Tillman Creative Co.

We finally caught up with our fave shaka lovin' Gold Coast dude, and Owner/Creative Director of Tillman Creative Co, Kiel Tillman. We learn how Kiel went from screen printing in his garage for a year 12 assignment, to working 8 years at Billabong, to now running the show at TCC; plus we get into internships, client problems, and growing the team this year.

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

It would have been in high school; I always loved surf and skate graphics as well as magazines like Juxtapoz. For my year 12 Design and Technology assignment, while others were building chairs or welding bikes, I actually did a surf wear brand. I came up with designs and screen printed tees in my garage. Then I found out you could make a career out of that stuff, so that was the path I took.

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

I did a 1 year full-time diploma at a place called Queensland Institute of Graphic Art on the Gold Coast. We learnt a lot of old school hands on techniques like lettering, illustration and layout all by hand. We were only on the computer 2 days a week. That taught me the importance of sketching ideas before jumping into the digital programs.

My first industry job was for an offset printing company called Fast Proof Press - this is where I learnt the importance of spell check. Then I worked for Billabong for 8 years designing menswear ( Walkshorts and Denim programs mainly ) Then I went to work with a friend at his small digital printing company called Potato Press. Throughout the 7 years I was there, I learnt so much about running a small business. I got my hands dirty with all aspects of the production and was able to play a role in growing such a unique visual solutions company. It was really hard to leave my Potato family, but I had a vision for Tillman Creative Co and had to say goodbye and pursue that. I’ve just hit 2 years of doing TCC full-time and there's no looking back.

Design work by Tillman Creative Co. The Design Kids interviews Tillman Creative Co. work-2

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I run my own creative business called Tillman Creative Co.

TCC is a contemporary brand and design studio based on the Gold Coast. We specialise in creating custom design brands, illustrations and murals for clients wanting an originally authentic representation of their company.

We find that balance between creative impact and commercial results.

Whats your take on internships? (do you take interns now?)

I think internships / work experience is good. I got my first job at the printers from doing work experience there.

I think that you learn so much more from on the job training. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I am doing now without gaining the experience I did.

I will definitely look into getting an intern this year.

Design work by Tillman Creative Co. The Design Kids interviews Tillman Creative Co. work-4
Design work by Tillman Creative Co. The Design Kids interviews Tillman Creative Co. work-4

What do you look for in a great client?

A great client is someone with a problem to solve.

The ones that you can bring real value to their project and their business. If they are stoked with the final product, that's all that matters.

Some of my favourite clients aren’t the high profile ones, they are the ones that we have built relationships with. The client then has trust and the confidence to let us run wild on projects, and that's when the best work happens. Win WIn.

Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

Professionally I will have our new website up within the month, I will be growing the TCC team and capabilities. I am aiming to do more speaking gigs both here and overseas. Personally, I want to learn to switch off when not at work so I can spend more quality time with my family and friends.

Design work by Tillman Creative Co. The Design Kids interviews Tillman Creative Co. work-6
Design work by Tillman Creative Co. The Design Kids interviews Tillman Creative Co. work-6

Where to find Tillman Creative Co. online.

Website: tillmancreative.co

Instagram: @kieltillman

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