I was saddened to hear of the passing local creative luminary Barrie Tucker last Friday. Barrie was truly a trailblazer for anyone coming up through the creative industries in South Australia – I remember in my University years looking through a brochure of Tucker Design and being completely in awe of the work they produced. It really cemented in my mind that this is what I wanted to do with my life. While I never got to meet him in person, his work through the years was certainly a great inspiration, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that way. I spent the weekend looking back upon some of his great work, I urge you to do the same if you already haven’t – and finally, my condolences to his family, friends and all those who were lucky enough to have worked with him.
I was going to write a continuation of my last post on my current situation – it’s been just over two weeks since I wrote that post and if things don’t feel as if they have got any easier, I’m at least on a little bit more of a solid standing in regards to my emotional well-being. It’s not a battle that I’m particularly enjoying engaging with but it’s not like I’ve got a lot of choice in the matter. That said, firstly I want to thank all of you that have reached out to me with words of support and kindness. Honestly, it has meant the world to me that you would take the time out to do so, and in the absence of some of the pillars that I’ve traditionally relied upon to deal with and get through periods of anxiety and stress, any offers of additional support are greatly appreciated. Perhaps the worst of what I have been feeling is the isolation and loneliness and knowing that there are good people out there that are thinking of you helps immensely. The last couple of weeks have been spent with much rumination, much reading and countless thoughts on how I might be able to drag myself through this. I don’t have any particular revelations to share, other than the fact that listening to the latest Father John Misty album on constant repeat may not be a great way of moving forward at the moment (It’s a great album, but as a friend of mine so pointedly reacted when I told him what music I had been listening to and he checked it out for himself “bloody hell!”, yeah, Father John Misty knows what I’m going through). The only conclusions I’ve come to is that it will take time and support – the reading has at least been somewhat enlightening – I have to say I’m surprised how often graphic designers are mentioned in the literature when it comes to mental health issues – so, I’m not really alone I guess? I may also suffer from something called HSP (Highly Sensitive Person! – most likely) and early onset male menopause? (I personally think that one maybe bullshit. In the short-term, like Austin Powers – I’m just hoping to get some of my ‘mojo’ back – in the emotional sense – maybe not so much the physical. Writing some of these things out has certainly helped, at least a little bit. Writing has always been an outlet that I know I’m not very good at, or in fact feel I need to be good at – so it holds no real preconceived notions in my mind that it needs to be perfect, or at least competent, as opposed to the hold my anxiety has over me in my efforts to be a designer or even on the most basic level of being able to maintain significant relationships. I wish I could be stronger through all this. Anyway, my thanks to everyone who has ever taken the time to read any of my posts on here, not just my pity party of this and the last. Comments, advice or just a note to introduce yourself are always welcomed and encouraged. While I’m working through my issues I’m also trying to work through what the future may hold for Facing Sideways and myself as a designer, it may be the case I’m not cut out for any of this. I the meantime, I share below The Hues Corporation performing their 1970s hit ‘Rock The Boat’, because I defy anyone not to smile (even myself at the moment!) over this overtly enthusiastic performance.
You may have noticed that it has been more than a little quiet on here over the last few months – I’ve had significant gaps in content on here before of course, the site is an excellent gauge it seems for my various ups and downs in life. At the moment I’m in one of those ‘down’ moments, actually that’s somewhat of an understatement in regards to how I have been feeling of late.
I’ve had generalised anxiety for quite a few years now. It’s not something you want to advertise about yourself particularly, though I’ve been fortunate enough that I haven’t generally let it affect me during my work day. It builds from me constructing elaborate negative outcomes quickly, often to benign triggers. For example, if my boss writes me an email and says he needs to talk to me about something on Monday, I am apt to spend the entire weekend obsessing over the meaning, unable to enjoy anything, and convinced that I’m getting fired, I will lose everything and will be out on the street. Sometimes it’s a slow burn over a week over little things that are even connected, until those little things grow and grow as my mind and emotions construct some horrible scenario out of totally ridiculous tendrils that have no basis in reality.
The black dog of mental health is not an uncommon companion to those of a creative disposition it seems, and if you read the news of late, there have been a few celebrity victims that have made the headlines. Working in a creative industry frequently means long hours, stressful projects and frantic working environments – this all exacerbates latent mental health conditions, and in creative environments these conditions are purported to be more common than anywhere else.
On average, people working in creative industries are 25% more likely to carry the gene variants [for depression] than professions that are judged to be’ less’ creative.
In some respects, anxiety at some levels can prove beneficial to the working creative. The self-criticism inherent with it can, for example, encourage rigorous thinking. Unfortunately that sort of detailed self-reflection can often tip over into a state of perfectionism in which actually doing something can prove impossible. Like its frequent partner in crime depression, anxiety can strangle both a creative impulse and the person themselves on a very fundamental level.
And that’s where I’m am at this moment in time. I feel ridiculous and embarrassed about it in equal measure. It feels like the ultimate ‘first world’ ailment, something I can indulge in because I have the luxury of living in a part of the world where I don’t have to worry about going hungry, being killed in a war or living in squalor. Guilt plays a large part in perpetuating the cycle of damage. I’m naturally pretty introverted as it – an anxious introverted persona doesn’t make for a lot of laughs when going through an episode. I think the guilt is the hardest thing for me to deal with, the guilt of how it affects the people around me. My friends don’t deserve having to deal with me like this, my workmates, My parents now in their 70s certainly don’t and most significant other definitely shouldn’t have to put up with it. It’s embarrassing that as a 48 year old man I can’t deal properly and rationally with the same sort of things in life that everyone else can and have to daily. I ruminate on this often, I close in on myself, hoping my withdrawal will mitigate the hurt and frustration I feel I am causing, this just seems to perpetuate the cycle of my own worry unfortunately.
So how does this relate to Facing Sideways? I started the site (over 10 years ago now!) for a number of reasons. To begin with, I wanted to promote the enormous pool of talented graphic designers living in South Australia. I didn’t think they were being sufficiently recognised, not just on a national level, but internationally as well. Whenever I do travel overseas and speak to international designers, they are always amazed at the amount of inspirational work that I show them, being produced on the other side of the world in a place that they have (invariably) never heard of before. The site is also a means by which I can tackle my naturally introverted nature, to get me out in the world a little bit more and to practice my writing which I enjoy. It’s been a great way for me to introduce myself to some of my design idols both local and internationally. I never cease to be amazed by the kindness of the creatives I have been in contact with – whether it be the time they have given to meet with me, to answer interview questions, or just some kind words about the site or an article I have posted. It has been very good therapy for me.
It also comes with it’s stresses, like much of anything you pour your heart into. I feel guilty over perhaps not posting as much as I should, that perhaps the site is not as flashy or ‘designed’ as it should be, that I’ve offended anyone maybe with a flippant comment or by not including them in my “Designers Who Are Better Than Me’ section. I never intended for the site to be a millstone around my neck. I’ve always taken the attitude that ‘it is what it is’ and that I have enough stress triggers in my life to not add the blog into the equation. It’s not as if the site is popular enough that there are legions of disappointed designers waiting months for me to post again.
It is all brought upon me by myself alone. I have too many ideas, too many things I want to accomplish, unfortunately I’ve never quite had the ability or the patience to match all those ambitions and that’s usually when things come crashing down. That’s when the frustrations begins, the sullenness, the irritability, the withdrawal and then eventually the dam bursts and I take I take it out on those closest to me, to my abiding shame.
What’s scaring me somewhat at the moment, what feels different this time in particular is the feeling of having no desire to do those things that I love the most. Even in my darkest moods previously I’ve been able to draw some enthusiasm for my love love of any practice of design, no matter what I’ve thought of my ability. Of late I have just been feeling that it is pointless, destructive even – have I let my interests turn into unhealthy obsessions for perfection to the detriment of the things that really matter in my personal life? Is this really, finally the road to ruin I’ve stressed over most of my adult life, where I lose everything and everybody that matters to me?
And that unfortunately is how an anxious mind works – I know it’s pathetic and ridiculous and frustrating, but that’s what I’ve been battling the past few weeks and been dealing with at various points in my life. The worst part of all, maybe even worse than the guilt, is the loneliness, the feeling that no one else is like me, the feeling that I’m broken and that I may never be right. Believing that I am not capable of coping with life, because things always seem to go wrong. I always screw it up.
Of course, the reality is that there are a lot of people like me, dealing with anxiety disorders or depression or other kinds of mental health problems. As measured by years lost to disease, mental health issues are the most important cause of disability
worldwide, accounting for a third of years lost to disease in adults.
I’ve always been resistant to talk about it too much – as I’ve mentioned above there’s a good deal of embarrassment associated with it and I’ve sure as hell never wanted to advertise the fact and have people think I’m unreliable. It’s still an uncomfortable topic to broach, only 41 per cent of people with mental health problems get professional help, that’s a frightening statistics. Things are changing though, it’s unfortunate that the deaths of a couple of high profile individuals has been the impetus to see more stories about the issues in the news. Hopefully it may have been the wake up the some people needed to get the help they need.
And that’s what I’m doing – I don’t want to go on about the various techniques, books and professional help I’ve sought – there’s plenty information on the inter-webs to help you out in that regard. Often help will come from places and people you don’t expect it which has been my experience. There’s no magic panacea that will universally fix things in the same way for everyone, and cliche as it sounds, you can only fix you, you are no one is responsibility other than your own.
Also, please let me say, that this isn’t the end of Facing Sideways. I have some interesting interviews and articles to go up when I am more able to do so. The site may change physically or even thematically – or maybe not at all over the coming months, but it will still be around.
And thank you for this indulgence on my part – I’ve broken my cardinal rule of this site by posting very, very much about me in the most indulgent manner possible, but maybe that’s just another thing that needs to change. Thanks for reading, and be good to yourself.
The Australian Graphic Design Association awards for 2017 were held in the nation’s capital the other week with the glitter and pageantry that one would expect of such an event. I wasn’t there of course but in my self-appointed role as arbiter of great local graphic design (long on service, short on achievements) it behooves me, as I have in the last couple of years, to stumble into the party and cast my critical eye over the results. No one else is sticking their hand up this late in the game at any rate.
Once again it looked like it was a pretty good evening, with some well-deserving work being recognised and it seems, Voice and Fabio Ongarato Design being a commanding presence when it came to being awarded the gongs. Design awards are tough to get ‘right’ in a digital world where not too much work comes as a surprise when everything is online for all to see. There is as usual, a prevalence of a lot of the well-known names, also some glaring omissions that leads you to ask whether established studios have much interest in design competitions these days. The obvious questions again are, are they too expensive to enter? Is an annual event too often? Or do design firms just not see any relevance in it for themselves? Personally I’d love to see a bit more diversity, but I don’t have any un-obvious ideas as to how this might be achieved.
Just a note on how I do this. I look at the work of what work won a Pinnacle the highest honour bestowed) offer my opinion, and then check the finalists to suggest some of the work there that might have been in consideration for a higher award listing (may it be a pinnacle or moved up to a distinction placing). It’s all just based on my personal opinion of course, I don’t have any horse to run in any of this – though of course residing in Adelaide, I’m totally going to lean towards any outstanding South Australian entries, ’cause that’s how I roll, it’s not like I’m being paid for any of this. On that note, let’s check out the good stuff.
Pinnacle winner: For the People, Sydney School of Entrepreneurship
|Designer||Jason Little, James Gilmore, Johanna Roca, Olivia King|
|Creative Director||Jason Little|
|Art Director||James Gilmore, Johanna Roca, Olivia King|
|Typographer||James Gilmore, Johanna Roca, Olivia King|
|Finished Artist||James Gilmore, Olivia King|
|Other||Developer – Phil Havea, Damian Borchok – Executive Director, Andy Wright – Executive Director|
Identity is a tough category to crack as you would expect, and this entry does a nice job of turning the typical institute of higher learning look on its head. For the People are fast becoming the experts for this sort of institutional re-invention.
Should have been a contender… Darklab: Dark Mofo
|Creative Director||Leigh Carmichael|
|Art Director||Megan Perkins|
|Finished Artist||Megan Perkins, Beth Gregory|
|Writer||Luke Hortle, Anna Tutty|
|Photographer||Rémi Chauvin, Jesse Hunniford, Mitch Osborne|
|Other||Mick Fennelly, App Design; Daniel Reid, Website Developer; Art Processors, App Developer; Thomas Hyland, Videographer; Anna Tutty, Project Manager; Isabella Szukilojc, Project co-ordinator|
|Printer||Mercury Walsh, Slick Promotions, Gus Smith, eyespysigns, Saunders Signs, Typeface, Shout Out Loud|
The identity for Dark Mofo is threatening, unconventional and also a little ugly in parts are far as a conventional identity system goes – that said, I love it to bits – it looks like nothing else around – especially an expression of what you expect from a festival. As good as the School For Entrepreneurship identity is, it doesn’t push my expectations, make me as uncomfortable, and excite me as much as the work for Dark Mofo does here, so I feel is deserves to be moved up to Pinnacle status. I sometimes feel that the amount of judges involved in the decision process for the AGDA awards categories kick these more left field entries down the winning hierarchy list. Luckily judge Jo Roca knows the score.
Should have been a contender… Work Art Life Studios: St Martins Cafe
|Creative Director||Andrew Ashton|
|Art Director||Andrew Ashton|
|Paper||Mohawk Eggshell, Envirocare|
The little guy has a hard time being noticed in such an all-encompassing category as ‘Identity’ as well. As far as a complete identity package of custom typography, colour and graphics, for a cafe no less, goes – this package is the bomb, and deserves to be moved up into distinction status methinks.
Pinnacle winner: Impact BBDO: Making Sense of Dyslexia
|Creative Director||Ryan Atkinson|
|Art Director||Ryan Atkinson|
|Writer||Jamie Kennaway, Stephan De Lange|
Thumbs up for the intention, something bothers me a little bit about the execution though – aesthetically, it’s beautifully designed – but maybe that’s what bothers me – is it too attuned to the designers sensitivity than that of its intended audience? It’s clever and fun though, and if it has raised awareness it far outweighs my concerns.
Should have been a contender… Creature Design: Lux Night Light Festival
|Designer||Janelle Rodrigues, Hannah Dollery|
|Creative Director||Janelle Rodrigues|
|Other||Niels Hunefield, Wayne Holmes, Ali Jamieson|
In a category filled with art catalogue finalists, it was difficult to pinpoint anything that really blew me away as far as uniqueness and skill of execution. The pieces for Lux piqued my interest though with some great typography and unusual graphics. This really seems more suited to be positioned under identity though don’t you think?
Pinnacle winner: Voice: Land Sea You Me
|Designer||Anthony De Leo|
|Creative Director||Anthony De Leo|
|Typographer||Anthony De Leo|
|Finished Artist||Anthony De Leo|
Anyone who says you cannot be moved by the combination of typography, illustration and photography in a simple printed package needs to have a good hard look at this piece. A worthy Pinnacle winner and my pick of the whole show. Now I just need to dig this up somewhere so I can drool over the actual book!
Should have been a contender… Frame: Lux Krass Journal III
Starting to sound a bit like a broken record here, but, the third year Krass Journal has been a finalist in the awards, and the third year it hasn’t progressed from there. Publications was a tough category this years, lots of really great work, but I’m a little disappointed Krass wasn’t awarded at least a distinction, especially with this issue being the best produced yet (it was already at a pretty high standard). It’s a great mag and deserves the support. Once again I think it’s a victim of the ‘too many judges’ diluting the left field entries.
Should have been a contender…Design by Toko: My Sister Is a Martian
|Designer||Eva Dijkstra, Michael Lugmayr|
|Creative Director||Eva Dijkstra|
|Art Director||Eva Dijkstra|
|Finished Artist||Eva Dijkstra|
This won a Distinction for its cover, but I think the judges missed the boat a bit by not awarding that particular gong to the whole book instead. While the cover is obviously a typographers wet dream, the insides are at a whole ‘nother level – this is a beautifully designed all-over package – and what a surprise – produced by Toko!
Pinnacle winner: No Pinnacle awarded
Should have been a contender… Band: Jeanneret Wines
|Creative Director||Chris Cooper|
With so many great wine bottle design, the judges obviously couldn’t pick a worthy Pinnacle winner, but if anything perhaps stands out, it’s these beautifully atypical designs by Band. There’s a lot going on in the design of these than might immediately catch the eye on just a cursory examination. There’s obviously the stunning typography that Band seem to produce so effortlessly, but there’s also some sublime colour choices and textural embellishments that really speak of the thought that has gone into producing an outstanding package. I would want to just keep these on my shelf and never drink them!
Should have been a contender… Black Squid: Opulent Moon
|Creative Director||Derek Butler|
Black Squid have been producing some great packaging design of late. I really like the fun edge of these labels – the name alone is enough to produce something cool from – the treatment goes a step further and really makes the design speak.
Should have been a contender… The Company You Keep: Love Tea
|Creative Director||Rhys Gorgol|
It’s a brave studio that pits some simple tea packaging against the might of the countries best wine label design in this category, but I really like the simplicity of these handsome tea package designs. Black Squid also had some lovely tea packages as finalists, but I think I like these just a little bit more.
Pinnacle winner: Houston Group: UTS Brand Visualiser
|Designer||James Calpis, Gian Lacanilao, Dana Rogers, Nathan Wren, Michelle Whitehead|
|Creative Director||Alex Toohey|
|Typographer||Eduardo Manso, emtype|
|Other||Account Management; Anne-Louise Carlon, Kyle De Raedt. Strategy; Stuart O’Brien, Joanna Lilley, Cara Meade, Kalina Gondevska, Allison Sims. Software Development; Mentally Friendly|
This kind of neat, the identity system was already pretty good, and this looks like it lets you remix the elements to suit your needs – a glimpse into the future of how identity systems will evolve I imagine!
Should have been a contender… Sons & Co: Mary Gaudin Website
|Designer||Matthew Arnold, Paul Bright, Josh Wilson|
|Creative Director||Timothy Kelleher|
Sons & Co just seem to have an uncanny knack for turning expectations on websites on their head. This is an oddly endearing presentation using an unusual digital colour palette and seemingly random typographic approach that all pulls together into a rather comforting and homespun feeling. An expert execution in making a gallery site into something quite sublime.
Pinnacle winner: No Pinnacle awarded
Nothing really stood out for me in this category to make a further comment on.
Pinnacle winner: Fabio Ongarato Design: QT Melbourne
|Designer||Nuttorn Vongsurawat, Ben Kluger, Sarah Cope.|
|Creative Director||Fabio Ongarato|
|Other||Illustrator: Stuart Patience. Interior Designer: Nic Graham & Associates.|
This was definitely the ‘Fabio Ongarato Design’ category of the award, not only pulling in the Pinnacle, but also four distinctions as well. ‘Lavish’ is probably the best way to describe this design for QT Melbourne – all of their entries in spatial are obviously stunning, and it was probably a toss-up over which of the five would be chosen to collect ‘the big one’.
Should have been a contender… Fabio Ongarato Design: Kisumé
|Designer||Mami Sugano, Tim Royall|
|Creative Director||Fabio Ongarato|
|Other||Architects & Interior Designers – Wood Marsh Architects. Artist, Photographer – Nobuyoshi Araki.|
I’m not sure why the judges didn’t just give them the even half-dozen by awarding Kisumé a distinction as well. I think it’s actually my favourite out of their 6 finalists.
Pinnacle winner: Havas: The Bottom 100
|Designer||Darren Cole, Nic Adamovich|
|Art Director||Jeremy Hogg, Darren Cole, Nic Adamovich,|
|Photographer||Danny Leclair, Eliza Crosbie, Finch, Gita Buga, Mark Leaver, Natasha Stoughton, Prakash Daniel, Thomas Rens Leask|
|Other||Executive Creative Directors – Seamus Higgins, Stuart Turner
Retouching – Cream Studios, Lee Hulsman
I really love this whole project and the photography is obviously stunning and on point.
I would love to have seen this nominated in either the publication or identity categories where I feel the depth of the project might have had more of an overall impact and made a larger statement over the awards. More stuff entered like this please!
Should have been a contender… Juicebox: Feral Fest 2016
|Creative Director||Joel Pember|
In a year where the overwhelming amount of the finalists featured very clean austere no-nonsense design, it’s nice to see that someone got through who doesn’t mind getting a bit grubby with the typography where appropriate.
Pinnacle winner: Alistair McCready: Type As Monument
|Institution||Auckland University of Technology|
|Programme Leader||Peter Gilderdale|
Hey! A Pinnacle awarded to a student for the first time. Well done to Alistair, the book looks like a mammoth effort!
So there’s another years AGDA Awards done and dusted. overall, another good showing of work – if I had any minor criticisms it would be that most of the finalists consisted of very neat, tidy and considered design work, I would have loved to have seen more pieces that boroke out of that mold a little more. I also think, and this is a long-standing opinion of mine – there are too many judges for each category, which, in any design awards, tends to dilute any dissenting, out-there work. I’d rather see something wild and strange creep in to the finalists, than overall homogenous, but cleanly designed work be the constant norm. It would also be great if more people entered of course, so we could get that greater range – there’s lots of fantastic work out there around the country that deserves the recognition.
Make sure you check out all the finalists work of the AGDA awards site, as well as the finalists and winners from previous years. Please feel free to leave your opinions in the comments section and suggest any other pieces that you think were standouts from the awards.
If it’s links you want, then it’s links we’ve got. Start your working week on an inspirational and aspirational note with some great design articles to brighten the Monday morning blues.
After a tough week I can relate (I am a snowflake too). On creativity and depression – more often than not they go hand in hand unfortunately.
I like looking at some fancy, schmancy beautifully designed websites too!
The history of the involvement of women in the growth of graphic design has been sorely lacking, luckily that is slowly beginning to change with the help of articles like this.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard don’t really produce my sort of music, but as far as pushing the creativity of their releases go, they are one of the most exciting musical groups around. Their latest album titled Polygondwanaland, (their fifth release this year alone!) is completely free to own, use and manipulate, including a toolkit of long-time collaborator Jason Galea’s artwork.
We should be encouraging diversity in the design industry. Here’s some ideas on how to do just that.
The Great Discontent has the best interviews with varied creative talent you will find anywhere. This article, with one of my personal design idols, Gail Bichler, is a prime example. Seriously, if you are of a creative persuasion, this site should be at the top of your favourites list.
Can logos become their own legends? The BBC thinks so!
I am a comic book nerd and I want to read these comics badly.
I am also a science nerd. If any of you are looking to buy me a Christmas present this year, I have a suggestion.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to step back and ask yourself some questions. These are some pretty good ones to consider!
And on that note, digital is dying apparently. We told you so.
Why good design alone won’t attract millennials to your company. You need balloons as well don’t you know.
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville is an amazing graphic designer that enough people haven’t heard of.
There were some Australian Graphic design trophies awarded the other week. All the winners are up on the awards site now. Keep an eye out for my totally unbiased overview on Facing Sideways soon!
Motiv are one of the great Adelaide design firms that seem to have been around forever. They continue to produce great work. Longtime company director Keith McEwan has recently retired and the reins have been taken over by his daughter Hannah and longtime employees Peter and Leo. Their website has had a major upgrade as well, and features many stunning pieces that run the gamut of graphic design mediums. If you are looking for examples of good, solid, honest design work, the Motiv site is the perfect place to start.
Ease into your Monday with some great design reads from far and wide
Seth Godin always has something interesting to say, feeling like an imposter?
I always love to browse through the Muji store down Broadway when I’m in New York, check out how they accomplish just the appropriate amount of branding.
The Design Kids is a great resource not only for design students and recent graduates, but also for old codgers like me. Frankie Ratford has been (and continues to be) on a long, strange journey to how she put together her amazing site.
Dumbo Feather is a great Australian magazine that always features incredible interviews with amazing people. This interview with Humanist Jaron Lanier is a particularly thoughtful, standout piece.
A look at the work of Jamie Hewlett, one half of the Gorrillaz project.
Design is Kinky was one of the very first dedicated Australian design sites. It turns twenty this year and is celebrating with a 200+ page book. You can help support its release and be one of the first to receive a copy, by pledging to the Kickstarter campaign.
The age old question for designers, to code or not to code.
Speaking of which, I’ve been polishing up on some of my online skills set and Superhi has been a great teaching resource.
I love arabic calligraphy, this is simply sublime.
The process that goes into designing an appropriate book cover.
Whenever I’m feeling anxious or in a low mood, this picture (and the video at the top) have been my go to distractions of late.