Music lover Rowena Lloyd on the beauty of designing for an industry she’s truly invested in
Coming to arts and design after completing a politics degree, the Melbourne-based designer shares how a rigorous, self-initiated drawing practice helped kickstart her creative career.
- Olivia Hingley
- 30 June 2022
Being deeply invested in the industry for which she designs, and as a by-part, being so aware of its inner workings, has been a key motivating factor for Rowena Lloyd. “It’s very easy to be motivated because musicians put so much of their time, energy and personal funds into these ventures, so if I’m commissioned to help them, I’m not whatever about it, I really try.” This dedication has certainly paid off and since 2021 – when she was covered on our Next Generation series – her work has only seen new heights. Creating a shed load of posters for numerous musical artists, she’s really honed her trademark grainy, glowy, geometric style, and we just can’t get enough.
When speaking to Rowena, it seems she really has found her perfect profession. But, it’s by no means been a simple, straightforward journey. Despite always having been a very visual person, when attending university Rowena chose to study for a degree in politics. Growing up in the historically rich and complex nation of Germany, she explains, had left her with an interest in political philosophy and history. After finishing her degree, however, she says: “I felt that if I didn’t find a way to externally articulate the images in my head I would explode or something.” Explode, she did not, but sign herself up to RMIT’s bachelor of animation she did, on to which she “somehow got in, despite not really knowing how to draw”. But, as the designer explains: “My artistic inability was especially demoralising, as I was a 23-year-old amongst students much better than me.”
In response to these feelings, Rowena created a rigorous drawing course for herself, which she treated as a full-time job (that was, alongside her studying and actual job, of course). Steering clear of social media and focussing on learning the fundamentals, Rowena quickly found herself catching on. But Rowena’s design practice was only instigated by “necessity” when she and two friends started Highly Contagious Zine to help them get through the first lockdown. Needing someone to do the cover, layout and illustrations, they looked to Rowena. “I wasn’t sure if I could, as I still only drew on paper,” she explains, “but I forced myself to give it a go and kept experimenting until things began to click and I grew to love working digitally.” Slowly gaining confidence and posting more of her works, Rowena started getting more requests from different scenes in the music industry, “and it sort of snowballed”.
One of Rowena’s favourite things about working with musicians is being able to immerse herself in music and “bounce visual ideas off a sound... I think because when I was younger I took an irresponsible amount of synesthesia-inducing substances, I now can’t help but imagine images to fit with sounds.” To really get her creative juices flowing, Rowena will often go on a run with her headphones on, “forming imaginary music videos and visualisers to songs”, tweaking them each time she listens. “In sequence it’s kind of like a modern day Stereolab-esque Fantasia, and though these mental videos won’t go anywhere, the process helps my brain form ideas and figure things out.”
Currently, Rowena tells us that she is just taking it “project by project”, continuing her intensive drawing practice whilst also animating a few things here and there, revelling in the process of continually learning. Soon planning to make her way through a suitcase full of her sketchbooks with many unrealised ideas, Rowena hopes to come across some serious inspiration. But, in the meantime, she’s always got her beloved music to help her along the way.
Copyright @ Rowena Lloyd, 2022
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.