Pamela Guest explores “existential themes” while still keeping their creative practice as playful as possible
We chat to the Berlin-based illustrator and designer about their love of working with musicians and why they try to avoid Instagram as much as they can.
- Olivia Hingley
- 21 March 2022
Like many great creatives, illustrator and designer Pamela Guest seeks greater meaning through their work: “I always find myself trying to explore broad and somewhat existential themes in my personal work. But, that can get a bit depressing... so I try to balance that out with punch colours and funny, surreal imagery.” So whilst Pamela does often look to uncover big concepts and ideas – like identity and notions of “home” – they’re also keen to ensure that they keep their practice as playful as possible.
Born in Ecuador, Pamela moved to the US with their parents when they were nine and grew up in Orange County, California. It was when they were later studying animation at university in Portland that they instead decided to pursue illustration, upon the realisation that “I could still make sequential art without spending countless hours drawing an animated sequence frame by frame”. And, soon following suit, their design work began after they started designing some local show flyers and helping out friends with their small businesses and projects.
Discussing some of their earliest influences, Pamela firmly lands on Sally Cruikshank and Daniel Clowes. Cruikshank for her “wacky use of colour and surreal way of drawing” and Clowes, for “how he depicted coming of age. It felt non performative and relevant to me when I was discovering my own voice as an artist.” Currently, the creative is purposefully looking in to more unusual places for inspiration – such as vintage QSL cards and pre 1970s flash tattoo sheets – because “being on Instagram a lot and constantly seeing other creatives posting amazing work gives be a bit of tunnel vision, so I try to look at a lot of archival work, instead of constantly scrolling”.
Whilst Pamela keeps a very broad mind when entering into projects and working with clients, they do profess a particular love of working within the music industry. Rooted in their love of going to gigs when they were growing up – where they would often look for flyers or album covers for creative inspiration – Pamela tells us that their work significantly benefits when collaborating with musicians. “Collaborating with artists from a completely different discipline is great because they have a very different perspective on things, and it can make the finished product stronger”, they elaborate. Pamela’s passion for music is evident in the strength of their collaboration with OXI club in Berlin, for which last summer they made flyers and promotional materials for their summer series OXI Garten. A standout design being their promotional flyer for the DJ Mo Chan; an uncharacteristically friendly design for a techno set, the grainy, vintage work is full of fun and pleasing palettes.
More recently, Pamela has been working with the “community driven” space Colorama Workshop, a Riso printing and bookbinding studio. Creating a lot of their online assets, Pamela has perfectly captured the approachable and community oriented nature of the organisation, with their humorous characterisation of office paraphernalia such as printers, folders, laptops and more. And with their block, primary colours, and fittingly traditional type, the designs certainly wouldn’t go amiss in a noughties ICT suite.
With 2021 being the first year Pamela went freelance after working full time at a news channel, they’re looking to keep up the good work and gain as much as much experience as possible. They’re also excited to continue working on an (exceptionally cool) hand printed clothing line alongside their partner, which, as you can imagine is “a really fun process because I get to collaborate with someone I’m very close to and also make physical objects that can exist in the off screen world”.
Opening Poster for Oxi Garten (Copyright © OXI GmBH, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.