We have the pleasure of chatting with design all rounder Flyn Tracy. Flyn runs CreativeMornings in Sydney and just launched the hot new design podcast Australian Design Radio with Matt Leach!
You just launched Australian Design Radio with Matt Leach – can you tell us more about the project, and how the first few months are going?
In our intro, I always start the show with our mission statement which is “A podcast to provide Australia and the world with conversations and commentary on Australian Design” – and that’s it in a nutshell. I wanted to have unscripted, casual chats with some influential and interesting people and share it with anyone who would listen. In regards to how it’s going, frankly it’s awesome. It turns out podcasting is really addictive, like weirdly super addictive. We originally planned to do one show a fortnight, but that quickly changed to something closer to once a week. We have about 1,000 downloads per week so it’s all about making good content now. We’ve got some great people lined up to come on the show, stay tuned!
One of your other extra curricular activities is CreativeMornings! For those who don’t know, can you explain a little bit about how it works and what inspired you to be involved?
Ok so CreativeMornings is a free monthly talk run by volunteers all around the world, you get a free coffee and listen to a great speaker talk about the monthly topic. Sydney was the 22nd chapter and now there are 108 chapters around the globe. All the talks are recorded and are uploaded for people to watch for free. I’ve got a great team and together we try to find interesting local people to speak each month. Did I mention it’s free? As for why I got involved, CreativeMornings is all about inclusiveness and is highly community driven which is right up my alley. I’d known about CreativeMornings for years before realising that there were chapters in some interesting places, so I investigated bringing it to Sydney. I teamed up with Marie Agudera, a Strategist and together we pitched the idea of a Sydney chapter to Tina Roth Eisenberg (SwissMiss) and we won the chapter. I’m driven by the idea of exposing the industries unsung heroes. People are doing amazing sh*t in Australia and we should celebrate and be proud of it.
Who is on the CM SYD team, what qualities do they bring and what do they do in real life!?
The CM/SYD team includes Amanda Gordon, Bernice Au, Claire O’Connell, Dave Katague, Josh Davey, Max Bon de Veire, Scott Gallagher and Penny Beyer. And we also kind of still count Gabby Lord, even though she’s in Berlin. It’s a pretty big team, but many hands make light work and we’re all really busy. So often it’s two or three of us organising a single event while the other guys work on the next one. We’re designers, a strategist, a videographer, a photographer, and editor and a social media manager. It’s a great team, we have fun.
Who are some of your favourite creatives that have spoken at CreativeMornings SYD and what did you learn?
Ah, this is a really tough one. Personally I like the talks that come from someone who might usually fly under the radar so Ian Haigh was one of my favourites. He spoke about ‘Connect’ and he told a wonderful story about a connection he’d made and tied the whole thing in perfectly. A clever talk. Jess Scully, director for VIVID needs a mention too, she commands a room like no-one I’ve ever seen. She has so much passion for the creative arts it makes me look like a bureaucrat. And Gemma O’Brien did a really good talk too, she spoke at CreativeMornings just before she really exploded as a creative personality so we got pretty lucky. Unfortunately the files from the main camera was corrupted so the video is mostly slides and crowd shots. So I guess you had to be there.
Your day job running Tractor Design School in Sydney must keep you busy! What does a typical Flyn Tracy day look like?
I’ll usually get up at 7am and ride my bike to Tractor in Surry Hills, every other day I’ll go to the gym first. I’ll get my first coffee and go through emails and check in with some of the industry mentors we have coming in during the week. I spend the early hours of the day on timetabling and cross checking that I have everything covered with a bit of twitter thrown in there to see what’s up. I’ll have one or two portfolio reviews throughout the day, they are meant to go for about 30 minutes but I usually get excited and talk for an hour, the poor bastards. I’ll catch up with the small Tractor Sydney team and go for coffee number two. We’ll talk about marketing, social media, mentors, website stuff – that kind of thing. In the afternoon I try to work on curriculum, updating our own content to keep up to date with industry trends and changes. I check in with the designers in our industry programs via Basecamp, make sure they’ve done their homework and know which studio we’ll be going to next. At around 5pm I’ll start getting ready for the evening courses, and from 6pm-9pm I’ll learn stuff, facilitating our mentor programs. Right now I’m running a UX course and learning lots – kids, get into UX. Home by 10ish to eat and play some computer games to unwind. And the crowd goes mild.
What advice do you have for design graduates finishing up in 2015?
I have…some. Beware generic advice including mine!. Each interviewer/studio/job is different – listen to people for sure, but make up your own mind. Digital is the name of the game folks and also, at the moment UX. Wrap your head around it because print isn’t going away, but digital skills are expected for any graduates now. Get a website, make it look professional, you’re not a student anymore. No website, no interview in most cases. WordPress and squarespace is totally fine. Good work will get you an interview, at the interview how you speak about your work and your personality will get you the job. Don’t act like a student, you’re a designer. If you go for an interview, research the interviewer and the studio. Know some of their past projects and what you like about them. Don’t be late and dress appropriately for the studio you’re going too. If you weren’t the best designer in your class, don’t be discouraged. It takes some of us longer than others. Keep going and eventually you’ll get there if you want it. Be Patient – I got a studio job straight out of school but then left the industry and country for a year and come back with nothing. It took me three years to get back in and that’s totally fine. I was more mature and a lot smarter and you will be too. Network – The thing about networking is that you want to network before you need something from someone. Go to events now and meet people, introduce yourself but don’t ask for a job over a beer. Say hi, then follow them on twitter or instagram if possible. When the time comes, you’ve already done the leg work.