20 Mar Featured: Moe Kekana | Swirling Lettering and Crisp Lines
Moe Kekana is an Art Director at advertising agency King James who, after hours, turns to swirling lettering and crisp vector lines as an outlet “that’s cheaper than whiskey or therapy.” Moe humbly refers to his growing portfolio of graphic design as just a hobby, but this belies the technique found in his custom lettering and the craft in his character illustrations. While he describes his style as loopy, whimsical and odd, it can just as easily be described as meticulous – and it’s this space in between that reveals the personality in Moe’s work.
Please let us know a bit about your background, how did you become an art director?
To be honest it happened completely by accident. In high school I didn’t have much direction but I knew I wanted to do something creative. I applied for architecture, industrial design, and a friend suggested I try advertising, or at least the design part of it. I managed to put together a porti for Red & Yellow’s art direction and graphic design course, got in, and arrived for orientation still not entirely sure what an art director did. Then, while at R&Y I did a few internships, mainly because the copywriters that got them had asked for an art director to go with them. One of the internships was at King James, and the rest is history.
How does your personal work differ to your work done at King James? How is it similar?
Apples and oranges. The environment is different, and the process is different, so they produce different results even though it’s coming from the same person. For example, in some of my illustration there’s a bit of my odd dry humour that not everyone gets, and in my office work it’s about finding the most effective voice to convey a specific message.
Would you consider what you do after hours to be graphic design? Please explain…
I’ve never really thought about it that way, it’s a hobby. Some people paint, some write short stories, and some find solace in their stamp collections. This is an outlet that’s cheaper than whiskey or therapy.
Is it something that you’d ever aim to do commercially?
Possibly. I’d really like to keep it a hobby for as long as I can, but I do occasionally work on a passion project with a friend or two, maybe once a year at the most.
What is important to you about creating outside of your day job?
I’d like to think it’s helping me develop my “creative voice”. We all bring our own experiences, ideals, and points of view to our everyday job, but there isn’t always room for them (with good reason) when there are business objectives on the table. It’s important to know who you are creatively outside of work. It’s also helped me to have a little hands on knowledge as an art director, when working with illustrators or typographers, without overstepping of course.
How would you describe your style?
Loopy, whimsical, odd.
What are some of the things that you’re influenced or inspired by?
French artist Amose was definitely one of the earlier ones. The figures in his work had cool/strange proportions, which was perfect for me because I could never really draw things the way I wanted, they always came out weird. The second would be Alex Trochut. I first saw his work at Toffie Pop Fest a few years ago, his clean lines and typography are the truth.
What is more rewarding: the process of creating something, or the final outcome?
The final outcome. There’s always a moment when I’ve finished a piece, look at it and have no idea where it came from or why it’s there. A few times there’s been a bit of a post rationalisation and I find out something new about myself.
You also take photographs, please let us know a little bit about these?
I’ve pretty much just started and it’s been a lot of fun! I’ve finished my first series, just a few snapshots of how I spend my time on the earth, and the people I come across. Photography is something I’ve always been curious about, and while it began as another outlet, I’m hoping that learning to see things through a lens and constantly being on the lookout for those little moments will feed into my work over time.
What are you currently working on?
Nothing right now. The purpose is to not pile myself with a long to-do list of projects, deadlines, or apply any extra pressure. The thing I love most is just waiting for something to come up and go at my own pace, cook it slow.
What do you hope for the future?
I’m taking it day by day, working hard, and hoping for a few happy surprises along the way.