TDK chatted to Jacinta Lippold of Melbourne Studio Jac&. She imparts some wisdom regarding getting some studio experience before going out on your own, the joy of Friday night beers and how Jac& might be hiring in the next 12 months. Watch this space!
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? There was no specific moment or point in time that jumps to mind, it’s an ongoing relationship that’s always changing as I discover more about design and the industry. In my early 20’s I dived in head first and started my own business – upon reflection this may not have been the wisest move – I could have benefited from time in a studio. After 9 years, a lot of mistakes and some very understanding and supportive clients I’ve found my feet. It was a few years ago that I realised my own potential and began to understand the value of design. This combined with great client, collaborator and supplier relationships provides me with huge satisfaction.
What does a typical working day include for you right now? I’m in the studio from 9am till 5:30pm everyday. Running a business means my days are broken up nicely, I spend at least a couple of hours a day on admin, business development and communication. The rest of my day is a mix of research, design, meetings and dog-walking. Diversity is really important for me, I do my best work when I’m busy. I like to break bigger projects up into digestible phases, I find this helps with motivation and also keeping clients in the loop/satisfied. With a lot of different tasks and projects on the go, time management and planning is incredibly important.
Whats your take on internships? I think they’re great! I feel strongly about interns being paid and believe they should only be there if they’re gaining valuable experience and improving their skills. I’m currently not taking interns, but have plans to develop and intern program soon.
What do you look for in a great portfolio? Thoughtfulness. Consideration. Creativity. My ideal folio would show talent and skill through a considered (but limited) selection of projects. It would have a strong sense of the designer’s style, not following trends and most importantly it would show thought. The idea behind each concept should shine through, expressing clearly why the designer chose the elements they did.
Tell us about any collaborations you have been working on.
I recently collaborated with McKellar Renown Press on ‘The Make Project’ (pictured). Every month they team up with a designer to show off a special printing technique or skill, it’s a great initiative and is really beneficial to both parties. McKR were generous in offering up techniques that complemented JAC&’s style perfectly, we created a beautiful minimal piece using a variety of paper stocks from BJ Ball, Spicers and KW Doggett. To top it off, I teamed up with Willem-Dirk du Toit (photographer) and Natalie Turnbull (stylist) to document the piece. Dream team, dream project!
What have been your highlights since you started out?
There are two stand-outs for me; moving into my current space and contracting at one of my favourite studios. I worked from home for a long time, so moving into a professional space was a game changer for me. It provides me with structure, better client perception and company. A mix of different people in the studio means there’s always someone to bounce an idea off, have discussions with and Friday beers too! In 2014/15 I did some contracting at BTP (now closed), they were a studio I’d admired for years so I jumped at the opportunity when it came up. It proved to be really valuable, I learnt a lot in a short amount of time and made some great friends. Experiencing their dedication to process and collaboration has changed the way I work today, I’ll always be grateful for their openness and generosity.
What advice would you give students starting out?
Enjoy learning and appreciate constructive criticism. Ask for help and advice, people are your best resource and most are really generous when approached appropriately. Dedicate yourself to continual improvement, you don’t stop learning when your course/degree ends. Read books, watch documentaries, do short courses, go to workshops and stay interested. Also, put effort into appreciating other forms of creativity, go to exhibitions and performances. Make yourself familiar with architects, interior designers, product designers, typographers, artists and performers. Not only is it inspiring, it’s relevant.
Whats the big goal in the next five years?
To grow and refine the business further. I relaunched the studio as JAC& at the beginning of 2016 which was a really significant move. Apart from a new identity and brand, a lot of work has been done behind the scenes on the business plan and strategy. I currently use freelancers to scale-up as projects require, however I’d like to take on permanent staff in 2016/17. I intend to keep the studio small, so never more than 3. One of my biggest ongoing ambitions is to find and partner with likeminded clients; to continue working with people who share our drive and want to create long-lasting work. Building strong client relationships that are valuable to both parties is one of our highest priorities.
What do you think the design community could do more of to give back?
Melbourne has a really generous design community, there’s always someone willing to help with feedback on concepts or advice/tips. Twitter alone has the potential to provide all the contacts and resources a designer could need. I think we could all benefit from being more open about business though. There’s definitely some secrecy around rates, processes and growth tactics. It’s a competitive industry, however I don’t think it’s detrimental to share this information with peers.