London based hand lettering artist, Alison Carmichael has been working commercially for about 20 years and is the recipient of many industry accolades. Alison works with advertising, design and branding agencies producing work for many brands including Divine Chocolate, Virgin and Renault. She is largely known for her huge range of diversity in lettering styles.
Alison is a versatile artist who is often commissioned to work with unusual materials, to create lettering with anything from ketchup and treacle to tea leaves. She has worked on pop promos and window displays producing highly creative work that is sometimes edgy and fun but always distinctive.
What is your favourite city?
"Both London and New York for the same reasons that they are vibrant, multi-cultured and you could never get bored of them as they evolve and change all the time."
It's great to see the echoes of the past in your work, but how do you keep it fresh and innovative?
"Working in different mediums is one way. Most of my work is commissioned by ad and branding agencies so there are definite trends emerging all the time. Recently I have had quite a few jobs where I was asked to make lettering out of food. I did lettering piped in whipped cream, made out of sugar sprinkles, seeds and grains and also from flour. There is definitely a current food typography trend!"
Contemporary lettering is largely inspired by the past, do you have any favourites?
"My main creative inspirations are graphic designers from the 1960s era Herb Lubalin, Paul Rand, Alexander Girard, Saul Bass. To me, that was the era where hand lettering was at its peak."
Which of your artists tools could you not do without and why?
"I have a few really lovely old fountain pens which I use for “hand writing” jobs! I love Chinese brushes with Indian ink which I use a lot as well as pentel watercolour pens which are a fairly new discovery. I use Tria Markers for most of my drawn type, I love my old Rotring pens and automatic pencils and I have some old bamboo dip pens which make some interesting, textured marks. My kit evolves all the time but these are all staples."
Do you have a favourite quote and how would you hand letter it?
"To those who think otherwise."
Do you have a favourite Bowie song?
"Let’s Dance" because that was the first time I became aware of David Bowie really."
Which commission made you jump up and down and scream when you got it?
"Being asked to create the lettering for the 2015 Bloomingdale’s Christmas Campaign."
What was your most bizarre commission?
"Painting lettering onto women’s boobs for a cancer awareness ad campaign (photographed by Rankin.) It was certainly an unusual job to do!"
How do you see yourself evolving as a designer, do you have any new design goals?
"I would love to collaborate with designers who work in a completely different discipline to myself - for example, designing lettering for fashion & textiles, product/interior design or even architecture.”
If you could do your job in any era which one would you choose and why?
"Well, I should say the 60s really as that is my favourite era for lettering and the Victorians certainly knew what they were doing too. But I think now is pretty cool as there is all the knowledge from the past together with all the innovation of modern technology."