15 Artists Under 30: Charles & Thorn

Call for entries: HOW Logo Design Competition

Deadline for entry: October 30, 2017


This is the third year we’ve run our New Visual Artists: 15 under 30 issue. What was once a highly edited list of 20 of the best and brightest young designers is now a deeper exploration of 15 of the most original talents working in visual communications today.

This issue of Print comes at an interesting time. This new group of designers, while undeniably adroit, is part of a generation fully proficient in the art of self-promotion in a digital age. Getting the word out about one’s work is now de rigueur. But at a time when new work is relentlessly blasted out on platforms where seemingly everyone in the room is shouting, is it really possible to break through the volume of voices all vying to captivate and capture attention? Moreover, in the Insta-culture of the early 21st century, how does one navigate through the metadata to find the meteoric? As in years past, that’s exactly what we’ve sought to do here. We’ve gone in quest of craft and cunning ideas and ideals. We’ve looked for substance and style and star-power. The list of Print’s New Visual Artists has become a who’s who of the industry’s leaders, and includes Scott Dadich, Eddie Opara, Alan Dye, Jessica Walsh, Jessica Hische, Frank Chimero and, more recently, Zipeng Zhu, Joe Hollier and Joey Cofone. This year’s 15 New Visual Artists are bold in name and in voice, and are bravely making new work in a new world.

Charles & Thorn
“We wanted our cover to be representative of us and the Charles & Thorn workspace, as well as an excuse to be selfish and draw our favorite things. What began as a simple idea of shelves and letters as objects soon turned into a chaotic shelfscape full of Easter eggs and hidden jokes.”

Meet New Visual Artists Charles & Thorn

Age: Kelly Thorn: 28.

Spencer Charles: 29.

From: T: Portland, PA.

C: Salt Lake City.

Current city: T&C: Brooklyn, NY.

Education: T: Tyler School of Art; BFA, graphic and interactive design.

C: University of Utah; BFA, graphic design. Cooper Union; postgraduate certificate, type design.

Charles & Thorn

Earliest creative memory: T: Not my earliest, but my favorite: In fifth grade, I got really into writing spooky stories and making them into their own little booklets. Each booklet was set entirely in 12 point Curlz and was absolutely riddled with spelling errors. I illustrated the pages, drew ornaments for each chapter opener and page number, and designed the front cover, complete with spiky, gothy, scary letters that looked like bat wings.

C: Making stick figure stop-motion animations using the earliest version of Quicktime on Mac OS 7 or 8.

Career thus far, in a nutshell: T: I interned in the Lettering and Illustration department at Hallmark, and then went to work for Louise Fili straight out of school (thank you, universe!). I met Spencer there, and after we got married, we decided to open up our own design studio.

C: In college, I interned for letterpress printer/typographer David Wolske. After graduating, I worked as a sign painter for Whole Foods in Salt Lake. Shortly after, I moved to New York to work for Louise Fili.

Charles & Thorn

Charles & Thorn

Current place of work: T: Charles&Thorn. Spencer and I officially started our own studio about one year ago. We specialize in lettering, illustration, branding, type design and bein’ doofs.

The key to good design: C: A breadth of knowledge acquired from an absurd amount of practice.

Work of which you’re most proud: T: Any project that Spencer and I are able to truly collaborate on. When a design comes together organically, without too many arguments, it always makes me so happy! Also, I’m so proud of my newfound hobby: tattooing. I have been teaching myself how to do hand-poked tattoos on the side, and I am so excited about the illustrations I am producing through the process.

Biggest influence:T: The Wiener Werkstätte, Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, and the Art Nouveau design movements. I consistently come back to art from the early 1900s for inspiration. There are so many gems from that era!

C: Kelly.

Cause that means the most to you: T: Supporting and lifting up women, in every aspect.

C: Any form of environmentalism. My biggest source of anxiety and sadness is the destruction humanity has caused to all the living things on this planet.

Charles & Thorn

Biggest fear: T: Sounding stupid in printed publications.

What you want to accomplish before all is said and done: T: Before I take a dirt nap, I’d like my life and my work to be at peace with one another.

C: I think all the skills I have been acquiring are really only leading to one place: learning to carve the inscription on my headstone. (The ultimate design project!)

The future of design is: T: As designers, we have a big responsibility to develop and improve our social and political climate. We have such an important role in shaping how we see the world around us, and that can be used for so much good.

C: I think the history of design has largely been driven by new technology, and how humans respond to that technology. If current trends hold, virtually all work will become automated, and a new generation of artists and designers will have to learn to exist and respond to that.

Website: www.charlesandthorn.com

Charles & Thorn

Charles & ThornCharles & ThornCharles & Thorn Charles & Thorn Charles & Thorn


Meet more of PRINT’s New Visual Artists in the Fall 2017 issue of PRINT.

PRINT’s 2017 New Visual Artists Are Here!

Get the latest issue of PRINT to discover our annual list of 15 of the best creatives today under 30. Plus …

  • A look at the rebranding of an old industry made anew: marijuana 
  • A Manifesto from Scott Boylston on the dire need for sustainability in design
  • Paul Sahre’s memoir/monograph Two-Dimensional Man
  • Debbie Millman’s Design Matters: In PRINT, featuring Jonathan Selikoff
  • And much more! 

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