Tristan Kerr is an artist working across typography, design and street art and is passionate about reclaiming text and language as an urban art medium.
Following studies in Visual Communication, Kerr became intrigued by typeface and the power of bringing design and narrative together. He was introduced to street art in 2011 by the artist Above from San Francisco, when they collaborated on a large-scale mural in Adelaide. This meeting led Kerr to Switzerland and later France, where he met other artists and was exposed to the burgeoning urban art scene in Paris, where he lived and worked for several years.
Inspired by the European history of typography and design, Kerr undertook an apprenticeship at a renowned screen-print workshop in Switzerland.
“I had to learn French quickly; there was no English spoken and I was totally immersed in traditional printing and typesetting techniques,” Kerr says.
Returning to Australia, his distinctive style emerged on the streets of Adelaide, with the iconic 70 metre mural Going Nowhere But Here running along Morphett Street bridge. Influenced by the French decollage artist Jacques Villeglé, Kerr combined his distinctive lettering with bold colours and the look of ripped posters. This forged a unique and stylised visual identity, which carries through to his most recent works.
Purraran is a commission for the Stonnington Council in Prahran, Melbourne. Completed earlier this year, the mural is literally street art, as it is painted onto King Street, at the intersection of the renowned Chapel Street. Running 50 metres long and five metres wide, it replaced on older mural by renowned contemporary Aboriginal artist Reko Rennie.
In creating the work, Kerr wanted to recognise Rennie’s original work and incorporate Indigenous language from the area. The suburb name Prahran comes from local language ‘Pur-ra-ran,’ meaning ‘land partially surrounded by water’.
Public commissions sit alongside commercial work and Kerr has launched a new venture, Uppercase Studio, to separate his increasingly diverse practice in design and typography from his contemporary visual art work. His studio works with clients on type-based branding and logo development, and provides space to develop his custom font designs.
Tristan Kerr is an artist to watch, with a strong sense of community, diversity and a contemporary creative vision informed by the skills and traditions of the past.
Tristan Kerr is part of the Well Made community and is featured on the platform. Well Made is an initiative of Guildhouse.
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Header image: Tristan Kerr in front of All This Mayhem, (Photo: Naveed Farro)