Original Interview: November 2013

Dan Vaughan

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be/do?

If not a designer, then probably something in linguistics. I’m fascinated by different languages, and their contextual relationships to people and places. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to study Japanese and Auslan for a short while during uni, and I’m looking forward to picking them both up again next year. I like to explore the characteristics of other languages and bring them into my practice.

Whats your plan for when you finish?
I’ve already got a few ongoing projects that I picked up during uni that I’ll continue with, but more than anything I’m looking forward to getting back into learning Japanese. I’d love to be able to work in Japan someday, so I’ll be working on that over the next few years in addition to my other work. I’d like to be a bit more skilled in digital and web design as well. I’m currently working for a web design studio, but there’s so much more that I have to learn about the medium, and it’s so exciting!

Dan Vaughan

What extra curricular activities have you taken part in whist studying to boost you work experience/networks?
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to meet the guys behind Merge and Collect magazines. A friend and I had offered to do some free work for a local cinema that we wanted to help out, and the editor of Collect was working marketing there at the time. He was really excited by our enthusiasm and generosity and over time we established a really great friendship. Since then they’ve started up two new magazines (Place & Citymag) and have opened up a co-working space in the city (which I work from) called Magazine Gallery. Together we’re constantly coming up with new projects to work on, with a handful of other amazing people. From that one small offer a few years ago, I’m now working on stuff for Citymag & Place, have a job at a web design studio that I encountered through Magazine, and have a number of smaller clients I handle in my own time. All while still at uni! At times it can be a bit tricky to manage it all, but it’s been an incredible ride.

Where do you go for inspiration?
That’s a tough question because inspiration is so ubiquitous. The accurate answer would be everywhere, but there are a few particulars. As far as design goes, there are a few studios and individuals I really look up to. UMA / design farm, Bunpei Yorifuji, Akaoni Design and Kenya Hara are some great Japanese designers (among so many others) that always produce thoughtful and interesting work. Peter Steineck and Damien Correll are a couple of really cool illustrator/designers that always put me in a good mood. Elliot Burford, Two Points, Florence Li Ting Fong, Eirian Chapman, Hey Studio, Always With Honour and Simon Sweeney are all great too. I try to reach the same standard of work they produce, and make mine just as meaningful. More than anyone else Heath Killen and Vincent Chan, two Australian designers that have done some incredible things, have provided me with invaluable support and advice over the last year or two.

Beyond design, though, I love film, music, games and books! The films of Jim Jarmusch and the earlier work of Zhang Yimou have had a big influence about how I approach narrative and composition in my design. Kubrick had a brilliant sense of scene that you can always draw from when thinking about space. Films like Dr. Caligari, Shadow of the Vampire, and even Eraserhead expand your mind and take you to other worlds. Recently I’ve been rewatching the stuff of P.T Anderson and Sophia Coppola, and I’m just getting into Yasujiru Ozu for the first time too. There’s so much to draw from in film!

Games have had a significant influence on my work. I always look to the mechanics of game design when I think about how a person will interact with something that I design. I try to include the element of ‘play’ in everything I produce, and I love to think of ways that someone can interact with something that’s static. The most recent game to get me really excited was Dark Souls. The whole design is just so interesting and layered, plus the game itself is brutal.

Dan Vaughan

Any personal projects you have to share?
I’ve been so busy with uni and work that I haven’t had any time to focus on stuff I want to do! I’ve started thinking about it a bit recently though and I’d love to produce perhaps a little booklet or something that would be used for teaching the Japanese kana. I think the first large step in learning Japanese is always grasping the alphabet. It’s just so different from English. I know I would have loved a nice looking, functional text on the kana, so I’ll be looking into that next. I like to consider the work I do for New Weird Australia as a personal project, because it’s the kind of stuff I really get almost complete creative freedom to explore and experiment. I’d love to start some new things with other people though; collaborating is such a unique experience, it’s always different with another person, and the outcome of a project can be so unpredictable.

Dream job in Australia?
My own! I’d love to be able to build up my own little studio and have enough work to live and still travel a bit, and perhaps do some work overseas. I don’t really want to be tied down to one location, but my head is always in the clouds. Who knows what I’ll do!
www.danvaughan.net.au
facebook.com/magazine.store.gallery

Dan Vaughan