Amery Johnston

Hello to Amery Johnston, from Monash University. Listed as one of the top 16 for 2016 in our TDK Graphic Design Awards by Alter's Jonathan Wallace, we're keen to hear more! Five top tips for graduates, experimenting with ball point pens and big dreams to have his own studio - watch this space...

When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?

I remember being three years old with a pencil in my chubby hand contorting and distorting the letters of the alphabet; that was where it all began for me. I was always one of those kids that had to be doing something creative. It wasn’t until I was about seventeen, after years of tossing up whether I wanted to be an artist or a designer, that I finally realised that I could bring the arts into my design practice. It was then that I became committed to the idea of being a designer.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

After graduating high school I went to Northern College of the Arts and Technology and did a Folio Preparation course where I was then offered a scholarship to Monash University. I graduated Monash with a Bachelor in Visual Communication. Whilst I was at Uni I had the opportunity to be part of a team of six designing collateral for the University, which was a great real-life learning experience. I now work as a Graphic Designer/Developer at Argonaut Studio, which has been an awesome learning experience for me. I’ve particularly gained a wealth of knowledge in coding for web.

Design work by Amery Johnston The Design Kids interviews Amery Johnston work-2

What does a typical working day include for you right now?

My typical day involves me waking up at 6:00am, getting into the studio by 8:30 (usually downed my first coffee of the day — I AM A COFFEE FIEND!) go through studio briefing then get into it by 9:00. I get to work on a variety of projects most days, it’s safe to say it’s rarely ever a boring day.

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

When I first began illustrating I used pencils just like most people do. After a couple of years, I realised I wasn’t satisfied with the results, there was something missing. So, one day I picked up a pen and started to draw. Using an ordinary ballpoint pen became a part of my everyday process. For me, using a pen stimulated a hyper-concentrated state of mind (knowing if I made a mistake I would have to start again). This just worked for me. The best tip I would have for anyone trying to find their ‘edge’ is to experiment. You’ll never know what floats your boat until you try.

Design work by Amery Johnston The Design Kids interviews Amery Johnston work-4
Design work by Amery Johnston The Design Kids interviews Amery Johnston work-4

What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?

1. Sleep-deprivation is not a good idea, just ever. Black spots in your eyes is not a positive sign.
2. Be curious, push boundaries, always question. Conceptual thinking is an integral element of design. Realise the importance of meaningful and intelligent outcomes. There’s no point creating something that looks good if it’s purely ornamental. Trends end, substance doesn’t.
3. Never ever stop learning. Recognise that there are always new things to learn, whether it be new software or a nifty illustration technique.
4. Sometimes you just have to take risks. Life’s boring if you always play it safe, the same can be said with design.
5. Work with people that push you. It’ll be tough but so much experience is gained in the long run.

Whats the big goal in the next five years?

I’ve have always wanted to own a studio. That’s my big goal and always has been. I still have a lot to learn (how a business operates/work experience/building a client base). It’s definitely something I want to achieve for my future.

Design work by Amery Johnston The Design Kids interviews Amery Johnston work-6
Design work by Amery Johnston The Design Kids interviews Amery Johnston work-6

Where to find Amery Johnston online.

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