A Little Bent Design, aka Lea Broadbent, is a freelance designer from the Blue Mountains. Working mainly in print design, she incorporates both traditional and digital mediums and techniques in her work which varies between art, design and typography.
Only 2 years out of university, she has already worked across studios and has now set up to focus on her freelance work. We had a chat and got to know more about her processes and inspiration.
Was there a defining moment when you knew you would pursue a creative career?
I was raised in a very creative environment as a child growing up. My family and friends are all very artistic, but I have my Dad to thank for my creative skills. He is a great artist and spent a lot of time teaching me how to draw and how to use different mediums. We even attended weekend art classes together which was fun and so interesting to compare our techniques. I also spent many early mornings practicing the piano, singing and playing the violin so I guess the right side of my brain received a massive workout. I don’t think there was a defining moment, I think it was kind of inevitable.
What has been the highlight for you as a designer so far?
When I worked for a studio in Sydney, we had some big name clients that I did some work for. Could be a bit intimidating at times but super fun to do design work for such professional and incredible entertainers!
Typography is a major highlight in your portfolio, when did you discover your love for typography and how did you refine your skills?
I always kind of liked it without realising I think. I was obsessed with achieving perfectly rounded handwriting in my schoolbooks, more so than the actual work I was supposed to be doing. My ten year old self was so worried that I didn’t have a style of handwriting that I began practising tall and thin styles, cursive styles and yes dotted my i’s with love hearts. I hadn’t really thought of typography as illustration or a visual element until my University degree where I started to merge it with my illustrations. Typography was exciting to explore and fun to experiment with so I kept running with it. The icing on the cake was seeing Gemma O’brien give a talk at Field Trip in Sydney. She is incredible! I was lucky enough to have a tutor who is a friend of hers who encouraged me with my typography. The best advice he gave me was “she bangs out lettering everyday, she just keeps keeps it flowing and keeps practicing”, so thats what I do. I watch techniques and attempt tutorials, I try out different pens and I just keep practicing my letterforms in different ways to gain insight into how those letterforms change the look and feel of a design.
What would be your advice for someone wanting to specialise in typography?
Like anything practice makes perfect. Exploring all aspects of typography like history, type designers, type anatomy, all helps to better understand the process.
What is in your essential designer kit?
Ive accumulated a lot of art materials over the years and have found my regulars are derwent pencils lead and coloured, I love the Inktense range of derwernts. I have a faber-castell mechanical pencil thatI would be lost without! I use a range of Artline pens, calligraphy pens and Sharpies. And of course my Mac, with illustrator and photoshop. I cant get enough books and magazines like Desktop, Eye, Juxtapoz. Im currently reading ‘Make Enemies and Gain Fans’ written by a couple of designers in Sweden who run a studio called Snask. It’s a great book and full of great tips for emerging designers. Second hand bookstores have great old design books too that are interesting. Other essentials include my easels and lots of paper! my studio is covered in paper, scribbles and sketches…theres order in chaos!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I’m inspired a lot by culture and people. People fascinate me. Their thoughts, opinions and ideas, are all so different and unique and yet unified by culture. Without thoughts, we wouldn’t have words, without words we wouldn’t have language, without language we wouldn’t have anything to say and I think it’s pretty cool we live in a world where there is so much to express and so much to say. I like to visually capture that.
When did you make the decision to focus on your freelance work, and how do you know the time is right?
After completing my university degree I was able to find studio work in Sydney where I worked on a range of different projects. The hours where long and although the pay was good, the time didn’t really allow me to explore my own interests, so after gaining great experience working in studios I felt confident to freelance and enhance my portfolio in hope of slowly creating my own workspace to tackle client projects and expand my artwork to sell. I think the universe helps to see when the time is right. It’s in your heart what you want to focus on and it’s about chasing that and the passion that drives you to do what you do, and do it better. Its about feeling confident in what you have to offer.
What would be your tips for moving out of the studio and into your own practice?
Be intelligent about it and never stop being creative! Build a network and don’t be afraid to to put yourself out there, like working on collaboration or community projects. Use everything you’ve learnt through experience and practice to help you work positively with clients and never underestimate yourself, your work and your pay!
You can find more of Lea’s work at: http://alittlebentdesign.com/