Why do you choose to do freelance work?
I do freelance work so that I can work independently, but also as I haven’t seen anyone advertise recently for a type-setting, letterpress artist!
I work with letterpress in what might be called the ‘true’ sense of the craft – as in, I press letters (tanjabinggeli.com). Over the last few years, I have collected metal and wooden type from all over the world, to use with my 1894 Chandler and Price treadle driven letterpress. My process is 100% non-digital – I sketch drafts, hand-cut the images (mainly out of linoleum), and hand-set the type. Working [like this] is a real response to the digital, ‘flat’ media that we are surrounded by all day, everyday. Having a screen-free process makes my relationship to the work very direct and more spontaneous. When it comes down it, I think I’m probably just a massive technophobe who has taken quite an extreme route to avoid having to learn InDesign…
How much direction did your course provide for you?
When I started the degree – Master of Design (text and image) – I didn’t have a background in design. [It] gave me a sense of the scope of design in the world today – from problem-solving in the banking sector, through to designing scents for museum installations. We were shown how to apply the skills we had to a very broad spectrum of work. I think this meant that, by the end, we were empowered to choose whom we wanted to work with and where we wanted to be within this ever-broadening industry.
What’s some advice you wish you’d listened to earlier?
You are a very creative person. Do something about that.
I think that as creative people, our sense of self or creativity really needs to be nurtured. Growing up, I was very involved in music and performing, but I had no [idea] how that connected to a broader sense of ‘creativity’. I went to a very academic high school and we were taught to see ourselves with respect to our academic achievements. Life is so much richer than that – people are so much richer than that.
Having said that, I think we tend to find our way, eventually. And the journey is how we learn.
What are some of the exciting things that have come from the work you do?
By far my favourite aspect is meeting like-minded people to collaborate with. I work with a lot of people who work in food and wine. There is something beautifully tactile about letterpress – the inks, the colours, the texture, the manual nature of the process – that really appeals to cooks who work with beautiful and colourful seasonal ingredients to create delicious, nurturing food. Having an opportunity to come together with these people, often on a special occasion menu or invitation, is very fulfilling.
I also do quite a lot of small batch, very bespoke business cards for creative people. Coming up with a design on the press to represent someone’s identity is something I consider a real privilege, and a very stimulating process.
It’s crazy time-consuming, and absolutely a labour of love, but I feel really lucky to have found work that can be so energising.
Featured image via tanjabinggeli.com