Thank you for giving us a few moments of your time and welcome to the SA Creative Network.
Your typography is beautiful, how would you define your style and how did it all start?
Thank you. I would struggle to define my style, I feel like I am quite emotive with my typography, it’s a lot about what I am feeling at the time and what’s inspiring me. I suppose that’s where it all started, coming across something that is written so well or has such a strong meaning, but just sits flat on paper with no character. The words may be beautiful but it feels like there is more to it than just language. I began properly trying to illustrate lyrics from a band I really like (Thrice). The lyrics grabbed me and I needed to do something with them, so I started to experiment with typefaces, cutting them up, re-arranging, playing with kerning and leading … and so the journey began.
Why typography and how does one make a living from this?
I think typography is a passion, well for me it is – that’s why I started to focus on it. I love the idea of being able to take a sentence and purely by type choice and design juxtapose what it is saying in words and what you feel and take away from it once it has been typographically illustrated.
I think the market for type is getting bigger. For me it remains a passion, I work for a design agency (Quirk) during the day and at night I get to play with type. I kind of like it this way because it gives me an outlet as well as a sanctuary in type.
What other creative skills do you have?
I love to illustrate when I get the chance as well as a bit of print design. I studied graphic design at CPUT, so I have a good foundation in design. Have a look at my website www.nickmills.co.za to see for yourself.
We recently came across a series of art works titled ‘Hope’. Please tell us a little bit about this informative piece.
This was a project I did in collaboration with the Common Good Foundation, which is a Section 21 company focused on assisting the underprivileged. The main goal of this campaign was to create awareness around certain areas that more fortunate people take for granted. Some of these issues were education, access to running water, healthcare and HIV/Aids. It was quite a big project with nine posters and six installations, as well as a documentary shot by North South Media to accompany the exhibition.
What are you working on at the moment and what are your hopes for the future?
I am currently working on a four-part typography series, not sure what it is called yet. I’m playing with a fixed width semi-script font I made. I find it quite challenging to get a nice simple script-ish typeface. Usually you can disguise average ones with bells and whistles like extension and shadow, so it’s a little more challenging, which is fun.
Hopes for the future, well I would love to be able to do exactly what I am doing now, but be a little more well known and sought-after. Would love to open my own studio one day, but that’s still a way away.
What advice would you give to our young budding creatives in South Africa looking to do what you do?
I would encourage them to work hard – be passionate about what you do. Submerge yourself in the local design scene and I would say one of the most important things is to be humble and open to people’s criticism, there will always be someone out there better than you. Don’t fight that fact, embrace it and learn from them.
Where can the readers view more of your work?
I have a creative reference/’things I like’ blog, where I try post stuff I like or things that I’m interested in, like boxing. Feel free to have a look: http://nickmills.posterous.com/
You can get hold of me on Twitter too: @nickgordonmills.