This month we profile recent DVC graduate Claire Wan in the latest Student Spotlight.
Tell us a little about yourself and your creative journey that lead you to the DVC program?
I was still working as an accountant when I first came across the DVC course. Too many years working as an accountant...I owe a lot of it to that actually! In truth I've always had a passion for art and design. A significant part of my creative development happened whilst I was at Godalming Sixth Form College. Art education there was fantastic (thank you Dan Fookes!). Then I just continued exploring my creative interests and doing projects in my own time. I love drawing and experimenting with charcoal, paint and ink. When I started seriously planning a career change, I took a few evening courses in printmaking, typography and graphic design and just built a portfolio from those really. I also met some talented and inspirational designers & calligraphers during that year, who are now good friends, and those relationships definitely influenced my approach to the course.
I love a creative alias! So am super curious to know where the name inkyclaw came from?!
It comes from an unrelated nickname / obsession with bears. I was using the creative alias of inkykuma for a while (I'm not Japanese but kuma in Japanese means bear)...then somehow that evolved into inkyclaw. I think both are still floating around!
What about Type, calligraphy and/or Lettering specifically interests you?
Ah, I love letters and typography! I actually deferred my place on the DVC course after leaving finance. An opportunity came up to work as a studio manager in a calligraphy studio in London, so I did that for about three months. Whilst I was there I learnt so much about the practice of calligraphy and formed an appreciation for the craftsmanship and design of letters. I continued to study and learn that after I left. I had to take a break when I started the DVC programme, but will get back on that soon. I guess beneath it all I'm really interested in the history of writing and the communication of meaning beyond words.
Your Aphorisms cards are fantastic! they are a beautiful visual exploration of the power of visual language (and I love the duplex outcome and packaging too!) Can you talk us through each cards design and production?
Thank you. That was our first task on introduction to typography and we pretty much had until the end of the course to develop them, so there was definitely a lot time to spend on idea generation. I produced 7 cards in total and they were selected down from a few more aphorism designs. I thought these worked best individually but also as a set, in terms of colour accent and including a variety of typefaces. I looked at all sorts of visual and conceptual references when brainstorming ideas; from poets, writers, designers, adverts, literature, history, and of course studying letters and learning about typography along the way.
Your book in bloom is a beautiful document. It uses transparency, the binding, sheet size all to great effect. Can you tell use a little about how this project came about/what was the brief?
Thank you! With this project we had to the freedom to develop our own brief so I went with that to try and incorporate things that I'm interested in, along with the different aspects of design which I love/wanted to explore further.
I'm really interested in place and identity. I know the area and history of Bloomsbury well, having lived around here for ten years and I've often found myself thinking about signage, mapping & information, specifically about the green spaces in Bloomsbury and the importance of these spaces in terms of how they characterise the area. My final outcome evolved from wanting to produce an object which promoted an identity for Bloomsbury around these spaces, and told the individual stories of the squares and gardens in an engaging way, using photography, paper and transparency to create something evocative and memorable.
What about the book concept/format you enjoyed working with in this project? (And did you bind the document yourself?)
Part of the process which I love on any design project I work on is doing the research. I can run away with collecting ideas and material. I'm a massive hoarder of printed leaflets and maps! I also love writing and editing material myself so that I can design narratives through words and typography together. This project was really special because I got to all of that, and could do the art working for the maps, illustrations, photography and the binding.
I'll admit I'm really fond of hand binding books, and love paper so that was always going to be a very enjoyable part of the process. I hadn't done that much experimentation with different papers before though, and that was loads of fun, though my printer has suffered long term damage from that. I think it was the Offenbach 40 gsm bible paper that really did it!
Your found alphabet is a collection of characters discovered while on holiday in Berlin. How do you think the place effected your outcome? Or how did your letterform finds differ from your classmates?
I love exploring the different graphic visuals of a place when I travel and thinking about the history and culture of places and how that links to type. The first typographic walk I did was in London some time ago in Dalston. Typographic walks/collecting letters is a great way to engage with a place and it's also really fun. In making my found alphabet, I wanted to explore a new city in this way – Berlin has a fascinating history which lives on through type/letters from original and individual underground train signage to expressive urban graffiti; you can see from the variety of letters that it's an exciting place to be.
Which is your favourite of your found letters? And where in Berlin did you discover it?
The F which I borrowed from 'Letters are my Friends', I just find it to be both beautifully designed and exciting. It works on print, and looks great laser cut. I also love the concept behind the typeface, 'Letters are my Friends' are a little studio based in Kreuzberg and they experiment with type and technology. I'd read an article about them a while ago and seen some of their work online so it was great to finally visit the showroom and talk to them about some of their workshops and recent lettering experiments.
Do you have a particular medium or tool for design that you gravitate toward or enjoying working with most?
Sketchbooks! All my design friends will tell you that I'm a huge fan of the sketchbooks!
It's all about idea generation and research and then the design of the final outcome design depends on all of that. I love the way that design can push you to learn a new technique; its not about sticking to what I know necessarily. I am very hands on though, and love practical involvement when working with book arts, letterpress and screen printing...
What are you next steps career wise? What does your dream job look like?
At the moment I'm doing some collaborative projects with writers, to help design and publish their work. I'm really enjoying it, and I meet some great, talented people whilst doing it. Each book so far has been completely different, and I like the challenge of designing for different content. The first book for example, was a limited run of a long hand poem. I letterpressed the cover for that one, did the illustrations and hand bound a limited run of 50 copies. The second book was a joke book which I did the layout and book cover design for, and it has nostalgia for the books you read when you were younger, with a coated cover that sort of protects it from being read over and over!
Since graduating in August I've done some freelance work. The first job I did was the design for the printed map & events listing for the Service Design Fringe Festival this year. I was really pinching myself after that job went to print, I still am amazed by the quality of the tutoring we received at LCC. Special thanks to Tony Pritchard, Henrietta Ross & Ben Richards who guided me this far.
I've just finished an internship with City ID, who are based in Bristol and that was such a great experience. I love what they do with building identities for places (and its much more than just wayfinding), their approach is also heavily research driven and so well integrated as finished design products.
In terms of next steps I'll be looking for more projects and jobs/internships that align with my interests and my love of research. Details below, feel free to get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org, @inkyclaw. (instagram + twitter) or http://www.inkyclaw.com/