Authenticity, bold, slab serif fonts, and striking color combos form the foundation of Tessa Forrest’s design style. Her wildly popular instagram feed (@subliming.jpg) is fueled by meaningful quotes and concepts inspired by everything from esoteric poets and decorated philosophers to street signs. The magic of the copy comes alive in the simple, clean designs and with over 300,000 followers, it’s clear the design magic is real.
Ready to make magic like Tessa and foster meaningful connection on your own feed? The graphic designer created a collection of premium remixable templates for Adobe Spark paid subscribers. The standout designs feature her signature touch—the ability to infuse movement and life into words—all within a retro-inspired, high-impact style. Remix them to add a powerful punch to any message, perfectly suited for eye-catching social posts, posters, flyers, and cards. Be sure to tag @subliming.jpg for good internet karma and to give credit where credit is due.
Tessa’s Instagram page began as an artistic outlet during a challenging time in her life. From that space of tenderness she’s built an engaged fanbase that connects with her inspirational, sometimes sassy, always authentic text-based posts. Tessa sells her designs through Society6 and is a Senior Graphic Designer for the stylish sports apparel company Outdoor Voices. She believes that her ability to speak to so many comes from being authentic and vulnerable. Fortunately for us, she took time out of her artistic endeavors to talk about her work and share her social media strategies.
Tips from Tessa for Social Media Success
Where do you find your wonderful copy inspiration?
My original source for quotes was always tumblr. I follow accounts that reblog unique and interesting quotes. I would find a quote that really struck me, and then research the person who said it. From there, I would go down a rabbit hole. Through this process I’ve found a lot of my favorite gurus and authors. Now, I’ve read some of their books and generally keep up with their teachings. I also see a ton of quotes on Instagram, obviously. Those go into my saved folder!
I’ve noticed that there are two kinds of copy that engage people the most. The first is something short and comforting that someone may have been needing to hear or tell themselves. Often a phrase like, “Trust Your Gut,” or something of that nature. I like these short, comforting quotes because I can experiment with really wacky fonts or go a simple bold route. Either way, they always provide a fun silhouette to my feed. The second kind of copy that engages people is the long-form quote, where the author really gets to elaborate on a point.
What makes a good social media design?
It’s about finesse. I really don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. You have to finesse the message with the design, the colors, the layout, etc. I definitely don’t push out content just to make content. Waiting for that right moment where it flows is key. I also believe making something relatable, because it’s more likely to be a design that sticks.
When it comes to choosing the fonts and designs for my messages, it sounds so corny but I really just feel it out. I play around. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to want something to look a certain way, but I can feel I’m forcing it. The message doesn’t go with the look. And I usually have to stop and step away from the design. Trust your intuition!
Any tips for people looking to build community on Instagram?
Authenticity. If you aren’t speaking from your core and your truest truth—skip it. Wait until you feel it flowing from your gut. Once it comes from that space of authenticity, people will notice.
The relatability of my posts corresponds to the authenticity of my posts. I only post about my current trials, tribulations, or general emotions. Because of that, I’m not just putting out content for content’s sake. I think there’s something to be said about the Instagram era and people producing content for no other reason than to gain an Instagram following. My page started from emotional turmoil, and it continues to be a form of expression of my emotions. I think as society has become more open to vulnerability and expression of emotions, more and more people are receptive to my posts. I think that plays a huge part in the “skyrocketing” of my page.
This collection is a part of the Spark Style Maker series, where Spark members get exclusive access to unique design ingredients and assets from emerging creatives and tastemakers.