Laid-back Lettering

Since being introduced to Mary Kate McDevitt’s work I’ve noticed the coffee and cat lover’s lettering appear more and more.

Her portfolio embraces a relaxed, natural style that avoids formality or stiffness but maintains it’s vibrancy. On collecting some examples of her work, I realised her style is exemplified by a vintage look depicted in orange and light teal.

She recently moved back to the East Coast after nearly four years in Portland, Oregon. New York was at the top of her list of cities to live in and she’s now settling into Brooklyn.

She graduated from Tyler School of Art in 2007 and built her portfolio in just six, very productive, years. I had the opportunity to ask her about it:

Mary Kate: Once I graduated, I was on a making frenzy. I think anyone who graduates from art school has the “okay, now how do I make money?” panicked moment. I worked as a designer for 2 years but was making new illustration work in my free time. I started an etsy shop in early 2009 that I filled with hand painted chalkboard and screen printed posters. As I got more sales, it really motivated me to think of new ideas and trying new things. I’ve kept that trajectory, always making new things and coming up with new projects. That helped me build a portfolio that I feel proud of. I think that shows to clients that the project I work on with them, I will really pour myself into it and be proud of the result.

Jamie: What marks out your style of lettering work from your contemporaries?

Mary Kate: Since most of my contemporaries are inspired in some way or another by vintage type, we’ve had similar reference material. But the end results are always different because to be a successful letterer I think your personality should show in your work.

Jamie: What would your perfect design brief consist of?

Mary Kate: Besides a hefty budget, I think something that is more of a challenge. Maybe it involves a large-scale installation, or it needs to be animated, something that is out of the ordinary. But there really is nothing stopping me from experimenting with these new mediums so I may just go out and try these on my own. Most of the projects that come through my inbox, I find there is always something I can get excited about and sink my teeth into.

Above artwork: