Anna Garforth, The Latest Phenomenon To Come From England

Brand identity expert David Brier works with some of the finest talent around the globe. In his travels, he came across an amazing talent who uses the world around her as a canvas, injecting as much magic as an episode of Harry Potter.


She’s a phenomenon.


It goes way beyond social media to use walls, vegetation, flour dough. Oh, and leaves. Yeah, leaves–and ants too.

Take, for example, newspaper coupons, a steel wall, and the message of love:

All of these tools in the hands of this self-taught artist and creator Anna Garforth will transform any environment into a moment of brand excitement. Anna Garforth is a remarkably talented 26-year-old artist based in East London who works with unusual and unconventional elements to convert the world around us into a work of art that makes us stop in our tracks.

I saw her work online and sought her out to interview her to learn a bit more about what makes her tick.


Anna, give us a quick snapshot of yourself.
I grew up in a leafy part of the world and spent most of my childhood imagining worlds and constructing things out of nature. I moved to the city where I studied art and design and developed a strong affinity for the urban forest. My respect for the wild merged with my love of the city and as a result, the essence of my work is inspired by the juxtaposition of urban and natural environments.

What began your obvious love affair with typography?
Stefan Sagmeister. Up until the point I set eyes on Sagmeister’s work, I didn’t know that experimental typography existed. There was a particular piece of his that started it off for me, a giant billboard stacked with 7200 bananas! Green bananas were used to spell out “self confidence produces fine results” – a message that couldn’t have come at a more pertinent time. I set sail into experimental waters and discovered a whole world of 3D typography, since then I’ve never looked back!


Does anyone currently inspire you to experiment with new materials?
A whole bunch of artists inspire me and I am always discovering new designers that make me push my ideas further.

To name a few, Gyonky Laky. Her sculptural work often features orchard prunings, park debris, and other natural materials that are screwed, doweled or bolted together to form constructions and type. Andy Uprock is a street artist that came up with the concept ‘cuprocking’ he creates beautiful lettering and patterns in fences using plastic cups. Andy Goldsworthy has been a longtime favorite and inspiration of mine, he works solely from nature to create mind blowing site specific installations and sculptures. There are so many people that encourage and motivate me by their creativity everyday, I am never stuck for incentive.

What inspired you to merge environmental elements with typography?
Quite simply, my love of being outdoors and submersed in nature.(Look at the way Anna created these two signs below on fences using Autumn leaves and pine needles to help keep it all stitched together.)

What new materials would you like to work with that you haven’t yet worked with?
At the risk of sounding like a weirdo here are my top 5:

  1. Ants and honey (all will become clear of you follow my work)
  2. Tree bark
  3. Cacti
  4. Plastic bottles
  5. Grass.

I want to thank Anna for sharing her view of the world and what makes her tick. I think we can all explore the world with a little more imagination thanks to Anna.

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David Brier

Recipient of over 320 national and international design and branding recognitions and awards, David Brier is an award-winning brand identity designer, author, and branding expert. His firm’s work has won the admiration of peers and organizations but has, more importantly, helped clients jump-start their brands in new and innovative ways, even (and especially) when they’ve failed in previous brand makeovers. Most recently, the firm’s celebrated work for Botanical Bakery was selected for the 2010 Communication Arts Design Annual and will be featured in The Big Book of Packaging.


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About the author

Brand identity expert, veteran designer, author, speaker and Fast Company expert blogger. Shark Tank investor and CEO of fashion brand Fubu, Daymond John states, "David Brier is brilliant with branding." He’s been written about in, INC and Fortune Small Business. In addition to being a branding specialist and a Fast Company expert blogger, David's Slideshare presentations on branding have exceeded the 500,000 view milestone (a founding member of Slideshare's Half-a-Million Views Club) and is the 1st place winner in the 2013 Shorty Awards (known industry-wide as “The Oscars for Social Media”) for branding