After quitting her day job as a graphic designer in May 2016 to enter an intensive type design program at Cooper Union in New York, Aspacia Kusulas traveled to Iceland, Russia, and Finland among other cities for several months with her brother. In September 2016, she returned to her home base in Los Angeles to make the leap into creative self-employment. At first, she was nervous about securing enough freelance gigs to stay afloat, but things turned out better than she expected. In fact, she’s constantly busy flexing her lettering and type design skills for branding projects, in addition to catalog work and teaching calligraphy workshops—not to mention her Minted designs. “I really enjoy the freedom,” she says. “Sometimes it feels a little bit like I’m not working, but I am.”
“Abstracciones Vol. 3” wall art by Aspacia Kusulas
At 35, she’s accomplished a lot, but we have a feeling she’s just getting warmed up. Aspacia’s ultimate career goal is to establish herself as a letterer, calligrapher, and type designer. “I really want to focus more on type design—it’s a personal dream of mine,” she says. Having grown up in Mexico, with Greek heritage, she has a worldly view of how art and culture collide. As for her design style, Aspacia thinks it’s hard to define. “Sometimes I feel whimsy and playful, sometimes I feel edgy and bold, sometimes nostalgic and complex. I would say my work is the result of juxtaposition of my favorite things which translate to an eclectic style,” Aspacia says. “I strive to place the old in a modern context.”
Here Aspacia talks about what drives her, scares her, and the little things you wouldn’t know about her unless she tells you right now.
Minted: You have Greek roots but grew up in Mexico. Can you tell us more about your family’s heritage?
Aspacia Kusulas: I was born and raised in Zacatecas, Mexico, a colonial city known for its old, pink buildings, baroque churches, and silver mining. It is a small city, but full of culture and the arts. Growing up with Mexican and Greek customs was really enriching. I was exposed to a wide range of cuisines—something I still love very much—and attended many unique and vibrant art festivals. My dearest aunt took me to a lot of plays, concerts, and exhibits and those experiences imprinted on me deeply, so much that I knew I wanted to do something artistic when I grew up. I moved to Los Angeles in 2005, and I have been living there since, but nowadays I’m spending time in both Mexico City and L.A.
You received a B.A. in Graphic Design from Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico. Do you think there are any differences between studying graphic design in Mexico and the U.S. or other countries?
One of the major differences in studying graphic design in Mexico is the strong cultural foundation you receive that informs your practice. Mexico has a unique cultural identity, and there is a long-standing design heritage that reflects that. What I learned in my alma mater was that instead of this hindering the creative process or boxing you in aesthetically, it can actually teach you to understand the implicit parameters of visual culture more formally and thus help you to use those principles to adapt to any design situation while still asserting myself as a Mexican designer when it makes sense.