Lee's Summit Journal

A creative type: Charity work gives LS teen outlet for her love of lettering

Annie McCord, a senior at Lee’s Summit North, has a sketchbook full of her different text-based designs and different types of calligraphy.
Annie McCord, a senior at Lee’s Summit North, has a sketchbook full of her different text-based designs and different types of calligraphy. Special to the Journal

Annie McCord loves text. That would be “text” — not “to text,” unlike most teenagers.

The Lee’s Summit North senior creates her own fonts and lettering for projects such as Pro Deo Youth Center’s recent fundraiser.

She designed all the print materials for the event, from posters and fliers to invitations. With essentially complete creative freedom, Annie came up with a design that incorporated numerous brush strokes into the text design, going off the title of the event, “Structures, Sketches and Strokes: The Story of Us.”

The organization first heard about Annie from Sara Witteman, an English teacher at Lee’s Summit North, who knew of Annie’s previous artistic projects.

“I reached out to her because she’s a great kid, and I knew if she had time she’d try to do it,” said Witteman, who came up with the title for the event.

The end result pleased the staff at Pro Deo.

“I love the colors. It’s very vibrant,” said Elaine Metcalf, executive director of Pro Deo. “It was at a professional level.”

Although she’s designed numerous cards and T-shirts, having a project so widely shared with the community was new for Annie.

“I’d never done a poster or worked for an organization,” she said.

Some of her previous projects at school include T-shirts for the volleyball team, this year’s senior girls and National Honor Society.

She also made a design for the Elrod family, who appeared on “Queer Eye” and wanted a T-shirt in memory of Rob Elrod’s wife. Allison Elrod had written “P.S. Be nice to your brother,” in birthday cards addressed to her children, and Annie made them a text design based on that.

Her work sometimes includes graphics, but text and different fonts are where her real passion lies

“I honestly prefer the text. There’s a lot of T-shirts I see where the font hasn’t been thought about. It’s just slapped on,” she said.

On a recent trip to Nashville, she said she found inspiration in the pre-industrial fonts on the city’s signs.

Annie first got into calligraphy by watching videos on Instagram. She also likes to mimic the way monks drew calligraphy on illuminated manuscripts. In her projects, she uses a mix of stock fonts and her own hand-drawn lettering.

Though she’s confident she could start a graphic design business, for now,she prefers to offer most of them, like the one for Pro Deo, for free.

“I thought it was a great opportunity, because it wasn’t doing anything for myself. I don’t want a whole lot of attention. I just like making things for other people,” Annie said.

She’s been trying different media for her text designs via classes at schools, even stitching them into a small quilt that hangs on the wall of the art classroom right now. Annie said she’d like to try wood block printing or letterpress printing sometime.

Beyond her art, Annie keeps busy as an International Baccalaureate student, a varsity athlete in three sports — cross-country, diving and track — as well as National Honor Society and the student ministry at her church.