Vanessa (aka vanessanoheart) is a talented young print designer from Sacramento, California. She not only excels at book cover designs but also creates unique experimental print work that combines photography and experimental typography.

While she’s long been enthusiastic about graphic design, majoring in Media Arts at UCLA with a concentration in print design, it was her real-life client work on 99designs that help kickstart her professional career.

Recently, she landed a graphic design position at a prominent Sacramento-based publishing house, thanks in part to the professional portfolio she put together by participating on 99designs.

We sat down to chat with her about creative career so far and what interests her most about graphic design.

Name: Vanessa No Heart
Location: USA
99designs handle: vanessanoheart
Specialty: Book cover design

How did you get started in design?

My first experience in active graphic design was in high school, when my cousin taught me how to use Photoshop for typography. I found it exciting since I’ve always been a visual person.

After high school, I attended UCLA and majored in Design: Media Arts where my concentration in print design was developed. I’m currently a freelance designer in California.

book cover design
Book cover design for the fictional memoir, Wake

Describe your design style.

My style is based on strong images, good use of typography and graphical balance. I think any print design (posters books, packaging etc.), needs these elements in order to achieve a positive reaction from the viewer. I try to emulate these ideals in every design contest I enter.

book cover design
Book cover for “Swarm

What led you to start using 99designs?

I graduated in ’09, which was right in the middle of the U.S. recession; needless to say, it’s been difficult finding a permanent in-house design position.

I started using 99designs to help build my portfolio and earn money while I was job hunting. 99designs has helped me improve my skills while building positive client relationships.

What do you think is the most important part of the design process?

The absolute most important part of the design process is a strong concept. If the brief is clear and thorough, I think it’s very important to brainstorm ideas and establish a strong grasp of what the client wants and how to get there.

From that point on, it’s all about the creativity. My favorite part of the design process is creating the deliverable: a good concept with strong and fascinating imagery.

How would you sum up graphic design in one sentence?

Graphic design is the invisible beauty.

stationery design
Stationery concept for a chiropractic agency

In your opinion, what are the key differences that separate great design from poor or mediocre design?

Great design is invisible design. Great designers are seamless in their craft. From kerning to spot coloring, every process is done perfectly and looks effortless. The invisible part is the part where great designers spend hours checking leading, font styles or correcting images to make the design seem like it was meant to look like that all along.

The designer hierarchy descends when you start to see these invisible elements show up in final designs. In the end, clients need to notice when a great designer comes around.

Book cover designs by vanessanoheart
Left to right: Bound in Blood, Den Som Gapar Efter Mycket and Walking on Still Road

Do you factor emotional or psychological response into your work?

I absolutely factor emotional responses into my work. I feel it’s the greatest advantage as a print designer to be able to juxtapose type with images in a way that evokes a strong emotional response to the viewer.

The best way to go about it is to talk to your client and see if there’s a deeper message they may have missed. Semiotics is the next step.

What is a hobby that you enjoy doing outside of graphic design?

I enjoy discovering new music and visiting art museums for inspiration. I also love movies. Relationships I have with my family, friends and loved ones feed my design spirit and the occasional video games satisfies my competitive urge.

See more of vanessanoheart’s work here.