Original Interview: March 2014

Georgia Hill

Georgia is one keen, mean, typographic machine! She has been all over – including some stints in London and Berlin – think Vice, Umbro and Footlocker. As well as an amazing studio – The Michelberger Hotel – which had clients such as The National, Efterklang, fashion week and a bunch of music festivals! She sheds light on what it was like and her goals now she’s back on Australian soil!

What is your earliest memory of being creative?
Woah – the very earliest is of my twin and I in the backyard painting at (maybe?) three years old. I think my sister was a bit more concerned with chasing the neighbours cat but I was more than happy to sit there churning through paper, wearing my dad’s old business shirt and holding every paint brush at once. Though the time we had an afternoon nap and used a Barbie car to transport hyper coloured popcorn between our two beds was also a pretty ‘creative’ approach.

What happened between then and where you are now, and what were some of the pivotal moments along the way?
Well if we’re going that far back, I had nightmares about the Beetlejuice movie for a month, then my family moved from Newcastle to Maitland in the Hunter Valley. I drew Nike, Adidas and Billabong logos on the folders of everyone in my Year 4 class, and would go home to cartoons and old Phantom comics. Then high school, art class, BOYS, and a move to Sydney to study Visual Communications at UTS followed by a grand claim I was going to New York and instead headed to Berlin. And after being inspired silly but beyond poor for 14 months, I’m back in Sydney!
I think one pivotal moment would have to be finding magazines that weren’t Dolly – I remember the advertisements for Rusty, Volcom and Insight around in the 2000’s, like Insight’s painted rooms and Dopamine campaigns, I think it was in Chick mag and the very first Monster Children issues – I had just never ever seen anything like that. M.C especially opened my eyes up to that Beautiful Losers world and China Heights gallery, and events like Semi-Permanent – I remember going along at 16 and being terrified of all these real life adult creatives and staying at an after party for a grand total of 8 minutes.
I also used to shred through newspapers, cutting out fragments of sentences to pull out these sections of phrasing. Which is weird as I now do it subconsciously and it makes reading a book impossible, but also generates a lot of my typo content. So those two points finally met at my final year in uni, and even though I’ve always drawn letters, knew who Alex Trochut and Jessica Hische were, I had never even considered following up on lettering as a focus. My tutor told me to snap out of the average concept I’d presented and duh, do typography, and suddenly it all clicked.

Georgia Hill Sydney
Georgia Hill Sydney

What made you go to Berlin and what did you do there?

I was in a bit of a work rut – for a big year I was working in a studio all day, freelancing all night, I loved all of it but suddenly realised for how hard I was working, none of the results were really my own. A good friend told me about this crazy hotel in Berlin that had an internship going, then three weeks later I was on a plane and it hit me that; nein, I most certainly do not speak German.
I did odd jobs for Vice, Soul Clap Records and a stint in London for Umbro, Footlocker and Secret Walls, but mainly I worked at The Michelberger Hotel, in a studio built into the hotel rooms that focuses on hand generated works along with installations and events. They had a great music focus with jobs coming through the studio for The National, Efterklang, Local Natives and more, as well as festivals and fashion weeks. They also made their own schnapps and had a room entirely made of gold, so I was home. It was really hard to leave the little waves I was making in Sydney and go overseas to suck it up as an intern but it definitely caused a shift in my direction that’s given me a whole new direction.

What’s on the cards for this year professionally and personally?

Professionally I’m focusing on really pushing my own style of work and playing not just with type but building up my illustrative skills again (I can draw letters in my sleep but do not ask me to draw a human face that won’t terrify a child!). I’m really excited as I want to push past straight drawing into large scale walls, installations, printing, more exhibitions and animation, and also some collaborations. I just want to get lost in it, as I think I’m still working out exactly where it is I’m going to sit in the whole art/design deal but I want to be experimental and productive while those pieces are falling into place.
Personally, it’s more than likely I’ll re-watch every episode of Law & Order and continue to get paint on all of my nice things. I’m really keen to get to the States for a little stint and keep working like crazy, see more of friends and family as they are beyond supportive and understanding of my crazy hours, and to also be a little less hard on my own work ethic (though to be honest, it’s getting the job done!)

Georgia Hill Sydney

Georgia Hill Sydney

Who are some of your inspirations in the art and design world, both here in Australia and overseas.
Gah – lots! I really love looking away from typography, and getting my own text together and shaping that with a scene or textures – I look at a lot of fashion and styling/editorial material, and blogs like It’s Nice That which open up this whole world of design, illustration, art direction, and video/photography, which gets me thinking about my work in more of a building/flowing way than a static image. As far as names go I really enjoy people who are doing work that I just haven’t seen before, who approach it with this whole other angle while also maintaing their own style and feeling over time.  In Aus I just plain love: Elke Kramer, Reko Rennie, Lucas Grogan and The Opening Hours guys. Overseas list is endless – Micah Lidberg, Andrew Archer, Lynnie Zulu, Hisham Akira Bharoocha, Blaqk, Steve Powers, Bela Bordosi, Quentin Jones, Lukas Grogan, Faile, anything from Kenzo, M/M Paris… If anyone wants my bookmarks they go on for about a month.

What advice would you have for budding artists and illustrators?
Oh man, a lot – though I’m still working it out so I wouldn’t take anything I ever say as gospel! The big one for me is to do the work, not just talk about doing it. I used to expect I could sit down for three hours and knock it out of the park, but at some point I realised for the quality of work I wanted from myself three hours will just never cut it. You have to give yourself the time and space to work constantly, to think and conceptualise and read and really get involved, which is a pretty full on job but I swear you find a way to love it!
Second to that is take risks, like that Sagmeister quote, “I haven’t had a bad experience yet in taking more risks.” Experiment with your work, try and talk to someone that seems way out of your league, consciously try to look in a new light. No one can do it quite like you, and every one has a different hand and it’s much more fun to explore that instead of wrangling it back into something that is a little more on trend. Every big step for me has come from those ‘risky’ moments (though when you put it in perspective, sending an email is not a risky thing to do at all!). You’re never going to learn less by trying things a different way.

Website:  georgiahill.com.au
Tumblr: georgiahill.tumblr.com/
Instagram: @georgiahillbth
Twitter: @georgiahillBTH

Georgia Hill Sydney
Georgia Hill Sydney