview and I attached some work and he happened to be in New York at the time. So we met up, um, at, uh, Colombe, uh, in know-how and had, um, had an interview, which was just a conversation, uh, And I felt, you know, sort of really like intellectually dwarfed by him and also felt that sort of their house aesthetic would be an enormous reach for me graphically, which it was.

And I wanted that I wanted to be challenged and do something that like, I really wouldn't do. Um, and kind of like put on this sort of drag of doing their, their aesthetic. Um, And yeah, so somehow they also said yes, and they had me come for two months. Um, and, uh, yeah, I worked on a ton of interesting stuff for them, some films and identity for an art museum in Sweden, a few other things.

Um, but yeah, it was a tough one. I remember in the first few weeks of that internship, uh, They literally just said like, you need to work harder. And that was like a real wake up call, like, okay. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:20:24] They were like, you're American. And we do things a little bit better here in Europe. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:20:30] And it wasn't a comment on me not showing up on time or anything.

It was just a comment on the product of the quality of their work and just, you know, it not kind of being at the level they needed. Like, you know, if you're going to be a benefit and asset in this studio, like we need you to make work that we can use. Um, so yeah, really intense and it was good. And I was an intern with Raph Renny at the time, which is where I met him.

Um, and he's fantastic and just really had like a natural grasp of their aesthetic. So he was a really good one to kind of be alongside and learning from. Um, and while I was in Amsterdam, that's when I, um, Kind of started interviewing we're kind of closing the interview process for the New York Times. So I flew home, um, from Amsterdam in early October and started at the Times so like a week later. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:21:19] Yeah. So the Times, right, like everyone in New York has either some way worked with, uh, worked on or worked for it seems like, especially in, in design, you know, just having, um, I mean, I don't know what else to say. It just seems like the times has so many great products of creativity come out of it.

Um, there been a few guests on here that have actually gotten some of their first design projects or, or just kind of like gig projects through, you know, like Steven Heller and things like that. So, you know, what was, what was sort of your takeaway from the Times? What w what were you focusing on and what did you really learn from there?

Chloe Scheffe: [00:21:55] Yeah, it was a huge learning experience. So I worked on the Sunday magazine, um, which is not T the style magazine.

The Sunday magazine comes out every week in the Sunday paper. Um, And it's, it's fantastic. Um, but basically they learned everything I know about how to make magazines there. Um, because I, I had never worked on a magazine. I did not have any magazine work in my portfolio. Um, and hadn't done any in any of my internships.

I had a lot of book work. Like it was very focused on making books in school. And I had identity work and things like that, but really, uh, I learned how to make magazines from sort of the very fine granular production level of flowing text and ragging columns to, you know, design a conceptual opener for a story.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:22:46] And do you, do you feel like now this sort of, that experience has sort of traveled or followed you around since then? Because I mean, you've gone on to do some amazing editorial work or from what I would say is, is amazing editorial work from the Times, you know, like how do you feel about that? You know, like, I feel like once you're in media, once you working with content and working with, um, articles and things that people are kind of like interacting with in that sense, it's kind of hard to get rid of it.

Chloe Scheffe: [00:23:13] Yeah, no, I think that, um, job defined my track. Like it established my reputation as an editorial designer, and I really fell in love with editorial design. Like, I feel great about that. Cause it's like this great convergence of all of these worlds that I love. Um, but yeah, so yeah, I think it kind of like set me up to do the design I do now as a freelancer, which is a lot of editorial.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:23:35] And again, I'm sure I'm going to be jumping I'm we're going to skip over some stuff, but you know, that ends up leading you to, to working for at a way, you know, working on Here magazine. Now, are you still currently at away? 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:23:47] No, I left in late October. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:23:49] Okay. Okay, cool. And then, uh, way, um, had their independent magazine, um, Here magazine was focusing on travel.

I'm sure I'm missing, I'm missing the full summary of what the magazine is. So I'll let you kind of give a little summary about the kind of work that you did there. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:24:07] Yeah. Um, Basically I had free reign, which was the huge appeal of that job. Um, I mean, sort of between, uh, the times and here I actually freelanced for a year doing primarily editorial illustration.

I was very interested in that in the time at discovering if that was something I could do sustainably. Or like would want to kind of transition toward, um, and the Here job came out of the blue. Um, somebody reached out to me about it and it was something that, you know, I kind of. Just did the interview on a whim.

I think it's, it's good to do interviews, even if you don't really have an intention of taking the job, not to lead people on, but just to kind of connect with people and having conversations around work and design is, is good. Um, so I went into it kind of feeling noncommittal and really in the interview with the, um, the managing editor and the editor in chief kind of fell in love with their editorial vision and they had to design product that just really didn't reflect it.

And didn't kind of honor the content in the way that it could. And I saw that right away and I just felt like such an opportunity to step in and like give them something that would really make sense with their content. And there was no designer above me and there was no one below me. I was the only designer working on the project.

Um, and also the, the Here team was then an always was quite, um, autonomous from the Away a team or even the way sort of brand team. So we had a lot of freedom and didn't have such a strict sort of like hierarchy of approval to get through. There was this a lot more flexibility and like agility to actually make things so.

Uh, yeah, one of my frustrations with the times and what ultimately led me to leave was just that there was no ability to, to grow beyond a certain point. Like the roles were extremely defined, which works. It works because, you know, it's a well-oiled machine. They have to make a magazine every seven days.

Um, and you know, everyone there obviously is incredible and like is at the sort of top of their abilities. So. You know, it, that's not a complaint. It's no comment on the quality of that magazine, but, you know, just wanting to take on more responsibility and not being able to, um, unless I waited years to be able to hire it, to be promoted, which also doesn't happen because you know, when people land at the New York times magazine, they stay there.

Um, so I just felt like, Oh, I need to. I need to get out so that I can do more and, and, you know, being such a young designer and in my first full-time job, I often say, like, I think I would have stayed there longer had I landed there later in my career, but what I wanted to do was more and like learn, you know, how to sort of manage things a little bit better, how to have more control and actually make it happen.

So kind of like seeing what, um, our creative director, Gail Bichler did at the New York Times magazine so well, and kind of wanting to have that kind of responsibility and learn how. To do that, um, on the ground versus just by observing. So that is one, the editorial vision of Here and to that kind of ability to have control and like take risks.

Uh, Is what sold me on doing the Here job.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:27:19] But I feel like I've, I've hit it that moment to where you find this magic moment where you don't have necessarily anyone above you in your role, and you don't have necessarily anyone below you. So all the responsibility is on you, but you get to choose what that responsibility is at at times, which is great.

And it feels really nice. And I feel like, yeah, You really got that from, as, as a viewer, as a reader, you really got that from the work that you put into the magazine. I mean, the spreads I thought were gorgeous. I think, you know, you even had, you had some like amazing celebrities that also like graced, the cover, you know, Maggie Rogers.

That was one of my favorite ones. Um, Lamore, Serena Williams, Moses Sumney, like the, just the overall art direction and design of the, of the content was, was really something that I appreciated as a designer, obviously. Um, and I'm very curious to, like, there's a few things I want to pull out of this one.

You are the designer, you're also sort of the art director. You're also sort of the illustrator. And I think I've heard in sort of, um, in another, you know, discussion that you had, that you kind of consider yourself a generalist. And I love that because I think people. For, uh, for a couple of years or for a moment in creative, they were very keen on getting good at one thing.

And one thing only, and I, I never could do that. Like, I'm not good at one thing, and I'm not great at design either, but I can do a ton of different things. And I think that's what makes me, you know, a good partner at times. And I'm curious what your thoughts on that are. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:28:51] Yeah, I definitely identify as a generalist mostly because I think it's more fun.

Um, like if, you know, if you have these interests and you have the skills, why not use them? Like, why should that be, um, you know, why should that be a mark against you? Or why should that deter your path or your career? And I kind of, I mean, I wrote a piece about this for, um, high on design a couple of years ago.

And I think it's interesting because I think generalism is only a problem when you are later into your career. And when you're early in your career, it's a real boon. And so I'm kind of struggling with kind of being midway or kind of, kind of stepping into my like middle age as a graphic designer, which feels crazy because I've only been working for five years, but I do feel that way where I'm like, okay, you know, do I need to narrow what I do do like, do the clients need to have a more honed understanding of my capabilities or my expertise.

So I'm kind of like still. Navigating that and walking that.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:29:50] I totally feel you on that. Like I, like, I think we're kind of like we graduated on the same time and same exact problem. It's like, okay, how do I describe myself? Or how do I make my, you know, sell that part of me in that sense?


Chloe Scheffe: [00:30:03] Yeah. But I think at a basic level, like forgetting all the politics and all the complexities of being a designer in the world, I think it's just more fun for me to do more and, you know, Why not, I mean, you're going to be in this career in theory for decades. So it's got to stay interesting somehow.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:30:20] Totally, again, just going back to the design of it, like I'm, I'm curious, what was like the inspiration for some of the work that you do. Where does, where does your appreciation for typography and working for, with type. Where does that come from? Cause I look at the work, you know, where you really do love or show these headlines and let them kind of speak and coming from someone who's a big type nerd.

I'm like, yes, sign me up. Like give me a big headline. That's only four letters, you know, like whatever it may be. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:30:48] The dream. Yeah, I mean, Here itself was really obviously founded in topography. And a lot of that was because we didn't have the budget to sit on good photography and rely on that. Um, and also it was because the design system itself was inspired by type.

And, you know, what's interesting about travel. A lot of the time is the signs you see and just, you know, the graphic sensibility of each city. And a lot of that comes down to type, um, But otherwise, I would say in general, my interest in type was a really organic and kind of caught me unawares because in school I would say I wasn't interested in it.

I took a type design course, but because it was so formal and technical, it kind of scared me off and made me think that's not what I'm going to do. Type design is not for me. Like, I just don't have the attention span or the level of detail to execute a body copy typeface. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:31:37] It's like a whole, it's like a whole other beast.

Like you go down this, like I took a tight design course as well. Cause I was like, Oh, maybe I'll make it. Type. And then, yeah, you're like, no, this is like, this is like the difference between like becoming a scientist and an athlete, 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:31:50] Somebody who is a secret mathematician, but it's somehow with marks. Um, so huge respect to people who actually design type and are proper type designers.

Absolutely. I mean, yeah, you kind of learn. I, or what I learned over time is that. And this is again, I feel like everything I'm saying is actually a basic lesson that has a ton of essays written about it by great designers throughout history. But what I learned is, you know, like type can be image and type as images fun and what I can do.

So like when I'm not too worried about. Um, sort of the rules of executing a piece of type and making a letter legible and more about its character and the things it's expressing and what it's saying about a story or, you know, what it's forced out on we're implying. Um, then it's, it's fun. And yeah, when I think, you know, this, this kind of attaches to my experience as an editorial illustrator and like, you know, those sensibilities and being able to draw on.

Um, I mean, I think back to when I was a kid and I, besides horses, I spent a lot of time drawing type too. Right. Um, like I specifically remember going through a phase where I would draw my name or like words in pasta noodle shapes just over and over. That's something I should do now and revisit and try to make cool.

But just thinking about, and knowing like instinctively as a kid, like, I wasn't. I didn't, I just, you know, being blissfully unaware of all the, all the rules kind of, you know, you can, you can make whatever you want to type 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:33:17] Naive and optimistic as a child is just like the state that I always want to be in.

Chloe Scheffe: [00:33:22] Yeah. Yeah. And just, yeah, that childlike wonder we're all chasing it. Exactly. But yeah. So type has organically become a focus for me and I. I'm finding that the more I do it, the more interested in executing it to perfection, I have the become and like I'm kind of invested in those details. So I, yeah, I also think that's kind of a pendulum swing that I couldn't have really predicted without just having worked on things and figured that out over time.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:33:51] I'm just very happy that I had you as a guest, because I knew we'd be able to just nerd out about this. I'm very happy right now. Um, that's, that's, that's awesome. I think your point, you know, the point that you raised that, and I'm sure there are a ton of essays is that yeah. Type can be image, you know, and, and it's that beauty, that beautiful moment when you allow for that to happen or when you, when you are allowed to let that happen in some ways, um, you know, so you're you're Here is no longer being published by the way.

Right. Am I correct in that? Okay. Yeah. But while you were also working there, you were also doing like client projects and stuff like that. You've worked with Nike, you've worked with, um, you, you did kind of work for Bauuer the DJ. Um, and it seems like, you know, you're, you're, you're finding this moment of, of working with great big clients like Nike, but also finding the time and, and the, I think what people love to, um, I don't want to say like, like working for a music client or having a music client or having a client in that space record, like is also like something that a lot of people would love to do, but it's not that easy. So like, how are you maintaining at the time, you know, this balance of full-time and finding clients or working with client projects?

Chloe Scheffe: [00:35:08] Yeah, I would say honestly, it wasn't a balance. I was working all the time and I mean, I'm enough of an obsessive and I. I just can't say no to things that I find interesting enough, which would be, you know, like a Nike apparel capsule or a Bauuer thing, you know, it's hard to say no, when you get juicy projects like that.

Um, so yeah, honestly I can't in good faith, recommend it as a lifestyle because really you are doing a job and a half and I didn't have much of a social life. 

It's so sad. 

And it's like, I think, you know, doing that for a time, which I didn't do it all the time, but just doing that kind of in it, it was like pre investing in being able to freelance full-time as I do now.

So, you know, it was hard for a while, but you know, I've kind of set myself up to have these client relationships, um, and do do this work now. So that's kind of how I justify it, but. Yeah, I can't, I can't say that it was like a balanced lifestyle and I had it all. I definitely was working a lot. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:36:08] Totally. And I mean, you know, like the same in the same vein that we're talking to each other on a weekend and I'm doing this podcast.

I say balancing that question to, to put it nicely. But you know, at some times I think we both can, can understand that it's not easy. You know, like you have to put that work in some way, shape or form, and there's going to be a part of you or part of your life that will take a slight chip, you know, in the armor.

Chloe Scheffe: [00:36:33] It's true. It's true. It's all fun. Like I made sure to take projects that would truly be fun so that I wasn't using my free time just to suffer. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:36:42] Exactly. So, and, and obviously in working with clients, like, um, you know, Nike and Bauuer and stuff like that, what do you think has, has led you to actually open those relationships?

So like, you know, is this a process or a product of, you know, Networking. Is this a product of just like really making sure that your work is out there and you're doing good stuff. Like how has how's, you know, something as coveted as working with Nike kind of been able to open up? 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:37:06] Yeah. I definitely think networking is a big part of it, which I think as a new new grad, I want it to be in denial about, but I think, you know, just committing to working and being in an industry in the industry for years pays off because people start to recognize the work you do.

Um, And both of those projects, for example, came out of. You know, different sort of past relationships or, you know, having posted work. I mean, posting work is an important thing too. Now more than ever. I get inquiries, uh, from Instagram. Yeah. So now more than ever, like Instagram is useful and just having your work out there, um, is, is useful, which I think people consistently say, and I kind of also wish weren't true, but it is.

And. Yeah. Just people knowing that you're kind of like consistently having output is good. Um, but yeah, so the Nike relationship, I do like a decent amount of work for them. Not all of which ever sees the light of day, but, um, It was founded in me being brought on as an illustrator during that year, when I was illustrating, um, to, you know, add some illustrations, some key art to an apparel capsule that Doubleday and Cartwright the, um, sports studio out of Williamsburg was doing.

So, you know, I didn't know that it would turn into a relationship where I was working with Nike on my own or with a design partner outside of the context of the studio. But that's what happened. Um, yeah. And the Bauuer project came through because the studio or the label. Lucky me, which is a great, um, indie UK label.

Uh, they had seen it we'll cover that I did for Verso, which is a really small publisher, but I've done book covers for them for years now. Um, and I just, you know, there's a slow trickle of those that I get to do. And I love those because, you know, they have such a value for design at Verso so you get to do really interesting, compelling things, but they saw one of those and felt like the aesthetic of that cover would adapt into an album, um, and took a risk on me cause that, that was the first, um, sort of music packaging project I'd worked on. Um, so yeah, that's two examples of the circuitous kind of just being out there, knowing people paying off. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:39:14] No, exactly. And I think that's great. I think the one point that you bring up that I thought was it kind of does help is just seeing like a constant, consistent output.

I think that really helps. And I think that kind of gives a signal to other people or people who are looking to work with you, that like you're actively, they're working on, you know, working on what you can say, your craft or you're working on other work for other people. And they could see how it might be applicable to whatever their situation is.

Um, so now you are officially freelancing full time, and now you are stepping into that, like, you know, somewhat of a business owner realm. How does that feel? You know, like what is, what, what comes along with that? 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:39:53] Yeah. Um, it's been a little overwhelming so far, but I feel fairly prepared because of the sort of, um, by night freelancing I've been doing for so long.

And the fact that I did editorial illustration as a freelancer before, um, design is a very different beast because the timelines are so insane compared to illustration, especially editorial, illustration is quick turnarounds, um, and really hard deadlines. So, you know, when something's going to be done, if something comes in, you, you just have an idea of how to slot things together, whereas design is a bit hairier and it takes longer to get paid and that's kind of annoying.

Um, But, yeah, I'm very much still figuring it out. Like my first couple of months was breakneck. Um, and it was insane and too much. Um, and then I had basically one week where I almost had nothing and I had a moment of panic. I was like, it's over, I made it for two months and I'm done. And of course, no, that wasn't the case.

Like new jobs started coming in. So I think just learning to kind of keep a level head. Will be important for me and something that becomes natural over time, where I kind of lean into the sort of quiet moments and maybe use those, those periods to do personal work or whatever, but yeah, and I mean, I'm learning how to do outreach and all that stuff.

Um, so yeah, I think honestly, what makes it interesting is that it's new and I think I really thrive on. On kind of figuring things out, um, as I go, which isn't for everyone. I, I know, but, uh, I really shuffle in my work when I'm trying to figure stuff out and do new things and it can mean that I'm more stressed, but it also just means that I'm not completely bored out of my mind ever. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:41:42] And I'm glad you, you mentioned outreach because I was going to say, you know, in a moment of like where you didn't have any work for a week, you know, like, is it part of my understanding of the way I imagine it is that like, when you do go freelance, it's not just like waiting around for work, to fall into your lap.

Although at times that's why a good network is helpful. And there are going to be moments where you're actively or proactively reaching out to clients and stuff like that. So I guess like, this is something that you're learning now. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:42:07] Yeah. And, um, yeah, what I do is just keep spreadsheets of every single person who's ever reached out, whether or not we work together.

So I have like this database of sort of clients and maybe potential clients, and I can just sort of ping them and be like, Hey, I'm available. Um, Yeah, 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:42:28] Exactly, exactly. The nitty gritty of like, you know, stepping out into this freelance realm. Right. I think, uh, I hope one day or maybe one day I will get there as well, but it's, it's glad to hear it from someone who is stepping out on their own.

You know, as we, as we're having this, as we're speaking on this episode as well. So thank you so much for that, Chloe. Um, do you have anyone 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:42:49] One more thing about freelance? Yeah. Go for it. Absolutely important. And I feel like I'm also learning it actively is just also having like a good community of people that you can talk to.

Um, not as formal collaborators necessarily, but people that can look at the work you're doing and give you feedback. And then also having those, those collaborators that are also freelancers. So I have one person, Natalie Shields, who actually worked with me on Here mag for the last four issues who, um, still has a full-time job, but she also does freelance occasionally, and we often work together.

And that is a great partnership because, you know, there's, it's, it's not something where we're working together on every project, but if there's something where one of us really wants to work on it, but it feels like too out of scope to have just one designer, we can pull another one on. And it kind of like, sort of opens up our ability to do things that are larger or, you know, extend that client pool.

And yeah. So just developing relationships with people that, you know, or also freelancing them that, you know, you've worked well together with like, whether it's, you know, uh, a great developer that you love or somebody who's great at art direction, or just another designer that you just respect their sensibility.

I feel like that is something I'm going to try to lean into more too. As I go, it's just finding those was kindred spirits. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:44:03] Great. I I'd be, I'd be, I'm a terrible podcast host if I didn't plug something. And as you mentioned, community and stuff like that, um, at the moment I'm working on putting together this like creative Slack group, um, from the podcast and stuff like that.

Exactly. For those reasons, because, you know, It is really helpful to have people that aren't so close, you know, that aren't over your shoulder, that aren't so close to you, you know, share work with and help kind of either tweak it or make it better or whatever it may be. So, um, you can go and visit the site, the website, to join.

Um, but anyway, so Chloe, thank you so much for, um, For joining me as a guest today. I'm so glad we finally got to have this conversation before I let you go. I'm curious. This is a question that's sort of an ending on with guests. You know, if you had to send yourself a message to future Chloe, um, what would that message be?

You know, like if you were, you know, Like a time capsule or something like that. I kinda that's how I picture this. You know, if you had to give yourself some advice or you had to give yourself some words of encouragement, encouragement that you would have looked back on in five years, what would that be 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:45:10] Honestly with where I'm at now?

I would just say relax.

Like, what I've learned is that it all works out. You know, clients come through collaborations, come through, you meet the people you're meant to meet. Um, you know, being stressed about work does not help. And I'm still learning that now. And I hope that I've learned that in the future, but that's what I would say.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:45:37] I love that, Chloe. Thank you so much again for joining me as a guest today. Where can people find more of you? Contact you connect with you? Um, where, where are they able to get ahold of you? 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:45:49] Yeah. Um, I am on Instagram and Twitter as at @chloescheffe. I don't tweet that much, but I'm pretty regularly on Instagram.

So if you want to chat, find me there. Yeah, that's it. I'm not too many places on the internet. 

Jon Sorrentino: [00:46:06] Awesome. Thank you so much, Chloe. 

Chloe Scheffe: [00:46:08] Thanks so much for having me. It's been fun.

Jon Sorrentino: [00:46:13] This podcast is produced by me, Jon Sorrentino, out in Jersey City, New Jersey, editing, mixing, and music are all done by my friend, Kevin Bendis and Greenpoint Brooklyn. Definitely check them out. You can find out more about well fed and where to listen at or on social media at wellfed.podcast.

Thank you so much for listening and we'll see you soon.

Designer and Illustrator Chloe Scheffe Has a Passion for Typography Which Has Grown Into Working with Nike, Pentagram, Away, and Many More

Using typography as image is something a lot of designers can appreciate and Chloe Scheffe has done an amazing job exploring that through her work for some big clients. Chloe has recently decided to step out on her as an independent designer working with clients like Nike, Lucky Me Records, Tribeca Films, and more. Prior to this she worked at the New York Times where she fell in love with editorial design which led her to leading the design and art direction for Away's independent magazine, HERE. On this episode we discuss all things type, freelancing, networking, and how to attempt balancing them all.

Nike apparel design by Chloe Scheffe
Nike apparel design by Chloe Scheffe
Nike apparel design by Chloe Scheffe
Nike apparel design by Chloe Scheffe
Editorial design by Chloe Scheffe
Vinyl cover design by Chloe Scheffe
Editorial design by Chloe Scheffe
Editorial design by Chloe Scheffe