DIY or Die—Kiel Tillman

Aug 06, 2022

Since 2013, Typism has run an in-person conference that brings together typographers and letter-lovers from all over the world. Then COVID arrived and put an end to the party (for now), so we thought it was time to reshare some of our favourite talks from Typism Conferences gone by to try and fill the void.

Kiel Tillman is an illustrator, designer, painter, mural artist and all-around local legend based on Australia's Gold Coast. His clients include international brands like Oakley and General Pants and closer to home, Black Hops Brewing and The Undercurrent.

When it comes to his creative career, he’s had a wild and memorable ride. He spent his early days in a local print shop, moving up the ranks in Billabong garments and diving into start-up mode at Potato Press. Kiel likes to give back to the Australian creative community by talking about his work and hosting hands-on workshops in his local area. He continues to be actively involved in the Australian art scene exhibiting work in a range of east-coast galleries.

Kiel gave the keynote talk at the 2019 Typism Conference and blew the roof off with his heavy metal energy and hilarious anecdotes about his life designing for the surf scene. You have to watch the talk if only for the awesome intro video.

In his Typism talk "D.I.Y. or Die" Kiel shared some tips about staying positive and putting yourself into your work. He has displayed a punk DIY attitude throughout his career and talked about how young designers should get a job and work with other people because this is where you will learn. By starting with a job where you learn, it's a chance to explore yourself on the path where you want to go. 

When enjoying your work you can use that to inspire your own path or to create a bigger goal. This will mould your career or make your career better. Kiel also suggests you make the most of every situation and be resourceful with the things that are around you. If you have the chance to try new things grab on and learn from them. 

Kiel is a living embodiment to love the work you do or try and follow your passion. He suggests putting yourself out there so that the people (or your boss) will know your potential, do it yourself and make it work. He also advises to “Don’t be a dick” be grateful for the opportunities you are given and always be nice to others. Build relationships with other people and don’t expect anything back from them. Be a good person, do good work and take it all the way.

The focus of Kiel's talk is really about taking time for positive self-reflection, and slowly training your brain to be a positive person. Having a positive mind will help you grow as a person and also as a person, and being positive really reflects in your work. Don’t overthink it, you always find a way to get it done, stop comparing yourself to other people and focus on your own progress and start trusting your gut.

Here is a list of tips and advice from his Typism talk:

  • Get inspired by the things around you
  • You can win them all
  • Creativity is intelligence.
  • Don't just do it yourself but do it for yourself.

There are 24 videos of Typism Talks included with the Typism Membership, as well as the Typism Skills Summit and Membership Roadmap. Click here to find out more about it.

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