Q & A with The Letterettes
We had a chat with The Letterettes about design life, type and liquid eyeliner.
1. What inspired you to get into typography?
All four of The Letterettes have a keen interest in lettering and typography. We’ve each studied graphic design and gone on to do further study and practice specifically around lettering.
For me personally (hi, I’m Kate, one of The Letterettes!), I have always been intrigued by stories. I think it probably started with dad reading books to my brother and I before bedtime as kids (with all the voices of course), and it’s continued into adulthood where I’m really interested in art, movies and podcasts that delve into someone else’s life and experiences. So, this love kind of collided with my love of drawing, and it’s led me to this interesting and rewarding niche of lettering.
2. Is there an everyday activity you think could be improved with better typography?
Oooft, yes! Typography can play such an important part in our everyday life, for example temporary construction signage that redirects road or foot traffic, or perhaps using different typefaces to help make books more accessible for those with dyslexia. Perhaps it’s a bit of a shame, because often we don’t recognise these wonderful uses of type because if it’s a successful application, we shouldn’t notice anything - it should be a smooth experience!
3. If you could make over one everyday item, what would it be?
The non-slip mat that my dog’s water bowl sits on. I feel it miiiight be a niche area of the pet market.
4. Who are you going to gift the collaboration to, and why?
The Letterettes will be like Oprah, everyone will be getting one of these beauties! Sometimes, we find that what we do for a living can be hard to wrap your head around (especially if we’re talking about lettering, that is definitely a niche!), so when you get the opportunity to design something tangible, it’s really cool to be able to share that with someone.
5. What’s your favourite word?
I first wrote, ‘You know what, I don’t know!’ but then I remembered the word quesadilla.
6. What’s one thing about typography you wish people knew?
If we’re thinking not just about typography but about creativity and art more generally - sometimes we wish more people recognised its value (like the wonderful team at Maxwell & Williams!). And when we say this, we’re thinking about the leaders of our country, and the societal praises we often place on academic or sporting ventures over things like the visual or performing arts. Of course this is not to say those other pursuits don’t deserve that glory, but at times it would be wonderful to see art and its beauty and contribution to society more formally recognised.
7. Are you really good at applying liquid eyeliner?
Haha! I think as a group we have to say we’re pretty darn good at the first eye but then we can fall down with achieving the symmetry of the second. But we can’t all have T Swift’s perfect wing!
8. What’s your favourite typeface?
While I work mainly in hand-lettering, my go-to typeface is Avenir. Nothing fancy, just a lovely, rounded, sans-serif typeface.
9. Which creatives inspire you? (from any medium)
We are surrounded by such a wonderful community of talented, creative women right here in Melbourne! Kit Palaskas, Pink Bits, 23rd Key, Candy Ng, Michelle Pereira, Tegan Iversen, Maria Montes, Carla Scotto...this is just a glimpse into the incredible people practicing in this city.
10. When do you feel most creative? Night owl or early riser?
In The Letterettes we have a bit of variation to this question, which in the past has meant we almost have Letterette representation around the clock! For me, it’s most definitely the mornings (and this is in stark contrast to the evenings, where at 9pm I’ve said, ‘let’s watch a movie!’ and at 9:08pm I’ve fallen fast asleep).
11. Do you have a favourite letter or symbol to draw/design?
I do really enjoy an uppercase ‘G’ because there’s so many wonderful options to go a little crazy with flourishes. I love playing with script lettering and all its swashes!
12. Tea, coffee, both or neither?
For me, it’s herbal tea all the way. There’s actually this great tea called ‘Sleepytime’ that is my perfect combination of relaxing goodness. Plus, it has a bear in pyjamas on the box. But coffee is certainly strongly represented within The Letterettes, as is a love of matcha!
13. How much has digital design impacted on your style of type?
So much of The Letterettes work is created by hand - for example brush pen lettering - and although the digital world has impacted upon this, we don’t think it will ever fully disappear; there’s such a love for the wonderful imperfections and unique textures and tones that come from using actually pens (over a digital one). So much so that there is now a big market for creating digital brushes that recreate the feel of IRL ones!