Leah Spencer: Drawing Her Way Through New York
Cuber, Graphic Designer, and a newer member of the New York Art Department!
When Leah moved to New York she was trying to connect with the art department, but when you aren’t in the film scene it can be challenging to find a way in. Serendipitously, a local art department artist was getting rid of supplies on a well-known ad meet-up website. Leah connected with her and asked how to join the lovely world we know as the Art Department (or Art Departy as a beloved AD has referred to us as) and the artist shared, “Even when you’re totally new to it, ArtCube is a great way to get into it.”
Leah was a designer for the commercial world like VistaPrint but she floated towards the film world because “I was missing that hands-on experience I was invested in as a kid.” We are all very hands-on people (and low key hoarders) so Leah fit right on in.
“Everything is design and everything can use good design! I love making everything pretty,” Leah shared about her work. Currently, she has been designing everything from posters to 1950s billboards to cheap pizza shop signs. “There are still design principles even if it’s supposed to look grunge and outdated.” She researches, pulls concept references, and plays with each design to get that rich feel of the era or world she’s building with her graphics.
Even though we can lift a finger in photoshop and change one color, her mindset in designing an older looking graphic is like “going back into the time capsule of our brain of pre-computer technology” and diving into the details of how they made it. This work has given her such respect for how much effort and heart went into designs pre-computer.
She realizes this may be a difficult time to join into the film world, but she reminds herself to have a little patience as things open up. She is taking this time to build her portfolio and draw. She has these whimsical, yet beautifully detailed animals drawings that she’s selling where she is donating 10% of the proceeds to the Global Wildlife Conservation.
“I’m passionate about maintaining the human hand in my work, so these illustrations were hand-drawn with dip pens and embellished with gold leaf. Although dip pens are often seen as inconvenient in this day and age of digital art, I love using them for their nuance of line.” These adorable and philanthropic prints are on ArtCube Market — made by the art department for all!
In addition to making graphics on set, she is also redesigning the logo on the Production Initiatives Association (PIA) donation bins that will be at studios and outside of film sets in the near future. PIA is (unsurprisingly) co-founded by our amazing co-founder and CEO of ArtCube Nation, Eva Radke. Leah is bringing together the 5 circle logo, where each circle represents our 5 boroughs coming together. If you’d like to get involved with PIA, help our film world, and film tax incentives you can find more information here!
And just when you think we’re done gushing about Leah, she also hosts a nonprofit that hosts figure skating events to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. She had to postpone this year’s event, but she is getting creative for the year to come.
You can connect with kind hearted, talented people like Leah by joining ArtCube Nation! It’s a great home whether you’re just starting or you were one of the OG scenic painters who design billboards by hand.
Hi! My name is Leah Spencer and I’m a Graphic Designer for Film (the product of a graphic designer with a compulsion to make stuff). I’m a graduate of the University of Vermont and the Rhode Island School of Design and have been working as a graphic designer for six years. I’m also an illustrator, photographer, seamstress, sculptor, typography nerd, lover of all things creative problem-solving, and dog mom.
Graphic design is omnipresent and whether or not you notice it, it’s there silently working away — and for that, I love it. In the context of film, graphic design can be anything like scrawled notes, wallpaper, or soup cans and it can be made or curated by characters like shopkeepers, craftspeople, or travelers. Designing for and as a character is one of my favorite parts of the work and in my everyday life, it also helps refocus my deep-seated angst over shopfront signs in Hobo to reflection on its maker’s offbeat creativity.
I’m particularly drawn to 19th and 20th-century design for its slight imperfections in hand-drawn text and early printing techniques. I try to capture that humanistic quality in my own work and love handmaking pieces whenever possible. Whether I’m hand-lettering for the Victorian era or digitally designing for the current day, it’s all in the name of visual communication.