Who is the American Woman? Meet Natalie, Graphic Designer
Natalie J Leroux is a fontster. Yes, that’s right. Fontster. As in f-o-n-t, the different styles of lettering. Well, really, as Natalie has explained to us, the more accurate word here is ‘typeface.’ A graphic designer, Natalie is fascinated by the shapes of letters and the messages they convey. Talk to her for a few minutes and a vast, previously unseen world will open up to you.
Consider the logo for Vogue magazine. Natalie points out how the variation between thin and thick lines of its typeface convey elegance.
Or how serifs, those little feet on letters, make the typeface Garamond look and feel solid and grounded.
As a knowledgeable pro, Natalie easily tosses out strange words like ‘kerning,’ ‘glyph,’ and ‘swash.’ We marvel at how much there is to learn from a delightful few minutes with this lady known as a titan of typeface.
A native of upstate New York, Natalie got her bachelor’s degree in graphic design at Rochester Institute of Technology. Her first job out of school was with a digital advertising agency serving the music industry, creating words-and-music videos and advertising to promote newly released music. By the time she was in her mid-20s she was promoted to Creative Director, supervising a staff of ten. And throughout her tenure she was the firm’s go-to person for anyone with the question, ‘What typeface is this?’
While working 9 to 5 in digital advertising, Natalie also did freelance projects such as wedding invitations for friends and logo designs for new businesses. She found she loved ‘being part of milestones in people’s lives,’ and revelled in ‘creating something I could hold in my hand.’ By 2016, the freelance work had grown to the point where she launched Studio Eighty Seven, her own graphic design business.
Studio Eighty Seven designs bridal invitations, offers logo and branding services for businesses, and produces a line of greeting cards. Natalie’s approach is both professional and highly personal. ‘If I don’t already know the bridal client, I start with a questionnaire—details of the wedding such as colors, flowers, venue, what the guests will wear, how the couple met. I want to create something that is very them.’ The logo design process is also highly tailored to the client, and includes an in-depth interview, mood boards, and several candidates on the way to a final product. Natalie’s FunAndAwkward line of cards is her own personal creative outlet. She explains, ‘those are the two words used by my best friend to describe me.’ Studio Eighty Seven’s products and services are available online and at local markets and art shows.
Natalie and her husband Steve are raising their two boys— Jackson, 15, and James, 2. ‘Running a business by yourself is difficult, and time consuming, yes, but it has nothing on being a parent…my role as Step Mom and Mom are the most challenging of my life.’ Okay, but it sounds like Natalie is doing something right. When asked if her boys spend time together Natalie replies, ‘They get along wonderfully. In fact, Jackson is often my agent when I want to get James to do something.’
While running a business and raising a family is certainly a challenge, one may also see where Natalie’s enthusiasm for her work can be precisely what ties a family together.
In the course of our interview, she mentioned that 10th grader Jackson is on the quiet side. ‘He really surprised me one day when he came home from school and commented on a paper his teacher had passed out. Noting the typeface, he remarked with some disdain, ‘The teacher used Comic Sans.’
We conclude our visit with this remarkable American woman with these wonderful images.