Off the screen and onto the streets: graphic designer Marry Tonnu’s love of type has led her to explore a larger canvas. As a Senior Art Director out of Deloitte Digital’s Chicago studio, Marry is using her skills to create art installations at SXSW. We pulled her aside for a quick Q&A to learn more about the creative process behind her art.


Q. What is the coolest project you’ve worked on?
A. Well, what I’m currently working on for Deloitte Digital at SXSW is an extremely cool project because I am able to leverage my drawing skills outside of digital work and combine them with my graphic design background. A lot of the SXSW work is still a surprise, though, so I don’t want to spoil it!

One very cool project that I can talk about is one that I recently did in promotion of Justin Bieber’s new album, Purpose. A collection of artists around the US teamed up and each painted one of Bieber’s song titles in different cities. I was given “Get Used to Me” and painted it in Seattle, WA.


Q.Where do you draw inspiration for your pieces?
A. I get a lot of my inspiration from fashion. Right now, I’m really attracted to 90’s styles and patterns. For example, the windbreakers with bold colors and other elements like stripes and dots. I also try to tie each piece into the environment and the people I paint with. I always try to do something I wouldn’t normally do and painting with other people really helps me do this – you get to take in their opinions and push yourself to be better.

Q. Do you think that street art has influenced your work in other mediums?
A. Definitely. Street art has led me to use a lot of handwritten type in my designs.  I’m using my brain in the same way when creating digitally and I focus a lot on the letterforms. Color also plays a big role because I use color so differently when I’m painting versus when I am designing on a computer. Sometimes, I will sit back after working on a design and think about a different color approach I could take on it.

Q. What draws you to certain typography styles over others?
A. Street art allows you to be very experimental with type. It’s all about figuring out new ways of connecting each letter form. Since I am a graphic designer; sometimes, I will paint very clean and legible type that almost looks like I designed it on a computer first. Other times, I will just go with the flow. It’s fun trying to break rules to see what the possibilities are.


Q. Do you have any goal that you are working to accomplish through street art?
A. My ultimate goal is to paint and leave my mark in every city that I go to. I would really like to go even bigger and start doing large-scale murals, whole buildings, etc.  Right now, I am working to get permission to paint a full wall in Chicago.  This project would be bigger than anything I have every painted before and I am always looking for new challenges.

If you’re coming to the SXSW Interactive Festival in March, you can find some of Marry’s artwork inside the Palm Door of 6th St.

This Q & A is the second part of a three-part series featuring a sampling of the artistic talent that fuels the creative juices within our studios. Here at Deloitte Digital, we have amazing people. They are the creative thinkers and doers who help companies and communities strengthen their impact. Beyond their work in our studios, they pursue passions using the same skills and imagination that they bring to helping clients.

As we prepare for our Major Sponsorship of South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive, March 11th – March 15th, we wanted to showcase and share some of the people we’re lucky enough to work with every day. The values that drive them are those at the core of the SXSW experience. Our people are a lot like you: Creative, curious, ambitious, and ready to imagine the future of what’s possible.