We chat to Swinburne graduate Louise Jones, based in Melbourne, whose botanical patterns are blowing our mind! We talk about getting inspiration from nature, her husband's shorts and the importance of writing a business plan.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?
My family have always been supportive of my creative work from a young age. Being the youngest of three, I idolised my brother and sister. I remember watching NBA matches with my brother, and being in awe of my sister’s creative talents, who also loved to paint and draw. My earliest creative memory is drawing Looney Tune characters to cover my school books in primary school, and making birthday cards and posters for family and friends. My Mum still has a few posters I drew for her decades ago up on her wall at home, she’s my number one fan!
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
After graduating from my high school, I didn’t qualify for my top three university courses, so I decided to take a year off to work full time and study a few short courses to improve my folio. Afterwards I studied Applied Design at Swinburne TAFE, and then the following year I was accepted in Communication Design at Swinburne University. In my final year of university, I worked part-time as a junior graphic designer where I mostly did small tasks like setting up finished artwork for business cards and brochures. I remember the fast pace of working in the ‘real world’ was a shock to me. I also realised it would be beneficial to experience working in other studios, to gain a better idea of what kind of studio I would like to work in. I contacted a few studios, who specialised in different fields and varying studio size. I completed a few weeks of studio work experience whilst on my mid semester holidays, and I found it very insightful. This experience helped me narrow down my preferred design studios, which made it simpler when applying for junior design roles after graduating from uni.
What does a typical working day include for you right now?
Monday to Wednesdays, I spend my days with our baby girl, Grace, at our new home in the leafy surrounds of The Basin. Grace has already shown a lot of interest in plants and flowers, so we spend a bit of time outdoors exploring the garden. We also go on morning bush walks in the Mount Dandenong National Park behind our property, and listen to the different bird calls. I try to squeeze in some time to reply to emails during nap times and at night. Thursdays and Fridays, you can find me at my shared Richmond studio. At the studio I try to keep my computer turned off to avoid distractions, so I can focus on painting and drawing. I like to draw/paint from real-life, so my desk is usually set-up with flower cuttings and indoor pot plants.
Who are your top five design crushes right now?
Amy Wright - Loving her use of colour and detailing in her paintings, especially her latest Insta posts of her new art pieces for an exhibition in June 2016. Pop & Scott - Massive fan of the amazing design community Poppy and Scott have created in their shared studio space. Really digging the 70’s vibes. House of Hackney - The masters of patterns and wallpaper, I cannot wait to visit one of the House of Hackney stores on my next UK trip. Bridget Bodenham - I am slightly obsessed with Bridget’s ceramic creations. I love using her vessels when arranging cuttings to paint or draw. I had the pleasure of meeting Bridget and visited her beautiful home in Daylesford, she is super lovely and a very talented lady! Stephen Eichhorn - I was gobsmacked when I first discovered Stephen’s work through the Strange Plants book. He creates these beautiful and modern digital arrangements of succulents, cacti and other amazing flora.
What has been your highlights since you started out?
Highlights that stand out to me are sharing a studio space with my good buddy, Shelley Steer, a textile designer. In our short time as studio buddies, we started a Tumblr blog called A Side Project in 2013. We needed an outlet where we could publish our pattern designs, so we could produce the work we wanted to create. We design one pattern a month based on a theme of our choosing, which has created projects from some pretty cool clients, such as Abercrombie & Fitch. I was contacted by Abercrombie & Fitch to create a custom pattern for their summer 2015 range, for some menswear shorts. I was pretty stoked when I received the shorts in the mail, which my husband now wears :) He might rival my Mum as my number one fan! Another highlight would be the creation of my pattern designs onto wallpaper, which are available through Swedish wallpaper company, Rebel Walls.
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
Trusting your instincts, which can be hard at first but the more you do it the more confident you’ll feel about making big decisions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. I was surprised at how helpful and approachable other creatives can be. Connect with like-minded individuals, start a conversation with them, follow them on social media. Open your networks and you will learn new things. Stay focused on the big picture, start saying no to projects that don’t align with your goals. I found this hard to do when I first started out on my own. However, I felt so relieved when the right jobs started to come through once I started to say no to other jobs that didn’t suit my business plan. Put some time aside to write a business plan, which can be painful I know! However, I found it really enjoyable when I first wrote my business plan. The process helped me realise where I wanted my business to grow and improve. Also, it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the little goals achieved along the way.
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