Featured Awards Winner

Madison Tierney

April 2018

A big congrats to Madison Tierney, one of our 30 TDK Awards’ winners for 2018. A RMIT graduate from Melbourne, their work was chosen by Verònica from Hey Studio: “ Madison knows her style and this is strongly good because has a trademark on her work. Experimental, hand made with concept behind. No fair to try and mix”. We asked Madison to answer a few questions for next years TDK Awards’ hopefuls.

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?

Creating personalised diaries for my parents by pasting in found images/photos, helping mum plot out her garden beds with sticks and rocks, walking into dads darkroom and immediately being hit with the smell of developer, art attack, kids pix and way too much time spent on word art. 

I’m not sure when I discovered that design was a ‘thing’, but I remember being way more enthused by type than my friends. I guess this led me into the Diploma of Graphic Design, with no idea what I was in for. Soon after, I discovered Typography was a discipline in itself and there was no going back.

What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened?

I was planning to relax a little after four straight years at RMIT and endless 14 hour days. To make some time for passion projects I'd been sidelining before trying to have conversations with people in industry.   But, at my grad industry breakfast I got into a conversation with Paul Tisdell, who was having trouble with the next keys on my laptop (forgive me Paul). He wanted me to talk about some of my projects and let me go on for like 10 minutes before he hit me with ‘I’m from Round and we’re looking for someone right now. Come have a chat, meet Michaela’. I almost fainted. 

So, plans enthusiastically discarded, I graduated and started at Round days later.

What/who are your top five places or people to follow online to get inspiration?

Design is Fine - An online inspiration library filled with art and design history.

Manifest Project - Because Design is as much about writing/thinking as it is a visual outcome. 

Misenplace - Post notifications on because everything this guy produces for Sqirlla in LA has me feeling overwhelmed in the best way.

Back Catalogue - Cool overview of design works happening all over.

Film Grab - A little different, this is an amazing archive of film stills that I get lost in sometimes. Film has always been my main source of inspiration; lighting, location, colour, tone, composition, titles, score - I’m so consumed by these details that I feel an overwhelming burst of energy to create. Film definitely influences my work.

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Destroy the Designer ego. I’ve discovered pretty quickly that my favourite people in this industry are humble - they’re usually the most talented.

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

Destroy the Designer ego. I’ve discovered pretty quickly that my favourite people in this industry are humble - they’re usually the most talented. Just be approachable and genuine and things will go well.

Strategy is everything. I feel like a finished design outcome should be two parts thinking, one part making. Don’t let yourself be caught up with specific styles or jump straight into execution. Think conceptually, assess the strategy - remember you need to explain and understand why you got there, otherwise it won’t have long-term legitimacy.     Collaborate, don’t compete. Become comfortable working with others and sharing your ideas. It’s your opportunity to work with the unexpected and to create true meaning.

Important one: Failure does not define you or your future. I started studying a year before I should’ve and repeated first year because I wasn’t looking after my mental health. I remember the look on my lecturers faces when I walked into round 2 of orientation, like ‘oh not again’. Thankfully, I was in a position to give it another go and exceeded even my own expectations – establishing relationships with the same teachers, finishing an Advanced Diploma and going into a Bachelor, starting my last semester with a scholarship and finishing it by starting at Round. Life is a series of opportunities for growth, just remember; this too shall pass.

Find your mentor. They’ll push you out of your comfort zone, teach you to properly accept criticism, challenge you, provide guidance, and most importantly – have confidence in you. They’ll teach you some of the most important lessons along the way, and hopefully you can share this when you’re in a position to mentor in the future.

Instagram: @madisontierney

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