Original Interview: February 2014

Joanne Thies

Ever wondered what’s cool to do in Brisbane? We chat to hack photographer and doodling enthusiast Joanne Thies, about her beautiful photography, how she got started and what to do creatively in her home town (think galleries, boutique beers, antiques and vintage vinyl covers)!

Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your photography style?
I’m a hack photographer and doodling enthusiast  –  my style is a collaboration of the two. I work full-time in publishing; its a life of digital design, online content creation and writing every day under the heavy… looming cloud of the deadline. On top of my day job I happily freelance in photography & design.

What got you into photography?
I was a film fanatic in my youth, it was all about the anticipation, showing restraint, limited frames, afternoons spent in darkrooms, masculine metal camera bodies and the unmistakable sound of tiny camera machinery making that shutter ‘click!’. But It was my early romance with film that started and ended it all. It all got too expensive to buy the film and develop it as kid,  and to be honest the long development process didn’t quite fulfil my awfully short attention span at the time. I  ended up studying a bachelor of Fine Art in Visual Arts at Griffith Queensland Collage of Art and dabbled with photography within my degree but I just forgot about the photography thing all together really.
It was an unexpected backpacking trip around Europe that triggered that romance up again, on a spur of the moment whim I bought a plane ticket, packed my sketch book and crappy point and shoot digital camera and met my brother who was backpacking in Italy. This trip made me realise looking, experiencing, drawing & sketching my surroundings was not enough for me, something was missing. I became obsessed with documenting all the secret details that made me smile (and my brother got sick of me pointing out how beautiful the light looked on those tiles over there). I loved my point and shoot, it was an introduction back into my relationship with photography in such an unpretentious, portable and instant way.

Joanne Thies

Joanne Thies

What are some of your goals this year?
Solidify the branding for my blog I Love Saturdays and upgrade my poor little blogspot into more of a sophisticated online space. I also aim to re-launch the ‘Joanne Thies Postal Lottery’ which was just a personal 10 week project I created (which is finishing next week) – I ran the project from Twitter and Facebook and invited my social network to enter the lottery by privately sending me their postal address. The intention was to create a real connection with people I see on my social network, not just a Facebook ‘like’ (and selfishly, the project was a means to discipline myself creatively).  I randomly picked a winner every week, and the winner received a package in the post; a handwritten letter and an illustration or photo I’ve created.  It was a total success. The response was so surprising, heaps of forgotten people popped up from past it was cool to see these semi-strangers so interested in the idea of wanting to be involved.

When was the last time you received a Facebook message or tweet that you could rip open, unfold, read the words and pretend that you must have something caught in your eye? 
Most of the winners sent me something in return, which made my heart burst.
Oh and lastly, I must mention this goal and this may seem very pedestrian, but when I woke up on the 1st of January this year,  I opened my yes, rolled over and openly vowed ‘I’m going to read emails all the way through, read them properly, no skimming!’  My boyfriend must of thought I was such a romantic that morning.

Give us five fun design-y things to do in Bris Vegas!
1/ Pack your lunch, grab your camera (or sketch book) and do what I do, get your stalk on at GOMA. There’s so much lush light in the gallery and there’s always amazing work showing, inspiration galore for any photographer or doodler. Oh and as a bonus, there’s always heaps of interesting characters around the precinct, and the grassy areas on the riverfront is really lovely for a little creative nap.

2/ I think you might penalise me for this one for not meeting the question criteria. But hear me out.
Drink some cold bevies at my local brewery, Newstead Brewing Co.
Drinking a locally hand crafted beverage within the industrial aesthetics of the building, is believe it or not pretty inspiring. As my lecturer told me on day 1 of design theory (sigh!) ‘design is everywhere’.  From the perspiring glass of hand crafted golden ale in my palm to the exposed brick walls eluding to the ghosts of Brisbane’s past… right up to the seemingly meaningless staff utilities door that has ‘door to marina’ hand painted in beautiful typography. The aesthetics from floor to roof of this place is worth a visit.

3/ Hit the Brisbane Antique trail. Even if I’m skint, I’ll still take time to regularly explore my fave antique store The Woolloongabba Antiques Centre, this huge warehouse of treasures is laid out in zones reflecting a particular era. I can’t walk far without trying to touch everything that takes my eye…  it’s like a nostalgic stroll through the history of design.

4/ Brisbane Record Exchange.
Even if you don’t collect vinyl, the best of design lives right here amongst the hundreds of  thousands of vinyl covers. It’s a vinyl collector and design lovers treasure trove. Be warned though it’s overwhelming and not conducive to claustrophobia or those with organisational OCD.  You’ll find vinyl cover here you couldn’t even dream of. The lost art of psychedelic colour combos, 70s typography, sexy 80s styling, groups of awkward moustached men holding trumpets from the 90s. It’s the best.

5/ Grab a late lunch and well earned drink at Alfred & Constance in the valley.
A & C is made up of a pair of good old Queenslanders. This may not seem very exciting or design-y, but trust me…  it is. What would normally be bull dozed and covered up with shiny glass, grey cement and suffocated with air condition units, this pair of old buildings have been up-cycled into a sweet drink/eat venue. It’s like a reflection of my share house days full of promise, big heaving sweaty house parties on the deck, warm breeze flowing in through the windows, a kitchen full of drunken strangers (the chefs at A & C are sober I’m sure), mismatched hand-me-down furniture cluttered all over the place, crap on the walls… a space that’s public and all nostalgic and whimsical. Food is excellent. I would recommend visiting in the afternoon when you have space and time to explore all the differently designed zones and see all the crazy detailing before the too cool for school (party crashers) crowds descend.