Who knew that something so commonplace as a ruled 5×7 note card could make so much magic? Certainly not Jessica Hagy – at least, not when she started her “little” blog, INDEXED, in 2006. Since then, the Seattle-based illustrator’s passion project has continued to reap one accolade after another, Time Magazine’s Top 25 Blogs of the Year and a Webby nomination among them. With two books now in print and more readers than ever clamoring for Hagy’s daily dose of witty yet wise diagrams, the blogger takes a moment to diagram her own life exclusively for Daily BR!NK.
Who is Jessica Hagy?
Apart from being an award-winning and highly popular blogger (and artist), what is it that you do?
I’m a freelance illustrator and writer—a storyteller if you will. I work with clients all over the world, turning information into images and concepts.
Why did you decide to start INDEXED?
I was working as a copywriter and going to school full-time for my Masters in business. I read somewhere that “every writer needs a blog,” but I didn’t want a boring blog about work (gag) or my boring day-to-day grind (gag-and-a-half), so I started doodling instead. The fact that I was taking some economics courses at the time certainly shows.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I eavesdrop, you know, people watching and such. I read a lot—both trash and treasure. When all else fails, I crack open the thesaurus and pick a word to build a story around.
Which diagram are you the proudest of?
I think I’m proudest of the cards as a whole, as one large set. I keep them in file cases the size of shoeboxes. They’ve helped me do what I always wanted to do, which is be creative for a living.
Which index card has gotten the most buzz?
The 7 Sins card went all over the place. I was doing radio shows and showing up in magazines, and it was absolutely nuts.
What makes you laugh?
Freudian slips. Angry rodents. Minor tragedies. Odd smells. Plagiarism of my work. Tripping and falling. Local news. Drool. Koalas. Awkward pauses. Petty vandalism. Pretentious folks. Rectal thermometers. Stains shaped like saints. The honesty of kids. The fine print. Pretty much everything, actually. I am quite easily amused.
What makes you cry?
Anything that’s really, truly, honestly beautiful. And dental pain.
What’s in store for INDEXED?
I’m working on another book featuring lots of new diagrams, and I’m getting ready to move from Seattle to London. So I’m wrangling my contacts and portfolios for the jump into the wonderful world of illustration, art galleries, creative agencies, and publishing endeavors over there.
I think people instinctively get the the visual grammar I employ. There’s a little mental reward to “getting” a diagram, and that turns an ordinary statement into a puzzle for the readers to solve.
Any additional information that you would like to share?
This year, I started getting requests to “live-index” various events. So I show up to a conference or a meeting or a debate and I index everything that’s said and expressed. Then the diagrams are posted or compiled to summarize the proceedings. This is something I’m looking to do more of; it’s really satisfying and interesting, and people always seem to get a kick out of the results.
What are three fun things that we don’t know about you?
1. I have a terrible sense of direction and get lost very easily. This is a fun tool for exploring new places, as I just keep wandering until I find my way. I once wandered for at least 6.5 hours when I first got to Seattle. It was a fantastic day.
3. If a client is dumb enough to call me something sexist and condescending like “honey” or “sweetheart” during a business meeting, an a**hole surcharge will be added to my bill.
How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?