To build a livelihood at the juncture where fine art and design merge, Robin Hercia drew on her experience as a multidisciplinary artist, tapped into her intuitive sense of how to individually serve each client, and sought to infuse appropriate projects with an essence of earth-based and eastern spiritual practices to establish a truly unique, bespoke approach to brand identity, graphic design and art direction. Based in Los Angeles, AWMYL is Hercia’s design studio, where she creates exciting graphic, surface, and printed product design specializing in, but not limited to, brand identities and products for clients working in the arenas of wellness, healing, yoga and mysticism.
Coming from a fine art background, the talented designer has an extensive resume of diverse works that include painting, screen-printing and installation. Her artwork (created under the name Robin Redd) has been exhibited in Canada, Europe and the US, including events such as 2009’s Aqua Art Fair in Miami, and Scope Miami Beach in 2013.
Her project AIR14, a multi-use Geodesic Dome, was also featured in The Art of Cardboard: Big Ideas for Creativity, Collaboration, Storytelling, and Reuse by Lori Zimmer.
Above and Below, Havemeyer, Spray Paint, Screen Print, and Hand Embellished, SMASH Toronto
In 2012, Hercia relocated from Toronto to Southern California, opening AWMYL in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles in the spring of 2015. She initially works with imagery and materials that are analog and tangible in origin, and later transitions artwork for further manipulation digitally. The same personal interest in spirituality that inspires her fine artwork also informs her design practice at AWMYL. “I’ve spent years studying alternative or earth-based spiritual practices, such as Wicca, paganism, voodou, Golden Dawn, Theosophy, Buddhism, and Native American traditions, among others,” Hercia explains.
“These studies are referenced in my work in obvious ways via graphics and imagery,” she continues, “but also subtly, in regards to what materials are used to create the image. I make a lot of my own dyes, pigments and inks from natural sources, which correspond, via assorted spiritual practices, to what the piece is about. For example, the indigo plant produces a blue color that is associated with Saturn, and it’s used to conjure protection, discipline, organization, and focus. In practice, if I’m creating a piece of art that reflects these qualities, or working on a design for a client who is, say, a healer or energy worker, then I’ll use an ink made from indigo to create that work. In the end, it means that the ink I’m dipping my pen into was designed to energetically attract the objective of that business.
Elemental Cards for Yoga Instructor, Tony G
AWMYL’s brand identity products include custom fabric and wallpaper design, signage, print materials (business cards, letterhead, posters) and anything else that the client requests. She’s even designed a set of divination cards for an international yoga instructor. “I work with graphic design, and that’s mostly what people see me doing right now, but behind the scenes I’m working with textiles, metal, and interior design. I have an upcoming contract with a new school, Dev Mason, which is a totally cool web development school. I’ll be creating not only their brand identity, but also working on custom elements for the interiors of their five campuses, and designing the entire space. It’s my first time acting as Art Director at this scale and I’m really thrilled about it!”
Hercia also follows her own muse to create original projects just for the joy of it – her Love The One You’re With posters and postcards being an example. Hercia’s attraction to creating letterforms and fonts began in early childhood, while playing with Letraset transfer-sheet lettering, and 1970s-era design books. “I creatively re-drew the letters I saw in different variations,” she remembers. “When all you have to work with are letters and images, type is a very important component of graphic design. Creating custom letters, or altering letters to suit the application, is an integral technique in creating a feel and look. It’s a primary part of what I have to work with as a designer.”
“Love The One You’re With is an original typeface that I designed using ancient calligraphic tools and techniques, modeled after a traditional, hand-tooled font,” Hercia explains. While adhering to a general set of rules, each letter of the series contains a characteristic that is unique. Love The One Your With is an exploration in mark making – with a calligraphic foundation, it combines decorative elements in both practical and non-practical application, based on a set of rules, depending on the geometry and construction of individual letters. The letterforms also explore the juxtaposition between extreme thick and thin strokes within the construct of each particular letter, as well as in relation to neighboring units.
The result is a typeface whose ornamentation isn’t necessarily obvious, but which alludes to mythological symbolism and alchemy, and maintains unexpected organic elements with some intrigue and surprise – encouraging the viewer to take time to observe each letter on its own as it is expressly unique from each of the others, in addition to seeing the written text as a whole. Curator and author Lori Zimmer recently commented that her impression of Hercia’s typeface work is that “it evokes a vintage tarot feel” – so the intention definitely translates to the end product.
Created with calligraphy pens and India ink on a Didot typeface foundation, the Love The One You’re With posters are printed digitally, while the postcards are printed using a Risograph printer, yielding very similar results to that of screen-printing. “I’m hoping to get those letters into a format that can be purchased and used by anyone,” says Hercia. “I’ve used it on a few client projects, and while it’s a highly decorative typeface, it certainly works well on particular applications.”
Design is a multifaceted discipline, and Hercia is extremely hands-on. “I’ve had extensive experience with all types of design, including textiles, screen printing, weaving, embroidery, ceramics, wood working, knitting/crochet, calligraphy, marbling, macrame, woven beadwork, photography, etc. I grasp new skills easily, so if I can visualize something for a particular client, I can physically make it. For example, in the outdoor portion of my studio, I create my own gritty textures that get scanned and used digitally in graphic projects using plants and dirt placed on photosensitive papers and films.”
Her creative input doesn’t stop once the design is completed. Hercia goes as far as making custom calligraphy pens from various found materials, used along with her homemade inks and pigments, to channel the spirit of the project. She’ll create a texture that makes a surface look antique, rather than downloading a pattern online that could be accessed and used anybody. “These might be elements that people will miss visually,” she says, “but I know it’s there.” Ultimately, AMWYL’s approach creates work that stands out in a sea of computer-designed graphics.
With interests in so many aspects of design, Hercia is building a design empire. AWMYL has an expanding clientele in the wellness industry including yoga teachers and tarot readers, and she is currently creating the identity for Mindful Mamas (mindfulmamas.com), an online source for everything from yoga and meditation to education and community support; all content relating to healthy, happy mothers.
Robin Hercia’s intuitive and informed, personalized art direction makes AWYML a go-to resource for a company’s brand identity and graphic design requirements. “Often, graphic design is created with the Helvetica font and lots of white space,” she concludes. “I wanted to make decorative objects, but with a completely different feel. I’ve been drawing letters since I was 5 or 6 and I’ve accumulated eight years of design education. My professional experience includes commercial textile design, operating my own screen printing studio, designing a line of knitwear, and working in fashion for Betsey Johnson. After 36 years of creative observation and involvement, I know that I look at things in a very different way than most people.”