We were really stoked when one of our favourite Melbourne studios signed up for Terrible Twos in 2012. Today, we chat with their designer Jesse Mallon about his experiences breaking into the design industry, working at SouthSouthWest and mentors he would love to have…
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs? I completed both a Diploma of Arts (Graphic Art) and Communication Design (Honours) at Swinburne. While I was studying I made smoothies at a juice bar and stacked buckets of M&Ms at Big W in the night-time. The very first brief I was ever presented within a studio environment was a re-design for cigarette packaging, which was an interesting introduction to the industry to say the least. Poetically the following placement I had was at an in-house studio for a hospital. After completing my diploma I worked part time at a small branding agency for a few years while completing university, as well as working on some self-initiated projects and work for my own clients. My first full time role at a studio was with SouthSouthWest, where I’m currently working on a range of branding, print and digital projects.
What do you love creatively about where you live and work? I feel really lucky to have grown up in Melbourne, which I think is a culturally rich and diverse city. There’s no lack of creative opportunities, and there’s definitely no lack of sources of inspiration. Specifically in regards to SouthSouthWest, though we’re a relatively small team, we each have our own distinct skill set. It has been a great experience learning from everyone else in the studio, and I’ve also enjoyed being kept on my toes by the variety of projects and clients we work with.
Which three people in the design industry would you pick as mentors and why? Rather than choose three graphic designers, I thought about some of my favourite creatives from related fields who have inspired me. Firstly, I couldn’t go past Memphis Group member Nathalie Du Pasquier, who is one of my favourite textile and pattern artists. Secondly I would choose Steve Nakamura, an art and movie director based in Tokyo, who creates playfully surreal work for clients such as J-pop singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. He has an amazing ability to bring together seemingly disparate elements to produce incredibly visually striking imagery. Lastly, a bit more pertinent to my day-to-day design practice, would be the guys at Sons & Co in New Zealand, whose web design and development work is always an inspiration for me when approaching digital projects. In reality, I’m lucky to have three great mentors at SouthSouthWest, our two creative directors, Andy Sargent and Adam Gibson, and our strategic director, Jonathan Price.
What advice would you give students starting out? One piece of advice I would give is to go beyond the supplied coursework. Even while studying it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for other creative opportunities, whether it’s a small amount of freelance work, involving yourself with design events or coming up with your own self-initiated projects. Work created outside of your university or TAFE course will help your folio to stand out in the sea of graduates. Also it’s important to remember that landing a position at a studio is as much about your attitude as it is about the work presented in your folio.
Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt? More and more we are being presented with projects that have multi-layered outcomes. It’s not just about designing a logo, or just designing a website. Projects can quite often require expressing a brand through whole experiences, both physically and digitally. Since no one is an expert in all of these fields, it’s becoming more important to reach out and collaborate with all types of creatives and specialists.