In-Focus: Kate Moross – Make Your Own Luck

Bold, colorful and entertaining, Make Your Own Luck offers a rare insight into the creative mind of Kate Moross, one of the industries most prolific designers.

With a forward by British art director and graphic artist Neville Brody, who describes her as ‘Brilliant, creative, fun and unique’ the pages take you on a journey of visual delight. It’s essential reading for students and graduates alike, featuring honest and thought provoking discussion on how to make it in design. We’ve picked some of the best tips for you to learn from.

On style

My mother always told me that if I wanted to be an artist, I had to draw all the time – that practice is what makes you excel. She said I must always carry a sketchbook on me, so I got into the habit of doing this. Although I am an illustrator, I rarely do anything observational or figurative; my work is nearly all type-based.

Hand-drawing letterforms is something I have always done. As a young child I used to copy book covers and make my own versions of popular children’s books. I used to draw band logos meticulously over and over again in my sketchbooks at school.

On drawing

I was never great at drawing objects or people, but words and letters felt like a natural subject for me. The art of lettering is ancient and I am really thankful for the resurgence in hand-lettering in recent years. It has been and always will be a core element in design and our visual landscape.

No matter how digital our lives become, hand-rendered type reminds us of our humanity.

Looking back on these doodles makes me appreciate the way I used to draw and think. Years of briefs and client work have stifled this freedom in me; rarely now can I just sit down in front of a blank page and create work. These days, I feel as though I need someone looking over my shoulder and directing me. Drawing just for the sake of it is something I aim to get back into – I am just waiting for some free time!

I implore you, if you enjoy it, never stop drawing, especially for yourself. The skills that drawing hones will stand you in good stead.

On collecting

Everyone collects something or other, so instead of collecting other people’s styles, try to find an area to research and document for yourself. For me, it’s the packaging of sweets and candy.

Aside from having a very sweet tooth, I adore sweet packaging – I think it is some of the finest design around. The typography is usually so direct and complete, illustrating what is inside the wrapper perfectly. Every single sweet wrapper also evokes a strong and everlasting nostalgia in anyone who used to enjoy them as a child.

The simple colour palettes and often hand-rendered typography definitely influenced me and to this day I continue to pay homage to bubblegum type in my own work.

On inspiration

The truth is, I don’t go to galleries and exhibitions or look at art books and magazines for inspiration.

I do these things because I find them interesting, but generally feel that what I see and soak up in this way has very little correlation to my work. In fact, I find some image sources, such as Tumblr and Pinterest, to be the very antithesis of inspiring – I find myself conscious of the fact that I’m looking at what has already been done, rather than moving forward and creating something new.

Filling my head with other people’s ideas and styles stunts my own by making less room for original thought.

At my studio we are making a conscious decision to move away from these things – to use materials as inspiration rather than referencing existing imagery. We want to have good ideas that aren’t about style or what’s popular right now, but finding a concept that fits the brief, or a material that can be used to illustrate it.

My best suggestion for finding the dreaded ‘inspiration’ is to look a little closer to home. Think about what interests you. Perhaps it’s food, sport, literature or physics – ideas can come from all of these things.

Pull ideas from areas that are missing visuals, rather than mimicking ones that already exist. Explore these wider topics and you will discover things that you can incorporate into your work which are far more interesting than anything you find online.

Trends and styles come in and out of fashion quickly, but collections, archives and detailed studies of single topics will always be interesting and will be personal to you and the development of your work.

Extracts taken from Make Your Own Luck by Kate Moross, published by Prestel. Out now and available to buy in all good book shops. Kate Moross portrait by Computer Arts magazine.


Posted on Aug 21st, 15 by | Twitter: @lisahassell

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words regularly appear in Computer Arts, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.

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