GG McG

What a joy it was chatting with our favourite colourful Creative Director from Melbourne, Giulia Giannini McGauran (GG McG)! Giulia has such a unique style and gave us some fantastic insight into a day in the life of a Creative Director/Photographer. We chat about her love of music, Melbourne being a super exciting creative city, and she told us all about her current design crushes!  

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

My name is Giulia Giannini McGauran (GG McG) and I am a creative director and photographer. I mainly work with artists and the music industry, specializing in developing Brand Personality for emerging Indie musicians. I also work with several commercial clients and love keeping this balance as I learn so much from both fields. For each portrait I love to create a new space/world. I am usually across every part of this including concepting, styling, set-making, post-production etc as I love to create images from concept to finish as a whole and hyper consistent artwork. However sometimes I love to challenge this and collaborate with all kinds of other visual artists and stylists to explore different worlds and mediums. Music is also such a massive part of my work. Most ideas and colours come from a mix of the artist and their music, sounds and lyrics. I think it’s one of the most inspiring things in the world and feel so lucky to be in a community with so many brilliant artists. I also really believe that music is the perfect partner to the visual arts.

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

I studied at the Victorian College of the Arts, actually my degree was in Drawing and Print making but half way through I was drawing so much that I gave myself such bad RSI and had to stop completely. Luckily the lecturers were so unbelievably supportive and helped me find my voice in photography throughout the second half of the degree. Slowly and through a lot of physio (not helped by a motor-scooter crash and a broken hand), things recovered and I can now continue to use the drawing process again in the post-production phase of my work. I also continued on to do a Masters in Advertising at RMIT to understand more about branding whilst working full time. This was amazing as I could really apply and develop what I was doing at the time to get as much out of the research as I possibly could.

I did all kinds of jobs after graduating! After exhibiting works for a while after Uni, I worked in a retail job part time while doing all kinds of photoshoots. These included promo for a great local community health center, author headshots, some music promo, artworks for a glasses store and all kinds of events! I am endlessly grateful to anyone who hired me in those first few years.

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

I have a few kinds of days depending on what I’m working on which I think keeps me in balance! The usual are:

Concepting days: These are days where often I’ll try to refine ideas, brainstorm new ones, figure out logistics. These days are really focused and involve a lotttt of snacking.

Meeting days: I always try be as on point as possible for these days because there is so much to figure out in short spaces of time. So if I was having a meeting with a new artist we have to figure out exactly what they are about and what they want to look like as well as come up with new ideas. I love these days so much.

Preparation days: Preparation days are often a good bit of exercise! A lot of hauling things around and running everywhere. Depending on the job these may involve painting full sets and constructing things! Often I get to do these with some incredible assistants which is always fun. Very high energy and always a good creative release being able to be really hands on.

Shoot Days: I absolutely love shoot days!! But they are also super nerve wracking. I always love to have everything 85% planned and leave 15% for play and staying on your toes. I think this allows all the support structures to be there but also room to create together. These days vary so much from 3 hours to 12 depending on the job they are pretty magical but at the end I always feel so exhausted like my body will fall right off my spine.

Editing Days: After all the days before hand it’s always such a welcome change to be able to sit and edit. These days are also really long but they allow me to be on my own schedule and I often prefer to do these at home. Whilst I know I work too much, these days feel like home time.

Coffee Days: Finally, some days are just filled with coffees and teas with friends and family!

I think the most comforting piece of advice was from the amazing photographer Michael Prince, who said ‘Just be patient’. I think when you start working it feels like a steam train and you see so much potential for things ahead and things you would love to try.

How does the local culture of where you live affect your design work and getting clients?

Australia’s local art and music scene has meant absolutely everything to my career. Firstly the scene itself was and still is one of the most inspiring things and it is filled with so much talent, life and incredible creativity. But also it was the place I was able to connect with people who were keen to explore and try new ideas and play. I feel so unbelievably lucky to be a part of it and it continues to be the core of my work today.

What are your top five design crushes globally right now?

1. Ellen Porteus – Illustration

I love Ellen and I love her work. I have had the total pleasure of collaborating with her a lot recently and constantly feel so privileged to see her work. She is so unbelievably inspiring and brilliant at what she does. Her illustrations are so full of life, colour and challenging ideas and her palette and colour choices constantly surprise me.

2. Eliza Svikulis – Lettering

Eliza is such a master at what she does. Her creativity level of detail and understanding of lettering is so incredible to see. Despite having wildly different practices, her work has always encouraged me to consider so many more things closely in my work like balance, spacing and colouring. She is also the master of juggling so much work at the same time executing everything absolutely perfectly.

3. Illya Milstein – Illustration

I would love to collaborate with Illya. I love the level of detail in his work and his ability to fill every part of every piece with an interesting detail and story is so inspiring.

4. Graeme Base – Illustration

I don’t think I have ever come across someone who is able to capture the imagination like Graeme Base can. He is such an expert at creating worlds and linking things together to spark wonder. His compositions are so intricate and interesting and the longer you look the more you discover, and it feels endless.

5. Jeffrey Phillips – Illustration

I absolutely love the simplicity and fun in Jeff’s work. I think he has incredible talent for showing so much personality with so few lines. His characters always surprise me and his observations are always so engaging.

Whats the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I think the most comforting piece of advice was from the amazing photographer Michael Prince, who said ‘Just be patient’. I think when you start working it feels like a steam train and you see so much potential for things ahead and things you would love to try. But every now and then, when I start falling over my feet a little I always try and remember this. Because good work needs air and it really does need a step back to step forward.

How did you develop your style as a photographer and what tips would you have for others?

I think style is something that develops over a long period of time through the process of exploring, trusting your instincts and remembering to challenge yourself. For me, I never felt that I decided on a style, I think it came more from choosing colours, concepts and collaborations that made me curious and gave me a spark.

One of my favourite ways to push things further is choosing colours that I really hate and doing whole shoots with them. I have found, every time I have really explored a colour I hated, it ended up being my favourite.

I also think just as people did with paint and canvas, it is so important to find your own way through technology.

Where to find GG McG:

Website: giuliamcgauran.com

Instagram: @g.g.mcg

Get involved