If you’re looking for a modern graphic design scene buzzing with youthful talent, innovation and originality I would recommend you take a look at the recent work coming out of Australia. From Cairns to Melbourne, Perth to Sydney, graphic design and illustration have become popular and respected art forms. Their acceptance into mainstream Australian culture has led to the creation of a competitive battleground, allowing artists and designers to develop as they vie for their work to be appreciated.
Australia has long been recognised for its global cultural influence in the arts, and a quick look at a few of the best Australian graphic designers and illustrators working today shows that they have plenty more to offer. Australian graphic design and illustration is quickly setting the standard for the rest of the world to follow.
For this week’s Tuesday Ten, we tracked down eleven (we couldn’t pick just ten) of the best Australian graphic designers to find out more about the industry, the way they work and why Australian graphic design is so good.
1. Guy Shield – Illustrator – Melbourne
“There’s a glut of graphic designers here and I think it says something about our community wanting to find a vocation that still maintains a sense of creativity and integrity, like a glamourised trade. It seems to be a very acceptable industry to pursue, and viewed as a very reasonable profession to be in.
“No doubt there’s a link to the rise in digital design and accessibility, compared to when Australia was more industrial/traditional. I think it also has a lot to do with the state of design education and training opportunities becoming greater and greater— both at a university level and shorter, more intensive courses being offered.
“I graduated on the cusp of the digital transition 10 years ago and since then I’d say then annual output of design graduates has at least tripled. It’s very competitive over here, which is maybe why I left publishing and moved to Illustration… there’s a bit more breathing space and opportunity. Plus… I just love drawing for a living.”
Guy worked as a designer for ten years before deciding to focus on illustration and we’re glad he did. His work is powerful and entertaining in equal measures and his ability to tell compelling narratives in one perfectly staged scene is sublime. His control of colour and light set him apart as one of Australia’s finest illustrators working today.
Visit Guy’s website to see more.
2. James Jirat Patradoon – Graphic Artist/Illustrator – Sydney
“I think Graphic Design has become so popular in Australia because our relaxed lifestyle offers time for creative reflection and practice.
“I’ve been inspired in my travels but whenever I return home I feel that despite the ‘cultural cringe’ a lot of Australians have, we have something still unique in the way that we work and the what we produce.”
James Jirat Patradoon has recently exploded onto the scene in Sydney and is rightfully gaining a lot of attention for his bold, distorted, other-wordly designs. He lists his inspirations as black metal music, gangster rap and professional wrestling and he has worked for a host of big name clients including Adidas, Kerrang!, RayBan and PepsiCo.
We would definitely recommend a visit to James’s website for a look at his dazzling neon gifs and amazing illustrations. His work is a lesson on how to stand out from the crowd and we look forward to seeing how this young illustrator’s career progresses.
More of James Jirat Patradoon’s work can be viewed on his website.
3. Gemma O’Brien – Typographer – Sydney
“I don’t think I had particularly outstanding handwriting as a child. I remember learning cursive and keeping my handwriting quite neat but it wasn’t anything spectacular!
“I used to make handmade books and draw the titles in quirky lettering in primary school, but it wasn’t really until university that I understood typography and hand lettering as an art form and potentially a profession.” – from designfederation.net
Sydney based typographer, hand letterer and illustrator, Gemma O’Brien is creating some of the most memorable typographical designs we have ever come across. After learning letterpress at university she became obsessed with typography and now runs her own typography blog, For the Love of Type, dedicated to her art.
Gemma attracted attention at just 21 with an experimental video, in which she inscribed her body with hand lettering, caught the attention of Font Shop’s Jurgen Siebert. Her bold move earned her an invitation to speak at Germany’s 2009 Typo Berlin design conference.
The design below demonstrates Gemma’s softer side and shows the versatility she has as a typographer and skills she has as an illustrator.
4. Andrew Frazer – Illustrator – Bunbury, WA
“The graphic design industry in Australia is healthy and progressive. I’m always inspired by the way Australian designers are continually pioneering new methods and ideas within the industry. Perhaps it is our isolation geographically that causes us to be more inquisitive and to explore beyond our known environment. Whatever it may be, it seems to be working well.”
Andrew lives in the coastal town of Bunbury, Western Australia, and claims that growing up next to the ocean had a huge part to play on his creativity. His collection of whimsical characters, inventive public murals and original hand lettering have seen his career go from strength to strength and he is now considered one of Australia’s best illustrators.
He also heads up the public art initiative, Six Two Three Zero, which encourages street art to be used as a form of urban development. His murals have recently been grabbing the public’s attention in the nearby city of Perth.
View more of Andrew’s work on his website.
5. Lisa Dino – Graphic Artist – Sydney
“I think design is so popular in Australia because of how creativity is so embraced and accessible. I’ve lived in Brisbane, Queensland where people are incredibly friendly and easy going so it was very easy to meet a lot of creative individuals through friends of friends or at designer markets held every weekend in Southbank and West End.
“I’m currently living in Sydney and I think this city definitely pays great attention to design and you notice trends which I’ve never really noticed in Brisbane. It’s amazing how many opportunities there are to vent your creativity. There are workshops, festivals, and exhibitions that are ultimately dedicated for design nerds and passionate creatives to connect with each other and support great art.”
Lisa describes herself primarily as a graphic designer but also has talents in illustration, photography and hand lettering preferring to use felt-tip pens and coloured pencils to create her playful work. She is quickly adding to her growing list of clients as her fun, bold and inventive designs gather interest.
View more of Lisa’s work on her blog.
6. Bryn Morgan – Graphic Designer – Sydney
“Having emigrated to Australia 8 years ago I have found most Australian businesses to have an entrepreneurial outlook when it comes to showcasing or selling a product or service. I think businesses here truly understand the importance of good communications and more importantly, clever engagement with its customers, especially in the fast paced digitally savvy world of today.”
Bryn has been working in the graphic design industry for 15 years. He moved from the UK eight years ago to pursue his career graphic design career in Australia and quickly settled in founding brand communication company, Twist of Twelve. His success is a perfect example of the opportunity there is to pursue a graphic design career in Australia.
Bryn’s work is typically diverse for a graphic designer and he has worked for a variety of clients on rebrands, advertising campaigns, promotional and point of sale design and online promotions and websites.
You can see more of his work on his Behance page.
7. Peter Borg – Graphic Designer – Melbourne
“In a nation where the national design aesthetic is so undefined and young, we are always questioning, “what is Australian Design? What does it look like?” I think this is what potentially draws young Australians to both design along with other creative industries. Or maybe it’s just for the cool factor — who knows?”
Melbourne based Graphic designer, Peter Borg, has been collaborating with local artists on a number of projects including book cover designs, posters and business cards.
We really like the colourful minimalism on show in his work and particularly like his series, ‘The Memphis Blues Again.’
View more of Peter’s work on his website
8. Aldous Massie – Illustrator – Sydney
“In regards to why graphic design seems to be booming in Australia; my opinion is that it seems to be a delicate line where creative freedom isn’t completely sacrificed for monetary gain. Graphic design is seen to place value on the mind’s imagination. The technical skills are also very accessible”
Aldous graduated with a Bachelor of Design from the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales and has gone on to work in a number of positions within creative marketing. She now gives talks to fellow creatives around Australia about her work.
At just 25 she has completed projects for an impressive range of clients including Burberry, Banrock Station, City of Sydney, Lionsgate Films and Nike.
You can see more of Aldous’s work on her website
9. Michelle Leslie – Graphic Designer – Perth
“I look at designing for clients as a collaboration. I try to find what is interesting and unique about the client’s brand and then represent it visually with the aim of making their first impression an honest one.
“The best result for me is when my client and their customers feel real ownership of their brand identity (whether it be their logo, packaging, illustration, website, signage or all of the above) and that it is a natural extension of who they are and what they offer”
Michelle has been a designer for 11 years. She started her career in web design, which gave her valuable skills in digital design and coding.
After retraining to add illustration to her talents she has started her own design consultancy and has been involved in some high profile projects including illustrations for the entrance to Perth Zoo and the digital refresh for Australian children’s store, Jimmy Cricket. Her cute characters are busy making the Australian graphic design boom more child friendly and we expect her work to have a big influence on the next generation.
View more of Michelle’s work on her website
10. Tom Miatke – Graphic Design/ Illustration – Victoria
“The main focus in my work as a whole is a strong concept combined with a polished execution. This is something that is still emerging and what I hope to see continued in future projects.
“My work as of late has been strongly geared towards the popular culture and poster art scene or the entertainment industry as a whole. The primary driving force is to create a sense of emotion and feeling within the design, whilst being aesthetically pleasing. Capturing what makes that film, scene, brand, story, company special is what I try to achieve.”
Recently, Tom’s Work has been centered around poster design. He has managed to carve out an impressive global reputation for himself in what is an increasingly competitive genre. A perfect example of the skills that helped him to do this is shown Godzilla poster below.
In 2013 a personal project of Tom’s, a title sequence for ’28 Days Later’ was selected as one of the Top 30 finalists in the prestigious ‘NewStar’ competition.
View more of Tom’s work on his website
*Bonus* 11. Chris Nixon – Illustrator – Perth
“There’s a strong media industry with advertising and a strong publishing market which creates a lot of demand for creative services like graphic design. I think when you combine this with our coastal culture, strong and unique arts and music scene it creates a lot of demand for interesting artists, which pushes competition and creativity to lift the arts and design scene.
“You can make a strong career being a designer in Australia, both as a freelancer and in an agency which I think promotes a lot of creative freedom for everyone to push each other, but despite the competition it still feels like a tight community with a lot of support.”
Inspired by the West Coast and classic surf culture and with an emphasis on the handmade and crafted, Chris completes textured work in a wide range of media. He has been published in several children’s books including the acclaimed ‘Jake Series’ which is has been published across several continents and languages and is currently in development for an animated series. From looking at his work it’s easy to see why he has enjoyed so much success.
Accompanying his illustration work, Chris has created several large scale murals which have been installed in various places around Australia.
View more from Chris on his website