Gemma O’Brien is a Sydney-based typographer, hand-letterer and illustrator. A stint learning letterpress in university sparked a fervent obsession with typography, and the creation of her blog For the Love of Type. At 21 she produced an experimental video, in which she inscribed her body with hand lettering, that caught the attention of Font Shop’s Jurgen Siebert and earned her an invitation to speak Germany’s 2009 Typo Berlin design conference.
Since then she’s been sprucing up words in pen, ink and vectors for clients including Woolworths, Vodafone, Smirnoff, Canon, and The New York Times. Gemma has also worked in art direction at Animal Logic, Fuel VFX and Toby & Pete. Career highlights include directing a new title sequence for Australia’s longest standing children’s show Play School, creating a strawberries-and-cream scented typography piece for Woolworths’ Christmas campaign and having her Taronga Zoo lettering displayed for 400km on the travelling crate of Kitoto the Giraffe.
Place of Birth:
Currently Living in:
Train, bus, bike, or other:
What's the most important object in your studio?
Hand-painted sign from a tree in Mt Glorious.
Paper or Plastic?
If you could resurrect one no longer living person to have lunch with, knowing you will have to return them to the grave right after coffee, who would it be?
Sarah Eaves – the second wife of the illustrious typographer John Baskerville.
Preferred method of dealing with an encounter with an acquaintance whose name you can't remember.
Distract with a flurry of riveting conversation and then ask their middle name!
Why don't you flip the tortoise over, Leon?
Do you make these questions up Mr Holden?
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Enough to start a fire!
Favourite client so far?
Bob Hawke – what a legend.
Favourite imaginary client?
How does your mother describe your profession?
Probably more articulately than I do!
Coffee or tea?
70% Coffee 30% Tea.
What's your earliest drawing memory?
Drawing my pet chook Rosie when I was 5.
How do you prefer to spend your mornings?
Still awake from the night before!
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