We chat with superwoman Elli Zacharowitz, the clever lady behind Studio Alté. With top fashion clients and beautiful aesthetics, Studio Alté is quickly gaining a lot of popularity in the Sydney design scene, so keen for more of challenge, Elli’s made the move to London – running the studio in two different time zones! And the best bit – she’s only 23!!
Describe a typical Studio Alté day.
Studio Alté is a graphic design agency which specializes in all areas of fashion. We work very closely with fashion designers, PR Agents, stylists, photographers and bloggers to deliver bespoke on-trend content for both print and web. We’ve been going really strongly since we opened a year and a half ago and were running out of a little studio space in Surry Hills, Sydney. There has been such a positive demand in what we do in such short time, it’s all very overwhelming and incredible. Because of this, in recent months, there has been a massive change to our structure (in the best possible way!). In September 2013, marking our first birthday, I decided to head over to London and exponentially grow the business into the European market. That said, a typical day at Studio Alté… chaotic, around the clock (London and Sydney have completely different time zones), caffeinated, social and extremely rewarding!
Tell us about you – where/what did you study and what were some of your first creative jobs?
I studied at St George TAFE, where I did an advanced diploma of graphic design for three years. TAFE was such a good option as we had quite small class sizes and the teachers were fantastic people as well as mentors. I’m a big advocate of public education for design as I definitely believe that if you have a good eye and plenty of patience and ambition, you can run rings around whatever it is you want to do. Whilst at TAFE, I tailored most of my briefs back to the correlation of fashion, as I knew that was the area I wanted to get into. If you’re really passionate about an area within design, why not enter your dream interview with the style they’re looking for already nailed? My first design gig while I was still studying was working for an (at the time) small school yearbook company in North Sydney by the name of Rockstar Memoirs. The guy that ran Rockstar, Nathan was an incredible mentor and offered so much of his time to see myself and others grow from being students to real world designers. Most of my ‘first’ creative jobs were freelance from my own business.
Tell us about your recent collaborations with big name clients.
I’ve been working very solidly for a big name client over here in the UK, but unfortunately I can’t disclose who that is just yet (oh god.. I’m one of those people, haha). Perhaps a month ago, I did a fairly large scale collaboration with hair and make-up artist, Max May and the girls, Elle & Tash from They All Hate Us. Plenty of late nights and time zone adjustments, but it was well worth it! Just before I left in September, I had the amazing opportunity with an open creative brief to design window decals for INCU X Andéol (Paddington and Sydney City). The small town country girl inside me was smiling from ear to ear.
What are your personal and professional goals for 2014?
I’m in the UK because I came to the realization that design and large scale creative energy and ideas spawn from Europe – I run my own business, so being a leader in the field is quite key to where I want to be. I want to learn and grow from my surroundings, be able to properly analyze trends (even start them) and apply to my client practice both here and back at home. I want Studio Alté to grow and shape into a diverse fashion / graphic design powerhouse with an international outlook.
Which creatives do you look up to in Australia?
Truth be told, I can’t really think of anyone specific off the top of my head – overall, I’m very inspired by entrepreneurs my own age, dodging the full time design jobs and deciding to go out themselves to create something they not only believe in, but love. When you’re stuyding, you’re taught the ‘end-all’ is to get a job in design, never to create your own.
Which blogs are a must read for you?
Strangely enough, I don’t read or look at any graphic design specific blogs. I think as a designer, if you’re looking for inspiration, the worst place is to start at someone else’s finished product. It’s such a pigeon holed outlook into something that was stemmed from a wider picture. Personally, I prefer photography blogs, catwalk shows and nature in general. Here I feel, inspiration is so diverse from line; texture; color; pattern; shape etc. If it’s done this way, what you’re designing becomes a much broader and original interpretation.
What advice would you give students starting out?
Be patient, be tolerable, listen to your teachers but always trust your gut. If something doesn’t look right – chances are it’s not and you won’t like it next week or even tomorrow. If something is great, it will be simple. Don’t over-think things or the muddy thoughts will translate onto paper. Always consider heirachy, what is most important? Keep your type sizes down and push your ego aside. Appreciate your teachers and respect their time.