Mark Gowing is one of our favourite Sydney based designers. Lucky for us, he put up his hand to take part in the original Terrible Twos in Sydney, back in 2011! His work (pictured below) with Bianca Chang blew our minds and raised the standard of our future exhibitions forever. Not only does he run his self titled studio, but has recently ventured out to start a new company called Formist that produces design publications, including one about David Lancashire’s Roo works. He takes time out of his busy day to chat with TDK and give you guys the low down – put in the hard yards. Enjoy!
Tell us about how you got started in the industry?
I started in design as an apprentice in a children’s book publisher when I was almost 17. I was straight out of school and had no training, before or since. Most of my early years in design were spent working as a layout artist on fairly ordinary projects. This time was spent learning the details of design craft and production. Later I moved on to magazine design and was able to experiment with typography a bit more. I started working freelance from my spare room in 1997 and slowly secured some ok clients until the freelance became a business.
Where do you go online to be inspired?
Curated by Michael Cina, The New Graphic has been one of my favourite blogs for a long time. I like the measured approach to content curation and their deep respect for truly considered work. Naoyuki Umetsu, Spread is a book lovers dream. It is one of the most diligent collections of design books anywhere. Most of the books are available to purchase, either through Spread or from the links they provide. For Home or Office Use is an experimental type foundry run by Wolfgang Breuer and Achim Reichert of Veir5. Their work is brave and sometimes a bit crazy, I love it. Curated by Dominic Hofstede, Re:collection is a stunning collection of Australian design. It’s always inspiring to see what has been achieved by those that came before us. For a daily dose of art I visit Contemporary Art Daily. The site is a comprehensive reel of what is exhibiting mostly Europe and the USA.
How do you think your surroundings affect your creative process?
I have always found that my surroundings have a massive impact on my work. Years ago I moved into a very large studio in Redfern and almost immediately my work became more expansive. I now work in a studio at the the rear of my house that looks out to a native garden. This was an intentional decision as I am always influenced by nature and Australian wildlife in particular. The studio is also very quiet with no view of the world outside my garden. I find that this privacy has made my work more personal and allowed me to feel more indulgent and confident in my own approach.
What advice would you give students starting out?
My best advice to students is mostly the same: be willing. It is so important that when you’re starting out you pay attention to whoever your working with. Listen and try to be willing to do whatever your employer wants you to do. Leave your attitude and opinion at the door and be the person who is always there, reliable and consistent. Be the one they can count on and you will quickly be trusted and will therefore be included in more projects and taught more about the business.
TDK Terrible Twos Sydney 2011 with Bianca Chang
Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?
I recently started a new company called Formist that produces art and design publications and editions. Our output varies greatly depending on who we are working with and what we think is an interesting project. We have released three books to date, including one about David Lancashire’s Roo works, and are currently working on about five more as well as a few fonts and some pretty special print editions. My personal and professional time is fairly dominated by Formist at the moment and will be for quite a while. So far the projects have been interesting and satisfying, so I’m really looking forward to what we can achieve down the road.