Featured Graduates

Melissa Baillache

April 2015

We chat with Melissa Baillache a recent grad from Tractor in Sydney. Melissa was on our 15 to watch for 2015 list and has landed a job at Reactive! Melissa share with us her design ideals, tips to breaking into industry and what her favourite sites for design porn are... 

When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?

I feel like I’ve always had a love for creative things. When I was younger I was pushed to draw, paint and write. So as I got older I looked to where that love could take me career wise. After uni, I interned for free, slept on an inflatable mattress in my friend’s hallway and ate things of no nutritional value to get by, while I tried to discover what it was that I was ‘meant’ to be. Luckily that perseverance led to my first ‘foot-in-the-door’ gig with an agency called Banjo. Within the first 3 months there I knew I wanted to be a designer. I put my hand up to help, wherever and however I could on any creative project and landed myself a great teacher and mentor; Sam Suyono. This was a person with patience of a saint. To teach someone with no formal training and only a love of design almost…everything, is something I’ll always be grateful for. I spent the next five and a bit years at Banjo, working my way from receptionist to designer.

Where do you gather inspiration, on and off the web?

I’m a bit of a book hoarder. I used to buy a lot of collated design books, but now I’m trying to add books that present an approach or theory to design to my collection. On the web I love seeing what studios like Hort, Sons & Co and Toko are up to. Sites like Visuelle, It’s Nice That and This is Collate open me up to beautiful design from around the world. And I can’t go past Fast Co Design and Wired for new ideas. Lastly—stand up comedy—It might surprise you, but ideas can spring from listening to the way these guys look at the intricacies in life. Observational comedy is the bomb.

Tell us about where you are today and what you love about your job!

I’m currently at Reactive Sydney. They’re a digitally focused agency which means I get the chance to work with some really talented people on both the design and development side every day. I love that it’s opened me up to opportunities to work on innovative projects. One in particular being the opening title sequence for the 2014 Web Directions South conference. This was an amazing opportunity with one big caveat - it had to be completely rendered real-time live in the browser—All code, no after effects! What this meant for our little team of five was collaborate, experiment, and collaborate! We ended up creating a piece I’m really proud of titled People Behind The Pixels (check it out in your Chrome browser), It’s a sequence that celebrates the many individuals who imagine, design, and build great products and services.

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

1. Work with people who push you to be better. Seek out those who may be tough, but really want you to be the best you can be. You’ll be so much better for the experience in more ways than one.
2. Never stop learning. Go out and learn something new! It keeps things fresh, keeps you up to date, and can help you stay inspired.
3. Network. It can be a bit scary at first, but grab a bevvy and go for it! The best thing I ever did was getting out there to meet other people in the industry. It’s a great way to get your name out there, open yourself up to new opportunities, and really just meet heaps of awesome people.
4. Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail. A little turbulence in your work can lead to huge leaps in your career.
5. Be nice. No one wants to work with a-holes, no matter how talented you are.

Which three people in the design industry would you pick as mentors and why?

Tough question! I think Chris Doyle is a great voice in Australian design. His work is consistently amazing, and he’s hilarious too. Definitely someone I look up to. Frank Chimero is a designer who writes (his words!). His thoughtful essays always open my eyes to new ways of thinking, and he’s a super talented multidisciplinary designer to boot. You guys might know him from his book 'The Shape of Design’. Jessica Hische. You all know her I’m sure. Her amazing work is one of the reasons I got into lettering to begin with. And her willingness to swear on stage is why I love her. In reality I get to work with the amazing Gabe Tamborini and Tim Buesing, who are teaching me new things everyday. Can’t complain!






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