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Lettering and Illustration by Maria Montes

Studio Visit

Maria Montes knows how to write a letter.

The Melbourne-based Catalan designer and artist creates intricate, nostalgic and downright FUN lettering and illustrations out of her studio in Fitzroy, where she also runs workshops teaching others the art of writing.

17th October, 2017

Melbourne-based Catalan artist and designer Maria Montes in her Fitzroy studio. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Making the magic happen! Photo – Caitlin Mills.

‘My style is intricate, nostalgic and vibrant, applying analogue and digital practices,’ Maria tells us. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Maria initially studied graphic design in Barcelona, where it was compulsory to  learn calligraphy. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

After spending over a decade working as a graphic designer, Maria decided to re-explore letterforms. She is now known for her vibrant style. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

A custom cocktail type and illustration by Maria. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Maria has dedicated a whole series to poking fun at naughty Australian idioms called ‘The Sh*t Series’! Photo – Caitlin Mills.

The studio in Fitzroy is home to Maria’s personal work and group workshops. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Sally Tabart
Tuesday 17th October 2017

‘After 11 years and four visas, I have finally become an Australian citizen. It coincided with my 40th birthday, so it was the best present ever!’ – Maria Montes.

Trained as a graphic designer, Maria Montes studied in Barcelona in 1996, where learning calligraphy was compulsory. After spending over a decade working in the field, she decided to re-explore letterforms, resulting in a postgraduate course in Advanced Typography, followed by a year-long stint and further study in New York City. Her journey ultimately ended in Australia, where she’s been living, working and loving over the last 11 years.

In 2014, the universe had plans for a career shake-up for Maria. ‘The contract I had designing textiles for major international fashion houses ended abruptly,’ she explains. Maria made good use of her new-found freedom, and began practising calligraphy as a daily exercise. Soon realising others shared her passion for calligraphy, she developed a series of workshops, held at her Fitzroy studio.

Maria will soon have another creative offering for the community. Her first commercially available font, Green Fairy, will be available to purchase soon. How one goes about creating a font, I can’t even BEGIN to imagine!

Working out of one of Melbourne’s most vibrant, creative areas, Maria finds inspiration in the community around her, and strength in the reciprocal support of other women. ‘I am surrounded by students and creatives who respect and support my practice,’ she says,  ‘Listening to more female voices in the industry means a lot to me; they encourage my work and help me to build confidence.’

Celebrating her 40th birthday this year, Maria’s present to herself was pretty special – and took over a decade to arrive! ‘I have been living in Australia since 2006, and after 11 years and four visas, I have finally become a citizen’, she tells us, ‘It coincided with my 40th birthday, so it was the best present ever.’

On behalf of the Australian creative community, I feel I can say with some certainty that we are very lucky to be able to claim Maria as one of our own.

Next year, Maria Montes will be having her second solo exhibition at the at the Contemporary Art Centre La Panera  in Catalonia, if you happen to be in the area! She also has a vibrant range of work and passes to her workshop for sale via her website.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net