Swiss letterer Stefan Kunz paints with words. His literary-artistic creations fuse the digital and the physical, remixing chalkboard lettering, playful photography, murals, posters, custom car paint jobs and inspirational messages.
Stefan shares his insights into finding your passion, growing a social media following, and the joys of lettering conferences.
Hey Stefan! Where are you from and how did you get into lettering?
Hey! I’m from Zurich, Switzerland, and it happened by accident - a small decision of posting words on top of a picture to Instagram. Like anything I do, I wanted to get better at it, so step by step I grew my skills until the app I was using, Over, started holding me back. The only way I could see to move forward was to draw the letters and words by hand. It opened a whole new world of possibilities. I didn’t know at this point that lettering was a thing, let alone a profession.
What’s your artistic background? Did you go to school or are you self taught?
After one year of art school I felt I didn’t have what it takes to become an artist. So I did what any failed artist does: became a certified banker. A Swiss banker, to be precise. However, after three and a half years, I left that unfulfilling job and got back into creative work.
I am self taught and have no formal education in what I do now. I still have a long way to go, and a lot to learn.
Do you have any other favourite activities you do to recharge?
Making myself a good coffee, like a cappuccino with latte art, is how I like to start my day. I also started to watch a lot of CNBC mini documentaries on YouTube; they’re very inspiring. But to completely switch off, I go on long runs. I recently ran my first half marathon and really enjoyed the training, which is why I am thinking of setting a new goal of racing five marathons on every continent.
What’s your favorite brush to use in Procreate?
I’ve tweaked many brushes, as well as created my own. My favorite for sketching is my own Sketch Brush, and to fill out a piece I use either a modified pencil brush from the original HB pencil, or my own Paint Brush based on the Flat Marker from my Paint Brush kit, which gives a beautiful wet paint marker look with streaks and fades.
What’s your favorite traditional medium?
Definitely a sketchbook and a pencil. I think most people underestimate how much you can do with a simple pencil.
Your social media game is on point - how much time do you dedicate to maintaining your account and how did you find it starting out? Do you think social media is necessary in today’s art community?
Thank you! I would actually argue that social media is my main job. I plan every other job around it. The time I spend on a piece usually ranges from three to five hours. Writing captions and replying back to my audience can take another one to two hours.
I grew my following over time. A key turning point for me was when I discovered that if I kept growth steady, I would reach 100,000 followers by the end of the year. It became a milestone and my goal to reach.
Social media isn’t necessary, but it has helped me develop my skills. To grow my audience and keep them interested, I had to up my game and become consistent with creating. If you can do that without the accountability of social media, tell me please. Social media is a great driver and sometimes a burden. But ultimately, creating for an audience is a privilege.
You travel a lot for work and speak at conferences around the world. What’s been your favorite trip so far and why?
I’m so grateful for the opportunities I got, and I absolutely love to encourage and challenge other creatives by sharing what I’ve learned in my journey. So far, LetterWest was one of my favorite conferences. All my Instagram friends in one place. Small enough to have great conversation, and packed with complementary activities like running, yoga, parties and more. I was dead afterwards, but in the best possible way. I can’t wait for the next one.
You created the Grid Builder set with Ian Barnard, which is one of our most asked-about third party brush packs on social media. Have you delved into much other brush making?
I’m so glad to hear it. We create products that we use ourselves all the time, or that help make our job easier. Sometime its brushes like the paint markers or the chalk set. Partnering with Ian has been the best thing ever. We hope to help artists just like you do at Procreate.
What’s one tool you would love to have in Procreate if you could choose anything to add?
Brush market inside of Procreate - a place where you can try brushes and even trial test them. We hear from our customers how complicated importing can be and I would love nothing else than to simplify that for them. Plus, offering all those great third party brushes in one place would be amazing.