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Featured Artist: Talking Typography with WordQuirk

Welcome to Typography Week on the Redbubble Blog. This week, we’re paying tribute to all things letters with roundups, tips, interviews, and more to give both lovers and makers of typography a super dose of text-based awesomeness.

"Who doesn’t love words? They’re everywhere! Words have the power to be serious, offensive and humorously whimsical."

Redbubble artists Matt and Tracie are the creative duo that form WordQuirk, a collaborative design team. Both designers met at art college and struck up a unique artistic rapport. United by a love of typography and hand-crafted designs, the duo not only joined forces creatively, but are also married. WordQuirk have a brilliant eye for combining text and graphic design, with a natural flare for composition and palette. I was lucky enough to have a few moments to speak with Matt and Tracie about their artwork. Our conversation took us to the importance of working both intimately and separately when collaborating, and discovering new points of inspiration in everyday exchanges.

How did you begin working together?

We met at art college in 1995 (surely it hasn’t been that long!) while studying Fine Art (Matt printmaking and Tracie ­ painting). We got married 2 years later and have been working together on and off on various artistic endeavours ever since. We have always been very comfortable collaborating, bouncing ideas off each other as we have very similar artistic outlooks that has always fit well. WordQuirk came together as a side project. We both love typography and wanted to explore that aspect of design. We called ourselves WordQuirk as it’s a culmination of Matt’s wordiness (He’s always quoting a movie, singing annoying lyrics, and writing lists, endless lists!) and Tracie’s Quirkiness (she has gone from painting with bitumen (don’t ask), to graphics, web, posters, t­-shirts and probably world domination when she’s finished!).

What is it about lettering, words and quotes that you enjoy so much? Why all the words?

Who doesn’t love words? They’re everywhere! Words have the power to be serious, offensive and humorously whimsical. The challenge for us in using typography (something we both have little experience in) was predominantly to get better at it, but also spread the message as simply as possible, whatever that may be. Combining function and aesthetics for a particular word, quote or phrase.

Where do you draw inspiration from for the words you choose to design and illustrate? Do you sort through books or trawl for quotes online?

We get our inspiration from everywhere! Movies, music, books, lots of documentaries. It also helps to have a teenage daughter and a twenty-something son, who we can borrow quips and sayings from. Sigh. We both had ideas and doodles (as well as wordy rants!) that were not being used for anything else, along with a somewhat political philosophy that we seem to have acquired along the way.

"Can't see the woods for the trees" Poster by wordquirk

Do you have a favorite style of typography or font? Is there an era, style, or movement of design you’re particularly drawn to?

We don’t really have a favourite style of typography or font other than all of it! As this is all new to us, we’re soaking it all in, and are open to everything. There’s some great typography out there, which we are constantly aspiring to. The hard part can be knowing when to stop but we don’t rule anything out. We’ll probably do something with comic sans one day. There is beauty in everything after all.

What advice would you give to younger designers who are just starting out at collaborating with others? How have you found working together, and how do you make design decisions (palette, composition etc.) together?

In the years together since art college, and going from painting/printmaking to vector illustration and photoshop, what we have learned is, don’t be afraid, there are no rules when it comes to creativity. Make what you love and the rest will take care of itself. Ultimately have fun with it and follow where it takes you. When it comes to collaboration we work on our own individual pieces while bouncing ideas off each other. We always try to let the subject matter dictate the style and palette of the finished work. It also helps that we work 6 feet away from each other!

I really like your political series. As I’m writing these questions to you it’s Martin Luther King day in the US and it got me wondering if you have a favorite or stand out political message you think is synonymous with what you’re trying to create together? I notice there are quite a few quotes about inaction and human apathy.How you see political slogans or phrases in design being used?

Be nice to each other. To quote Gandhi, ­ “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Regardless of all the problems between human beings, be it social, economical or political. All this pales in comparison to the simple fact that our planet is in trouble. It’s the only home we’ve got and we have to start treating it better. This is what we are passionate about, not only in our art but our daily lives (we’ll probably be found chained to a tree somewhere when our last child has left). We believe that all creativity, be this design, video, sculpture, painting, etc. is an important tool that can be used to bring attention to various issues. It enables us to look at something from a different perspective, and maybe open up the possibility of change. We’d like to think that all creatives have a responsibility to record and reflect all of society’s traits good and bad, as artists always have. Picassos’ “Guernica,” the Guerrilla Girls in the ’70s, or Banksy and Ai Weiwei today are just a few of our favourites. This is the philosophy that we aspire to, while also having fun with it. Look after your home, and we’re not talking about your four walls. Why can’t we all just get along and say “Hey.”

Discuss WordQuirk’s portfolio in the comments below. And be sure to visit their shop to support these Redbubble artists.

"Keep Going." Duvet Cover by wordquirk

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