Featured Studio

Bigfish

July 2018

We chat with Bigfish Designers/Illustrators Dave Byrne & Niqui Toldi about everything BIG. Bigfish, BIGSOUND, Big jobs (and small jobs) and the relatively big team that exists now. We talk about the team dynamics — including who does what, and who's in charge (everyone dabbles in a bit of everything it seems), the shiny new branding for Brissy music festival BIGSOUND, and the very cool jobs and collabs they have lined up for the rest of the year.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

Niqui:

I’m a graphic designer and illustrator at Bigfish, but my role can shift depending on the project. There are times when I might take on an art director role, or create social content. I also dabble in animation.

It’s hard – when my family asks what I do and I answer “graphic designer”, they stare at me with blank faces. So I try to clarify with “oh, you know, I make collateral” – which doesn’t help!

At Bigfish we focus on web design, content creation, animation, illustration and video production, and have a nice balance of arts and corporate clients. I love that everyone on the team has their principal role –and then all of these hidden talents.

Dave:

Yeah, I can never explain what we do to people either! We design things, create some insanely advanced web platforms, tell lots of stories and try to make everything interesting and beautiful. My Dad still thinks I lay out brochures.

I’m a graphic designer but have been focusing a lot on photography and web UX design of late. I like that design allows us to swim around in different disciplines and try out new skills. For BIGSOUND – a music festival in Brisbane that Bigfish recently rebranded – I was brand designer, website designer, gig photographer and social assets animator so it’s been a nice job to really stretch out on.

Who’s on the Bigfish team, what are their roles and why do you lovethem?

Niqui:

We have a close knit team of around 15 designers, developers, producers, writers and the video crew, with a few hybrid types. I’ve been here for four-and-a-half years now – Dave’s been here for longer – and it just feels like I’m part of this micro-community of creative, talented people. We all have this mutual creative respect for each other.

Dave:

I’ve been at Bigfish for over 12 years now, fresh out of design college. The team has changed a lot over that time from only four people when I started, but I think the team now is easily the best it’s been. Everyone’s very tight and trusts each other – it’s really nice to be a part of. We don’t have a rigid hierarchy and we control our own jobs which has allowed each creative to get really passionate about what they’re working on.

There are lots of little micro teams like the dev team who’ve built alot of the infrastructure behind the BIGSOUND artist selection process, the two-member video team who filmed and edited the festival last year by themselves (huge feat) and the social team who’ve been keeping the BIGSOUND social feeds engaging all year.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

Niqui:

BIGSOUND has been one of our most significant collaborations to date. This year, Dave developed the colour palette, layout and website design and I created the hero illustration and other components, including some animation. We back-and-forthed on the Festival logo and type.

What’s crucial to collaboration is trust. I trust Dave and his design brain completely. Because we sit next to each other, it was also easy to tap him on the shoulder and get immediate feedback. He’d show me something onscreen and I’d get really excited – and vice versa. This process created a contagious sort of energy that really elevated the work.

Dave:

It’s been a really nice one to work on together. We learned a lot from last year’s campaign and how one person can’t do it all. Niqui and I learned that our skills can be combined properly for the first time and it’s really opened up a wave of creative opportunities for us. I could never have pulled it off without Niqui’s illustration style. It really is the core of the campaign.

"

We don’t have a rigid hierarchy and we control our own jobs which has allowed each creative to get really passionate about what they’re working on.

"

What’s on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

Niqui:

A few things! I’ve just come back from Splendour In The Grass where I got to work on a massive mural with the help of Phoebe Paradise. At the moment my friend Sacha Mary-Raine Taylor (Commons) and I are collaborating on a series of vessels. She’s an amazing ceramicist so I’m really excited about that one. In September, myself, Ashley Ronning (Helio Press), Vlada Edirippulige (Junky Comics) and Sam McKenzie are putting on a Risograph exhibition in Brisbane & Melbourne featuring some of our favourite Australian illustrators. In November I’m participating in mini-festival at Netherworld hosted by Junky Comics. Plus a couple of smaller illustration commissions and a Bigfish exhibition that’s currently in the works!

Dave:

It’s been a big year of websites for me, many of which will start to see the light of day soon. I’ve been working on Suncorp Group’s website for the last year, as well as redeveloping the Queensland Ballet website I worked on originally back in 2013. Brisbane Writers Festival was just launched, which was another nice collab with Niqui. I also just finished working with local brewery Brouhaha on their new cans – so keep an eye out for those in stores! Finally I’ve been focusing a lot on my photography of late which I’ll be showing at the Bigfish exhibition.

Explain 2018 for you in a sentence.

Niqui:

In video game terms, I think 2018 is the year of leveling up.

Dave:

A fresh start with familiar faces.

Website: bigfish.tv

Instagram: @bigfishtv

Twitter: @bigfishtv

The
Design
Kids

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and join our design community of emerging graphic designers around the globe.