Graphic design is a profession with eclectic influences. There are strands from fine art, from pop culture, from all forms of media, throw in history, aligned occupations, a dash of experimentation and wide-ranging interests from outside commercial work. Constant curiosity about the world is vital to keep imagination firing and updated on industry trends. Each designer will have their own set of topics, ideas and activities that intrigue them.
We highly recommend student and entry level designers have a broad range of interests to visually energise their thinking. It might be as simple as a daily walk through a park to experience the weather and its ever-changing patterns. It is important never to limit your visual horizons. All designers should aspire to life-long learning.
Designers from all professions are known for quirky personal collections. Some may seek out obscure album cover art. Some hunt around for historical packaging of one specific product category. There are collections of original Penguin book covers, matchbooks, Matchbox® cars, hats, shoes, figurines, menus from cafes, postcards, watches, and jazzy tea pots. Literally as broad as the limitations of time and budget. The important take out, is always seeking and curating, learning about the world beyond daily parameters.
Wide ranging artistic activities
Creative outlets are not limited to collecting. Some designers apply their skills to cooking, making fancy baked goods or complex recipes, admiring the culinary art of chefs. Some will collect and grown bonsai, immersing themselves in the intricate patterns and small cuts required. Fine art painting, printmaking, illustration, calligraphy, and life drawing are also popular. Many designers will take up gardening, starting with a few pot plants and increasing the scope throughout their life. Visiting art galleries, museums, architectural landmarks are also high on the list of engaging activities.
Music and musicians
A cursory search will demonstrate the close and inextricable link between all forms of music and graphic design. The interchange is obvious, and the trove of cover art is a testament to this. There are many celebrated musicians who studied at art school, and in particular, graphic design, prior to their musical careers. Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood from the Rolling Stones, David Byrne and Jerry Harrison from Talking Heads, David Bowie, Pete Townshend and Freddie Mercury, to name a few. In turn, many designers have music as another creative pursuit. For example, playing an instrument, joining a band, or going to gigs, not to mention, listening to music while working.
If you question a designer, many will have a non-commercial outlet for their personal projects. This is the space where their creativity can run free. We are going to share some of ours here.
Kym Ramadge / Design Director: in my spare time I pursue fine art photography, primarily working in black and white, focusing on long exposure, minimalism, detail, texture, and pattern. First introduced to photography during high school and codified during tertiary studies, in the last 10 years have reached obsessive levels of interest, as time permits. Working as a professional graphic designer has meant collaborating with many talented commercial and landscape photographers. I’ve learnt something from each of them along the way. The difference with my personal work is, I am not under pressure to get the shot on the day, I can take my time, refining, re-shooting and re-visiting locations. Working primarily with digital, I have also joined the current Zen wave, slowing down and again shooting 35mm film. I was humbled to have three of my images commended in the 2022 Mono Awards.
Emma Echter / Lead Designer: in my spare time I alternate between illustration and quilting. During the Melbourne lockdowns, I invested a lot of time honing my illustration skills. As a young girl I dreamed of being a professional illustrator – creating illustrations for all my school projects. I started quilting about 15 years ago, and quickly fell in love with it – it is tactile, versatile and when hand-pieced, portable. Quilting is a way of illustrating and creating graphic patterns that is as close to 3-dimensional artwork as I can get. The next step in my creative journey is to find a way to combine illustration and quilting, and with the availability of digital fabric printing, the possibilities are endless…