After graduating from his design studies in Adelaide, Tristan Kerr jetted off to work in design and screen-print studios in Paris and Switzerland (living the dream!). Whilst in Europe, he soaked up encounters with an array of talented types – from typographers, to urban artists, to more conventional screen-printers and sign-painters. These diverse, inspiring interactions have left an indelible mark on Tristan’s creative practice.
So, too, have the last few years living back in Melbourne. ‘I was energised by the city landscape here’ tells the artist. ‘I’m continually absorbing and documenting inspiration from around Melbourne’s urban landscape, whether it’s old store-front signage, torn wheat-paste posters, graffiti and what remains; the aesthetics of buffing and the remnants of its removal!’
Tristan’s forthcoming exhibition, ‘Stray’, opening at Seventh Gallery in Fitzroy, is his first solo show in four years, and his first ever in Melbourne. Seeking to provoke thinking around cultural diversity, consumerism and advertising, the show brings together 10 new works showcasing the artist’s distinctive layered paintwork with typographic elements, as well as mixed media such as resin and glass.
Alongside his art practice, the industrious creative has also recently launched his own commercial type-based business, Uppercase, offering services in traditional sign-writing, design, and commercial art. His North Carlton co-share studio is an environment conducive to experimentation, where Tristan enlists an array of toys/tools such as an electro pounce machine (look that one up!), airbrushes, spray guns and printers in his work.
‘I think that it’s an interest in learning, and not being concerned with a distinguished “style”, that has enabled me to transition between the disciplines of screen-printing, sign-painting, typography and design,’ ponders the inquisitive creative. ‘I’m at a point where I need to define my commercial practice more clearly, while allowing room for my visual art practice to be unconfined – not just being labelled a “sign-painter”‘. If you need further convincing, be sure to check out his show.