Meet Sadie Teper

Chicago-based designer, Sadie Teper, began her design career with a challenge: make 20 designs a month. Now she’s found her style, and has a whole new challenge for herself in 2021.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Sadie, a graphic designer who creates bright and bold feminist work. I’ve lived in Chicago since 2015, minus the two years I spent traveling abroad! My favorite thing to do while traveling is to seek out local coffee shops and find independent stores selling work from local creators. I live in a charming studio apartment with all of my plants and art from around the world. I love to cook, love to read, and love to keep supporting other women!

How did you get involved in your work?

I officially opened my shop in 2020, but it’s a project I’ve been subconsciously working on for years. I’ve always wanted to be a designer, I studied design in college, and have been working as a graphic designer for 5+ years. In 2019 I launched my Twentysome website as a challenge to find my personal design style. It’s so easy to get caught up in client work that sometimes you forget the work you actually want to be doing. When I started exploring my style I was all over the place! But the more I created the more all my work gravitated towards the same feminist direction. Now looking back, it feels like it should have been obvious this is what I’ve always wanted to do. In 2016 I had created hand lettered pins and postcards protesting against then President Donald Trump. I sold them to friends and donated the proceeds to Planned Parenthood. In 2017 I had told myself I wanted to open an online shop, but alas, great things take time.

Can you tell us about some of your favorite designs?

It’s hard to pick! But some of my recent favorites are my pronoun stickers and pattern, and all of my new VP [Vice President] designs! I love creating work that other people love as well. I’ve had people reach out and say they are buying a pronoun sticker to put on their work name badge to keep normalizing pronouns. On election day I got photos of women dropping off their ballots while wearing my Kamala shirt, and on Inauguration Day I got a photo from a lovely lady who bought matching “A woman’s place is in the White House” shirts for her and her young daughters. It’s getting notes and photos like these that inspires me to keep creating! I love knowing that other people are excited about and enjoying what I make.

You began by making 20 of each design. Why the number 20, and what has changed since you began that project?

Yes! I was feeling very unsure of my style and which direction I needed to take my work. I had a mentor who told me she did a project where she created something every single day for a year, and how creating that volume of work really helped her. I knew realistically I couldn’t do something every day for a year, but what I could do was 20-ish designs each month! One for every business day in the month, so that I could still take weekends off and not feel burnt out. The 20-a-month prompt also was ideal for my work style because I could do them at any point during the month. Sometimes I did one a day, and sometimes I did 20 on the last day of the month. The prompts were things like 20 icons, 20 logos, 20 letters, 20 water color paintings, the prompts were all different directions because I had no clue what I really wanted to do. None of those original series are on my website anymore, because they just don’t fit in with my current work, which is great! I explored and found what I wanted to be doing.

So now I am no longer doing the 20 a month, but I kept the name because it felt right. My 2021 goal is to improve my illustration and pattern skills. I’m taking a new item each week, and exploring that item by creating one illustration, one pattern and one icon from that item, as well as one hand lettered phrase for my instagram. So by the end of the month I will still have close to 20 different works, but not in the same series style. But check back with me at the end of 2021 to hopefully see 52 illustrations, 52 patterns and 52 icons!

How have you stayed connected to your community during this really isolating time?

It’s been really hard, I know it has been for all of us. I’ve found a huge sense of community on Instagram. I’ve connected with a ton of other talented ladies from across the world. I’ve been trying to get more involved with local Chicago entrepreneur and designer groups, but I’m feeling the Zoom fatigue full on. I keep holding onto excitement for when in-person events resume.

What is your favorite form of self-care?

Being active! Chicago winter has been rough, but during the summer I was going for a bike ride or run during lunch most days. Activities like that help keep me sane. But this winter self-care has become forgiving myself. Telling myself it’s ok if I’m not in great shape. Pandemic plus winter does not equal my usual routine.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard recently?

Jump in before you’re ready, you’ll learn and grow by actively doing! If you hide inside waiting to perfect something before you share it with the world, you’re going to miss out on a lot you could learn, and you’ll probably never actually feel ready.

What do you think women need right now?

Each other! We are strongest when we band together, emotionally and physically! It’s been hard that we can’t see each other as much as we used to, but just continuing to talk to my lady friends has kept me strong. I’m in the process of writing out Galentines cards to send to about 50 lovely ladies in my life, little reminders of love like this bring joy to everyone! We are all in this together, we’re going through the same things. And there is room for all of us to be successful. So let’s keep working together instead of competing!