Therese Williams‘designs know how to have a good time. For Tiny Little Monster, an independent t-shirt shop in Shrewsbury, she created additional lettering that shimmers with the fun and energy that matches Tiny, the shop’s namesake. In his shop, Tiny Little Monster is either yellow when happy or green when ridiculously happy. For Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery, she’s drawn cheeky greeting cards that aren’t sweet or sentimental, just funny and a little risque. His poster designs for the Maker’s Market on Cherokee incorporate a wealth of quirky typography reminiscent of an old-fashioned circus, with a look that’s nonetheless as fresh as day. His designs are not only fashionable; they are steeped in the traditions of generations of sign makers, engravers and typesetters, and they demonstrate his knowledge of sign craftsmanship.
“It’s funny,” she says, reminiscing about her years as a visual communications student. “I never took any communication classes, only design classes.”
It is through her creations that she communicates the needs of her clients to inform, inspire and maintain a loyal audience. His understanding of styles captures the essence of their products and services.
“I’ve always been drawn to typography, word art and handmade items, so after graduation I went to Nashville for an internship at Hatch Show Print, the historic print shop “, she recalls. “I worked under Brad Vetter, who is one of my main influences. I’ve worked with a lot of artists whose work is produced there. I got to see how they work, and it was exciting.
After several months of internship, Williams returned home to Washington, Missouri, where she accepted a job as a graphic designer at a t-shirt company. “I quickly realized that I didn’t want to sit behind the computer all day,” she says. “When I was in college, I remember hearing that a few grocery stores offered hand lettering and sign illustration jobs. I looked through job boards, found a job in Kansas City at Whole Foods and stayed there for four years.
Labor was okay with Williams, but she wanted to spread her wings. She moved to St. Louis in 2015 to start her own business and quickly found clients.
Today, Williams works from her home studio in Tower Grove South. Most years she makes and sells products emblazoned with her designs — prints of her posters, stickers, bags, t-shirts, cards — but during the pandemic the shows were canceled. “I have a shop on my website,” she says, “but I miss the interactions.”
To keep his work fresh, Williams stays abreast of graphic trends. She follows artists whose work she admires, such as Lisa Congdon, Steve Powers and Lauren Hom.
She develops her skills through workshops and YouTube: “I took a sign painting workshop with Mike Meyers, who teaches traditional techniques. He inspired me. I practiced my sign painting to take it to the next level.
“This is where I’m heading… towards a fusion of the new with the old, integrating traditional techniques with newer technologies.”