Solid Lines is Australia’s new illustration agency for First Nations creatives
Currently being developed by The Jacky Winter Group in consultation with First Nations creatives, the agency is taking a phased approach, which will culminate in it becoming entirely First Nations-owned.
- Olivia Hingley
- 26 October 2022
Solid Lines is an independent illustration agency that is dedicated to representing and nurturing Australia’s First Nation creatives. Initially being supported by The Jacky Winter Group – the illustration agency who represents the likes of Aaron Lowell Denton and Karan Singh – its website explains Solid Lines to be a venture “grounded by community” and “fuelled by a constant connection to identity, culture and county”. Its sole purpose is “forging strong and supportive pathways within Australia’s commercial art and design industry, for First Nations creatives to thrive”.
Developed at a grassroots level with community consultations with First Nations creatives – whose voices form the basis and ethos of the project – the agency provides the space for a whole roster of artists across various disciplines spanning contemporary and traditional styles. Over the next few years, while working on strengthening “respectful relationships and opportunities within a marginalised creative ecosystem”, the project will take a phased approach that eventually ends with the agency being entirely First Nations-led, owned, managed and controlled.
The agency came into being after Nicola St John, a researcher at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), had worked closely with Ntaria School in Hermannsburg, later creating a design initiative for students looking to enter the art and design spaces. “A crack quickly appeared, and the lack of culturally supportive pathways for emerging First Nations creatives to access the industry became apparent,” the Solid Lines website details. Following on from this, it was after Nicola’s week-long residency at the Jacky Winter Gardens in 2019 that the idea for a First Nations illustration agency first arose. Responding both to the Black Lives Matter protests and to represent their commitment to the project, the Jacky Winter Group “acknowledged a need for internal reflection and change” and a Statement of Commitment to the First Nations of Australia was developed.
Soon after, Emrhan Tjapanangka Sultan, an artist and longtime collaborator of Nicola’s was introduced to lead the concept. Of the Solid Lines project, he says: “Through supportive representation, acknowledgement and protection of Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property and negotiation of appropriate fees for our talent, we aim to generate beneficial partnerships and culturally safe creative opportunities within industries which have often been ignorant of or refused to engage with First Nations ways of working.” From the beginning, the initiative has been one collaboratively developed by Emrhan, Nicola, The Jacky Winter Group and numerous First Nations voices.
Currently existing as an “incubator project”, a press release details, the initiative will see a phased approach, as outlined on the agency’s website. Stage one will be a “nesting” period in which the agency “utilises and is dependent on the resources and support of the Jacky Winter Group”, while being overseen by Emrhan. The second stage sees the agency become a “hatchling” whereby it becomes a joint venture where ownership, management and shareholding handovers begin to be arranged. Stage three will see the agency become independent, entirely owned, managed and controlled by First Nations individuals. You can see a more in-depth breakdown of the stages here.
Copyright © Tori-Jay Mordey, 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.