Monday, September 24, 2012

Anne Ulku: Designer Anne Ulku spins beautiful words from color, prose and clothing

At first glance, this year’s Keepers are a ragtag bunch. Their mediums run the gamut from good old-fashioned pen and paper to the human body; their habitats are classrooms, venerable theater stages and rock clubs. But here’s where this diverse group converges: Each Keeper has talent to spare, and is an indispensible cog in the wheel of Twin Cities culture. For that, we hereby present them with fancy words, pretty pictures -- and an illustration by fellow keeper Robert Algeo -- in an attempt to flatter them into never leaving town.   
Anne Ulku is a dabbler by nature. The Minneapolis-based designer’s current focus is on custom-made fonts, but graphic design, illustration, cartography (yes, she makes maps) and wedding invitations are all on her ever-expanding list of projects.
The 27-year-old Minnesota native’s interest in fonts grew during her 2010 collaboration with local writer Van Horgen, Six Word Story Every Day. Inspired by Hemingway’s statement that a great story can be told in only six words, every day of that year Ulku designed imagery for Horgen’s stories and they posted the result on sixwordstoryeveryday.com.
Ulku found designing custom typefaces for the stories easier than perusing existing fonts, and her designs—which ranged from lasso-inspired cursive to exotic prints—were as evocative as they were imaginative. SWSED prompted her to embark on other type-related projects: custom lettering, a catalog of her own fonts and freelance work with independent local foundry Chank (run by prolific type designer Chank Diesel, a.k.a., Charles Andermack). At Chank, Ulku’s clients include corporate behemoths like Target and Best Buy—a roster she says is a beneficial byproduct of living in Minneapolis. Another advantage of building a career here? A deep pool of collaborators.
“I love getting other people involved,” Ulku says. “I love collaborating and making things in new ways.”
The 2007 Minneapolis College of Art and Design grad says inspiration for fonts comes from such random places as hand-painted signs and advertisements, but her true muse is color. On her DailyHues blog, she documents the color palette of her clothing each day through graphic elements and geometric forms that often end up spurring design projects. Along with her corporate work, Ulku is keeping busy finishing her first font catalog. She says the future looks similar to life now, but that she doesn’t necessarily know where her dabbling will take her next.
“When you do something you really love,” she says, “you can go anywhere.”
Illustration by Robert Algeo. Download a high-res version here.