Harkiran Kalsi – The power of lettering

Week 5 of Spring term brought us Harkiran Kalsi (Harky); designer, illustrator and hand letterer who has worked with companies including The BBC, New Balance and EA Sports. Harkiran took us through the journey of her career in design and taught us the importance of determination and stepping out of your comfort zone.

Breaking into the industry

Lettering by Harkiran Kalsi

Harky was introduced to the world of Graphic Design through her Art Foundation course at Coventry University. As a Graduate she struggled to break into the London-based industry she dreamed of being a part of, interviewing for a spectrum of jobs and failing. She stressed the importance of taking failures in your stride – with every failure is another open door with different opportunities. Eventually, an opening at Comic Relief allowed her to break through.

Failure is always going to be a part of it… Embrace it!‘ – Harky

 Harky’s lettering series to on the topic of ‘gratitude’ opened her up to opportunities with companies like Footlocker and The London Marathon. Her love for running plays an important role in her networking, with her running group ‘Run Dem Crew’ introducing her to many opportunities for commissions when she would eventually become a freelancer.

Harky with her ball design for the Footlocker X NBA collaboration

Making the jump into freelance

While moving to freelance work was a big decision to make with no agency work to show, she quickly secured her first gig despite the doubt she and others had. In fact, she found she was booked constantly on a variety of projects. She has worked on website assets, social posts and documentaries in the past few years. Now, Harky has begun mural painting. She believes that, as an artist, it is her duty to spread messages she believes in and stand up for communities.

Mural by Harkiran


Harkiran’s talk was a massive dose of positivity, showing us that – no matter how dark times get – you should never give up. Step out of your comfort zone, experiment and embrace being imperfect. Her determination to make her way into the industry proved that the problems do not define you – you can achieve your goals too.


‘Loved seeing her work and her journey, I found it really inspiring.’ – Part 2 Student

‘Harky’s authentic and real talk of her struggles in design were incredibly interesting, giving a sense of the life of a designer without just presenting the good parts. It’s really great to see that the path through work isn’t perfect.’ – Part 1 Student

‘I’d definitely want Harky to speak again next year. Her outlook and honesty was hugely inspirational.’ – Part 1 Student