Maker Profile: Kevin Slattery

kevin slattery st pete threads

With his meticulous hand-lettering, this Bay-bred designer and artist stays on script.

Kevin Slattery got a perfectly Floridian introduction to the art of t-shirt design.

“I used to skimboard a lot in high school. I did a shirt for one of the competitions when I was 16 or 17.”

That design may be lost to history, but luckily Kevin has come up with some great new ones for St. Pete Threads, including our mandala-inspired series of yoga shirts, and our logo. The elegant script for the logo was originally drawn by hand, a skill Kevin has been honing over the past couple of years.

Kevin first got interested in hand-scripting when he saw the trend for carefully crafted lettering blossom on sites like Pinterest, where art and design buffs are bucking digital trends by getting hands-on. He finally decided to take a crack at it himself.

“Over the first six months, I was terrible. But then I decided I wanted to get better, so for months I wrote for a couple of hours every night.” He started getting small commissions from friends, who wanted things like inspirational quotes written with appropriate care. Now, his work is going public, from our logo to a series of hanging menu boards for the Mandarin Hide cocktail bar.

Though he insists he’s still perfecting the craft, he’s picked up more and more insights into the nuances of lettering. “The style you illustrate in has to match up with the word [you’re writing]. If you’re scripting the word ‘round’ using a super rigid, heavy font, it won’t feel like you’ve captured the word.”

That kind of insight draws on Kevin’s years in the studio art program at the University of South Florida. “I took video, painting, drawing. I’ve always drawn, since I could hold a pen.”

USF’s respected program also gave him a broader perspective on his passion, particularly its broader context. “Art,” he says, “Is the best representation we have of humanity since the beginning of time.”

Big thinking is great, but Kevin also got an early start on a profession in the arts. “Even though I’d been working on art, I was just like, what’s the smartest way to tie in to an industry, or a career? Graphic design seemed natural.” So he spent four summers interning for an IT company that needed design work, teaching himself the tricks of the trade with tools like Illustrator and Photoshop. Now he spends his days illustrating and designing logos (such as his work for Venture House), mixing and matching digital and analog skills.

Kevin loves being in St. Pete – though he has just as much affection for his hometown, Dunedin. “It’s great. [Dunedin has] a lot of good restaurants, craft breweries, music – and it’s right on the water.”

When he’s not working on his script style or as Lead Graphic Designer at Big Sea, Kevin DJs at local nightclubs, opening for jazz and funk bands.