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Q&A with Drew Melton

Graphic design & typography - everything from business cards to websites

My name is Drew Melton. I am a Graphic Designer based in Los Angeles. My main focus is lettering and typography. I work on everything from fonts to corporate identity.

How did you get started in graphic design and typography? What is a turning point in your professional career?

I started by designing websites in HTML when I was 15 years old. The design came out of a need to create graphics for the websites I was building. Over time I became more interested in the design and less in the code. Eventually I landed an internship at a web design agency called Worksighted at 16 years old. By the time I was looking at colleges I knew that I wanted to pursue design. I looked at schools all over the country and ended up at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. It was a great school for me to discover my craft. In the end I dropped out in my 3rd year and went freelance. I had my own studio for a year and worked on all kinds of projects (everything from business cards to websites) for commercial clients. I burned out pretty quick in the commercial world and discovered lettering. I threw myself in head first. In the beginning I was really bad… like really really bad. But I grew and have been learning ever since through trial and error. That leads me to my work now where I spend most of my time working on fonts and freelance lettering projects. I also started a company called Anchor Paper Co where I sell beautiful letter press products.

What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work in your design studio all day long or prefer to mix a few activities?

I like to mix it up. When I do one thing for too long my productivity goes really low (along with my happiness) so I try to organize my days around my natural energy levels. Usually I work at home in the mornings in silence. Then I break things up by running errands and working at a coffee shop later. Usually I do yoga or some sort of exercise in the middle. Nights are reserved for hang time with my wife or friends. It’s a good balance.

Where does your work inspiration come from? (Do you believe in ‘inspiration’ at all)?

Inspiration is everywhere. Cliche right? Here is the deal — Cliche’s contain a great deal of truth. I am more inspired by excellent craft over pure originality. Doing something really well usually leads to creativity. This means sticking to basics and studying the greats. I used to try really hard to “find my style” but the longer I am a designer the more I realize that style is the result of steady practice. If you just try to do good work you will discover your style. But don’t try to find it.

Where are your favorite places in your city or outside?

Echo Park Lake is my favorite followed by Elysian park and Griffith park. What makes Los Angeles special is the nature everywhere. Hiking is a very important part of my physical (and mental) health. My other favorite place is RVCC downtown. It’s a wonderful private club full of great people that I’m proud to call friends.

© Drew Melton - graphic design, lettering and typography

Who are the designers you admire most?

Man — I would have to start with Neil Secretario. He would come out to my drink & draw events here downtown and his curiosity always inspired me. On top of that he’s extremely generous and open handed about his talents. I would have to follow up with Neil Hubert – He’s an old friend from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He moved out here over a year ago to take the sign painting class at trade tech. He’s already an incredible designer but he’s still learning. That’s so inspiring to me.

Other than that I am fortunate to know so many excellent designers and business owners at all levels. The ones I admire the most are humble, optimistic and open handed about what they do. We have to remember that we aren’t doing heart surgery or changing lives. We have the privilege to do something we love and hopefully bring a little color to the world. Lets do it well.