Anna Mills on the “human” quality of her typography

This sense of a poster coming “alive” is really felt in Anna’s branding project for Everpress’s Type in Focus collection, “Outside the Lines”. As the animation begins we are presented with a static sans serif typeface which is then compellingly “undressed” to reveal a collection of dancing lettering in Anna’s playful style. She loves working on projects that give her the space to work fluidly and move away from “uniformity.” She was in her element on her project An A-Z of Type Terms: Proper and Improper when she designed “a type term for every letter of the alphabet.” But she has also shown her eloquence in communicating very abstract concepts for design briefs. When she did a project for Google Design’s article Why Google Needs UXEs, she was delighted by the challenge to “visually represent a profession that’s quite hard to define anyway.” It is impressive to see how Anna represents really quite technical ideas in a visually interesting way, whilst still retaining her signature, light-hearted style.
Something that stands out about Anna’s work is her interest in developing designs that look like they haven’t gone through any digital processes. When she sees designs “in a sort of flat, pixel, clickable, editable landscape,” it “makes me long to see something that looks solid and unchangeable,” she explains. Although the finished appearance of her animations seem effortless, her processes are elaborate. Anna dubs her way of working humorously as a “ping pong match between paper and computer.” With her first serve of the match, she makes her initial sketch – ping. She returns the serve with a scan and a careful edit on Photoshop – pong. Then follows a focused rally between analogue and digital, repeating the cycle until she’s happy with the result. This “input-output dance,” although fiddly, is a vital ritual in her practice and helps her to execute animations which “look less like a gif and more like you’re witnessing a poster come alive.”
As we close the interview Anna admits feeling nostalgic for “how my brain felt at uni.” She misses the “meatiness of the projects” and being in a “big class with everybody’s ideas bouncing off the walls.” She’s thinking of doing a master’s just as soon as she’s decided what subject she wants to focus on… We can’t wait to see how this next big plan feeds into her work.

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