The dazzling cover art of The Generosity Journal you’re holding comes courtesy of self-described design fairy, Kelly Spencer. She’s a freelance graphic artist based in Wellington but busy around the world. Kelly’s creative style is characterized by a bold use of colour, curvaceous forms, and clean lines. Here, she talks us through how the cover came together, life as a freelance artist, and what she’s been up to lately.
Thank you for your time and talents that went into designing the cover of this issue. Tell us a little about how it came together.
As an artist it’s a blessing to be able to use my skills to collaborate with social causes.
With the theme of ‘be human’ in mind, I scribbled out a mind-map of all the things that I associate with humankind – both the positive and the negative. The theme which shone the brightest was love – and so this chap manifested, riding a wave of love. I wanted the cover to be bright and fun and lighthearted while boldly promoting love and empathy.
What did six-year-old Kelly want to be when she grew up?
An architect. But then 17-year-old Kelly didn’t want to spend another 4–7 years in school.
What’s your first memory of picking up a spray can? Paint us a mental picture.
My very first memory of a spray can was fluorescent pink. I still remember that super toxic scent, painting spots on my go-kart with my dad on the farm. But my next spray can moment was standing beside my brother from another mother, Sean Duffell, as he patiently allowed me to colour in fills on a wall with him.
Is there such a thing as ‘artist’s block’?
Ohhh yes. Artist’s block always seems to appear at the exact moment I have spare time to play and create. I try to save myself in advance by always noting ideas when they appear and referring back to them when I need them. My greatest inspiration comes from travel, fresh air, new environments, and curious conversations.
Do you listen to music when you create? What’s on your playlist?
I do love to listen to music while I create. If I’m in the studio it’s likely smooth grooves or classic bangers but once I’m outside on a wall it can get pretty grimy...
Do you prefer working indoors or outdoors?
I love being out in the world, meeting people, being open to elements, experiences and interactions and having space to move.
You work a lot with lettering. Do you have a favourite typographic character? Is there a character which is your nemesis?
S. I love S. S never let’s me down. And the letter I is generally a total jerk.
You were recently in Cozumel, Mexico for Sea Walls. Tell us a bit about that.
Best thing ever. It was an absolute privilege to be invited over to Mexico to paint with Sea Walls. We were painting in 35 degree heat all day and enjoying tacos and mezcal all evening with a truly beautiful bunch of people – some old friends, some new. Sea Walls is a global movement, with activations in about 18 different countries to date, where renowned global contemporary artists come together to create large scale public artworks which speak for our oceans’ health. I was the director of Sea Walls Tairawhiti last October in my hometown of Gisborne.
Anything else you’d like The Collective to know?
I really love what you do, thank you. x
Say hello at www.kellyspencer.co.nz