Can you tell me about your background?
Ok well my story is relatively short I suppose. I haven’t been in the industry for all that long (relatively speaking) and I certainly haven’t done a stint overseas under the direction of a high flying, big shot, high-net worth creative director or anything like that. I guess I’ve been bluffing my way through it all since the day I arrived for my uni interview at RMIT seven years ago. And it worked. At the end of the interview they said I’d be too bored with first year and plonked me straight in to second. I think ‘bluffing’ gets such a bad wrap these days but it’s such a good way to throw yourself in the deep end and thats a good place to be. And it’s so much easier than you think, you’ll surprise yourself – like the time my friend surprised herself by farting at a job interview.
Any who, By the time I was doing my honours year, I had a decent job as Art Director for a good magazine, as well as a long list of freelance projects under my belt. I wrote a thesis on foreign writing systems and experimental typography somewhere in there too. It was a busy time. I got addicted to the deep end after that so after I graduated I had a chat to my long time pal, Kevvy Mac, who was kicking goals literally and metaphorically, and Confetti was born. That was about three years ago. Since then we’ve found ourselves bluffing a little less each day. Or maybe I’m just getting used to it. Either way I reckon it’s goooood times.
Can you tell me about your design ethos? What rules do you live by when designing?
This one is always tough because it’s hard to apply the same set of rules to every brief. The context changes every time. In this way we could say one of our rules is to stay liquid. As in, be open to adapt and change with the needs of each project. Get inside the head of each client to understand their needs and who they need to speak to. Then gather all this information and throw it around in your head or in the air or in your dog’s bowl or in your aunty’s over-sized hat until you create something. For Confetti, this “something” should never ever be lazy. We try to push every brief in some direction that places it beyond what’s expected. It’s not always possible and it doesn’t always happen but when it does it’s magic and that’s what we’re chasing. So yeah, stay liquid and chase the magic. I’m gonna try and convince Kev to get some t-shirts made of that. Or maybe some stubby holders. Maybe throw an illustration of a crystal in there and sell it to T-bar for 50 schmackers.
How do you collaborate as a team?
We try to make sure the studio feels like a big squash court of multiple little tiny bouncing idea balls at all times. Speaking of convoluted metaphors that don’t work, we have these floating air plants in the Melbourne website design studio that are in the shape of a tear drop or an idea light bulb (kinda) and we hang them above our heads at our desks so it always kinda looks like you have an idea. Anyway, I think some of our best ideas have come about in discussion between overzealous mouthfuls of the chicken parma we get at the pub around the corner. That one’s not a joke.
We’ve also got a great team and network of ridiculously talented developers and suppliers who are always on the same page. This way we can make sure the project is executed in the best possible way from idea conception right through to its application across all touch points. There’s no point having a juicy concept that just gets diluted as it’s applied. You need the right team to keep the concept potent and on-point every time it’s printed/coded/3D printed/smelt/touched/hung/
As a designer, you often have to juggle creativity with client interests – how do you collaborate with a client to deliver the best possible result for both parties? How do you stay in control of your design DNA?
We’ve been very lucky with our clients (give or take a couple of duds). It’s all about trust. They’ve got to trust you and you’ve got to trust you. The second a client senses that you doubt yourself it’s all over and they’ll pick your concept to pieces and feed it to their pure bred afghan hound. Google that dog. We get really excited when we have a good idea and when the client senses that they just let us do anything. I think clients love to see that you’re excited about their business and that you’re, to some degree, emotionally invested in it. It fills them with confidence. I get this weird thing where if I’m really pumped about an idea while I’m presenting it, I get these little pricks in the back of my neck. It’s called the ‘prickle zone’ and I’ve had a 100% success rate when presenting while in the P Zone.
You were a finalist in the Premiers Design Awards for your work for Spilt Milk – can you tell me a bit about that? Why do you think there was so much appreciation for your project?
The phrase “Spilt Milk” has a very obvious and literal connotation, so the challenge was going to be to create something unique yet concise out of that. I think we achieved that. It’s a simple typographic metaphor without actually directly referencing any milk itself. Also, by creating the variations it starts to become a visual language that is adaptable based on it’s application whilst still always being easily recognisable. The variations also touch on the unpredictability of the spill which i think resonated with people.
Since you started the studio in 2012, how has the work you produce changed? Has your design aesthetic evolved or have you seen it stay the same over the years?
Well your work is always going to be in some way an extension of yourself. I mean, you created it so why shouldn’t it be? We are always growing and changing, learning new things, letting go of old things (hopefully). This all influences your work. I think the work you create is a product of what you learn and see. And I don’t necessarily mean ‘see’ in the context of design and art. Without getting too deep, I’m talking more about experiences that might make you ‘see’ things in a new light which can affect your whole design process whether you know it or not. You multiply this theory across all the people working on a project and you’re definitely going to see some degree of change over the years. Change is good. Otherwise we’d all still be those little fish creatures with stumps for legs still trying to crawl out of the water.
Any projects youre particularly proud of? Why?
I liked Spilt Milk. That was a goodun. I guess I’m proud of different projects for different reasons. The Maha rebrand was a huge project. So much research went into that logo. I think I read everything short of the quran itself to get a feel for arabic script. It took such a ridiculously long time to draw up. There are also some projects on the go at the moment that I’m looking forward to seeing in the real world too.
Im not sure if Im meant to ask this question, but whats your favourite genre of work? What kind of projects do you love getting involved with?
Restaurants are good because of the food. I reckon I ate my weight in slow roasted lamb over the course of the Maha rebrand. And that lamb cooks for at least eight hours before landing on your plate. It’s so good. In terms of the work itself it’s hard to say. I like having a mix of work on. I love editorial projects but if we were exclusively running magazine projects for two months I’d be itching for some branding and vice versa. I feel like music packaging is good to throw in the mix too because it doesn’t necessarily follow the same rules as other work. There is an opportunity there to be more expressive with looser, more abstract concepts. Im sorry, I’ve dodged your question Martyna. The answer is all of it at once. Forgive me.
Whats the thing that sticks with you most from design school/whats the best bit of advice you can give our students reading this?
Get in the deep end.