Featured Letterer

Kelly Spencer

July 2018

We're so excited for another year of Typism, as usual, the line up is full of amazing type and lettering geniuses like Ryan Hamrick, Lachlan Philp and Wanissa Somsuphangsri, speaking on topics such as 'The Beauty of Ugly Lettering' and 'How I learned to stop worrying and love the stress, chaos, insecurity and uncertainty'. (Yassss! 🙌🏻) There are also some killer hands-on workshops with the speakers leading up to the event focused on cartouche-style lettering, mural art, and iPad lettering — plus goodie bags all round. To warm up for the epic conference on August 4th we had a quick Q&A with Speaker Kelly Spencer about good briefs, removing digital design from her practice, and her 80’s dance crew. 👯

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?

My school projects had amazing title pages, and illustrations of animals. I made the title pages for my friends projects too. I remember getting feedback on my study of Canada in primary school where I’d completely neglected to deliver anything other than great headings and drawings of Canadian animals. As a child I would spend hours in my bedroom drawing houses (like, floor plans and elevations), clothing (often on sassy troupes of dancing girls), and lettering. Once I finished high school I couldn’t deal with the thought of 7 years of architecture school, so that got ruled out in favour of a fashion design diploma. But by my early 20’s fashion was no longer making my heart sing, so I dove head first into option 3 — illustration — and now I’m a letterer. And I‘m part of an 80’s dance crew. It was all in the stars.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I didn’t study. I’ve always been a bit impatient with academia. I know now there would’ve been some sweet benefits and less guess-work but I otherwise don’t regret it at all. My first jobs were a lot of posters for my friend’s bands. Oh and underpaid graphic design work for a local bar.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do

Illustration, lettering, sign painting, and street art. I draw pictures of letters, and animals.

What do you look for in a great client?

Someone that writes a beautiful brief. A brief with good use of bold, italics, and bullet points — and which clearly states the clients wants and needs from the get-go. The best clients are the ones that come to you because they love what you do.

What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?

Art is a real job!

What role does digital design play in your studio in 2018, and how to you apply traditional graphic design skills in a digital age?

I’m actually gradually trying to remove digital design from my practice. I won’t remove it completely — I see the value of digital as an accessory, and I don’t plan to drop those skills, but I feel more at peace when I’m making things analogue — using a pencil, paintbrush or spray paint. That said, I had a play with the VR tilt brush the other day and it blew my mind...

Website: kellyspencer.co.nz

Instagram: @kell.sunshine


Get more Kelly Spencer insights & wisdom at Typism. Limited tickets remain, so jump on it - use the discount code 'TDK' for general admission or 'TDK-STUDENT' for student admission. For tickets and to check out all the other speakers this year, jump onto the Typism website: typismconference.com

Follow Typism on Instagram & Twitter to keep up to date with all the goss too!


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