I always had an interest in making and building since I was a kid. My father used to be a toolmaker, so I actually grew up with an amazing garage filled with everything I could ever want to build with. The first big project I think I ever did was to design and build my own bed when I was about 14 years old. I did my first internship at the age of 16, by picking a name out of the phonebook (years later I realised that the company I interned with was Emery Vincent Design, Vince Frost’s earlier company with Gary Emery.) I guess something clicked, because I’ve continued with design ever since.
In 2012 the impulse to pursue different challenges in my life outweighed the security of clients and the routine I had cultivated in Sydney, so I sold my things and moved to Berlin with not a whole lot in hand. I ended up being offered to speak at the March Creative Morning spot (big thanks to Jürgen Siebert from FontShop), and then had an out-of-the-blue coffee months later with (my now Creative Director) Julia Hoffmann. Two weeks later, Etsy took me into their family as the Art Director for the Global Brand Design Team where I currently work and play. The team is split between NYC and Berlin, with such an amazing crew of backgrounds and talent. We essentially consider ourselves an internal creative agency for the brand and as a consequence, our ‘clients’ are spread out all over the world which makes the creative output really interesting and diverse. We just launched our portfolio site check it out here!
I’m all about the side projects. It’s a good chance to experiment, and learn how to set your own parameters; from writing a brief, to setting your own deadlines; essentially being your own client. The thing I always find is that this work usually finds itself seeping into my commercial practice in some shape or form. It gives me a chance to work with people who inspire me across a variety of disciplines.
That’s a hard one as I always attribute each project to the people I collaborate on it with. I am seriously blessed to have worked with some amazingly talented people.
I think the most rewarding thing I did was teach design for three years at Billy Blue and briefly at UTS in Sydney. I’m still in touch with a bunch of students from this time, it was seriously special to have had this opportunity.
Make yourself indispensable to the people around you. Choose your first job based on people you respect, rather than money. Have a good attitude, and take everything with a grain of salt. Ask as many questions as possible (a great designer will always want to share.) Figure things out yourself, and take initiative. Take notes. Expect critique, and ask for it too. Treat the world like a mirror, so don’t forget to smile ;)
One of the things I love about Etsy is the community behind it; internally with the company as well as externally with our sellers. The word ‘culture’ gets thrown around a lot, and for good reason too we are busting at the seams with it! In that respect, what always stands out to me are the stories behind the products. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I’m working with a great cross-section of products and cultures on a daily basis.
Any tips? Try and connect with your local Etsy team! There are regular meet-ups and events which can offer some truly helpful insights.
Making and travel.