Duration: After working about five years in advertising, and about one-and-a-half years ago, I refocused my practice to working as an artist and designer for myself.
Location: Sydney, Australia.
Education: Diploma in graphic design from TAFE Queensland South Bank, South Brisbane, Australia.
Career path: Originally, I hoped to design cars, but that seemed more based in science, so I ended up studying graphic design. On the side, I made plenty of work; for example, I created a clothing brand when I was around eighteen or nineteen. I ended up working in advertising as I thought that was what you were supposed to do when you studied graphic design. In the end, it really wasn’t for me, but I learned how to make work that was accessible to people, and how to convey messages simply. Then, about a year and a half ago, I had my first exhibition, and that started everything. Since then, I’ve been working full-time as an artist and designer from my studio in Sydney.
I use my work to discuss LGBTQ+ issues, as that’s the life I live. I am fortunate that I grew up with a supportive family and group of friends who never had any problems with it. Sure, I struggled internally, but I had it easy compared to so many other people. Because of this, I use my work to push equality forward, and to support the people who struggle with their gender identity or sexuality. I had very few Queer few role models growing up, so I hope I can be one for some people—even if it’s just a couple, I’d consider that a win.
Artistic influences: I take a lot of my ideas from the ’80s New York art scene. I love all those artists like Keith Haring and Jean Paul Goude aesthetically, but more importantly, I love the activism they put in their work. Until recently, I felt like that activism was lacking, but people are starting to stand up for things again.
Favorite projects: My project with Reebok Classics last year to launch new trainers. I ended up heading to the States to create a large installation piece in Times Square. That was pretty crazy and, to be honest, was a dream come true. The project had gone from a digital brief to a giant physical piece all of a sudden, so it was cool to watch the whole process evolve.
Also, a zine I designed at the end of last year with Korean Riso printer Corners Studio. It took me a long time to finish as I was super busy, and I would work on parts of it while traveling or in the middle of the night. However, it summed up my life at that point. I also loved the way Corners mixed colors—it’s like no other Riso printers I’d seen—so I sent them a lot of the artwork and let them choose the colors. Initially, I was super scared to do so, but I trusted them and wanted to see what they could do. It turned out great!
And in addition, a poster called Human. Initially, it was something I made quickly, but I knew that it was something more special than the average project. I kept changing it, doing so with many colorways and new versions. This went on for three months, and then I forgot about it for a month or so. When I went back and looked at all the versions I had created, I went straight to the first one that I’d ever made. This poster taught me a lot about trusting myself and not overworking an idea, and that it’s best to go with my initial instinct.
Approach: I try to not to be influenced by what is going on in design at the moment. Of course, it’s good to stay in touch, but also to not to let it take over. You have to stay in your lane and make your things no matter what is going on around you. Also, I spent all this time in advertising with guidelines and grids and being told what to do, and I hated it. Now I don’t use grids; I let my work be free and do whatever it wants.
Aspirations: For me, I feel like I’ve just dipped my toe into the pool and have yet to dive in. I’m enjoying working as a commercial artist right now, and I love the collaboration and the reach working with big brands gives you. It seems crazy with the way the world is now, but I always thought that being able to travel around the planet and show my art to as many people as possible while working with people that I respect was my goal. However, I don’t 100 percent know my goal just yet. I’m digital based right now, but I hope in the future that will change. I love seeing my work in a physical form.
Philosophy: Well, I’m sorry to steal it from Nike, but just do it. Nothing is out of reach if you work hard enough and constantly put yourself out there. People can see when your work is real and honest. Do what feels right to you—I mean that in an aesthetic and an activist sense. Find the message you want to put out into the world, and also what you want to contribute and what you want to be known for. Figure that out and just do it; the rest will follow.
Anything else? Let’s pretend we’re teenagers again! My favorite movie is Big Business. My favorite color is blue. My favorite song is “Holiday” by Madonna. My favorite food is mangoes. And I once won a bike by cheating in a coloring competition—my older sisters did it for me.