Australian graphic designer Robbie Powell graduated from the Billy Blue College in Sydney, Australia last November with an incredibly accomplished portfolio. We caught up with him to ask him what he’s been doing since, the Australian design scene and why he prefers Kylie over Shane Warne.
There seems to be a number of students graduating from the Billy Blue College with a notable portfolio, is this a recent thing or is it that personal portfolios and online blogs have made it more accessible to people outside of Australia?
It’s a bit of both. The people that you’ve featured so far on the blog are all very good friends of mine. We’ve got a pretty close group of people and were always bouncing things off one another. Billy Blue is quiet good like this, as it’s a smaller college, you can easily separate the serious people from the not so, and help each other out.
Blogs however have had a serious influence on all students I’ve seen come into Billy Blue. They are just a great platform for being able to see the newest, most impressive design studios. I think even without the blog’s themselves knowing this, they give lots of students an incredible amount of direction. I can remember Felix Lobelius and I meeting up at some god awful hour in the morning to work on a project, coffee’s in hand, and there was this silent agreement that you’d sit down, check the blogs for 15 mins, shoot of any emails, and then you’d get to work.
What is the design scene like in Australia?
Growing. It’s not London, but it’s getting there. Both the bigger cities, Sydney and Melbourne have a lot of culture and great design philosophy. They both have a large number of galleries, and there are at least 2-3 fantastic studios in each city. However, I don’t think the design knowledge of the general public is anything impressive. I’ve heard from a number of people that clients in Australia don’t have the same understanding as those say in the UK, or closer, even Japan.
Some of the better pieces I saw last year were from independent projects. Chris’s guidelines for one. He got an AGDA (Australian Graphic Design Association) Pinnacle for that. The award ceremony was in Adelaide, and was really a lot of fun. About 10 people from the studio flew down, and the whole ‘industry’ was there. It was a pretty special night, seeing all the work from all these Australian studios.
Do you think there’s an Australian aesthetic that’s different to the work you see elsewhere?
Sometimes. Everyone is different. There’s always that Mambo style that people will see as Australian design. That’s something that evolved with beach culture. But then you see studio’s like 3 Deep in Melbourne. Who are very slick, clean, and strong. Or say Mark Gowing in Sydney, who has a more idea driven approach, but some what of a more european style I think.
You graduated in November last year, what have you been up to since then?
Working at Moon. It’s been pretty full on since I left school. Now that I was suddenly able to work full-time, I really took that opportunity to prove myself and got there early as possible, and stayed late to help out with everything I could. That mentality is so important when your an intern I think. People really do notice it, and your able to get your hands into a lot more when you stay positive and show people you won’t disappoint. Chris Doyle and I would try and beat each other in some mornings, the late comer having to buy the coffee.
Right now however, I’m doing a bit of travel. After three hardcore years, I’m taking 3 months off. Half way through now, getting back home mid May. Been to Sweden, the UK, Amsterdam this weekend, and Paris the weekend after that. Met with studios in London, so far I’ve been really inspired by everything, and that’s going to help me push harder and do better work when I get back to the studio.
What’s the plan for the next few years?
Work in Australia for the next few years. The scene here, as I’ve mentioned, is growing so much, I really want to be apart of this formation, people are working harder than ever thanks to this credit crunch. And I think it’s going to really help form a more solid reputation for the whole country. Design wise though, it’s all looking very promising.
And finally, Shane Warne or Kylie?
Kylie. Warno is a creep. Kylie is incredibly good looking.