Overshare Podcast: Gemma O'Brien

Overshare Podcast: Gemma O'Brien


Overshare is a Working Not Working event series and podcast that features honest conversations with our favorite creatives about the tough stuff we don't talk about in public often enough. For our 9th episode, WNW co-founder Justin Gignac sits down with Gemma O'Brien, an Australian artist and designer specialising in lettering, illustration, and typography.

Recorded in a basement bar before a crowd of seventy-five, the hour-long conversation covers a range of topics. Like why Gemma dropped out of law school to pursue graphic design and how she became accidentally famous in Germany after lettering all over body early in her career. "A huge amount of time passed before my work was recognized for a reason that I felt was legitimate... Like 6 or 7 years.. And if I look back now, and me as a designer now saw that 20-year-old Gemma wrote all over her body in pen, I'd be like 'what a fucking idiot.' I wanted to have a body of work that I was talking about at a conference rather than a viral, silly university project."

Gemma has achieved just that. These days, she spends a lot of time on the road, leaving her mark wherever she travels. It's a continuous tour of creating incredible murals and giving insightful and inspiring craft talks. "[Home] is my favorite place to work, but I travel probably 40% of the year and so I'm often working in hotel rooms... I don't think I mind so much, living out of a suitcase. I think I've just gotten used to it. You could have worse problems."

Gemma also discusses how her sizable social following influences her process, and why it's important to evolve as an artist even when clients know what you're known for and want more of the same from you. "In the beginning stages of your career, when you're not as busy, it's great because you have time to experiment, you have time to do a side project that will dictate [your] path... Gradually, you're just like 'yeah, this is cool, but this isn't really me.' So you do side projects and you do things that are closer to what you want to be doing and then clients see that and are like 'we want that'."

For those of you who couldn't join us, we have good news: you can listen to the entire conversation below on our podcast. Subscribe to Overshare on iTunesSoundcloud, or with any other podcasting app via our RSS feed.


Discover more creative talent, projects, and events like this on Working Not Working. If you're a WNW Member with new work, exhibits, products, or news to share, email us.