It started as a passion project over a year ago, but an inspirational design magazine produced by two RMIT alumni is now well on its way to becoming a full blown business.
The first issue of The Young Ones (TYO) Magazine was released when editors, Petrea Dickinson and Katarina Matic, were still in their final year of the Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design.
Now with the backing of a $25,000 interest-free loan from RMIT’s New Enterprise Investment Fund and an official workspace in the Design Hub, the pair are starting to build the financial and business support they need to take TYO to the next level.
Their second issue, released late last year, featured stories of Australian designers overseas including two RMIT alumni: Ward Roberts (photography and advertising) and Celeste Watson (communication design).
Dickinson and Matic talk here about what designers need to know before breaking into the industry, what they’ve learnt about design from around the world and the challenges they encountered following the success of their first issue.
From students to entrepreneurs, how do you feel now after the second issue?
Matic: The second issue for us was a real test.
Yes, we had seen success with Issue One and we knew we could do it, but to be able to achieve the same success again was always going to be tough. Especially given we didn’t want to just meet the benchmark set by Issue One, but surpass it.
Dickinson: Looking back now, we’re really happy with the outcome. We’ve expanded our audience globally, continued to broaden our creative base and been able to shed light on how success can be achieved overseas.
Design is a densely populated profession and it’s only increasing. It was important for us with Issue Two to find out if international experience is a must for designers to cut through and get noticed.
Is there a big difference between the design industry in Australia and with the opportunities overseas?
Matic: In terms of the necessity of overseas experience as a starting point, or for career advancement, I think we’re on the fence.
Because of our size and proximity, the Australian industry often can’t offer the same opportunity for creatives as those abroad.
Dickinson: What is apparent from Issue Two though is how proud our creatives were to identify as Australian.
Australia is such a hotbed of design and creativity, but there needs to be an investment made in educating people on the value of the creative industry.
There could be a lot more respect for creative industry than there is currently, and this is just one factor that’s perhaps driving our biggest and brightest talent overseas. We can learn a lot from that.
Some of the creatives you interviewed, Ward Roberts and Celeste Watson, were RMIT alumni as well. Have you found a common thread in an RMIT approach to design?
Dickinson: Both Ward and Celeste were a delight to work with, are extremely driven, passionate and have a hunger for success.
Ward's photography is beautifully muted and slightly discomforting. His approach to light and tonal influence really separates his work from other photographers.
But in contrast, Celeste’s works are fresh, assured and clean, but they’re also informative in the way they balance attention to all the smallest details with bold conceptual strokes.
While it is difficult to identify a distinctive RMIT ‘approach’ to design, there is the definite acknowledgement from Ward and Celeste that RMIT has instilled the practical skills that have allowed them to launch their careers.
What have been the most important things you’ve learnt that are important for young/student designers to know?
Matic: Our featured creatives shower us with helpful advice, but some specific words of wisdom pop up more than others, namely:
Have perspective. You will only create great work if you are passionate about it, and whilst work for clients is important, it is equally as important to be creating work for the love of it and to be experimenting on the side. This is what will sustain passion.
Drive is important. You have to want to work hard, and be able to push yourself continually to get a better result. The creative life can often be a solitary pursuit, and the ability to provide self-direction is a huge contributing factor to success.
And lastly, get out there! Meet people, go to exhibitions, take on additional classes, read more, experiment, collaborate and give it a go. As a creative you must be present in the community, and open to all opportunities that come your way.
Story: Sean O’Malley