Sarah Maxey

Drawing a Line Somewhere

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Drawing a line somewhere will be a book of new hand-drawn typographic work with a narrative thread. The word-as-image can take on surreal connotations as it tests the fragile relationship between words, their sounds and what they refer to. As the Austrian writer Karl Kraus has said, "The longer we look at a word, the greater the distance from which it looks back."

Drawing a line somewhere has its origins in my love of language and letterforms, my lifelong interest in comics, graphic novels and sequential art, and my considerable experience in making books. The book, similar in size and extent to a volume of poetry, will be beautifully designed, crafted and produced. For me this is the easy part-it's what I do for a living and I take a lot of pleasure in it.


This is where you come in. Good things take time. We all know that time is precious and the most difficult resource to come by. I'm seeking your support to take 3 months out from everyday pressures to devote to the content of the book-the thinking, the reading, the writing, and of course the most time-consuming part of all, the drawing. The project already has momentum. Your valuable contribution to this campaign will enable me to bring it to fruition.

If you can help me raise the first $4,500, you will effectively double your money, as a 'matching donor' has pledged to donate another $4,500 if I reach this milestone.


An exhibition: I will be exhibiting the resulting works at Bowen Galleries in Wellington opening on May 16, 2015.

A book: The book will follow shortly thereafter, and will be self-published.

Thanks for your support.


I'm a graphic artist and typographer with over 20 years experience in designing and producing books for arts organisations and literary book publishers. I worked for Bloomsbury Publishing in London in the mid-90s, and since then have run my own studio specialising in print design for the arts. I've won numerous awards for my work, most recently the 2011 Purple Pin, the highest graphic design accolade in New Zealand. The winning project was Sentimental Journey, a book collaboration with the poet Kate Camp and typeface designer Kris Sowersby. The same project earned a Certificate of Excellence from the International Society of Typographers.

In recent years I have been specialising in the niche field of handlettering, and have earned an international reputation through my commercial and self-initiated projects and my exhibited work. I'm represented by Bowen Galleries in Wellington, and have also exhibited abroad, in a group show of handlettered type in New York in 2010 and a touring show of artists' postcards in the UK this year. A piece of handlettering was commissioned by the New York Times in 2009. Recent highlights were a typographic installation in the central dome of the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui in 2013, and a book collaboration with the poet Andrew Johnston, Do You Read Me? (second edition published October 2014 from my publishing imprint Long Face Press).

"As a poet, I find Sarah's text-based works particularly exciting. They seem to me to occupy a unique territory where type and images are equal partners. They can be at once hilarious and desperately sad, there is something in them that is instantly recognisable and yet ultimately mysterious. Among writers, designers are notorious for not caring about words, but no one cares more about words than Sarah. Her text-based artworks show a feel for language that would put many poets to shame. While her sensibility is utterly modern, she restores to the printed, drawn or painted word the craft and care of a bygone era."
Kate Camp, Poet

"Sarah Maxey's giant word work COMEBACK, painted directly onto the walls of the Sarjeant Gallery's central dome space was an elegant demonstration of her formal training in typography and book design and her life long love of words. Moving with ease from mini to maxey, this delightfully upscaled work yelled, pleaded and assertively greeted visitors to the Gallery with an elegant piece of visual poetry. Responding as eloquently to the architecture of the space as she does to the space of a page. Her wit with words, love of typography and a sensitivity to colour provide an everyday sign language that is refreshing in a world that is filled with too many unnecessary words."
Greg Donson, Curator & Public Programmes Manager, Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui

"It's about time, Smax"
Alan Deare, Creative Director, Area Design


  • One small step, one giant leap.


    I've been bowled over by the response to this campaign. Thank you so much to all who have contributed so far. It rocketed up to 71% on the first day, and has kept up a steady pace since then. With 18 days to run, I still have to find 7%. I'd be so grateful if you could mention this to likely friends/colleagues or forward this link to people you think might be interested in my work. I  need another nudge to get me over the finishing line.

    To all who have supported me so far, a big THANK YOU. Your support means a great deal to me, and has me all aflutter. I'm not asking for the moon, but every little bit helps at this stage. I'm planning to get to work in earnest on the project in December as the campaign finishes, and I can't wait!

    With love and admiration, Sarah

    One small step, one giant leap.